Saturday, August 31, 2013

"En stjärna gick på himlen fram" in Swedish and English / link to online facsimile edition of 1899 Augustana Synod Hymnal

En stjärna gick på himlen fram. Cf. Puer natus in Bethlehem / Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem / Ett barn är födt i Bethlehem

Johannes Dillner, Melodierna till Swenska Kyrkans Psalmer, Noterade med ziffor, för Skolor och Menigheten (Stockholm, 1830): No. 67.

Nätkoralboken. Swedish website on blogspot has MIDI file that plays along with the with notation in Dm. [Also, in another post, that Danish arrangement based on a 16th-century (?) German melody I found in the book I bought at the Helligaandskirken used book sale].

This is a website worth coming back to: "Självspelande koralbok till minne av Johan Dillner (1785-1862), som för ökad koralkännedom startade kyrkokör samt spred ensträngat "Psalmodikon" med noter i sifferskrift. För att se bloggarkivet, klicka på pilarna till vänster om årtal resp. månad (ej på själva årtalet/månaden). Register finns längst ner. För att se hela notblad eller välja tempo och volym, klicka på knappen NOTEFLIGHT i nedre högra hörnet av noterna. Ev. rättelser och andra synpunkter skickas till andreas.holmberg[at]"

"A star is moving through the sky. Halleluiah!" Hymnal: for churches and Sunday-schools of the Augustana Synod. Rock Island: Lutheran Augustana Book Concern, 1899. No. 45.
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America

Wikipedia notes --ärna_gick_på_himlen_fram. "Psalmen bearbetad av Laurentius Jonae Gestritius och trycktes efter hans död första gången 1619. Psalmen översattes troligen eller bearbetades av Jesper Svedberg 1694 ... text arr. Wallin in 1819 psalmbook. [No. 67A, 67B - in Am]. Melodin är en medeltida julvisa från 1553. I 1697 års koralbok anges att melodin också användes för psalmen Ett barn är födt i Bethlehem (nr 145). Directory of Wallin's hymns (which looks like it's practically everything in the 1819 psalmbook).

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Savior of the Nations Come" / also 1881 book catalog cites to student anthology, Moody-Sankey gospel songs in sifferskrift

[Världens Frälsare kom här / Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland]

Swedish version of the Advent hymn Veni redemptor gentium, of the oldest in the history of Christian psalmody, in sifferskrift tab for psalmodikon -- and in several versions over the centuries, including Luther, Bach (including a gorgeous piano transcription by Busoni) over the years. Also widely known by its German title Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland after Luther's 1524 translation (mel. Johann Walter). Text is reliably assigned to St. Ambrose (d. 397 CE). Wikipedia article "Världens Frälsare kom här" says of the melody that "[i]t is not ruled out that it is by Ambrosius" (in Google translation atärldens_Frälsare_kom_här").

But the earliest notated manuscripts date from the 12th century. Cf. the usual thorough and scholarly discussion in article "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works -- Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" on the Bach Cantatas Website at

Tab below from Johannes Dillner. Melodierna till Swenska Kyrkans Psalmer, Noterade med ziffror, för Skolor och Menigheten. Stockholm, 1830. Rpt. Charleston, SC: Nabu, 2012.

The mode is Aeolian. Dillner has tables that relate the different modes to the psalmodikon's fretboard. The note at the top of the hymn indicates it is A, and +2-3-6-7 indicates it is Aeolisk or Aeolian. Another table lists the modes: Cf. +2+3+6+7 for Ionisk, +2-3+6-7 Dorisk and +2+3+6-7 for Mixolydisk. Plusses (+) are sharp, and minuses (-) are flat.

Julstämning del 1 i Landala Kapell 2011. Landala Kapell second day of Christmas, w/ Hvitfeldtska Gymnasiets Kammarkör w/ friends. Dir.: Martin Bagge. Världens Frälsare kom här begins at 7:30 and lasts till 10:57. Note congregation rising for last verse at 10:35.

Alauda: Världens frälsare kom här. Alauda (Agnes Lindberg, Sara von Bahr Grebäck, Helena Johansson, Olle Lindberg): Världens frälsare kom här (psalm 112, Aurelius Ambrosius, arr Agnes Lindberg), 2010-12-18

»Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland« - Alte Weihnachtslieder Neu - Berliner Solistenchor. Christian Steyer and his Berlin based Jazz & Gospel Choir »Berliner Solistenchor« performing «Alte Weihnachtslieder Neu» for piano and choir since 1999. Recorded live at Segenskirche Berlin, December 2008. For concerts and infos please visit:

Horowitz, Bach-Busoni "Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland." "Vladimir Horowitz, the last romantic", 1985 filmed recital in his living room with his wife Wanda Toscanini-Horowitz.

And a chorale variant from Estonia performed by the String Sisters ...

String Sisters:Världens frälsare/Gabhaim Molta Bride/Luseblus. Världens frälsare(Saviour of the world) is a chorale from the islands of Estonia where the Swedish language was introduced in the 13th century.This is one many hymns collected from this area, sung by the descendents of the original settlers. -- Emma.

Also in this set:

  • Gabhaim Molta Bride.This is an old song praise of one of the most famous Irish saints,St.Brigid.She was also a pre-Christian Celtic goddess who protected livestock.Her saint day is at the beginning of the month of February, and it heralds the springtime and the rejuvenation of live. -- Mairead
  • Lusebus.In Norwegian,we call the small animals that sometimes live in our hair,and make us itch,"lus"."Blus" is how we pronounce the music style blues. This is a luseblus. -- Annbjorg

Google Books stub page (no book, just title and publisher): 20 svenska folkvisor i not- och sifferskrift: Till folkskolornas tjenst, L. Aug Lundh. Stockholm: Elkan & Schildkneeht, 1881.


Svensk bok-katalog. Tidningsaktiebolaget Svensk Bokhandel, 1890 -- *171, 140, 27, 320, 57, Google eBook

p. 171 -- Melodier till andliga sånger, sjunga af I.D. Sankey. [I sifferskrift.] I, II. Liten 8:o, 120 o. 100 s. Örebro, Söndagsskolfören. 76.

follows entry Melodier till andliga sånger etc. for en eller flera roster med accompagn. af orgel el. piano. same publisher Örebro, Söndagsskolfören

Swedish choral music -- misc links

Excerpt from

Sweden has a long tradition of professional and amateur choir singing. A large percentage of the Swedes sing in amateur choirs in various styles. The choirs of Sweden are among the best in the world, with the Radio Choir, owned by Sveriges Radio (Swedish public radio) being one of the world's top professional classical choirs. Orphei Drängar (OD) is a world class male choir singing both in Swedish and other languages. The world famous choir leader Eric Ericsson started his career as chief conductor of OD in the 1950s.

NPR blog post: Literally! Reports Anna Haensch:

Lifting voices together in praise can be a transcendent experience, unifying a congregation in a way that is somehow both fervent and soothing. But is there actually a physical basis for those feelings?

To find this out, researchers of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied the heart rates of high school choir members as they joined their voices. Their findings, published this week in Frontiers in Neuroscience, confirm that choir music has calming effects on the heart — especially when sung in unison.

Using pulse monitors attached to the singers' ears, the researchers measured the changes in the choir members' heart rates as they navigated the intricate harmonies of a Swedish hymn. When the choir began to sing, their heart rates slowed down.

"When you sing the phrases, it is a form of guided breathing," says musicologist Bjorn Vickhoff of the Sahlgrenska Academy who led the project. "You exhale on the phrases and breathe in between the phrases. When you exhale, the heart slows down."

Very nice four-minute video, in Swedish with subtitles, over track of choir singing (and a really, really nice decorative floral painting on cabinet in the background).

KAY POLLACK interview: "AS IT IS IN HEAVEN" Australian TV

As It Is in Heaven (2004). Kay Pollak (Director)


Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2005 Academy Awards®, As It Is In Heaven is the story of Daniel, a successful international conductor who returns to his childhood village in Sweden. Soon thereafter, the local church choir seeks him out to solicit his advice. He can't refuse, and nothing in the village is the same again. As the amateur choir develops and grows, he is drawn to the people of his old hometown, makes friends and finds love... A beautiful and engaging film, As It Is In Heaven is a wonderful story about life and love that is sure to inspire and delight. Starring Michael Nyqvist, of the upcoming Millennium series of films, from the books by Stieg Larsson.

Engaging and very opinionated blog post "Sweden Blows U.S. Away with its National Music Scene" by web designer, musician and freelance writer Zac Shaw on his blog Mediapocalypse. Quotes Wikipedia entry on Sweden, "... out of a population of 9.5 million, it is estimated that five to six hundred thousand people sing in choirs." Adds:

Wow, so 15% of Sweden’s population sings in a choir. What do 15% of American citizens do?

  • 15% use food stamps
  • 15% are anti-Semitic
  • 15% believe in godless evolution
  • 15% have never been to a concert
Shaw Googles up some more statistics, plus coverage of a $6,000 (45,000 SEK) grant to an electro-pop band, concludes, "Could it be that simple? Could Sweden’s secret be public funding of the arts?"

