Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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Characteristics and Peculiarities.
"The man that hath not music in himself,                     
Nor is not moved with concord of siueet sounds,          \
Is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils;                     \
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,                '
And his affections dark as Erebus;                               ;
Let no such man be trusted."                                        ;
I N spite of the continued contact with the whites, the Negrb melo�dies as we have them to-day still retain their exotic traits." It is the aim of this chapter to point out these exotic traits and other elements which give individuality to our FOLK Song and as far as possible to give the reason or reasons for these characterizing and peculiarizing features. By far the most prominent and weighty influence in this music, as we have often reiterated, is its religious element. Each song is based upon some scriptural passage or it is created by the imagination out of a religious experience. This scrip�tural reference may not always be used accurately, in fact, it may be and often is twisted and changed in strange manner, but it is never wrought into a form so shapeless as to be unrecognizable; moreover, it is generally shaped so as to carry a point ivhich sticks. Some of those based upon direct scriptural passages are:
"Swing low, sweet chariot� Coming for to carry me home�" "I look over Jordan."�2 Kings 2 : 1-11. "There is a balm in Gilead."�Jeremiah 8: 22. "Rise, shine, for thy light is a-coming."�Isaiah 60 : 1. ■ "I know I have another building."�2 Corinthians 5:1. "Daniel saw the stone."�Daniel 2: 34, "Come down, angels."�John 5: 23.
Scores of songs come under this head in which the scriptural reference is most direct.
Among those songs which the imagination creates out of its re�ligious experiences are found: