Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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Hottentot women with the deepest attention, and that some of them were even affected to tears. In a day or two after­ward he heard his favorite melody, with accompaniments, all over the country wherever his wandering led him. At first it seems astonishing that there should be Hottentots apparently endowed with so great a musical gift; it is es­pecially surprising to hear of their repeating the air with accompaniments, since the German officer was certainly not able to play both on his violin at the same time." Wallaschek then continues: "This statement, however, will no longer appear to us incredible if compared with similar examples in the accounts of some other travellers. Theophilus Hahn, who lived in Africa for fifteen years, tells us that his father, the missionary, used to play some hymns before the tribe of the Nama Hottentots to the ac­companiment of a concertina. Some days afterward they would repeat the hymns with the Dutch words, which they could not understand. Hahn says: "They drawl the grave songs of the hymns, such as 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,' 'Ein Lammlein geht und tragt die Schuld/ with the same ardor as 'O du mein lieber Augustin,'1 'My Heart's in the Highlands' or 'Long, Long Ago.'"
This imitative capacity of the negroes frequently spoken of by travellers is amusingly described by Albert Frieden-thal in his book, "Musik, Tanz und Dichtung bei den Kreolen Amerikas." One day in October, 1898, he was engaged in writing while sitting on his veranda at Lourenf o Marques, on the east coast of Africa. Myriads of grass­hoppers were devasting the country, and every negro far and near was pounding on something to drive the pests away. The noise became unendurable, and Friedenthal grabbed a tin plate and spoon from the hands of the first negro he reached and cried: "If you must make a noise, do it at least in this way!"—and he drummed out the rhythmical motive of the Nibelungs from Wagner's te­tralogy. He repeated the figure two or three times. "Al­ready the negroes in my garden imitated it; then, amused by it, those in the neighborhood took it up, and soon one 1 The old German Landkr, "O du lieber Augustin," is meant.
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