Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

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

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one or two individuals "star" danced at time. The others of the crowd (which was usually large) formed a circle about this one or two who were to take their prominent turn at dancing. I use the terms "star" danced and "prominent turn" because in the latter part of our study we shall find that all those present engaged sometimes at intervals in the dance. But those forming the circle, for most of the time, repeated the Rhyme, clapping their hands together, and patting their feet in rhythmic time with the words of the Rhyme being repeated. It was the task of the dancers in the middle of the circle to execute some graceful dance in such a manner that their feet would beat a tattoo upon the ground answering to every word, and sometimes to every syllable of the Rhyme being repeated by those in the circle. There were many such Rhymes. " 'Possum Up the Gum Stump," and "Jawbone" are good ex­amples. The stanzas to these Rhymes were not usually limited to two or three, as is generally the case with those recorded in our collection. Each selection usually had many stanzas. Thus as there came variation in the words from stanza to stanza, the skill of the dancers was taxed to its utmost, in or­der to keep up the graceful dance and to beat a changed tattoo upon the ground corresponding to the