Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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

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paddled canoes through the Great Lakes in the fur trade, and who sang for amusement and as a rhythmic accompaniment to paddling. On the whole, the French Canadian songs do not seem to differ greatly from those of France.
Folk music in American cities
The Eastern and Southern European traditions are preserved in the large cosmopolitan cities of the United States. Here, a tendency of minority groups, particularly those which arrived rather recently, to settle in special areas or enclaves, is responsible for the preserva­tion and special development of these traditions. Thus, large collec­tions of Hungarian and Slovak song have been made in Cleveland,3 Yiddish and Puerto Rican folk music has been studied in New York, and the songs of Poles, Syrians, and many other groups have been recorded in Detroit. In some cases, old songs can be found relatively undisturbed, and the American city acts as the agent of marginal survival. At other times, the European traditions are changed because of the pressures of urban American culture. Thus there seems to be a tendency to favor dance and instrumental music over other types; perhaps this is due to the fact that young Americans of foreign de­scent have less of an interest in the words of the songs, which they may not even understand, than in the tunes. Organized teaching of folk songs, even from song books, by members of the ethnic group who are noted for their knowledge may be one way of preserving the material. Group singing is more prominent than in the European parent traditions. Singing clubs and dance groups are formed in or­der to keep the tradition alive, for music and dance play an important part in keeping an ethnic group in a city from losing its identity.
Furthermore, the musical style of Eastern European folk songs sung in the American cities may change, for those songs which come closest to being acceptable in terms of the American popular tune tradition are those which are preserved by the ethnic groups. The younger individuals in these communities, who by the middle of the twentieth century were no longer able to speak the languages of their grandparents, are stimulated by the appearance of professional
3 Stephen Erdely, "Folksinging of the American Hungarians in Cleve­land," Ethnmmisicology VIIl (1964), 14-27.

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