FolkBallads - . -. .Wflwtnfimnwkmm ,mmiwmw-wzm. mnwmhm‘...

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Unformatted text preview: . -. .Wflwtnfimnwkmm ,mmiwmw-wzm. mnwmhm‘ w. W3 .s. wnWmWw—yflAWW-W. . . _. .. - I www.miiherom/ierrisumifie Early Folk Music F5 olk music refers to simpie songs and instrumental pieces whose origin has been lost or forgotten, or to music composed in an informal styie traditional in certain cuitures. Unpretentious, easy to remember and to perform, folk music appeals to inexperienced listeners and sophisti- cated musicians alike. The folk music of the United States springs from many ethnic and cuitural sources: English, Irish, Scottish, Weish, German, and other European influ- ences abound. Africa, too—particularly West Africa—introduced an immea— surabie wealth of musical sounds and traditions to folk as weii as to other musics in America. Much of the recent urban and country foik music we shall consider in Chapters 11 and 14 is deeply rooted in the traditional music intro- duced here. Spanish Traditions The Spanish founded St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. It is the oldest continu~ ously surviving European settlement in the United States, and Spanish music traditions remain strong in that area of the country, (A historian recently pointed out that not until 2055 wili the flag of the United States have flown over St, Augustine as long as the Spanish flag did.) In regions of the South- west as weiE, one stiil hears Spanish folk songs and dances and folk hymns (religious songs) reflecting their origins in seventeenth-century Spain or more recent Mexico. Missionary priests taught Indians to sing hymns, for example, and Spanish troops guarding forts near the Christian missions sang baiiads and love songs at their work. Vendors’ songs, work songs, lul’iabies, and aii manner of Spanish folk dances, or bailes, formed an ordinary part of the Spanish settiers’ lives in the New World. Performed now as in years past to celebrate engagements, weddings, birthdays, and other happy sociai events, such rollicking boiler as El cutilio {an Online Listening Exampie) lighten the hearts of those who hear themwthough few remember how to dance the intricate steps popular 150 years ago. Early Folk Music AICI b00105 One of the first kinds of religious music in California, Texas, and New Mexico was the alabado, a Spanish hymn, or reiigious song (alabado sea means “praised be”). Alabados became part of a thriving Spanish folk tra- dition that survives today in remote villages of the American Southwest. Long and invariabiy sad, alabados project the profound loneliness of the beautiful but remote regions inhabited by those who sing them. Some alabados, probabiy introduced by Franciscan priests, are related mu— sically to the chants of the Roman Catholic church; newer alabacios‘ use major and minor scales (See p. 4). Like chant, the religious texts are sung Without measure, the rhythm conforming to that of the words. Alabados performed during religious processions are sung in unison, unaccompanied except perm haps by fiute figures evocative, some say, of the tears of Mary, and a twirling rattle. Alternatively, alabados may be sung by a solo voice or by a lead singer, often a priest, alternating verses with group responses. The latter method offers missionary priests, for example, a prime opportunity to teach the stories of the Bible in song. Many examples of alabadbs may he heard on YouTube. Corridor. Storytelling songs or ballads with roots in both Mexico and parts of the southwestern anti western United States, corridos relate the unofficial history of Mexican or Mexican American communities and their heroes. Pow— erful meditations on honor and bravery, corridos focus more on the stories they tell—“of heroes, villains, romances, and historic events—than the music, which usually consists of a simple melody performed unaffectediy with sparse accompaniment. During the nineteenth-century Mexican war of independence and the twentieth—century Mexican revolution, corridos informed the people of newsworthy events. More recent corridos have celebrated famous leaders, in- cluding Martin Luther King, In, and César Chavez; deiivered moral messages; 'reiated tales of everyday life and love, immigration, and the drug trade; and " expressed nostalgia for Mexico. . Traditionally sung by a solo vocalist accompanied by a guitar, corridos have in modern times been performed, and made more complex, by popular music grbups. (Los Tigres del Norte, a highly popular Mexican band, includes at least One or two corridos on each CD it produces.) Chordal accompaniment of a melody line results in the musical texture caiied homophonic. . Homophonic Texture. When a melody is accompanied by chords, we call the resulting texture homophony, or homophonic texture. The accompaw nying voices (instrumental or vocal) produce harmony, but are not primarily of