Mudcat Café message #1883050 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #96348   Message #1883050
Posted By: Azizi
11-Nov-06 - 09:07 AM
Thread Name: Why do our songs last so long ?
Subject: RE: Why do our songs last so long ?
Hello, Shaneo. I just saw your name on another thread. If you are new to Mudcat, welcome!

When I read this thread title, I thought it referred to the length a song itself-such as the length of English ballads which have verse upon verse upon verse etc etc etc. My first thought was that the reason why these folk songs had that textual form is because they were composed to be sung by a single person-as opposed to a married person ;0)

-sorry I couldn't resist that-

But if by "our folk songs" you're referring to the European and European American folk ballads, isn't it true that these songs were {are} performed by a performer {or performer} and the audience's role is largely to sit back and listen?

I contrast this with the textual structure of African American {and other African Diaspora} folk songs whose call & response patterns have a built in expectation that audiences will participate. Furthermore, the short verses and repeated lines in African American folk music {which should also be considered "our" folk music-at least if you broaden your definition as to who "our" includes} also lend themselves to audience participation.

Als, with regard to African American folk music {in the context of this thread I mean secular slave songs & spirituals}, the music was often open ended-verses could be composed on the spot and added to the song and verses from other songs could also be added to the songs thus helping the song to "last so long".

FWIW, I think that African American dance songs from slavery that have become part of the American folk song genre, and other American dance songs were open ended because people wanted to get their dance on". The longer the song, the more time they could spend dancing.

Also, with regards to spirituals and songs used during Shout religious worship {Shout=men & women walking in counter clockwise circles while repeatedly singing the words of a religous song}, the reason why the song "lasts so long" was to help worshippers reach a certain state of worship which some might rightly or wrongly consider a trance state which after all just means a different {if not elevated} state of consciousness.

And yes, Shaneo, I gather that you meant by your title and initial post that this thread would be a discussion on the continuity of certain folks song, and not the structural composition of those or other songs, but I hope you don't mind me expanding the scope of the discussion.

Best wishes,

Azizi