Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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time and in such perfectly dazzling ways as to bewilder the un�initiated. In truth, the uninitiated would not recognize the best known hymn sung thus, unless he could catch a familiar word every now and then. Another example of variation may be found in such songs as "I've Been Redeemed." The chorus is Negro, but the stanzas of aThere is a Fountain Filled with Blood77 are used. Every feature of this song proves that it was composed in large degree and is not really a folk song, although it is classed as one. The burdens of bondage made the one overwhelming impression upon the Negro and kept him faithful to God, the Burden-Bearer; and to Heaven, where burdens are no more; these, therefore, are the subjects of the Negro Song.
It cannot be controverted, that in certain qualities the Negro's music resembles the music of other people, but that is natural, in fact, just as natural as that the Negro himself has certain qualities common to all men. There are points of resemblance and similarity in all the music that has ever been produced by any people, however different in race, or however far separated by ages. In essentials, all men have been and are still the same. The oldest form of African song, that monotonous chant with frequent interjections, strikingly resembles the music of the Indian. This is the form of all heathen music. It is an evidence of the oneness of the human race. The resemblance, however, between the music of the Indian and that of the Negro ceases at this point. In other respects, the difference is amazing. The nature of this very difference is, in itself, a conclusive argument that the Negro did not get his music from the Indian. It is just as reasonable to contend that a full blood Negro could be born of full-blood Indian parents. There is no strength in the argument that the Negro has developed the Indian's music into what we call Negro Folk Song; for it is impossible that this development could have been carried on to the point where not one trace of the original remains. In rkale, intervallic changes, spirit, melody, rhythm, there is no trace of the Indian in the Negro's music. It is all Negro. On this point, Mr. Damrosch says: "The Negro's music isn't ours, it is the Negro's. It has become a popular form of musical expression and is interesting, but it is not ours. Nothing more characteristic of a race exists, but it is characteristic of the Negro, not the Amer�ican race. Through it a primitive people poured out its emotions with wonderful expressiveness. It no more expresses our emotions