Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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painting exemplified in the depiction of the sojourn on the mountain-top by persistent reiteration of the highest note reached by the melody.
I have no disposition to indulge in speculations touching the origin of either the conventional scales or the departures from them which I have pointed out in these songs. There are other variations, but they do not present themselves in sufficient numbers or in a sufficiently marked manner to justify their discussion as characteristic of the music of the people who employed them. They may be sporadic and due only to some personal equation in the singer who sang them to the collector. In no case, however, do they occur in songs which are commonplace in structure or sentiment. I should like to say that the melodies which seem to be based on the Oriental scale prove the persistence in the Afro-American folksongs of an element, or idiom, re­tained from their original Eastern home or derived from intercourse between the ancestors of the black slaves and some of the peoples of western Asia to whom the scale is native; but to make such an assertion would be unscientific; we lack the support here of such a body of evidence as we have to prove the African origin of the aberrations from the major scale which I have discussed. Nevertheless, it is significant in my eyes that the few songs which were gathered for me by Miss Hill in Kentucky and the songs collected by Miss Hallowell also presented themselves to the apprehension, though not to the comprehension, of the collectors of the "Slave Songs of the United States." The intermediate collectors—those who made the Fisk and Hampton collections—having a more popular purpose in view were, I fear, indifferent to their value and beauty.
It is a pity that students are without adequate material from which the natural history of the scales might be deduced—a pity and a wrong. Governments and scien­tific societies backed by beneficent wealth are spending enormous sums in making shows out of our museums. For these shows men go to Africa actuated by the savage propensity to kill, and call its gratification scientific r6-search. Who has gone to Africa to capture a melody? No
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