Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

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idiophones—rattles, claves, or bells. The bottom sections of the con­tainers were cut off later, and the steel drums were placed on spe­cial stands. Each "drum" is capable of playing simple melodic material. The result is music of a strongly rhythmic character, with polyphony of an ostinato nature, and with each "drum" (or "pan," as they are called by the players) having a particular musical func­tion, as in a jazz band.
Aside from African-derived and especially invented instruments, Western instruments such as the guitar and banjo (which may have been developed on the basis of African influences) are widely used in the Negro communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. (Negro instruments in North America are mentioned in the next section.)
Negro folk music in the United States
The musical development of the Negroes in North America, and especially in the United States, has been rather different from that of other New World Negroes. Rather than living in relatively closed communities in which African tribal groups could still func­tion, the U.S. Negroes were brought from the West Indies, where aspects of African culture had already begun to change or to dis­appear, and lived in close contact with their white masters. While the survival of the West African religious cults was to some extent assured in Latin America because of the similarity of some aspects of Roman Catholicism, the impact of the Protestant denominations in the U.S. was of such a nature as to annihilate most of the West Af­rican religious practices. Nevertheless, the U.S. Negroes retained much of the value structure of the African heritage, and while their folk music does not sound African in the sense that the music of Haiti and Bahia does, it contains some African stylistic features. More im­portant, the independent developments in American Negro music are frequently the result of African musical values. Thus, the call-and-response patterns are not found too frequently in American Negro folk song; but the original importance of this form—essen­tially a kind of alternation, dividing up a tune between leader and chorus, with a sanctioning of improvisation—seems possibly to have

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III