Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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away in communities in which Protestant influences were dominant, especially where the teachings of the Methodists and Baptists took strongest hold. There the "shout" provided vent for the emotions to which their ancestors gave expression in mad and lascivious dancing,
Paul B. du Chaillu1 describes a nocturnal funeral chant whose wailing seemed burdened with a sense of absolute hopelessness and whose words ran thus:
Oh, you will never speak to us any more, We can not see your face any more, You will never walk with us again, You will never settle our palavers for us.
Edwards, in his history of the West Indies,2 says of the slaves in those islands:
At other times, more especially at the burial of such among them as were respected in life or venerable through age, they exhibit a sort of Pyrrhick or war-like dance, in which their bodies are strongly agitated by running, leaping and jumping, with many violent and frantick gestures and contortions. Their funeral songs, too, are all of the heroick or martial cast, affording some colour to the prevalent notion that the negroes consider death not only as a welcome and happy release from the calamities of their condition, but also as a passport to the place of their nativity; a deliverance which, while it frees them from bondage, returns them to the society of their dearest, long lost and lamented relatives in Africa.
From the description by Francisco Travassos Valdez,' it appears that in Loanda, Lower Guinea, when a death occurs the friends of the dead person not only sing and dance at the funeral, but repeat the rites at intervals of a week and a month. In the songs the good deeds of the departed are celebrated and his virtues extolled. The eulogies are interrupted at intervals by one of the mourners exclaiming, "He is dead!" whereupon all the others reply in chorus, "Woe is me!"
In some sections of Africa the period of mourning is, or was, a period of cessation from musical performances; in
1The song is quoted by Prof. Edwards from Du Chaiilu's "Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa," and Prof. Edwards refers for similar examples to Major A. G. Laing's "Travels in Western Africa," London, 1825, pp. 233 and 237; Theodor Waitz's "Anthropologic der Naturvolker," Leipsic, 1860, II, pp. 240 and 243; and K. Endemann'a "Mittheilungen fiber die Sotho-Neger," Berlin, 1874, pp. 57, 63.                                   '
a "The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies," by Bryan Edwards, Esq., F. R. S., S. A., Vol. II, p. 103.
"Six Years of a Traveller's Life in Western Africa," London, 1861, cited byEngel.
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