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Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music

Roger in Baltimore 16 Jan 07 - 08:14 AM
Leadfingers 16 Jan 07 - 10:36 AM
Roger in Baltimore 17 Jan 07 - 09:02 AM
Scrump 17 Jan 07 - 09:15 AM
sian, west wales 17 Jan 07 - 09:52 AM
greg stephens 17 Jan 07 - 01:41 PM
MartinRyan 17 Jan 07 - 02:10 PM
Songster Bob 17 Jan 07 - 02:14 PM
Goose Gander 17 Jan 07 - 03:32 PM
Ernest 17 Jan 07 - 03:55 PM
greg stephens 17 Jan 07 - 05:53 PM
GUEST 17 Jan 07 - 05:59 PM
MartinRyan 17 Jan 07 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 17 Jan 07 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 17 Jan 07 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 17 Jan 07 - 06:59 PM
Azizi 17 Jan 07 - 07:52 PM
Azizi 17 Jan 07 - 08:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Jan 07 - 08:28 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jan 07 - 08:35 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Jan 07 - 08:36 PM
Azizi 17 Jan 07 - 10:01 PM
Azizi 17 Jan 07 - 10:43 PM
Roger in Baltimore 19 Jan 07 - 07:40 AM
Jack Campin 19 Jan 07 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,thurg 19 Jan 07 - 07:47 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 08:14 AM

I was browsing through a book on Southern Appalacian music. They were talking about minstrel shows as one of the great music movements of the 1800's. The core of minstrelsy was the string band, usually fiddle and banjo. The book said some minstrel shows travelled over seas. In traveling through Ireland they initiated the beginning of the ceili movement in Ireland. The book suggested that when musicologists encountered similar songs in Ireland and Appalacia they at times thought songs had moved from Ireland to the mountains, when in fact, due to the movement of minstrel shows, the songs had moved from the mountains to Ireland.

I was flabbergasted as I had never heard of any of this. It would explain the presence of the banjo in much of Irish music. Does anyone have more information about this. I can obtain the book in a week and provide some more definitive quotes.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 10:36 AM

I think a lot of the old songs went to America with the early settlers , but there was a definate two way traffic in the eighteen hundreds - Little Brown Jug was an Americanisation of an older song , that was 'collected' in UK in the late eighteen hundreds and Re Exported back to USA ! The Minstrel show connection with the banjo in Ireland may be a reasonable assumption , though there were a lot of VERY good banjo builders in UK at the time , which indicates a fair amont of popularity any way !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 09:02 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Scrump
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 09:15 AM

Interesting, Roger. I missed this earlier. I think Leadfingers is probably right, and the traffic was two-way. And I suspect, if you include other countries, Scotland and England for example, there was probably a lot more exchanging going on because of immigration and the possibility for 'ordinary folk' to travel across the Atlantic by the 19th century.

The Irish are great fans of US-influenced country music today, so why not then?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 09:52 AM

There are a number of Welsh (language) songs which were picked up from tours of Minstrel Shows to Britain. A number of other 'American' songs which were brought back by sailors, and by emmigrants who came home for a visit.

sian


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 01:41 PM

I think the presence of the banjo in Irish music is probably more connected to the recent influence of Barney McKenna, rather than the minstrel shows of 150 years ago. Though of course it must all trace back to America at one point, Barney surely made everyone think of having a go on the tenor banjo, and tune it down to GDAE to do so.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 02:10 PM

Without downplaying Barney's part in any way - the banjo was around in Ireland long before him! Fintan Vallely's Companion to Irish Traditional Music breaks it down to to two phases, basically:

i. introduction via minstrel shows in mid 19 C. Fretless 5-strings. with gut strings.

ii. reinforcement by steel-stringed, fretted 4-strings at the beginning of the 20 C. Rapid incoporation into dance music and ceili bands.

Fintan's book, incidentally, should be most people's basic reference for this sort of question!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Songster Bob
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 02:14 PM

The banjo in Irish music is a recent phenomenon. The presence of the same tunes there and here is not. But the banjo in England, that's old. In fact, Joel Sweeney, the "inventor" of the 5-string banjo, toured England (and played before royalty, as I understand) around 1840-45, and the banjo as a commercially-made instrument may have been more common in England than in America till after 1860; that is, banjo companies / makers were more common in England than the US till after the Civil War.

