Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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of Central Africa. Carl Mauch, in his "Reisen in Siid-Afrika" says of the music of the Makalaka that it usually consists of a phrase of eight measures, repeated ad infinitum, to which are sung improvized verses with a refrain. Walla-schek cites Eduard Mohr1 as saying that the Damaras rarely dance, in fact, only on extraordinary occasions; and they sing together just as rarely, although fond of solo singing, the words for which they extemporize, while the refrains are taken up by a chorus. Wallaschek also says (page 4), "The Balatpi reminded Weber2 of Venetian gon­doliers or of the lazzaroni in Naples. One would improvise a stanza which others would immediately sing in chorus to a charming melody. Each in turn improvises thus, so that all have an opportunity of exhibiting their talents for poetry and wit. The fact that all words ended in a vowel sound simplified the extemporization of verses, which are not invariably accurate as regards rhythm. The general singing of these stanzas seemed to afford the greatest amusement to the singers as they sat in a circle around the campfire." In "Across Africa," by Verney Lovett Cameron, C. B., D. C. L.,8 we read this of the fortune-telling by a fetich man: "On arrival he seated himself on the ground, surrounded by his friends, and then commenced a monotonous recitative. In this he accompanied himself by shaking a rattle made of basketwork shaped like a -dumbbell, while the circle of attendants joined in a chorus, sometimes striking their bells and at others laying them down and clapping their hands in a kind of rhythmic cadence."
Speaking of the Zulu-Kafirs, the Rev. Louis Grout says in Chapter XIV of his book "Zulu-Land; or, Life Among the Zulu-Kafirs of Natal and Zulu-Land":4
The most of their songs consist of only a few words, which they repeat over and over again with such variations as their national taste and habit or individual fancy may dictate. . . Their songs often have a special £tnes8 for the occasion, as when a man in search of a cow goes humming s
' "Nach den Victoriafallen des Zambesi," I, 160.
Ernst von Weber, "Vier Jahre in Afrika," I, 221.
New York, Harpers, 1877.
4 Philadelphia: The Presbyterian Publication Company, 1864.
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