Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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A people's musical expression of their feelings as produced by the forces and conditions of their life constitutes their folk song.
Carl Holliday, M.A., instructor in English Literature in the Uni�versity of Virginia, says: "Of all the builders of the nation the Negro alone has created a species of lyric verse that all the world may recognize as a distinctly American production." Mr. Holliday has shown a warm interest and satisfying knowledge of the Negro Music. He approaches his subject with an adequate idea of its im�portance, treating it in a deservedly serious manner and producing an article, which is a distinct contribution to the subject.
The American History and Encyclopaedia of Music, under the heading "Negro Music and Negro Minstrelsy," contains the follow�ing statement: "While not of a strictly American origin, they have undoubtedly gone to form the foundation of such Folk Song litera�ture as this country possesses." While this statement adds strength to the claim that the Negro has produced the only American Folk Song which is so far developed and improved in its vehicle that it is not far from the truth to call it American, the statement needs explanation. It is true that the Negro Folk Song is not wholly American, for the vehicle or framework is African. The literary and spiritual forces, however, are wholly American. The subject-matter and sentiment express American life. There is evidence of no other source. Kecognizing both its Americanism and its worth, Dvorak in his "New World Symphony," Chadwick in his "Second Symphony," and Schoenfleld in his "Sunny South Overture," Koeger in his "Ten American Sketches," have all used the essential materials of |Negro music. Thematically, its use is becoming more and more extensive.
Musical and literary authority through scientific investigation
has established the fact that while there is no American Folk Song
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in the sense of expressing American life as a whole, still there is a Folk Song in America, and that is the Music of the Negro. 3