KÖRSAM Federation of Swedish Choir Associations KÖRSAM is the Federation of Swedish Choir Associations on national level. We are currently nine member organizations and with a total of well over 100 000 singers and 600 choral directors KÖRSAM is an important meeting place for Swedish choral music.KÖRSAM is also the representative of Sweden's choral music life towards public authorities as well as music and non-music institutions of all kinds.

Review in directory of

Allmanna Sangen : Resonanser

Review: The Swedish choral tradition enjoys a very high reputation, with music lovers often claiming to be able to recognize a uniquely Swedish choral sound. Exactly what this sound consists of is difficult to pinpoint, but often mentioned are keywords such as melancholy, the Scandinavian countryside, folk music and traditional ballads. The selection of works on this disc exemplifies all of these, and the performance of them has been entrusted to one of the choirs that have shaped Swedish choral music: Allmaanna Sangen, an Uppsala student choir with a history going back for more than 175 years. The choir's position in Swedish cultural life was demonstrated in 2005 by an invitation to sing at the Nobel Banquet. That performance was televised throughout the world, and in fact included three of the works on this disc - Biegga Luothe, Glaspolskan and Byss-Kalles slangpolska. Great traditions notwithstanding, this disc offers a new perspective on its subject, as the choir brings out new resonances in the often well-known music. A collaboration with Swedish jazz pianist Anders Widmark lends unusual colours to settings of ancient folk chorales (I Himmelen) and traditional harvest songs (Slattervisa), as well as to classics from the treasure of Swedish choral music such as Stenhammar's Three Choral Songs and Alfven's Evening. Both Allmanna Sangen and Anders Widmark have made a number of successful recordings, and now that they join forces for the first time, it is an occasion not to be missed.

* * *

Allmänna Sången

[Google trans.:] General Song was founded in 1830 as a men's choir , but was converted into a mixed choir in 1963. The choir is Scandinavia's oldest university fragile . It's Uppsala-based and consists of about 50 singers. In addition to regular concerts do in Uppsala, traveling choir in and outside Sweden on tour, recording CDs and participates in radio and television. Conductor is Maria Goundorina . Since the 2005 's Crown Princess Victoria choir patroness.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Peter Hedlund, the Swedish immigrant who made the psalmodikon in the Steeple Building at Bishop Hill, and sister Anna Hedlund Nystrom


HEADLUND, PETER, farmer å sek. 7; eger 115 acres ; är född i Hanebo, Gefleborgs län; kom till Amerika och Bishop Hill 1850; gifte sig 1867 med Anna Anderson frän Nora; tror på kristendomen, men tillhör ingen kyrka; independent i politiken ; postk. Galva.



Peter Hedlund, deceased, was one of the well-to-do farmers of Henry county, living on section 7, Galva township. Of Swedish birth and parentage he was born February 21, 1840, in Handbu, Helsingland. His parents, Carl and Anna (Olson) Hedlund, both claimed Helsingland as their birthplace and America as the land of their adoption. The father died in middle life on Lake Michigan while on his way to Bishop Hill, but the mother survived the journey and


reached the little Swedish colony. In 1862 she removed to Galva township, where in 1886 she died at the advanced age of eighty years. Three sons and one daughter were born to Carl Hedlund and his wife: Olof, of Sweden; Carl, deceased ; Peter, of this review ; and Anna, the wife of Eric Nystrum, of Bishop Hill. The two oldest sons were both soldiers, Olof in the regular army of Sweden and Carl in the Civil war in this country. The father was a tailor by trade and also a farmer.

Peter Hedlund was but ten years of age when the family came to this coun- try, and he grew to manhood in Bishop Hill. His days were devoted to farm work, and on many an occasion he drove a yoke of oxen in breaking prairie. In 1862 he removed to Galva township, where he first shared a small tract of land with the Bishop Hill colony, and later bought a little place of his own, to which he added continually until at the time of his death he had accumulated about one hundred and seventy-eight and a half acres. On this tract he made his home, having improved it with a good house, a barn and other buildings and brought the soil to a greater productiveness.

Mr. Hedlund was married on the 22d of June, 1867, to Miss Anna Ander- son, a daughter of Andrew and Anna (Peterson) Anderson. She was of Swedish birth, having been born in Westmanland, July 30, 1837, and of Swedish ancestry. Of her parental grandfather, who died before she was born, Mrs. Hedlund remembers very little, but her maternal grandfather was Peter Gregu- lius, a native of Sweden and a farmer. His wife was Catherine Gregulius and was about eighty years of age at the time of her death. They had six daughters and one one son: Catherine, Christine, Gregulius, Anna, Beta, Brita and Mar- garet. Mrs. Hedlund's parents, also of Swedish birth, came to America in 1850 with the Bishop Hill colony, in whose midst the children grew to maturity. In

1863 the family came to Galva township, which was their home until the death of the parents, the father dying in 1886 at the age of seventy-nine, the mother the following year at the age of eighty. There were five children, three sons and two daughters born to the couple : Peter, Andrew, John, Anna and Catharine. The last named died on the Atlantic, while coming to America.

To Mr. and Mrs. Hedlund were born four children, two sons and two daughters : Peter E., Laura A., Alice A. and Charles A. Three of the children live at home, but Alice has married Charles Stoneberg, who lives two miles north of Bishop Hill, and they have two sons, Charles H. and John E. Mr, Hedlund gave allegiance to no political party, but cast his vote as seemed to him right. A good man and true, he was deeply mourned when, at the age of fifty-five years, he was called away, June 9, 1895.

  • Name: Anna Hedlund
  • Sex: F
  • Birth: 11 DEC 1842 in Södra Kyrkbyn, Hanebo Parish, Gävleborgs Län, Sweden

GL12/66 December 1936, Mrs. Eric Nystrom observed her 94th birthday December 11 in her home when relatives and friends spent the afternoon with her. --

GL12/67 December 1937, Mrs. Anna Nystrom observed her 95th birthday at a gathering in the home of her grandson and family, Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Lindstrum. --

SPANY p.243 #13, p.244. Sailed on the Aeolus out of Söderhamn. Arrived in New York Sept. 17, 1850. The family received papers in Gävle May 29, 1850.

From the May 13, 1939 Kewanee Star Courier

Bishop Hill - Mrs. Eric Nystrom, better known around here as "Grandma" Nystrom, is seriously ill at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Vernice Nelson, north of town. Mrs. Nystrom celebrated her ninety-sixth birthday in December of the last year. Up until November she had been living alone in her home here doing her own housework, but since then because of her rapidly failing health she has been at the homes of her grandchildren where she has been confined to her bed most of the time. She is one of he few remaining colonists who helped to establish this place. All of her life it has been a great pleasure to her to recall events of the Bishop Hill colony in which she was so vitally interested.

From the May 18, 1939 Galva News.

Anna Nystrom, Oldest Bishop Hill Lady, dies

Mrs. Anna Hedlund Nystrom, 96, oldest resident of the Bishop Hill community, died at 1:30 this morning in the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Vernice Nelson, north of Bishop Hill, following gradually failing health during the past several months.

Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock from Bishop Hill Methodist Church, in charge of Rev. H. J. Diercks.

Anna Hedlund was born December 11, 1842 at Hannabo, Sweden, a daughter of Carl and Anna Hedlund, her twin brother, Andrew Hedlund, passing away at the age of five weeks. Three other brothers, Olof, Carl and Peter, also preceded her in death.

Came to U.S. in 1850

In 1850, when she was seven years old, she came to America with her parents and two brothers, Carl and Peter, the father being stricken with cholera during the trip and was buried in Lake Michigan. The group traveled from Chicago to Bishop Hill by wagon and located in Red Oak where they lived in a log cabin. Later, the mother, Anna and brother Peter lived in the old church building for ten years and after the dissolution of the colony moved to a farm northwest of Bishop Hill known as the Hedlund homestead. (note: I think the homestead was probably northeast of Bishop Hill - BN)

Her marriage to Eric Nystrom took place in December, 1864, in Galva. Eric and his parents having come to United States on the same boat with the Hedlunds. Following their marriage they lived in Moline for a time and moved to a farm in the Bishop Hill vicinity. Two daughters were born to them: Adaline (Mrs. David Aline), who died in Oregon in August, 1935, and Lillie (Mrs. Albert Lindstrom), who died in the Bishop Hill community in May, 1931. Mr. Nystrom died at Bishop Hill in January, 1911, at the age of 70. Her mother died at the age of 82.

In 1907 Mrs. Nystrom fractured her hip adn had since been handicapped physically. During the past 20 years she had lived alone in Bishop Hill, enjoying good health , altho for two years past she had been spending the ime with her grandchildren and had been with Mrs. Nelson during the past nine weeks. Her friends and co-worker in the colony, Mrs. Elizabeth Hallfast, preceded her in death February this year at the age of 96.

11 Grandchildren Survive

Surviving are 11 grandchildren, as follows: Raymond Lindstrom, Vernice Nelson, Glen Lindstrom and Pearl Ericson, all of Bishop Hill and community; Francis, Rose, Herman, Anna, Lois, Clarence and Eleanor, children of Mrs. Aline, living in Washington and Oregon. During the past winter two of the grandsons from Oregon had visisted Mrs. Nystrom. Also surviving are 15 great-grandchildren, eight of them in Illinois. The son-in -law, Albert Lindstrom, also survives at Bishop Hill.