melodic interest themselves. Hymns sung in unison by a church congregation are often accompanied by an organ or piano adding chordal harmony; a band ovides harmonic accompaniment while the crowd sings “The Star Spangled Banner” at a football game; folk singers may accompany themselves by strum— flling chords on a musical instrument. All of these are examples of homepho~ Inc, or chordal, texture (Figure 2.1) 29 30 Chapter 2 HGURE 2.? ' " ' ' ' Homophonéc texture: o melody accompanied by chords, The Texas-Mexican border performance style, called nortefio in northern Mexico and Tex~Mex or tejano (tay-ha' 420} in Texas, often includes an accos- dion, as heard in “El corrido de Gregorio Cortez” (Listening Example 4). British Traditions The early English settlers who arrived in the New World around the turn of the seventeenth century brought few musical instruments with them; but in time, as violins and other, mostly stringed, instruments became available, the settlers and colonists played the fiddle tunes and dances familiaz‘ from their British Early Folk Music childhood. Many traditional songs acquired new words and aitered melodies, reflecting American dialects and New World experience as they were handed down from one generation to the next. These folk music traditions survive today in rural and mountain areasa where the style of singing and playing instruments is remarkably close to that of seventeenth—century Britain. Simple luiiabies, such as “The Mockingbird” (“I-lush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa‘s gonna buy you a mockingbird”), delightfully silly and entertaining nOnsense songs, various work songs, and singing games {“Did You Ever See a Lassie.” “Go In and Out the Window”) all belong to the American foik song repertoire. Folk 30 i lods British folk ballads, delivered from agemory by a solo voice, with or without accompaniment, offer little background information about the stories they relate, presenting the eSSentiai eiements and allowing the listener’s imagination free rein to flesh out the details. Although the events described often are of a dramatic, even tragic, nature, these ballads present them in a simple, direct, nearly emotionless manner, time and place remaining pleasantly abstract. British baliads were a major source of entertainment in early America {Fig- ure 2.2). Sung by amateurs for their own or their families’ and friends’ pleasare, they often included a very iarge number of stanzas, so that the entertainment might last as long as possible. Having survived through oral tradition, their authors unknown or forgotten, they evolved as the product of many people over tong periods of time, remaining subject to aiteration today. Thus ballad 33 FIGURE 2.2 Eorly Americans gather to enioy informal music ond dance. Chopier 2 singers often add, alter, or delete stanzas as they perform, lending a song local or timely relevance, or simply expressing the irrepressible creativity of the balladeer. Among the most popuiar subjects for bailads is the ill-fated love affair, such as the one described in the very famous “Barbara Ailen” (Listening Exam- ple 5). A favorite song of President George Washington, this is one of a great number of folk ballads that have survived apparently intact since their British {in this case probably Scottish) origin. Some of these very old songs seem to have been better preserved in America, in fact, than in the land that introduced them, and they have long been adopted into the American folk repertoire. Like many folk and other simple meiodies, “Barbara Allen” is based on a five~note, or pentatonic, scale corresponding to the five black notes within an octave on a keyboard. (Any five notes may be selected to form a pentatonic scale, but the biaciokey pattern is the most commonly used) You might try piaying this and many other nines, including “Merrin We Roll Along,” “Oh! Susanna,” and “01d Foli<s at Home,” entirely or for the most part on the biack keys of a keyboard instrument.’ Early Foiic Music Early American Folk Music Eariy emigrants also reflected the influence of another kind of British folk tradition, the broadside, written and printed on a very large sheet suitable for public display, or sometimes printed in a newspaper (Figure 2.3). As early as the seventeenth century, Americans began to alter traditional ballads to fit their new experiences, setting original words to old tunes. For subjects, some broadsides took historical or topical events, such as mine disasters, famous murders, or train wrecks; some offered morai instmction or delivered impas- sioned political commentary. Much like the Internet today, broadsides offered an opportunity to state one’s case anonymously, often in brutally satirical terms, free from censorship or retaliation. The first stanza and chorus of a famous patriotic ballad of the Revolutionary period, “The Liberty Song,” exemplify the inflammatory character of