I have a very, very nice fretless banjo made by Geo. Matthews of Birmingham (probably around 1890-1900) that matches the quality (and sound) of any American banjo company you can name. And the Clifford Essex banjo company is held in high regard indeed by American players and collectors. In fact, I am in a friend's will to inherit his Clifford Essex once he shuffles off this mortal coil -- and getting that banjo will be done with very mixed emotions, I can tell you.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 03:32 PM

Writing in 1886, C.L. Graves made reference to "occasional manipulators of the banjo" in the Irish countryside.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Ernest
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 03:55 PM

and Percy French also played the Banjo in Ireland...
but I never heard which kind - can somebody tell me please?
Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 05:53 PM

I belive Percy french played a ukulele banjo, but I could be wrong on that.
   Re a previous post: I certainly agree that banjoes(or banjos if you prefer) were to be seen in Ireland pre-Barney Mckenna, but not in any profusion I would say. And they were largely used, I think, for playing chordal backing, as in a trad jazz band, or other dance band. The explosion of interest in playing jigs and reels on fetted instruments happened after the Dubliners. due to BM's extraordinarily exciting playing.
    Howevver, this is purely my personal impression. I'd be very interested to see the evidence, and hear the recordings, of any substantial Irish traditional music on banjo pre Dubliners. In Ireland, that is, not in America.
    Let us not forget, though, that the extraordinary singer Margaret Barry accompanied herself on the 5-string.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 05:59 PM

Percy French played a zither banjo, as did Margaret Barry.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 05:59 PM

Ernest

According to Vallely, Percy French played in minstrel blackface at one time. Most likely 5-string, I imagine. I may be able to check elsewhere.

Greg: I agree completely that Barney was the main inspiration for modern banjo-playing in Irish music.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 06:06 PM

I disagree that the five-string banjo came to America via Ireland. There were plenty of touring companies of Uncle Tom's Cabin throughout the US in the time of the minstrel show which employed the minstrel style banjo which is close to the tradition of Uncle Dave Macon, Stringbean and Brother Oswald on the Grand Ol' Opry. The Irish tradition of the banjo was not the five-string banjo but the tenor banjo which is closer to the Irish bouzouki or dropped-tuned mandolas. You rarely hear this type of banjo playing in American Appalachian music. Cammemeyer came out with an English five-string with a channeled fifth string through the head of the instrument in lieu of the fifth peg. I don't find this in Irish music, however. This was used in the early nineteen hundreds when there was a classical banjo craze by the likes of Fred Van Eps and Vess Ossman.

It is conceivable that the minstrel banjo of a four-string variety found its way to Ireland through folks like Barney McKenna. I have heard a few selections of chordal tenor style employed in Ceili bands from local American branches of the Comhaltas. Mostly, the banjo style is single-string picking the "chune" with the other instruments.

Appalachian banjo styles definitely come from the minstrel show tradition which is basically stage banjo entertainers using the style of early slave musicians. The banjo was not as popular on the plantations as was the fiddle, however. The minstrel show was responsible for the popularization of the five-string banjo in Appalachia.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 06:11 PM

If Barney did popularize the Tenor in Ireland, how come it was a class of competition instrument in the Feadh Cheol when Barney was still in the cradle?????


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 06:59 PM

One point that bears making. I believe that the tradition of fiddle tunes from the US Appalachian area would not have existed if not for Irish music. The Scots-Irish tradition of ornamental single melody style infused the dance music of the rural US. A lot has been attributed to the English due to Cecil Sharp's collecting but I think the Irish have had a more profound effect on Southern US dance music than any other culture. The main instrument is through the fiddle emulating pipes and flutes in a highly melodic ornamental style where the chords become secondary as oppposed to the standard European forms where harmony becomes more of an integral part of the music. Scots music is basically Irish derived. The English tunes are also. Irish music has played an important influential musical role. Galicia Spain may have also had some influence on the Irish music. The pipes have a role here as well.

Now it is possible that the Irish dance tune had some influence through the fiddle on the development of the minstrel show. Many of the minstrel performers such as Harry McCarthy drew much from their background. But Irish musical influence not through the banjo but more through the fiddle. But in some cases, maybe the musical hall songs.

The remains the question as to where tap-dancing came from. This may be of Celtic origin through step-dances and clogging and was picked up by African-American entertainers.

The tenor banjo, however, is of more recent derivation. The five-string is much older.
Actually, it was probably American jazz that brought the tenor banjo to Ireland. In New York, Irish musicians would have definitely picked it up as did Jewish musicians in early "klezmer" dance bands.