According to her obit in the Galesburg Daily Register Mail, May 23, 1939, after the family left the cabin in Red Oak, they lived in the "old church building for 10 years".

According to her obit in the Chicago Daily Tribune, May 19, 1939, "As a girl she worked in the colony's broom factory".

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Clayville-Prairieland Strings jam sessions in September -- anniversary of first documented dulcimer in Virginia, 1832

Blast email I just sent out ...

Here's a list of events and meetings for the Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music and the Prairieland Strings in September ...

But, first, tomorrow we have an anniversary. Call it a birthday, if you want. To celebrate it properly:

1. Get out your dulcimer and play the "Happy Birthday" tune.

2. The second time through, sing the following verse:

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday, dear dulcimer, Happy birthday to you.

(Be careful to not charge money for the performance, though! The birthday song is still under copyright.)

Anyway, tomorrow is a date that looms large in dulcimer history. The earliest signed and dated mountain dulcimer of reliable provenance was made by John Scales in Floyd County, Va., and dated Aug. 28, 1832. So by my calculation, that makes the dulcimer 181 years old.

To the schedule ...

Since our first-Saturday monthly learning jam session at Clayville conflicts with the New Salem Traditional Music Festival this year on Saturday, Sept. 7, we're especially inviting the Clayville folks to join the Prairieland Strings at New Salem. It lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we'll gather somewhere at the lower end of the historic village between the Lukas-Ferguson house and Dr. Allen's. Here's the Illinois Times blurb on the festival (which also includes a Friday night concert):

We've also got the Clayville Fall Festival Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22. We've committed to play from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and we hope to have groups of Clayville and Prairieland folks playing throughout the weekend. Since it's a festival, we're combining the Clayville and Prairieland groups (we play at each other's jams anyway). The Clayville festivals are getting to be like the ones we used to have there back in the 80s and 90s -- they feature all kinds of arts, crafts and activities, and we've really enjoyed them when we play them. Link here for details:

Prairieland Strings meetings, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson, Springfield, are at the regular times.

So here's a tentative calendar for the month:

-- Tuesday, Sept. 3, 7-9 p.m. at Atonement. Praairieland Strings "First Tuesday." We'll look at more Christmas music, and easy, fun tunes we can play at New Salem.

-- Saturday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. Traditional music festival.

-- Thursday, Sept.19, 7-9 p.m. at Atonement. Praairieland Strings "Third Thursday." Open schedule. If there's something you want to do, let me know!

-- Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22. Clayville Fall Festival.

We'll try to have more notices out to you with more details as we figure them out!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Connecting the dots? The bum-ditty dulcimer strum, polyrhythms, a Louisiana creole song and bamboula drummers on Congo Square


So I'm listening to the early 20th-century tenor Roland Hayes singing his classical interpretations of African American spirituals, and all of a sudden he's singing a sprightly little tune in Louisiana creole French to a bouncy little piano rhythm that sounds very familiar, although I can't quite place it.

Curious, I get out the liner notes -- I'm playing the old Smithsonian collection of Hayes' art songs and spirituals -- and I read the song is "Mister Banjo (Michieu Banjo)," first recorded Feb. 20, 1941. Gardez piti Millate la, Mister Banjo / Comment li insolent! (Look at that little mulatto / He's so insolent). "It is a song of good-natured satire," says Ulysses Ricard of Tulane, who translated it. "The Creole folk songs of Louisisans originated in much the same manner as the spirituals and work songs of the African-American slaves of the English-speaking South." Here's Hayes' version:

Micheu Banjo (Creole Folksong) -- with Xango - MB begins at 1:57

(Xango is an arrangement of a chant in honor of a West African god that Villa-Lobos set to a Brazilian folk tune. Some interesting stuff here.)

I'm getting really intrigued now, so I go on line and I track down a notated version of "Mister Banjo" on the website. And as I look at the dots, I recognize that elusive little rhythm. It's the "bum-ditty." Of course in this case, it sounds more like "bum-d'ditty" the way Hayes plays it, than a class of beginning dulcimer players plodding through "Bile 'em Cabbage Down." I'm reminded of when I used to wear out my cassette tape of I.D. Stamper trying to figure out his strum. ... Stamper has always sounded kind of black to me, and not just on "Reuben's Train."

Question, and it's one I've asked before: Can we connect the dots? Does the bum-ditty have anything to do with the influence of African-American music in Appalachia? Does the lilt in old-time string band music, especially down home and over in North Carolina, have a measure of syncopation to it? Do the Anglo-Celtic and African=American rhythms interact with each other?

Connecting the dots. I believe we can do it, but it's subtle. Alan Jabbour of the Library of Congress, whom I've linked to elsewhere on the blog, has this outline sketch: "Characteristic American bowing pattern: sixteenth-note grouping of two groups of three followed by two notes - produces shifting syncopation, occurs from Texas to Virginia, considered Appalachian but is used in both black and white fiddling and is African American contribution." It's not quite bum-ditty, the way I count it out, but it's not that far away from it, either.

And I remember watching a video this summer in the minstrel shows class at Common Ground on the Hill, where Robert Winans was saying Joe Sweeney's basic banjo stroke was a "bum-ditty" clawhammer style. So I'm off and running -- call it mindful surfing instead of mindless surfing.

Winans, an emeritus professor at Gettysburg College who plays minstrel-style banjo, has an important post on bum-ditty to the Black Banjo Then & Now list designed to "help those expressing an interest in learning to play in the manner of black banjo players, a style which includes syncopation." -- linked below

And Winans says the ante-bellum minstrel tutors he has consulted strongly suggest that "their white authors have picked up as the core of pre-existing black banjo playing is “bum-diddy” (i.e., in 2/4 time, an 8th note followed by two 16th notes)."

Cf. discussion on Banjo Hangout list at including this: "Its the great American shuffle. The four potatoes, the Georgia bow, Jo Jones' high-hat cymbal, Maybelle's boom-chicka, Hank Williams' "crack rhythm," and the sound of the little piece of paper Johnny Cash stuck in his guitar strings to imitate a snare on the original recording of 'I Walk The Line.'"

Some printed sources:

The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United ... By Samuel A. Floyd. Google Books

Dorothy Scarborough , On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs (19___) 119-20 - -- "The dance-songs of the Creoles are mostly nonsensical, but the music is haunting and wild, with a sensuous appeal appropriate to their dances. ... In 'Slave Songs of the United States' is printed a Creole slave song from Louisiana, making fun of a dandy Negro, which is also a bamboula."

Scarborough, a "song catcher" who was insufferably patronizing at least in her book about Appalachian music, has pix, from "Slave Songs" ... so at least she's got the dots.

Some YouTube clips:

Fisk Jubilee Singers - Recorded live from Elmina Castle in Ghana, West Africa, the Fisk Jubilee Singers perform "Mister Banjo"

Gottschalk, "Bamboula." Piano Solo with introduction by Frank French, music composed by ... Bamboula, danse des nègres for piano, Op. 2, D. - Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Bamboula 2000 drum & dance troupe at Xavier University

Bamboula 2000, Ben Hunter and special guest do a "father's day" drum circle at Congo Square - New Orleans. African, New Orleans drumming, dancing, poetry and singing. Open mic.

Bamboula 2000 is a dance and music ensemble that draws on multicultural roots that reach deep into the soil of Congo Square in the City of New Orleans. For hundreds of years, the town square played host to dance and music rituals performed by people of Caribbean and West African descent. The word bamboula refers to a love dance that was performed to the beat of drums and either a female or male traditionally performed the sensuous movements. The bamboula passed down its syncopated rhythm to strains of music found today in Martinique, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and New Orleans, including calypso, zouk, and dancehall music. Bamboula 2000 takes its heritage and updates it with its original numbers, blending elements of reggae, jazz, funk, urban, and other genres. ...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Melanie Safka sings the Hallelujah Chorus -- echoes of Woodstock and a stunning acoustic solo performance of a choral masterpiece

We are stardust, we are golden ...
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
-- Crosby Stills Nash & Young

So it's a Friday night, and I'm in my home office working on my article for Dulcimer Players News, tracking down a reference I saw (in Jane S. Becker's Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940 [Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1998]: 89) to an "old folks' reunion" music festival at the John C. Campbell Folk School in in 1934. And I get distracted when I hear the 1960s singer-songwriter Melanie Safka singing "... glory, glory psychotherapy."

So I drift down the hall to Debi's office, and she's playing video clips from Woodstock on YouTube.

Anyway, you can't relive Woodstock without remembering Melanie. And vice versa. And you can't do either without remembering her legendary set, in the rain and mud during the first night of the festival on another Friday night 40 years ago. So, of course, I forgot all about the article (other than making a note of my cite from Becker and pasting it in to this blog post). ...

As Debi and I surfed YouTube, we saw a 1970s-vintage clip of Melanie performing something titled "Hallelujah" we hadn't heard before. It looked interesting. We clicked on it. And, just like Woodstock, her performance was electric. Turns out, as we listened to it, we'd heard it before after all.

It's the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.

But ...

Wow. I've heard the Hallelujah Chorus literally dozens of times over the years. I've even sung it, blowing my voice and going sharp on the high notes, in one of those college-community open choruses you don't have to audition for. People tend to either love Melanie's voice or hate it. And I'm not 100 percent sure that covering one of the great choral masterpieces of the western tradition as a pop solo, with the singer backing herself on acoustic guitar, is always a very good idea. But I thought Melanie pulled it off with utter joy and conviction. The performance doesn't quite fit into any of my categories, but I like it.

