Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

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

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midst of their instrumental compositions. I do not recall any case where lines were sung to the closing measures of the compositions.
It might seem odd to some that the grotesque Folk Rhyme should have given rise to comparatively long instrumental music compositions. I think the explanation is probably very simple. The African on his native heath had his crude ancestral drum as his leading musical instrument. He sang or shouted his war songs consisting of a few words, and of a few notes, then followed them up with the beating of his drum, perhaps for many minutes, or even for hours. In civilization, the banjo, fiddle, "quills," and "triangle" largely took the place of his drum. Thus the singing of opening strains and following them with the main body of the instrumental comĀ­position, is in keeping with the Negro's inherited law for instrumental compositions from his days of savagery. The rattling, distinct tones of the banjo, recalling unconsciously his inherited love for the rattle of the African ancestral drum, is probably the thing which caused that instrument to become a favorite among Negro slaves.
I would next consider the relation of the Folk Rhymes to Negro child life. They were instilled into children as warnings. In the years closely fol-