Mudcat Café message #185996 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #18581   Message #185996
Posted By: John in Brisbane
27-Feb-00 - 11:45 PM
Thread Name: BS: What isn't Folk?
Subject: RE: BS: What isn't Folk?
And for another view on this subject as it pertains to American spirituals.



Written by Alain Locke

From The New Negro edited by Alain Locke

Copyright 1925 by Albert & Charles Boni, Inc.

It may not be readily conceded now that the song of the Negro is America's folk-song; but if the Spirituals are what we think them to be, a classic folk expression, then this is their ultimate destiny. Already they give evidence of this classic quality. Through their immediate and compelling universality of appeal, through their untarnishable beauty, they seem assured of the immortality of those great folk expressions that survive not so much through being typical of a group or representative of a period as by virtue of being fundamentally and everlastingly human. This universality of the Spirituals looms more and more as they stand the test of time. They have outlived the particular generation and the peculiar conditions which produced them; they have survived in turn the contempt of the slave owners, the conventionalizations of formal religion, the repressions of Puritanism, the corruptions of sentimental balladry, and the neglect and disdain of second-generation respectability. They have escaped the lapsing conditions and the fragile vehicle of folk art, and come firmly into the context of formal music. Only classics survive such things.

In its disingenuous simplicity, folk art is always despised and rejected at first; but generations after, it flowers again and transcends the level of its origin. The slave songs are no exception; only recently have they come to be recognized as artistically precious things.