Melanie's career hasn't exactly fit into neat little boxes, either, ever since it was launched at Woodstock. She went on at 11 p.m. that first night of the festival Aug. 15, 1969, when the Incredible String Band refused to play in the rain. Melanie took the stage in their place, and it was one of those golden moments in pop/rock history -- her set was electric. Today we'd say it went viral. At any rate, it launched her career.

"[A]s a New York kid barely known outside of the coffeehouse circuit in Greenwich Village, she sang her song 'Beautiful People' and inspired the first panorama of candles and cigarette lighters ever raised at a concert event," recalls her official biography, by Robert L. Doerschuk. "That, in turn, moved the young singer to write 'Lay Down (Candles in the Rain'), which sold more than one million copies in 1970 and prompted Billboard, Cashbox, Melody Maker, Record World, and Bravo to anoint her as female vocalist of the year. Her single 'Brand New Key,' an infectious romp about freedom and roller skates, topped the charts in 1971."

Then, as far as I knew, she dropped out of sight.

But, clearly, she didn't. During the 70s she scaled back her career as three children were born, but she continued to perform for UNICEF and a variety of stage and TV shows, and through the years she recorded on a label produced by her husband Peter Schekeryk, who died in 2010. Last year her tribute Melanie and the Record Man played in upstate New York. All of the children are musicians, and one of her sons backs her on guitar when they're on the road.

"She has, in short, lived a rare life," said Doerschuk, and now "she has been putting the pieces in order." "For the first time, I'm not afraid to voice exactly what I feel," she told Doerschuk. "I used to feel that I didn't want to say too much, but now I can say anything. I feel like a person who's never been heard. Maybe people think they've heard me, but they never really have. I'm a new artist who is having so much fun with my voice -- a person shouldn't be allowed to have so much fun. I'm the woman I wanted to be when I was sixteen and going for Edith Piaf. It's me -- I'm back."

"Ring the Living Bell." Another vintage song. This one Melanie wrote, recorded in concert in Hamburg, in 1974. She has quite a fan base in Germany.

On a sad note. What got us started calling up Woodstock videos was when Debi saw the news that Linda Ronstadt has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Ronstadt was at Woodstock, as a backup singer for Country Joe & the Fish.

On a happier note. We also surfed into Walter Cronkite's CBS News coverage of Woodstock on Aug. 18, 1969. It was remarkable for its depth and objectivity, although the on-the-scene network correspondents were clearly puzzled by some of the countercultural references. This is what TV news was like before the cable news networks discovered it's cheaper to broadcast in-studio speculation and commentary while you cut back on reporting.

And another happy note, 40 years after Woodstock. A lengthy interview by local journalist Kati Rausch in June 2012 at the "Schlachthof," in Soest, a town of 45,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with clips from her performance there.

Click here for Part 2. At 8:24 she says, "I had very lofty ideals about helping people and being of service to humanity, and I didn't think being a pop star was it, but it turned out that was what happened. ... Now, I sense that I did fulfill my purpose being a performer and singer."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some tentative conclusions about Appalachian dulcimer origins ** UPDATED ** w/ article on Virginia dulcimers in current Antiques Magazine

Slightly edited version below of an email message I sent to one of the faculty at Common Ground on the Hill, with whom I talked one day after class about the difficulty of documenting mountain dulcimer history. But first, a link to an important article in Antiques Magazine that contains new information about the instrument's origin ... especially among Pennsylvania Germans in southwest Virginia.

** UPDATE **

Here's a link to the everything thread. Ralph Lee Smith: "The July-August issue of Antiques Magazine contains an article entitled, "The Dulcimer in Virginia," by Roddy Moore and Vaughan Webb. ... The article's many excellent illustrations include two instruments from my collection, with attribution. The article also contains references to my book, Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions. The text is well researched and excellently written."

Online version, w/o pix, at Among the money graf(s):

Fed by local customs, family traditions, or sometimes just the influence of one or two makers, a multigenerational dulcimer-making tradition flourished in pockets of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Of those areas, the western Virginia Blue Ridge can make some claim to being the birthplace of the "American" dulcimer with curved sides and a raised fretboard.

Estate records from 1780 to 1860 in Virginia's Roanoke and New River valleys list more dulcimers (39) than any other instrument except the fiddle (103). Equally significant, the records point to the rapid adaptation of the instrument by non-Germans in the region.6 Nearly two-thirds of the dulcimers identified were owned by families whose surnames reflect British ancestry. It is reasonable to assume that these non-German owners were playing some, if not mostly, English-language songs and tunes with American and British origins.

Nothing to overturn Ralph's hypothesis but a lot to corroborate it. I think the part about Germans is especially significant, at least to my understanding.

** End UPDATE **

Here's the email message, which I wrote before I knew about the Antiques Magazine piece:

Finally getting around to sending you that information I promised on Appalachian dulcimers!

As soon as I got home from Common Ground, I got busy with a project on African American spirituals and camp meeting hymns for the Illinois Humanities Council, and I'm just now coming up for air. I haven't forgotten about it, though, and I've also been reading up on old dulcimers for an article on a 1930s photograph collection at Berea College that I'm working up for Dulcimer Players News. So, finally, I have some information to share.

Basically it boils down to this -- we have a signed mountain dulcimer from Floyd County, Va., dated Aug. 28, 1832. Period. That's about the size of it until after the Civil War. Even then there weren't very many dulcimers, except right around one of the settlement schools in Kentucky, until the 1930s crafts revival.

L. Allen Smith [in his book] _A Catalog of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers_ (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1983), discuss[es] the 1832 instrument, its provenance and Smith's reasons for accepting it as genuine. There are also a few references to dulcimers in various 19th-century written sources, but the early ones are problematic because they ones don't stipulate whether a mountain dulcimer or a hammered dulcimer is being referred to. So I think the material culture really provides the only reliable documentation until people started writing articles about the settlement schools at the turn of the 20th century in which they described the instrument in some detail.

Even then, almost all of the literature before the 1930s clearly refers to dulcimers that were being made by "Uncle Ed" Thomas and sold to people at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. There were dulcimers being made by the 1880s in West Virginia, and later copied by the Glenn family in North Carolina, and still other by the Melton family and played by the 1930s in the fiddlers' convention at Galax, Va., but again the best information on all of this comes from oral tradition in the families and surviving dulcimers from an earlier period. Ralph Lee Smith's books piece together the best secondary account of the Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky traditions. There are several good accounts of the tradition Ed Thomas started in Kentucky.

For what it's worth, I'd tentatively suggest the following timeline can be reliably documented:

-- 1830s or thereabouts, single-bouted MDs evolve from zithers in southwest Virginia;

-- 1870s, commercial makers around Hindman and Parkersburg, W.Va, begin to produce double-bouted ("hourglass") dulcimers for sale in substantial numbers;

-- 1890s-1920s, the settlement schools, especially Hindman and John Campbell, promote dulcimers as southern Appalachian cultural artifacts; and

-- 1930s onward, dulcimers reach a wider market through the Southern Highlanders Craft Guild. That takes us up to Jean Ritchie and the folk revival of the 60s.

But anything beyond that is speculative at best.

(Full disclosure: Back in the day, I got a master's in history and a PhD in English at UT-Knoxville, and sometimes I still wake up from bad dreams about my first-year historiography seminar. When I switched to English in the waning days of new criticism, we were mostly interested in textual analysis so we preferred recent scholarly editions to period sources. After I left grad school, I went into newspapering and learned an altogether more rigorous attitude about sources, because now they were alive to complain if I quoted them out of context! So it was kind of fun to go back over the literature about dulcimers with an eye to the academic standards for handling sources.)

Basically I accept Ralph's theory that the MD evolved from Pennsylvania-German zithers along the Great Wagon Road in southwest Virginia, and I think he supports it with as much evidence as will ever be available concerning what began as a folk tradition; Ralph doesn't have an academic background, but he's a first-rate collector, he's very knowledgeable about the world of antiques and he's careful about the conclusions he draws. L. Allen Smith, who is not related to Ralph, studied all the MDs he could find in the 1970s for his doctoral dissertation in English at the University of Leeds, and I'd say it's still accepted as the authoritative source for documenting the history of the instrument. [He] discusses the Floyd County instrument in considerable, and I think quite convincing, detail.

There's also a 2005 paper titled "The Dulcimer in Southwestern Virginia" by Kimberly Burnette-Dean (linked below) that I think is pretty important because it tends to corroborate Ralph's hypothesis. Burnette-Dean, who used to work at a historical theme park in Roanoke, surveyed estate inventories from 1780 to 1860 in 12 counties, and came up with listings of 39 dulcimers from 1818 throughout the period. While none were described in enough detail for us to know whether they were hammered dulcimers, mountain dulcimers or something else, I think she made a reasonable case that most of them were valued around $1 in the inventories, which would be more consistent with a home-made box zither than a HD. Most HDs occur further north, anyway, and the main outlines of her research square pretty well with Ralph's theory that the Appalachian dulcimer developed from Pennsylvania-German antecedants in southwest Virginia during or slightly before the 1830s.

