Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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Originality of the Afro-American Folksongs
Dr. Wallaschek and his ContentionExtent
of Imitations in the SongsAllusions
to Slavery—How the Songs Grew
Are They Entitled to be Called
American ?—The Negro in
American History.
It would never have occurred to me to undertake to prove the existence of genuine folksongs in America, and those the songs which were created by the black slaves of the Southern States, if the fact of such existence had not been denied by at least one writer who has affected the scientific manner, and it had not become the habit of a cer­tain class of writers in this country, while conceding the interesting character of the songs, to refuse them the right tobe .called American. A foolish pride on the part of one class of Americans of more or less remote English ancestry, and a more easily understood and more pardonable pre­judice on the part of former slaveholders and their descend­ants, might explain this attitude in New England and the South, but why a foreign writer, with whom a personal equation should not have been in any degree operative, should have gone out of his way to pronounce against the originality of the songs of the American negroes, cannot be so readily understood. Yet, in his book, "Primitive Music,"1 Dr. Richard Wallaschek says:
There still remains to be mentioned one race which is spread all over America and whose musical powers have attracted the attention of many Europeans—the negro race. It may seem inappropriate to treat of the negroes in this place, but it is of their capabilities under the influence of culture that I wish to make a few remarks. I think I may say that, generally speaking, these negro songs are very much overrated, and that, as a rule, they are mere imitations of European compositions which the negroes have picked up and served up again with slight variations. Moreover, it is a remarkable
1 "An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of Music, Songs, Instru­ments, Dances and Fantomines of Savage Races" (London, 1893).
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