Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

A detailed study of Negro folk music, includes lyrics & sheet music samples.

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An examination of stanzas in various Jubilee songs will show in the same song large variations in poetic feet, etc., not only from stanza to stanza; but very often from line to line, and even from phrase to phrase. Notwithstanding all this variation, a well trained band of singers will render the songs with such perfect rhythm that one scarcely realizes that the structure of any one stanza differs materially from that of another.
A stanza, as it appears in Negro Folk Rhymes, is of the same construction as that found in the Jubilee Songs. A perfect rhythm is there. If while read­ing them you miss it, read yet once again; you will find it in due season if you "faint not" too early.
As a rule, Negro Folk verse is so written that it fits into measures of music written 4/4 or 2/4 time. You can therefore read Negro Folk Rhymes silently counting: one, two; or, one, two, three, four; and the stanzas fit directly into the imaginary music measures if you are reading in harmony with the intended rhythm. I know of only three Jubilee Songs whose stanzas are transcribed as exceptions. They are—
(1)   "I'm Going to Live with Jesus," 6/8 time,
(2)  "Gabriel's Trumpet's Going to Blow," % time, and (3) "Lord Make Me More Patient," 6/8 time.