Favorite Songs and Hymns For School and Home, page: 0310

450 Of The World's Best Songs And Hymns, With Lyrics & Sheet music for voice & piano.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
The origin of these Slave Songs is unique. They are never" composed " after the manner of ordinary music, but spring into life, ready made, from the white heat of religious fervor during some protracted meeting in church or camp. They come from no musical cultiva�tion whatever, but are the simple, ecstatic utterances of wholly untutored minds. From so unpromising a source we could reasonably expect only such a mass of crudi�ties as would be unendurable to the cultivated ear. On the contrary, however, the cultivated listener confesses to a new charm, and to a power, never before felt, at least in its kind. What can we infer from this but that the child-like, receptive minds of these unfortunates were wrought upon with a true inspiration, and that this gift was bestowed upon them by an ever-watchful Fa�ther, to quicken the pulses of life, and to keep them from the state of hopeless apathy into which they were in danger of falling. A technical analysis of these
melodies shows some interesting facts. The first pecul�iarity that strikes the attention is in the rhythm. This is often complicated, and sometimes strikingly original, and it is remarkable that the effects are so satisfactory. Another noticeable feature of the songs is the entire ab�sence of triple time, or three-part measure among them. The reason for this is doubtless to be found in the beat�ing of the foot and the swaying of the body which are such frequent accompaniments of the singing. These motions are in even measure, and in perfect time; and so it will be found that, however broken and seemingly irregular the movement of the music, it is always capa�ble of the most exact measurement. In other words, its irregularities invariably conform to the "higher law" of the perfect rhythmic flow. It is a coincidence worthy of note that more than half the melodies are in the same scale as that in which Scottish music is written; that is, with the fourth and seventh tones omitted. The fact
Slave Hymn.
that the music of the ancient Greeks is also said to have been written in this scale, suggests an interesting in�quiry as to whether it may not be a peculiar language of nature, or a simpler alphabet than the ordinary dia�tonic scale, in which the uncultivated mind finds its easiest expression. The variety of forms presented in these songs is truly surprising, when their origin is considered. This diversity is greater than the listener would at first be likely to suppose. The themes are also quite as distinct and varied as in the case of more pre�tentions compositions. The reader may feel assured t'.i?* the music as here given is entirely correct. It was taken down from the singing of the Jubilee band, during repeated interviews held for that purpose, and no line or phrase was introduced that did not receive full indorse�ment from these singers. Some of the phrases and turns in the melodies are so peculiar that the listener might
suppose them to be incapable of exact representation by ordinary musical characters. It is found, however, that they all submit to the laws of musical language, and if sung or played exactly as written, all the charac�teristic effects will be reproduced.�Theo. F. Seward. The song given above, is a favorite on the Sea Is�lands, off the coast of South Carolina. Once, when ill-feeling was excited and trouble anticipated because of uncertain action of the Government in regard to the confiscated lands on those islands, Gen O. O. Howard was called upon to address the colored people. To prepare them to listen, he requested them to sing. At once an old woman on the outskirts of the meeting began," Nobody knows the trouble I've seen," and the whole audience.joined in. The plaintive melody: and the apt refrain of the rude hymn, produced an effect that can never be forgotten by those who heard it sung.
Previous Contents Next