Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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Creole MusicThe Effect of Spanish Influences
Obscenity of Native African DancesRelics in
the AntillesThe HabaneraDance-Tunes
from Martinique
The world over there is a most intimate relationship between folksong and folkdance. Poetical forms and rhythms are the effects as well as the causes of the re­gulated movements and posings of the dance. Peoples, like those of Africa, who have a highly developed sense of rhythm also have a passionate fondness for the dance, and it was to have been expected that the black slaves would not only develop them in their new environment, but also preserve the rhythms of those primitive dances in the folksongs which they created here. This was the case, in a measure, but the influence which was most potent in the development of the characteristic folksong was prejudicial to the dance.
The dances which were part and parcel of the primitive superstitions which the slaves brought with them from Africa necessarily fell under the ban of the Christian Church, especially of its Protestant branch. In Louisiana, the Antilles and Spanish America the Roman Catholic Church exercised a restrictive and reformative influence upon the dance; in other parts of the continent the Metho­dist and Baptist denominations, whose systems were most appealing to the emotional nature of the blacks, rooted it out altogether, or compelled the primitive impulse to find expression in the "shout"—just as the same influences led the white population to substitute the song-games, which are now confined to children, for the dance in many sections of the United States.
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