Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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

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Incidentally, among the important European forms of song and dance used by the Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are a good many that are not of Hispanic origin. Thus the mazurka (of Polish origin), the polka (Czech), the waltz, the polonaise, even the minuet and the gavotte-like cuando are among the dances of the Latin American rural population.
But the changes that Spanish music has undergone and the com­plete fusion of African and Hispanic styles that can occur are best seen in the music of Cuba, which was a Spanish possession longer than any other American land. Thus, the bolero, in triple meter in Spain, was changed in Cuba to a dance in duple meter with charac­teristic syncopation. A typical 6/8 metric arrangement of Spanish music, alternating between 6/8 and 3/4 (hemiola), was preserved in Cuba, but elaborated to a duple meter figure with syncopation,
Among the most interesting survivals of Spanish folk music in the Americas is the music of the religious folk plays of Mexico and the southwestern United States. Performed mainly by Indians, these plays are descendants of the liturgical dramas—mystery and morality plays—of the Middle Ages. They are called autos and deal with Biblical stories such as that of Cain and Abel, the Nativity, and the Passion of Christ. Most of the dialogue is spoken, but songs, called letras, appear at certain points and are sung by the congregation. The style of these songs is derived from Spanish folk music. It is slow, measured, and usually in the major or harmonic minor modes, and it is evidently related to the style of the romances and other narrative folk songs.
Ethnic minorities in North America
Consideration of an important tradition of Spanish-American folk music in the United States also leads us to mention the existence of other folk music styles that flourish in North America and which were brought from various European countries. As we have in­dicated, such imported traditions currently alive among minority groups must be numerous in Latin America, but those of the United States are better known and have been studied in more detail. In many cultures, religious and ceremonial life tends to attract the most conservative elements, and the most archaic aspects of a tradi-

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