What interested me the most about Burnette-Dean's study was that she found a couple of German-American extended families that apparently handed dulcimers down from generation to generation, which reminds me of families like the Hicks', Presnells and Glenns in North Carolina and the Meltons around Galax. I think that's probably typical of what we know in other areas, i.e. only a very few people played dulcimers before the handicraft revival of the 1920s and 1930s, and they tended to cluster in family groups living in what Burnette-Dean calls "dulcimer pockets" in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina (by way of West Virginia). There's another "pocket" in Middle Tennessee, where the "Tennessee music boxes" were made, but I think it's considered to be an outlier that didn't develop a living musical tradition. Basically we're left with a very local tradition around Galax and another tradition in Kentucky that became commercially successful because a nearby settlement school provided a ready market and national publicity. ...

Here's a link to Kimberly Burnette-Dean's blog post on dulcimers, which in turn has the link to a PDF copy of her study.

There's something else that keeps troubling me every time I get into this question of origins, and it may explain why some of the people you've spoken with are leery of mountain dulcimers: There's been a tendency over the years to over-sell the MD as an iconic representation of Appalachian culture. Allen H. Eaton, for example, in _Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands_ (1937. New York: Dover, 1973), says, "In many instances the instruments were made by the singers themselves, the one most frequently used to accompany the singer being the dulcimer, or, as it is called, the 'dulcimore,' indigenous to and still made in many parts of the Highlands" (198).

Except where the settlement schools or handicraft revival outlets like those around Asheville created a ready market for dulcimers, however, that simply was not the case. I think David E. Whisnant of UNC-Chapel Hill has the best discussion in _All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region_ (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1983) of how the dulcimer evolved as part of what he calls a "settlement school/Berea College/folk school/Southern Highland Handicraft Guild version of 'authentic' mountain culture' along with designer pottery, contradancing and 'Jean Ritchie ballads'" (169). Nothing wrong with any of that, but it's something I try to keep in mind when I'm playing the dulcimer in a living history context or one of the talks I give on 19th-century music. The dulcimer helps me get into the music of the period, but I don't try to pass off what I'm doing with it as a historically informed performance.

But now I'm straying off topic, and thinking aloud about what I want to say in that DPN article. No reason to subject you to that!

LATER: I'd only add that the settlement school/Southern Highlanders version of Appalachian culture is pretty much what I grew up with in Norris and got fascinated with as a grad student at UT. I think Whisnant is entirely correct when he says it only goes back to the early 1900s (in spite of what strikes me as an all-too-often ill-concealed snotty tone in his writing), but however Appalachian crafts made their way to wider markets, they have become an vibrant part of the cultural scene down home today.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

John Jacob Niles -- updated notes on performance practice, voice and dulcimer

Updated from my Hogfiddle post on Niles' technique of Aug. 30, 2010, which has more on his dulcimers and links to a video clip of "Go Away from my Window" and an audio of "The Irish Girl" on YouTube. Emphasis added. Otherwise CQ including itals.

Linked in turn to a post by Dwight Newton of the University of Kentucky at his organology website:

... His vocal style is rhythmically free and declamatory, with great emotional expression, especially as he employs his stratospheric falsetto. The instruments were used in a minimalist way, strumming the strings in a simple down- down-down-down... stroke, or in some cases in a single rolled stroke at certain moments for emphasis in an otherwise a cappella performance.
Link to Newton adds Niles' dulcimers "... are all clearly the work of a folk artist, not a luthier. But their musical function was secondary to their function as theatrical props. He rarely played melodic tunes on his large dulcimers. In all cases the real star of the show was Niles himself -- his voice and his expression."

JJN, introduction to The Ballad Book (1961. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2000): xxii

Seldom did I encounter the use of harmony in folk singing. However, I have heard folk hymns, carols, ballads, work songs, and nursery rhymes in which one voice sang the melodic line and others, numbering from 1 to 25, sang a monotone that occasionally harmonized. The effect was not unlike some of the results gained when a singer supports himself with dulcimer accompaniment, for the dulcimer actually produces as much dissonance as consonance.

Robert Pen, I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010) discusses dulcimers :

... One reviewer in Amsterdam's Algemeen Handelsblad raised an interesting point of interpretation and performance practice, observing, "We have heard negro songs sung in different ways by Roland Hayes, Edna Thomas, Layton and Johnson, the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Utica Singers, but so realistically and no negro like we have never heard it yet. This is a revealing comment: the reviewer is crediting [opera singer Marion] Kerby and Niles with being more "black" than actual African Americans. At a time when solists like Robeson and groups such as the Fisk Jubilee SIngers were attempting to "pass" in their per romance style and repertoire, Kerby and Niles were attempting a "reverse pass" by simulating African American style. (122)

... The sweet timbre of the dulcimer was designed for solo use in intimate gatherings and did not project well in a large hall. Since electronic amplification had not been effectively developed yet, Niles had to build larger instruments with more strings and to cultivate a unique performance styles consisting of sharply strummed chords and drones, rather than the traditional finger-picking of strumming with the use of a "noter" and a goose quill. (166)

[Niles wrote in his autobiography of his solo career in 1939] The problem was the projection of personality and the employment of dramatic methods, remembering all the while that every time I sing a single line of one of the great ballads or carols, I must have somewhere in my vision of what I thought a medieval bard looked like, also the personality of the singer whom I knew. Although I had been in the great world of the concert stage as a singer singing alone only a short while, I knew that I had to blend two powerful forces, my person and the personality of my inforant. For example Johnnie Niles, dulcimer and all, and Beth [/] Holcum, my mature informant. (221-222)

Pen adds, "It is the art that conceals art, the seemingly natural way of conjuring the essence of a Beth Holcolmb [note corrected spelling] in any discernible way. It is the art of creating a distinctive personal style in which is contained the souls of hundred of singers, each with her or his own unique personality, and their songs. That was the foundation of Niles's art, which made him one of America's most sought-after performers during the next several decades. Although he was later faulted as an "inauthentic" folksinger, it is clear that his intent was not to Be the authentic folksinger but rather to interpret the essential experience of the original folksinger through the lens of his own personality." (222) JJN recorded her July 9, 1932, in Whitesburg, Ky.

Cf. John Lovell Jr., Black Song: The Forge and the Flame (1972. New York: Paragon House, 1986), quoting a Dutch scholar named H.R. Rookmaaker, "The Afro-American spiritual, he believes, must be sung like Mahalia Jackson sings, not in the "Schubertized, concertized manner of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Marian Anderson" (575).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

John Jacob Niles on mountain dulcimers; predicts his legacy when he is laid to rest in "some shady little dell (where the blackbirds whistle and the flowers smell)" ** UPDATED 2x ** w/ info on Hicks-Gentry-Presnell family

In Ron Pen's I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010): 178-78 ... he learned dulcimer making from Jethro Amburgey and Nathan Hicks of Beech Mountain, N.C., and
... started teaching local residents to building and learn to play the dulcimer [at the John Campbell Folk School]. There was no prvious history of dulcimers in the area, so Niles, with the best of intentions, sought to inculcate the fork instrument into the local tradition, in much the same way that the dulcimer was being spread to the outside world through the Hindman Settlement [/] School woodshop under the direction of Jethro Amburgey. In a letter to Rena Lipetz, he wrote: "Years from now, long after I am put in some shady little dell (where the blackbirds whistle and the flowers smell) Dulcimers will be made and played all because I showed them how to ... to ... to ... God knows what." [parentheses and elipses in the original] 178.

no 109 indicates the letter was written July 8, 1934. JJN later married Rena Lipetz.


Pic in University of Oregon website identifies JJN w/ same 3 guys at Brasstown, N.C. (outside Keith House?) on Old Timers Day, July 4, 1934 Appears to be same pic w/ tighter crop

Obit of Howard E. Taylor, "H.E. Taylor Dies From Pneumonia." The Eastern Progress [student publication of Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College, Richmond, Ky., Oct. 31, 1934.

business manager of Berea College 1909-1934.

"Mr. Taylor, who retired from private business pursuits in the east before going to Berea, viewed his work at the college in the light of a hobby and was proud of the school and the opportunities it offers young men and women of the southern mountains.

"He is credited with having been largely responsible for securing the business basis of the college, which has holdings of more than 15 million dollars."

d. Oct. 30 at age 65. stricken ill Sept. 30 while practicing on the organ at Union church in Berea. Developed into pneumonia.

[George Leamon -- ID'd in subject index of DU's photographic subjects in as a farmer of Gatlinburg, Tenn., in Appendix 5 of Philip Mayer Jacobs, "The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann" p. 258. Available in Google books. 2005 obit by Lois Hornbostel of Frank Profitt Jr. lists members of the Hicks family of dulcimer makers, musicians and storytellers -- "His father, Frank Proffitt, Sr., became nationally known as a folk singer in the 1940s through folk song collectors Frank and Anne Warner. His father’s version of “Tom Dooley” was later made into a popular hit by the Kingston Trio. Frank Jr.’s mother was Bessie Hicks, daughter of early dulcimer builder Nathan Hicks of Beech Mountain, NC. His uncle was storyteller Ray Hicks, and he counted among his cousins builder/musician Stanley Hicks, dulcimer player Nettie Presnell, and storyteller Orville Hicks."

