English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians

122 Songs and Ballads, and 323 Tunes With Lyrics & sheet Music - online book

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xviii                               Introduction
This description will, it is hoped, enable the reader to understand the modal and scale index attached to each of the tunes printed in this volume. His attention, however, must still be called to two points.
In some tunes it has been difficult to decide with certainty upon the tonic, for in pentatonic airs, or, at any rate, in these mountain melodies, the tonic is frequently and patently not the final note of the tune. Airs of this kind are called "circular," because the final phrase is fashioned so that it may lead into the initial phrase without pause or break of con­tinuity and thus complete the melodic circle. Strictly speaking, the singer on the final repetition of a circular tune should vary the last phrase so as to conclude upon the tonic; but this singers very rarely do— No. 25 is the only tune in this Collection in which this is done.
Again, it will be seen that a heptatonic tune may, so far as its notes are concerned, be assigned indifferently to one or other of two modes. An ionian air, for instance, may belong to Mode I, or Mode 3; a dorian to Modes 2 or 4, and so forth. The true classification in such cases is determined by detecting the "weak" notes, which, by disclosing the places in the scale where the gaps originally occurred, will thereby show the mode, of which the tune in question is a derivative. An ionian tune, for example, will be assigned to Mode 1 if its third be a weak note (as well as its seventh), and to Mode 2 if, instead of the third, the fourth be the weak one. Similarly a dorian air will be classified second or fourth Mode according as the second or third scale-degree be the weak note.
Ethnological Origin of the Singers. If the prevalence of the gapped scale in the mountain tunes is any indication of the ethnological origin of the singers, it seems to point to the North of England, or to the Lowlands, rather than the Highlands, of Scotland, as the country from which they originally migrated. For the Appalachian tunes, notwithstanding their "gapped" characteristics, have far more affinity with the normal English folk-tune than with that of the Gaelic-speaking Highlander (cf. Journal of the Folk-Song Society, v., pp. 157-269), and may, therefore, very well have been derived from those who, dwelling on the borders of the High­land Kingdom, had become infected to some extent with the musical proclivities of their neighbours. It will be observed, moreover, that the Notes contain a large number of references to Dean Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs and to the late Gavin Greig's Folk-Songs of the North-East, and both of these are collections of traditional songs from Lowland, not Highland, Scotland.
There is, however, another possible explanation. For all that we