The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #3551   Message #18351
Posted By: Alice
27-Dec-97 - 11:31 PM
Thread Name: Songbook recommendations
Subject: RE: Songbooks
I have to tell you about my most excellent Christmas gift this year from my best friend. He travels more than I do, so he has the chance to comb old book stores. I received a hardbound 1948 (with original dust jacket) of AMERICAN FOLK SONGS FOR CHILDREN by Ruth Crawford Seeger. What a treasure!!! and so appropriate to receive, fresh from our discussion here. In her acknowledgements, she includes the Library of Congress and its John Lomax collection. There is a short appreciation by Carl Sandburg. There are so many wise and wonderful comments she has to make regarding the making of the music (and games) and the making of the book and traditional music in general, that I cannot take the time to quote all of what I would like to share with you. Here is some:
"This kind of traditional or folk music is thoroughly identified with the kind of people who made America as we know it... Some of it came with them from other countries and has been little changed. Some of it grew here. All of it has partaken of the making of America. Our children have a right to be brought up with it."...[Are you reading this, Petra, and other young fokies? You have a RIGHT to traditional music.] "Songs like these are not finished in the sense that a piece of fine art (classical) music, or even popular music is finished. They are always ready to grow..." She quotes another author, Fletcher Collins, "These songs glorify the family as the prime social unit, for they have been raised through many centuries of family life, when everyone from grandfather down to the youngest toddler joined in...." And, as I remarked above about finding the oldest version I can and then making any changes to make the song my own, I was excited to see her chapter on "Improvising on the Words". "First become will acquainted with the song as it stands...Let the rhythm of the traditional words be something you feel comfortable with. Carry the song around with you, as children do... You may be tempted at times to take advantage of the adaptability of a song and twist it in a way unnatural to it. Remember, then, that the changes through which this music has already passed have been gradual, and that improvisation on words has for the most part come from singers brought up with music like it - singers who understand instinctively its nature and habits." Alice, thoroughly happy with her Christmas songbook gift, in Montana