Also, the tenor and plectrum banjos serve a harmonic function more than a single-string melody in jazz bands. In Irish music, melody is first and harmony incidental. A case in point is the early fiddle recordings with Micheal Coleman, a master being literally abused by the misfiring of harmonies by a drunken piano accompanist.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 07:52 PM

I'd like to add to this interesting dicussion with an excerpt from Lynne Fauley Emery's book "Black Dance: from 1619 to today; 2nd revised edition {Princeton Book Company, 1988; pps.205, 206}. I believe this excerpt begins to address Frank Hamilton comment "The [there?]remains the question as to where tap-dancing came from. This may be of Celtic origin through step-dances and clogging and was picked up by African-American entertainers" . Furthermore, I believe this excerpt helps to focus attention on the important roles that African Americans had-not just as source material for-but active performers in minstrelsy in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

"Negro Minstrel Dancers
Minstrelsy also left us with the remembrance of a few old plantation dances and with the names of a few authentic Negro performers. In the old Georgia Minstrel troupe, which was eventually renamed for its white manager, Chareles Callender, were three famous Negro stars. James Bland, the composer of "In the Evening by the Moonlight" and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" was one. Another was Sam Lucas, of whom more will be said shortly. The third was Billy Kersands, a dancer and a comedian.

Kersands was a leading exponent of the Essence Dance...Tom Fletcher, who knew Kersands, described him as
...a natural born comic...He also was a good acrobat and tumbler and an excellent dancer. His original dance creations were the soft shoe and buck-and-wing, the dances that were very popular in the early days of show business; the type which are still use today in all musical shows,...Now taught by dancing teachers and known as the "soft shoe"", this dance was called the "Virginia Essence" by Kersands. He danced it in a slow, four-four rhythm, and for all of his two hundred pounds he was as light on his feet as a person half his size.

Another famouse minstrel dancing act was that of the Bohee Brothers. These two were exponents of the Soft Shoe and, according to Edward Marks, "They were,so far as I know, the first team to play banjos while dancing". Traveling to England with one of the minstrel companies, they were well received there both as performers and teachers. One of the brothers, James Bohee, instructed the Prince of Wales on the banjo and did not return to the United States...

With few exceptions, most of the Negro minstrel dancers were noted for a variety of talents other than their dancing abilities. Of necessity they were comedians, singers, actors, or instrumentalists and sometimes were all of these things. Even Master Juba, with all his sanceing expertise, was also an expert on the tambourine. As minstrelsy declined and the Negro performers found work in medicine shows and carnivals, the circus, vaudeville, and the theatre, the dancers maintainedtheir many talents, and also, for a long period of time their blackface stereotypes."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 08:14 PM

With all due respect, and cerainly with no intention of highjacking this discussion of Minstrelsy and Irish music, as a means of sharing more information about minstrel dances, I'd like to post one more longish excerpt from Lynne Fauley Emery's book "Black Dance: from 1619 to today; 2nd revised edition {Princeton Book Company, 1988; pps. 193-194}:

"Another famous minstrel dance was the Essence Dance. [Charles] Sherlock said this "most resembled the dancing of the real negro". The Stearnses believed that "the Essence was the first popular dance-for professionals-from the Afro-American vernacular." The Stearnses continued by saying that, "minstrelsy's most famous dance, The Essence of Old Virginia, came from the Shuffle and led to the early Soft Shoe." The leading exponent of the dance was Dan Bryant, a blackface minstrel who performed it in the 1850's.

Orginally performed by Billy Newcomb, the Essence was done in fast time, but as Bryant perfected the dance, it was performed quite slowly. The main feature of the Essence dance appeared to be the movement of the heels and toes without changing the position of the legs so that the performer appeared to glide across the floor. Sherlock called this the 'rocking heel, which is an element of pedal motion in every negro dance." Along with this foot motion was an intricate series of shuffles.

...Negro dance, as previously states, makes great use of shuffling, gliding, and dragging movements and so did the Essence. The toe-heel motion was certainly an element in African American dance, as shown by Ravenel, who observe it at a slave dance held at Christmas. ravenel described the same step as "a slow shuffling gait...edging along by some unseen exertion of the feet..."

