Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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It all seemed very droll to the keeper of the jail; he said, "I'll get up a dance (of another sort) for you here."
(At Mr. Preval's, in Hospital street, the darkies had to pay for their little hop.)
He took M. Preval and put him in the lock-up, because he gave a ball to steal our money.
(Poor M. Prevail I guess he feels pretty sick; he'll give no more balls in Hospital street.)
He had to pay $100 and had a pretty time finding the money.) He said: "Here's an end of that; no more balls without a permit/')
In conclusion, a word on the value of these Afro-Ameri­can folksongs as artistic material and their possible con­tribution to a national American school of music. In a large sense the value of a musical theme is wholly indepen­dent of its origin. But for a century past national schools have been founded on folksongs, and it is more than likely, in spite of the present tendency toward "impressionism" and other aesthetic aberrations, that composers will con­tinue to seek inspiration at its source. The songs which I have attempted to study are not only American because they are products of a people who have long been an integral part of the population of America, but also be' cause they speak an idiom which, no matter what its origin, Americans have instinctively liked from the begin­ning and have never liked more than now. On this point Dr. Dvorak, one of the world's greatest nationalists, is entitled to speak with authority. In an essay on "Music in America," which was printed in "The Century Maga­zine" for February, 1895, he said:
"A while ago I suggested that inspiration for truly national music might be derived from the negro melodies or Indian chants. I was led to take this view partly by the fact that the so-called plantation songs are indeed the most striking and appealing melodies that have Deen found on this side of the water, but largely by observation that this seems to be recognized, though often unconsciously, by most Americans. All races have their distinctive national songs, which they at once recognize as their own even if they have never heard them before. . . It is a proper question to ask, What songs, then, belong to the American and appeal more strikingly to him than any others? What melody would stop him on the street if he were in a strange land, and make the home feeling well up within him, no matter how hardened he might be, or how wretchedly the tune were played? Their number, to be sure, seems to be limited. The most potent, as well as the most beautiful among them, ac­cording to my estimation, are certain of the so-called plantation melodies and slave songs, all of which are distinguished by unusual and subtle har­monies, the thing which I have found in no other songs but those of Scotland and Ireland."
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