Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

Background, histories, development & commentary

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
ings and assume cordial relations with the different phases of life. It is largely on account of this "emotional nature/' which so many condemn, that he is monopolizing in different ways so much of the world's attention. Consequently, when we begin to describe the attitude of the Negro toward his own folk song, accuracy demands that we take into consideration time, place, and condition.
Following this course, we shall classify the Negro as follows: (1) Our fathers who came out of bondage. (2a) Those of the first generation of freedom, who grew up in illiberal and intolerant locali�ties. (2b) Those who grew up in localities where the relations be�tween the races were more amicable. (3) The educators; (a) teach�ers, (b) clergymen, (c) musicians, and (d) authors. (4) The second generation of freedom; (a) those who have lived in the North, (b) those who have lived in the South.
To our fathers who came out of bondage and who are still with us, these songs are prayers, praises, and sermons. They sang them at work; in leisure moments; they crooned them to their babes in their cradles; to their wayward children; they sang them to their sick, wracked with pain on beds of affliction; they sang them over their dead. Blessings, warnings, benedictions, and the very heart beats of life were all expressed to our fathers by their songs. To them there is not one insignificant pause, cadence, inflexion, or ex�pression anywhere in all these countless songs; but every note, every word, every sentiment, is of tremendous import. Yes, those who lived in bondage with these songs, the offspring of their souls still love them as their comforters.
To those of the first generation, who grew up in localities illiberal and intolerant, these songs are generally objects of indifference or aversion. To them slavery is more indefensible than it was to their fathers, and present-day ill-treatment adds to their indignation. Then, too, these songs always remind them of slavery and all slavery meant to their fathers; therefore, the logical sequence is that they either pass them by with "silent contempt," or they regard them with positive apathy. They take neither time nor pains to understand, or if they do this, it is only to condemn. They find all kinds of fault with them, make all kinds of odious comparisons, and "laugh them to scorn." As it is true that mankind will find fault with, criticize, and pick flaws in anything for which he may have conceived a dis-