RootsWeb profile of the Hicks family has a section on "Story Tellers and Singers" that goes into Council Harmon and the Jack Tales, Jane Gentry and Cecil Sharp, Frank Profitt (Sr.) and Ray Hicks.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" on mountain and hammered dulcimer -- breathing new life into a 17th-century German hymn

One of the high points of this year's Gateway Dulcimer Festival in Belleville was a duo performance of a standard mainline denominational hymn that has been part of the German Reformed and Lutheran traditions since the 1600s. Sarah Morgan of Knoxville, Tenn., accompanying herself on mountain dulcimer, was backed by Dan Landrum of Chattanooga on hammered dulcimer. Those of us who wished we could hear it again on Sarah's CDs (it wasn't there) now have it available on YouTube.

In her 20s now, Sarah breathes life into several traditions. She grew up in Union County, just north of Knoxville where Roy Acuff was from, and she blends "Appalachian roots with progressive inspiration" at dulcimer festivals and house concerts all over. Her website, at, is worth a look.

Also known by its German tune name of LOBE DEN HERREN (which just means praise the Lord), the hymn was written in 1680 by Joachim Neander, of the north German city of Bremen. Neander died at the age of 30, but wrote some 60 hymns and is sometimes known as the "Paul Gerhardt of the Calvinists," according to the Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1981). That's high praise, too, considering the source. Because Lutherans and Calvinists were often at each other's throats during the 1600s. But Bremen is in a part of Germany near the North Sea coast and the Netherlands where the two Protestant faith traditions influenced each other more perhaps than elsewhere, and Neander's tune served as the basis for Bach's Cantata 137 Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren within 50 years of its publication. The hymn was translated into English in 1863 by Catherine Winkworth and now appears in 285 hymnals. has sheet music (in F) and detailed information at:

Both Neander (1600-1600) and Gerhardt (1607-1676)) are the real deal. They came of age during the Thirty Years War and its tragic aftermath, but they wrote out of a deep personal faith that transcended the confessional and sectarian divisions of the day. And they adapted lovely secular ballads and dance tunes for their hymns.

Neander has another claim to fame, by the way. The Neander valley (-thal in German) was named in his honor, and the first fossils of Neanderthal man were discovered there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stephen Seifert's workshop, concert on "Down Yonder" in Springfield -- ** UPDATE 1x ** w/ clips of Steve and Sarah Morgan jamming, and Dave Hass playing "Down Yonder"

Emailed to central Illinois media and people on the Prairieland Strings and Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music mailing lists.


Stephen Seifert, a professional mountain dulcimer player and teacher who has performed with musicians from jazz combos to symphony orchestras and written 10 books and instructional videos, will conduct a workshop and mini-concert on the 1920s standard “Down Yonder” from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 W. Jefferson Ave., Springfield.

Seifert, who lives in Tennessee, has taught and performed at festivals and dulcimer clubs in Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Pensacola and places in between. In 1997 he soloed with dulcimerist David Schnaufer in “Blackberry Winter,” a concerto for dulcimer and orchestra by Schnaufer and composer Conni Ellisor. Recorded by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra (now Orchestra Nashville), the piece continues to be in regular rotation on classical radio stations around the U.S.

Known for a progressive, innovative approach to the mountain dulcimer, Seifert says he was inspired to do a workshop on “Down Yonder” by the different approaches musicians have taken to the song over the years.

“I first heard Willie Nelson’s sister play this on his classic ‘Red Headed Stranger’ album,” Seifert said. “I later marvelled at how players like David Schnaufer and Chet Atkins brought so much life to it. I’ll show a number of arrangements (at the workshop) and all the licks to spruce them up.”

The workshop will be from 6:30 to 8:30, and it is open to players of all skill levels. A capo is required, but loaners will be available. The mini-concert is from 8:30 to 9. Cost is $35 for the workshop (with the concert included). Cost for the mini-concert only is $5.

# # #

Here's a clip of Steve and Sarah Morgan, another dulcimer player from East Tennessee whom some of our members know from Kentucky Music Week and other festivals, playing on the Picking Porch at Mike Clemmer's dulcimer shop in Townsend, Tenn. It begins with about 30 seconds of "Down Yonder," and the whole thing is worth a listen. Together, they show what the instrument is capable of. Sarah has more on her website at

And, with a hat tip to Bev of our Springfield and Clayville groups for sending me the link, here's a clip of Dave Hass playing "Down Yonder" at a festival in West Virginia. Hass, of Charleston, W.Va., has other videos on his website and was at Kentucky Music Week.

How the Jubilee Singers' music sounded a chord with audiences in Wales [w/ links to pix]

On Jazz Heritage Wales website -- Lots of pix of British programs, etc., of concerts in Wales in 1874 and 1875. Jazz Heritage Wales is based at Swansea Metropolitan University's Library at Townhill Campus.

1899 [sic] Fisk Jubilee Singers In addition to the pix and accounts of the concerts, this hint at their appeal to marginalized peoples overseas (cf. their reception by Aborigines when they toured Australia in ____):

The Fisk Jubilee Singers were students from Fisk University, Nashville, USA who set out on tour to raise money for their University inaugurated for the education of freed slaves. It was previously known as the Fisk Free Colored School, established in 1866 after the American Civil War. The Singers were invited to Britain in 1874 by an aide to Queen Victoria, and performed at the Cradock Street Music Hall in Swansea to 1500. Described erroneously by Swansea's Cambrian daily paper as "the exponents of true Nigger Minstrelsy" owing to the profusion of minstrel groups currently performing, they in fact sang a programme of Strange Weird Slave Songs with concert hall authority and refinement, together with a poise and elegance of dress, in marked contrast to previous "blackface minstrelsy" troupes who performed in burnt cork.

Touring Wales, however, offered an extra dimension for the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Memories remained strong in Wales of the discriminatory and damning Report into the State of Education in Wales published in 1847 by English Anglicans, which denounced the Welsh language and morals of the people, and described Welshwomen as "corrupt and sinful" with no "virtue in their offspring". Welshwomen workers in coal and steel retreated to the home, and children caught speaking Welsh in schools had a block of wood enscribed with "I Must Not Speak Welsh" hung about their necks. Recognising another culture denied their heritage and freedom of speech and expression, Welsh audiences to some extent identified with their visitors and took them to their heart.

The singers returned to Wales in 1875 ...
The concert proceedings were chaired by local dignitaries. The Jubilee Singers returned again to the Music Hall in 1875, and were described this time as "born as slaves and had all their lives been driven like lepers from any contact with white people, they will give one of their interesting concerts". (A Swansea woman, Mrs. Donaldson who died aged 90 in 1899, ran a "safe house" for seven years on the banks of the Ohio River, opposite the slave holding state of Kentucky. She and her husband were Abolitionists.) Welsh audiences unable to afford the 2s. ticket price could place their pennies in buckets at the door, while "silver collections" were taken from the balconies. The concerts were described as "highly instructive with the independence of the music of poverty". The first building on their campus, Jubilee Hall, was completed with Wales contributing $20,000 to the building fund.

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > African American Identity in the Gilded Age

African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings.

-- A Negro congregation, in Washington (1876)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Maryland, Pennsylvania camp meetings as an African American cultural hearth; two perspectives on George Pullen Jackson's hypothesis on origins of the African American spiritual

Don Yoder. Pennsylvania Spirituals. Lancaster, Pa.: Pennsylvania Folklife Society, 1961.

We would call attention to a second probably transfer area [after quoting Jackson on Ky-Tenn camp meetings]. This other area that was covered in the period 1796-1868 by the Philadelphia and Baltimore Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church. ... There were Negro elements in this Baltimore-Philadelphia axis as well [in addition to German], a heavy concentration of Negro slaves in Delaware, Maryland, and [/] Virginia, a lighter proportion of free Negroes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It was in this area, in fact, that the greatest number of free Negroes in the United States resided by the year 1810. It was here, too, that the oldest free Negro denominations, at least those of Methodist origin, had their birth. ... Most of Pennsylvania's Negroes were still, in 1800-=1810, in low economic and educational levels, and associated freely with the poor-white 'shouting Methodists' who were invading Southeastern Pennsylvania with the camp-meeting in that decade.

Is it illogical to look at this very area for one of the focal points of transfer of spiritual patterns, from white Methodists to Negroes as well as to the Pennsylvania Dutch? I am suggesting that the Negro Spiritual and the Pennsylvania Spiritual, at least in the Philadelphia-altimore axis, are twin sisters, developing side by side at first and only later maturing into distinctive types. ... 20-21

Jonathan C. David. Together Let Us Sweetly Live: The Singing and Praying Bands. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2007.

"At the end of the eighteenth century, when enslaved Africans in this area began to take toMethodism in a big way, the process of culture-building by which Africans of various ethnic backgrounds began to transform themselves into one people was well underway. Yet that process was still incomplete. The new African American identity became consolidated throughout the South only during the first half of the nineteenth century, when hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were traumatically sold from the states of the upper South to cotton-growing areas of the Deep South. 3

Because of their multifaceted importance in the development of early African American culture, the upper South and the mid-Atlantic region can be considered among the hearth areas in which African American culture took shape. Significantly, evidence also suggests that in much of the area surrounding Delaware Bay and the upper Chesapeake, the groups that eventually formed the Singing and Praying Bands were the predominant grassroots, African American, folk religious institutions. As such, they were part of the cultural legacy that anonymous slaves may have carried with them in their forced journey south. 5

[Later (Oct. 29). Yoder, above, bases his hypothesis on Jackson's theory that the African American spiritual was dependent on the "white spirituals" he found in the old shape-note tunebooks. But he strikes a balance when he gives equal stature to the African American and Pennsylvania German genres. This balance is almost entirely lacking in Jackson, at least to my way of thinking.