Many other dances have been described as popular in blackface minstrelsy. Some were of doubtful Afro-American origin, while others are unrelated to Negro dance. The Jig and Clog, two of the most popular minstrel dances, were probably not of Negro origin. However, Ralph Keeler, who was instituted as a "troupe's jig-dancer" auditioned for the position by dancing Juba "to the time which the comedian himself gabe me by means of his two hands and one foot, andwhich is technicalled called 'patting'. Perhaps some dances called Jigs were in reality the Juba dance. Matthews said that as minstrelsy progressed the "clog-dances became more intricate and more mechanical-and thereby still more remote from the buck-and wing dancing of the real Negro."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 08:28 PM

Hmm. Nobody here has suggested, Frank, that "the five-string banjo came to America via Ireland;" nor, I think, would any sane person do so. Your later suggestion, however, that "Scots music is basically Irish derived" and "The English tunes are also" is remarkably contentious and I don't envy you unless you have very good evidence indeed to back up such an extraordinary assertion.

Sharp collected songs in Appalachia. He got a few dance tunes too, but that wasn't what he was there for. If people have made unwarranted assumptions in the past, based on a misunderstanding of his work, that isn't his fault.

It is certainly true that Irish and Scottish instrumental traditions (along with English, German and Scandinavian traditions among others) all went to make up "Southern US dance music", which was of course also significantly influenced by African styles. Fashion tends to have a hand in which of these is at any particular time considered most important, and at present it is fashionable to emphasise the Irish input at the expense of others.

The same is true of tap dance and its precursors, clog and step. There is nothing particularly "celtic" about these; forms exist throughout Britain as well as Ireland (and other parts of Europe from which people migrated to Appalachia), to say nothing of the African American input that Azizi has mentioned.

Finally, what on earth have the (historical, as opposed to modern) Spanish bagpiping traditions to do with Ireland? No more, I'd think, than those of Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey or Poland (to name only a few European countries where the pipes have been played since the Middle Ages) and far less than those of France, Scotland and England. Whether bagpipes have anything much to do with Appalachian dance music is questionable in any case. If there was ever an Appalachian bagpiping tradition, then I haven't heard about it; perhaps you would enlighten us.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 08:35 PM

Re Frank Hamilton's bizarre assertions about the influence of Irish music: look at Alois Fleischmann's "Sources of Irish Traditional Music" and you can see immediately that *far* more tunes in the Irish repertoire originated in Britain than the other way around. This is particularly clear for Scottish tunes, where thousands of tunes were in print (often ascribable to known composers) decades or even centuries before anyone found the same tunes in Irish tradition.

The oldest Irish fiddle music rarely emulates either pipes or flute. The uillean pipes were an expensive instrument mainly found among the elite, and only arrived from northern England around 1800 - the oldest Irish dance tunes predate that. Flutes were also very much more expensive than fiddles until the British Army becasme a regular source of used ones late in the 19th century. (I suspect my great-grandfather was fairly typical; a peasant from the West of Ireland who joined the Britiush Army at 14 and learned to play the flute and melodeon when serving in Afghanistan. Nobody of his class and generation could have learned those skills at home, the instruments weren't there).

Clogging is from northern England, nothing "Celtic" about it.

There is zero evidence for *any* musical link between Galicia and the British Isles before the "Celtic music" bandwagon of the 1980s.

There are several not very closely related idioms called "step dancing". The folkdance industry in Scotland likes to promote a myth that it was a creation of the common people in the Highlands, taken to Cape Breton and from whence it has just been recovered: there seems a basic prerequisite missing for this story to make sense. Peasants in either Ireland or the Scottish Highlands very rarely got to tread on a wooden floor, and didn't wear shoes either. You can't do Cape Breton or modern Irish stepdance barefoot in a black house floored with earth and straw, you will not so much tap as plop. They simply *can't* be some timeless heritage of the Old Country.

Azizi, where were the earliest known venues for proto-minstrel Black American dance? It must have come from somewhere before it became showbiz. Where were "plantation dances" done?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 08:36 PM

I should probably add that I did not mean to suggest that Turkey is part of Europe; it is next door in Asia Minor, and its application to join the EU (which would in any case not change its geographical location) is still pending.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 10:01 PM

Jack Campin, with regard to your question: "where were the earliest known venues for proto-minstrel Black American dance? It must have come from somewhere before it became showbiz. Where were "plantation dances" done?"

My response is that proto-minstrel Black American dance was done where ever African Americans congregated, in rural areas {plantations and farms} and urban areas, including places specifically for African American socializing such as New Orleans's Congo Square.

