Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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AFRICAN SONG.                                           15
Why do certain races use certain scales while others use different ones? It is quite clear why certain peoples have certain subjects for their songs; why some sing of mighty oceans, storms and waves, and some others sing of blue skies and olive groves, but why one race from the very beginning of its existence will express its senti�ments in tones different from those of any other people is a mystery yet unsolved.
The African soul for some inexplicable reason expresses himself in its own peculiar scale, 1-2-3-5-6-8. Every shout of triumph, every note of endurance, every wail of sorrow, every cry of pain, every heart-throb of love, every prompting of religion, is expressed in that scale, and moreover, expressed in such wise, that as a result the quality of wierdness is the essence of each one. Let the African sing of victory, and although the notes stir men's hearts to deeds of heroism, those same heroic hearts will express themselves through genuine tearfulness; let him sing of defeat, and the strangeness of it all with subtle force takes from defeat the sharpness of its sting; let him sing of the toils of an every-day, humdrum life, and the very tools with which he labors, the drill, the hammer, the ax, play such a queer and fascinating tune that others are led to believe that the African's existehce is an undisturbed succession of bright, cloudless days; let him sing of Heaven, and a weird rapture so completely possesses the soul, that this beautiful world of ours, the grand firma�ment above us, are just commonplace, and a desire for the celestial world displaces all other longings.
In truth, the African Folk Song is a melodious expression of tribal life with an irresistible weirdness running through the whole.
"It is a soul breathed into Melody, A heart living in a song."
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