political broadsides. (Interestingly, the author of these fervent words, set to an English air called “Heart of Oak,” had urged appeasement with Engiand and staunchly opposed revolution.) The Liberty Song Come, join hand in hand, Brave Americans all! And rouse your bold hearts Atfaz'r Liberty’s call; 33 34 Chapter 2 FIGURE 2.3 In 1768 The Boston Chronicle printed john Dickinson's inflammatory iexl, which he deiioniEy set to the lune of a popular Engiish patriotic song. ..5_ohigluly“fr or v wens“; N0 tyrannous acts shall Suppress yourjasr claim, 0r stain with dishonor America’s name. {Choruswrepeated between the stanzas of Ike song) In freedom we ’re born, And in freedom we’ll live! Our purses are ready, Steady, friends, steady; Not as slaves, but as free men, Our money we ’11 give. MAMERICAN WORDS BY JOHN DICKINSON Less objective, abstract, and timeless than ancient ballads, American broad— sides proved less likely to survive beyond the period that introduced them; thus few of the American folk ballads we remember and enjoy today were written before the second half of the nineteenth century. But even before that time, each geographic area of America was producing songs and instrumen- ial pieces expressing the typical local experience. Frontier people sang songs Eoriy Foik Music about freedom, equaiity, danger, and the beauty of nature in the wild. Ballads commemorated the opening of the Erie Canal (1825), the gold rush in California (1849), and other events of intense local concern. Slaves produced their own muSic, expressive of their particular loneliness and suffering. And songs of miners, farmers, railroad workers, and even outlaws also joined the American folk repertoire. Lullabies sewed every segment of the population, and play and party songs entertained aduits as well as Children. Performed in the same piain, direct manner as their British counterparts, American baiiads reflect in their titles—such as “John Henry,” “Biily the Kid,” “The Erie Canai,” “The John B. Sails,” or “The Bailad of Casey Jones” (Listening Example 46, p. 192J—w their nniqueiy American source and character. Sailors’ work songs or chanteys appeared as New Engianders became heaviiy involved in sea trade and traffic, and as sailors working on the rivers, too, developed songs about their trade. The origin of the hauntingly beautiful “Shenandoah” (Listening Example 6) is sketchy, but the song seems to have originated in the early nineteenth century in the areas of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers and eventually to have made its way down the Mississippi to the open ocean, where deep~sea sailors adopted its rolling meiody as their own. (Shenandoah was the name of an Indian chief living on the Missouri River.) It has remained one of America’s favorite folk songs. hashing Example «5' 35 36 Chapter 2 African Traditions Unlike the European settlers, who arrived in the New World of their own free will, Africans were forcibly brought to America in European slave ships, beginning early in the seventeenth century—about the time the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. By 1700 slavery had become common throughout the thirteen coionies. Many siavehoiders harshly discouraged references to African gods and re- ligions in any traditional song or dance. Especially British Protestants, who considered African music customs savage and heathen, did everything possible to eradicate their slaves’ native religion and culture. Partly to this end, the first babies born to slaves in this country (unlike those in other areas of the New World, such as Haiti, Cuba, or Brazil} often were separated from their families to be raised on other plantations. There they learned African lore and language from older Africans, of course, but they also began to accrue experience with America and with English. Slaves in New England worked much as slaves worked in the South but were treated with more leniency, often enjoying a measure of free time in which to entertain themseives and their masters by singing, dancing, and play- ing musical instruments. The admiration they excited by their music was not always to the slaves’ advantage, however: Newspaper lists of slaves for sale and of runaways often referred to their outstanding musical abilities, adding to their desirability as commodities to be owned and abused. As aduits, the first generation of slaves born here began to develop their own music, rooted in African customs and sounds, but genuinely African American, expressing their new experience in a new sort of African American language. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2011 for the course MUSIC 26AC taught by Professor Brinner during the Spring '07 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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FolkBallads - . -. .Wflwtnfimnwkmm ,mmiwmw-wzm. mnwmhm‘...

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