Bertrand Bronson, in a 1944 review of Jackson's Down-East Spirituals and Others, also accepts Jackson's theory, but -- unlike Jackson -- seems to argue from the other direction, i.e. that we should value the white spirituals all the more because they gave rise to the African American genre. Even though both Yoder and Bronson wrote at a time when Jackson's account of origins was much more universally accepted than it is today, I think they both make important points about the relationship between the different spiritual genres.]

* * *

Bertrand Harris Bronson. "Two Reviews: George Pullen Jackson and the Shaped-Note Spirituals." The Ballad as Song. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.

They are, in truth, so steeped in our musical tradition that it is almost impossible to lisen to any of them without being reminded of other analogous folk-melodies. Since, moreover, the merit of the Negro spirituals has been a truism for half a century, it will be hard now to remain skeptical of the soundeness of the melodic stock from which the spirituals have [139] branched. Not should it cause rancor anywhere to acknowledge the bond of unity. Rather, give it welcome, and let it stand as a happy augury of the future harmony of our fellow countrymen, black and white. (138-39)

Creolization, Gullah, Geechee and the music of the sea islands -- more notes -- ** UPDATE 2x ** Bill Malone on cultural flux in the South; and a history of Louisiana creole music

William S. Pollitzer, The Gullah People and Thier African Heritage. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1999.

The similarities of Gullah to Krio were long noted by linguists. ... Cultural links between that region and the coastal islands also support the argument: the banjo, rice growing techniques, quilts, and more. Many terms related to music probably took origin from an Upper Guinea Coast language, especially Wolof: jiove from jev, to talk disparagingly' hip from hipi, to open one's eyes; and jam form jaam for slave. Even juke may stem from the Gullah word "joog<.em> for disorderly, ultimately from the Bambara dzugu meaning wicked. 125

Krio spoken in Sierra Leone and upper Guinea Coast 245n56. Cf Wikipedia

* * *

Many Africans brought to the shores of Carolina and Georgia spoke more than one native tongue, and some knew one or more European languages as well. Of necessity the first blacks learned to understand and then speak a variant of the English of their white masters. The Gullah language arose slowly only after a significant number of people from different regions of Africa arrived on the coast. Those linguistic features understood by the largest number of slaves and shared with English were most likely to survive.

Creole evolved in the Low Country from the need for communication, but it also helped the people to endure the harsh reality of slavery. More than any other attribute, it characterized and molded together the individuals of the sea-island community. Unique in lexicon, syntax, and intonation, the speech formed an abiding bond of understanding among the slaves. An inflection in the voice, a change in tone, could convey to a fellow black a secret thought hidden from whites. Proverbs also conveyed subtleties and ambiguities that contributed to the survival of the people as they transmuted them into meaningful metaphors in their new environment. Songs, stories, and prayers, even with meanings obscure, kept alive dreams of a dimly remembered past. ...

Africans also influenced the speech of their masters. White children especially learned Gullah from a 'mammy' and from black playmates; house servants played an important role in this reciprocal process of dual creolization.

A similar process of continuity and change occurred in all aspects of culture and society. Just as Gullah and Krio are cousins, so the culture of the sea islanders and their African ancestors are related through a common heritage rather than as direct descendants. ... 129

cf. "decreolization" -- p. 128 -

Bill C. Malone, Singing Cowboys and Musical Mountaineers: Southern Culture and the Roots of Country Music. Mercer University, Lamar Memorial Lectures, No. 34. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1993. Malone doesn't use the "C-word," but creolization and hybridity are clearly in play here:

As the southern frontier pushed steadily toward the Southwest [/] Scotch-Irishmen and Germans met and mingled with Scandinavians pushing in from the Delaware Bay, Englishmen coming in from the Atlantic Coast, and with people whose origins represented perhaps a dozen other racial and ethnic elements from the British Isles, Europe and Africa. The folk culture that they created was neither racially nor culturally homogeneous, but was instead the product of well over two centuries of adaptation and interaction among the European and African peoples who pushed the southern frontier from the Chesapeake Bay to the woodlands of East Texas. (13-14)

evidence for interchange between blacks and whites:

White solidarity, of course, in both a cultural and political sense, depended in large part on the presence of substantial numbers of black people in southern society. But black people were also indispensable elements of southern folk culture, and they made immeasurable contributions to its shaping and tone. The most expressive component of that culture, music, bears the unmistakable imprint of African-American style. Folk- [/] lorist Norm Cohen, in fact, asserts that it is the African admixture that has set southern rural music apart from rural music elsewhere in the United States, and that it is also the ingredient that has made southern music appealing to people around the world. (15-16)

p. 118n8 cites Cohen, review of BCM, Southern Music/American Music in Western Folklore 4 (Oct. 1980): 348-50 at 350.

Brits moved about after the abolition of serfdom in the 15th century ... "One suspects, admittedly on the basis of very limited evidence, that music and dance moved as freely in the British Isles as did the plain folk of that troubled realm" (11). [Cites "Carl Bridenbaugh's assessment of the migratory habits of rural Englishmen" 1590-1642 and David Fischer on similar mobility [/] among 18th-century American immigrants.] "Their music would have displayed a similar diversity of origin, reflecting not only the movement of people back and forth along the Scottish-English border, from Scotland to Ulster, and across northern England, but also the popularization of songs, ballads, and dances by itinerant professional musicians" (12)

Bridenbaugh, Vexed and Troubled Englishmen, 1590-1642 New York: Oxford UP, 1968

"Brief History of Cajun, Creole,and Zydeco" (dead link 08-22-13)

As Barry Ancelet explains in his monograph Cajun Music: Its Origins and Development, the Acadians who came to Louisiana beginning in 1764 after their expulsion from Acadie (Nova Scotia ) in 1755 brought with them music that had its origins in France but that had already been changed by experiences in the New World through encounters with British settlers and Native Americans. Taking stories with European origins and changing them to refer to life in Louisiana or inventing their own tales, early balladeers would sing without accompaniment at family gathering or special occasions. The fiddle supplied music for dances, although Ancelet also describes a cappela dance tunes that relied on clapping and stomping to provide the rhythm.

The music of the Acadians in Louisiana in the 19th century was transformed by new influences: African rhythms, blues, and improvisational singing techniques as well as by other rhythms and singing styles from Native Americans. Some fiddle tunes and a few ballads came from Anglo-American sources. The Spanish even contributed a few melodies, including, according to Ancelet, the melody for "J’ai passé devant ta porte," which comes from a concerto for classical guitar.

* * *

At the same time that the Cajuns was being transformed by new influences, the African American descendants of slaves who had been brought by force to America were developing their own music, and the music of the two cultures influenced one another. If a full history of the development of the French music of African Americans in Southwest Louisiana were ever written, it would need to take into account the complexities of a culture that included free people of color who gained considerable prominence in some communities before the Civil War and freed slaves who after the Civil War continued to live in extreme poverty as tenant farmers. Many of the slaves who gained their freedom under French or Spanish rule before the Louisiana Purchase were of mixed racial ancestry, further complicating any attempt to understand the historical intricacies of relationships among the peoples of Southwest Louisiana. And, just as with Cajun music, since the music of the 19th century was not recorded and not transcribed in writing, the origins of what has come to be called Creole music will always remain cloudy.

The music of Creole culture drew on the same French traditions as Cajun music but added to that the influence of African music in the New World–the rhythms of the Caribbean or the soulful melodies of the blues or a combination of these sources and more. The Lomax recordings include examples of jurés, sung dances in a style typical of West Africa and the West Indies in which "melodies are built around a refrain that has a danceable rhythmic shape and that enables the group of singers to make music for collective dancing." "Blues de la prison," another song recorded by the Lomaxes, draws on the style of singing that evolved from West Africa to become American blues.

* * *

The Lafayette-based organization C.R.E.O.L.E, Inc. defines Creoles “as individuals of African descent whose cultural roots have been influenced by other cultures such as French, Spanish, and/or Indian. These individuals have traveled through the centuries carrying their oral history, art forms, culinary skills, religious beliefs and kaleidoscope culture.” The Louisiana Creole Heritage Center defines Creoles as “people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of who reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana." Using either definition, Zydeco is “Creole music,” created and performed by Creoles. However, in the way the term is widely used today specifically in reference to music, “Creole” usually describes music performed by Creoles in the Creole language, in the old style that includes the fiddle as part of the instrumentation, a music known in an earlier era as “la-la music.” In interviews, Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec Ardoin both referred to their music as “Creole music." Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco, sang many of his songs in Creole, including some classic Zydeco songs performed with his uncle Morris Chenier on fiddle, and many Zydeco bands include music from the older Creole tradition as part of their repertoire, so, in practice, the terminology used to describe Creole music in Southwest Louisiana can be applied in a variety of ways. In the case of the group the Creole Zydeco Farmers, "Creole" might refer to music, language, culture, and ethnic background all at the same time. The key point is that both the older style la-la music and today's Zydeco are products of the Creole people of Southwest Louisiana and their rich culture.

