Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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182 NEGRO FOLK MUSIC IN THE NEW WORLD
led to the alternation of the various instruments for the "choruses" in jazz.
The importance of rhythm became a part of the American Ne­gro tradition, even though the specific rhythmic sounds of Africa, on the whole, did not. Again, the occasional preference for throaty and rasping singing (found also in the Caribbean) is probably tracea­ble to certain West African singing which sometimes makes use of yodeling and imitating of instruments and animal sounds.
As in Africa, instruments play a large role in U.S. Negro folk music, larger than in the North American white culture. Many of these instruments are European-derived (mouth organ, banjo, fid­dles, brass instruments) while others are actually derived from Afri­can models or fashioned in order to produce the sounds made on African instruments. In the former category are several that are hardly found today but are reported to have been present in the United States in the nineteenth century and earlier: the sansa, hol­lowed log drums, and gourd rattles. In the latter category we find the washtub or gutbucket, related to the musical bow and to the Haitian mosquito drum; washboards used as scrapers and placed on baskets for resonance; frying pans, cowbells, bottles, wood or bone clappers. These are instruments that are not genetically related to African forms, but they seem to have been invented or improvised to produce African-like sounds.
There are reports of the southern scene by nineteenth-century American observers regarding the existence of musical practices, such as Afro-American cults, similar to those that can be observed in twentieth-century Brazil and the Caribbean. But by the twentieth century, North American Negro music seems to have lost these practices and become much more dominated by the influence of the American whites. Thus, the type of folk song most closely associ­ated with the U.S. Negro, the spiritual, is to a large extent a borrow­ing from the rural southern whites.6 The songs sung by the Negroes are frequently identical in text and melodic content with the so-called "white spirituals" sung in the southern mountain regions. But they are sung in a different manner—with more rhythmic accom­paniment, call-and-response forms, and improvisation. Parentheti-
6 D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1959), p. 344-64.







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