Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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to a romantic past. That past was full of poetry, and though often tragic, it was a life of tender and strong relations, when the "black mammies" with their great big hearts and mystic wisdom, loved and reared ten generations of masters. It was a time when the rich plantation rang with the sweetly lonesome melodies of the faithful slave. No mortal could forget those days. Such regrets were much to the point thirty-five years ago before the educated Negroes began to study, understand, and appreciate their old songs, but this clanger is now forever past. While, however, we shall always preserve these songs, in their original forms and while we shall always go back to them for inspiration and history "lest we forget," they can never be the "last word" in the development of our music. In other words, they are our starting point, not our goal; the source, not the issue, of our music. The Negro ought never be content with the folk songs as they are, but should work for development, which would bring them into a more exalted life. This is just what is being done by the agencies of preservation and development. Among these agencies, are educational institutions, musical organizations, and individuals. The educational institutions foremost in this work are Fisk Uni-versty, Hampton Institute, Atlanta University, Talladega College, Tuskegee Institute, and Calhoun School. In addition to these there are numerous others, both private and public. Each one of these institutions is carrying on the work of preservation or development or both, in its own way. The character of the work depends almost wholly upon the conditions surrounding them. Fisk first gave them to the world, through that band of Jubilee Singers which left Nash�ville on October 6, 1871, to raise funds for a starving institution. This day is still celebrated each year, with appropriate ceremonies. These songs are of much traditional value at Fisk, and are insepa* rably interwoven with the life of the University. Jubilee Hall has been called "frozen music," significant of the fact that it was erected by money earned by the "Original Fisk Jubilee Singers." Fisk has done the most toward development of this music. Several editions of the Folk Songs have been issued, containing "new songs" as they are found. These songs along with the favorite "old songs" have been adorned with new harmonies more in keeping with the idea of development. These harmonies have not all been studied out, as a composer would do, but often they have been written as they have been sung by the students naturally and without instructions. Such