The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40845   Message #4127706
Posted By: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
01-Dec-21 - 06:22 AM
Thread Name: ADD: jamaican folk music
Subject: RE: ADD: jamaican folk music
After collecting about seventy-five Jamaican folk-songs I had hoped to have them published complete without any accompaniments or dressing of any kind. This proved to be economically impossible but as, like most countries which are developing, Jamaica might lose her folk-songs though contact with the general world-wide trend of both culture and amusement, it was recommended by many interested people that a selection of the songs be made available and that these should have accompaniments which would be useful to all, particularly in schools.

The Jamaican folk-song has a contour and rhythm that demands the utmost freedom. Unfortunately this is difficult to indicate on paper but the accompaniments, while aiming at enhancing and supporting each song, do not cover or underline the voice part and so allow it the maximum freedom. At the same time it had to be kept in mind that teachers and others with a limited piano technique would desire to use these songs, therefore the accompaniments have been made as simple as circumstances will allow. If some pianists find the demand made upon their technique too great, I recommend that they retain the line or structure of the bass and fill in the harmonic content as indicated in the accompaniment.

As can be seen from the list of songs, it has been the custom of Jamaica to create songs on all manner of occasions or things. Digging or working songs help to increase team work and a regular rhythm in application, besides making the workers cheerful by keeping their minds off the monotony that can sometimes come with manual labour. The Jamaican is normally a cheerful person, and even in the most solemn song his wit and humour cannot be suppressed, as may observed in 'Day Dah Light'. Strangers to Jamaica and Jamaican folk-song will find not only the words but also the rhythms difficult to comprehend and master. Careful attention to the tempo indications given in the metronomic speed and good strong pulse will overcome these difficulties. Apart from these features the songs are simple and regular in pattern. Indeed, many have the simple melodic pattern of nursery rhymes which have been adopted and modified by succeeding generations.

Mr. Hugh Paget, one-time Representative of the British Council in Jamaica, first suggested this collection of folk songs in 1946, and I am indebted to him for his interest and advice. The formation of such a collection takes considerable time and my duties did not allow me more than a occasional opportunity to hear folk-songs. Fortunately Miss Louis Bennett generously agreed to collaborate by singing to me all the songs she knew. Many of the songs had to be repeated several times to ensure that the record on paper was exactly what was sung. To Miss Bennett I am deeply grateful for her patience, kindness and good humour. Without the able help of Mrs. Barbara Ferland, who notated and typed the words and assisted in numerous ways in the preparation, my task would have been much more difficult, and to her I am also very grateful.
Kingston, Jamaica, B.W.I.
April, 1951
[Murray, Tom, ed., Folk Songs of Jamaica, (Oxford U. Press: London, New York, Toronto, 1951]

Note: Louise Bennett, Jamaican & Canadian national treasure that she is, would be considered urban petite bourgeois by the rural Jamaican working class/country folk in the songs.