(For information on various meanings of the word Creole in Louisiana from past to present, see Carl A. Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma: A Primer on Francophone Louisiana, Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2005. Brasseaux says the word "has come to mean something different to nearly everyone using it." See Fehintola Mosadomi, "The Origin of Louisiana Creole," in Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color, ed. Sybil Klein, Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2000, for a discussion of some of the past research and current issues; and Albert Valdman et al, A Dictionary of Louisiana Creole, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998, for more on the Creole dialects.

Apparently a mirror from a website at LSU Eunice, now hosted on the website maintained by Greg English at

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Review of 2001 talk in Stephenson County, Ill.

Recopied from my old Springfield College-Benedictine University faculty page. Talk, on "Ballads, Bobby Burns and Fiddle Tunes," was part of the Road Scholars speaker's bureau of the Illinois Humanities Council.

They had their music wherever they went

By Harriett Gustason

The Journal-Standard, Freeport, Nov. 4, 2001

The history of northwest Illinois is reflected in its music. From pioneer days on, music has been a major part of Stephenson County social and community life, in dancing to the fiddle at barn dances, in traditional hymn-singing, through the Saengerbund and Turnerein German singing societies, the camp meetings and the bands and choruses of early industries like the Henny Motor Co. Band and the Kraft Choral Society of the Kraft Foods Co. Every town and village always had its spiffy band and chorus.

The hankering for music was deeply ingrained in the earliest settlers of northwest Illinois, chiefly those Germans, English, Scots and Irish. The history of popular music in early northern Illinois was presented last Saturday evening as the first in a "lyceum" series being presented by Orangeville's promotional A Community Together (ACT), along with the Stephenson County Historical Society, the Freeport Arts Center and the Monroe Arts Center. The series will focus on the roots of northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin.

Dr. Peter Ellertsen came from Springfield to tell the folks how the ethnically diverse settlers of northwest Illinois mixed and matched the music of their heritage with the native folk tunes, hymns and ballads on this side of the Atlantic. He expounded on the ingenuity they used in crafting their instruments from whatever crude materials they had at hand. Pianos and organs were a little too bulky to transport in covered wagons, so the settlers had to devise their own methods of creating rhythm and melody.

Ellertsen himself played a "paint-bucket Stradivarius" to join [local musicians] Steve Jervey, Mike Mulder and John Buford in the toe-tapping hoedown of strummin', pickin' and pluckin' which preceded his easy-going talk. Ellertsen's improvised bass fiddle cost him a total of $3.19 for a bucket, a broom handle and a stretch of plastic line.

There was fun going on, both off stage and on. The musicians were giving it all they had, the speaker spiced his talk with humor and an attentive audience was appreciating it all. Ellertsen told the audience he sometimes played the washtub bass. He brought with him three stringed instruments which were replicas of antiques.

"Few could read music in those early days," Ellertsen told his audience. "Songs were passed down in families. Mothers sang songs to their children. A lot of the tunes were used over and over with different sets of words." […] Hymns might have the same tune as an Irish dirnking song, he said, and an Irish jig might turn up in a Bach composition. Songs were also carried in the oral tradition from one locale to another by circuit riders and from camp meeting to camp meeting. The minstrel shows also relayed songs from one place to another. "Boy! Once we got a good song, we hung onto it," Ellertsen said.

Ellertsen teaches English and journalism at Springfield College, but is also into learning all he can about the way music wended its way into the upper Midwest, blending ethnic traditions with folk song of regional cultures. Illinois was settled from south to north because, he explained, no plow had yet been invented that could dig below the grasses that clogged this northern prairie making penetration and cultivation possible.

Ellertsen told how Germans had migrated [along with Scots-Irish settlers] down through the Appalachian mountain ranges from Pennsylvania, through the Virginias and Carolinas, into Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Illinois; then on up through Illinois into eastern Iowa. He said there was much German music mixed in with that of the mountain people, and that the German influence is also mixed with Scots and Irish music.

They used anything they could find to make rhythms to dance to. "If you owned a fiddle, you were in business," he said. "Many of those early instruments were essentially a box with strings on top. Crow or turkey feathers were often used as picks." When the instruments wore out they were often just "busted up and thrown away."

The dulcimer he played and sang the old ballads to was a long, oval shaped instrument originating in the southern Appalachians, played on the lap or a table by plucking with a quill. Ellertsen said it was an ancestor of today's concert zither […].

Ellertsen plays the dulcimer for its historic effect when volunteering at historic sites in the Springfield area. He said the Appalachian dulcimer was developed in Virginia in the 1800s and was used as simple stringed accompaniment. He demonstrated the deeper tone of the schietholt, a similar instrument to the dulcimer which [originated in Germany] and appeared in Virginia in the 1800s. "If you have any of these old instruments lying around in your garage, let me know," he said, drawing a laugh from the audience.

Pianos came with the arrival of the railroads in the 1840s and 1850s. They could load pianos on trains, he said. Then came the books and printed music which prompted folks to go from passing tunes down by ear to the actual reading of music. Ellertsen explained the era of shape-note singing in when people could identify the notes by their drawn shapes. There are shape-note singers still around, he said, one [group] in Madison, Wis. He sings in a group in his home area.

He said many of the old songs were in minor key and sound kind of dreary to us now, but were not for them of that day. Many of their more triumphant songs were in the minor key.

Many of these old songs, he said, passed along by oral tradition and later with the fiddle playing have cropped up 150 years later. The old ballads grandmother sang are now coming out by popular singers.

Ellertsen ended his presentation holding his dulcimer and scheitholt for all to see, and repeating his previous request, "Don't forget, if you happen to find any of these old instruments lying around in your attic or garage, be sure to let me know."

Friday, August 02, 2013

"Shall We Gather at the River," Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey get together in Indianapolis

Excerpt from Ira D.Sankey: My Life and Sacred Songs: With an Introduction by Theodore L.Culyer, D.D., London: Hodder and Stoughton / Morgan and Scott / 1906 ~~~~~~~ [ from a British Library copy (Inter-Library Loan Service). This copy is inscribed by hand on the title page - Jno.Julian / from the Publishers / 1906 ] ...
* * *

The next day I received a card from Mr.Moody asking me to meet him on a certain street corner that evening at six o'clock. At that hour I was at the place named, with some of my friends. In a few minutes Mr.Moody came along.

Without stopping to speak, he passed on into a store near by, and asked permission to use a large store-box. The permission was granted; he rolled the box into the street, and calling me aside, asked me to get up on the box and sing something.

"Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" soon gathered a considerable crowd. After the song, Mr.Moody climbed up on the box and began to talk. The workmen were just going home from the mills and the factories, and in a short time a very large crowd had gathered. The people stood spell-bound as the words fell from Moody's lips with wonderful force and rapidity. When he had spoken for some twenty-five minutes, he announced that the meeting would be continued at the Opera House, and invited the people to accompany us there. He asked me to lead the way, and with my friends sing some familiar hymn. This we did, singing as we marched down the street, "Shall we gather at the river?" The men with their dinner-pails followed closely on our heels instead of going home, so completely were they carried away by the sermon from the store-box.

The Opera House was packed to the doors, and Moody first saw that all the workmen were seated before he ascended to the platform to speak. His second address was as captivating as the one delivered on the street corner, and it was not until the delegates had arrived for the evening session of the Convevtion that Mr.Moody closed the meeting saying, "Now we must close, as the brethren of the Convention wish to come in to discuss the question, `How to reach the masses.'" It occurred to me that here was a man who could successfully reach the masses while others were talking about it!

"Creolization" and hybrid folk traditions add ___: More notes and links


"Each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other -- male in female, female in [/] males, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it." -- James Baldwin. Quoted in Patrick B. Mullen, The Man Who Adores the Negro: Race and American Folklore Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. 13-14.

Mullen has an important discussion of hybridization of white and black cultural traditions in a series of folk revivals from the 1930s through the 1960s and beyond, and Alan Lomax' role in it -- 92-94



Dispatches From Ta-Nehisi Coates


English Is a Dialect With an Army

The Atlantic in Paris: Dispatch #10

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Aug 2 2013, 6:50 AM ET

* * *

I think this is the seed of the "We don't have any white history month!" syndrome. Through conquest the ways of whiteness become the air. That is the whole point of conquest. But once those ways are apprehended by the conquered--as they must be--they are no longer the strict property of the conqueror. On the contrary you find the conquered mixing, cutting, folding, and flipping the ways of the conqueror into something that he barely recognizes and yet finds oddly compelling. And all the while the conquered still enjoys her own private home. She need not be amnesiac, only bilingual. The phrase "code-switching" is overdone, but there is no cultural code from which all white people can "switch" from. It's not even a code. It's just the world.

Coates doesn't use the "c-word," but I like the way he says, "... once those ways are apprehended by the conquered -- as they must be -- they are no longer the strict property of the conqueror. On the contrary you find the conquered mixing, cutting, folding, and flipping the ways of the conqueror into something that he barely recognizes and yet finds oddly compelling." Exactement.