For instance, read this excerpt from an online article about New Orleans- Birthplace of Jazz:

"...the birth of jazz is still something of a mystery. 100 years ago, at the time jazz emerged as a distinct musical genre, there was no recorded music, nor was there radio. No documentation exists that can in some way pinpoint the birth of jazz, since the music was played by ear. What is known is that the Jazz era began around the time the Ragtime era ended, and early New Orleans jazz musicians actually spoke about their music as a local flavor of ragtime.
New Orleans, because of its distinctive cultural life, history, and geography, was able to provide the crucial added ingredients to ragtime that turned it into jazz. The Port of New Orleans was one of the most important terminals in the New World, and as such facilitated a great exchange of cultures as well as commerce. The city's strategic position on the Mississippi was of great interest to European colonialists and traders. And, as the Civil War had ended only thirty years before, the Delta slave culture was still lively.

In New Orleans's Congo Square, a grassy plain where the city fathers had permitted slaves to fraternize for a few hours on Sundays, revellers performed African dances accompanied by music that featured drumming and stringed instruments. American Indians, slaves, and free people of color conducted business, socialized, and entertained themselves. The square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places."
-snip-

Here's more detailed information about Congo Square from http://www.jass.com/congo.html :

"It was in the Nineteenth Century in Congo Square in New Orleans that observers heard the beat of the bamboulas, the wail of the banzas and saw the multitude of African dances that had survived through the years. This square located across Rampart Street on the back side of the French Quarter was in use as a gathering place for the residents of New Orleans almost since the city began. It had been an area outside of the fortified walls of the original city where Native Americans and later slaves had sold their wares in an open market by the Bayou St. John, the major avenue for transportation of goods into the city.

Town's folk would gather around the square on Sunday afternoons to witness what went on inside the square. In 1819, a visitor to the city, Benjamin Latrobe wrote about the celebrations in his journal. He was amazed at the sight of five or six hundred unsupervised slaves that had assembled for dancing. He described them as ornamented with a number of tails of the smaller wild beasts, with fringes, ribbons, little bells, and shells and balls, jimgling and flirting about the performers legs and arms. The women, one onlooker reported wore, each according to her means, the newest fashions in silk, gauze, muslin, percale dresses. And the males covered themselves in oriental and Indian dress and covered themselves only with a sash of the same sort wrapped around the body.. except for that they go naked.

One witness from the time pointed out that several clusters of onlookers, musicians, and dancers represented tribal groupings with each nation taking their place in different parts of the square. In addition to drums, gourds, banjo-like instruments and quillpipes made from reeds strung together like panpipes, marimbas and european instuments like the violin, tamborines and triangles were also used".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 10:43 PM

African American slavery in the South has been closely associated with plantation life. Yet many enslaved African Americans in the South did not live on plantations. For instance, it was a revelation to me to read [in a chapter about African American clothing in the 18th century] that there were thousands of African Americans living in Charlestown {West Virgina?}on the late 18th century:

"Opportunities for acquiring additional clothing were always more
numerous in urban areas. Here, the scope for conspicuous display was larger, and the ability to earn extra money greater. Particularly was this true in Charlestown. In 1772, the "Stranger" percceived a great Difference in Appearance as well as Behavior, between the Negroes of the Country, and those in Charles-Town". Although the former were "generally clas suitable to their Condition', the latter were 'the very Reverse-abandonedly rude,unmannerly, insolent and shameless". The concentration of several thousand African Americans, many of hwhome were allowed virtually to fend for themselves, hiring out their own time and hustling around the markets, contributed to the striking dress and demeanor of Charleston blacks"...
-snip-

[and with regard to African American slavery in the North]:

"This aspect of African American culture [the aesthetics and creation of African American clothing fashion]probably attained its most heighened expression in the garb of the principal characters in Pinkster, Negro Election Day and General Training. These slave festivals, which occurred sporadically in the eighteenth century throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey, usually lasted for one or two days in May or June, though Pinkster could occupy a week. The rituals varied considerably from place to place and over time, but typically a slave-usually called a King or a Governor and usually African-born-was in charge of proceedings and slaves from the surrounding area gathered to drink, eat, gamble, listen to music, and dance. Generally, all slaves attending attired themselves in their best clothes, but, inevitably, most attention was focused ont the candidates for office and on the black Kings and Govenors, who often borowed items of clothing, ane dven swords and horses, from their owners in order to create a spectacular visual display."

Source: Shane White & Graham White's 1998 book "Stylin'-African American Expressive Culture from Its Beginning to the Zoot Suit" {Cornell University Press,p. 15; p. 18}

-snip-

See also this excerpt from http://www.hudsonvalley.org/pinkster/ode.html

"PINKSTER ODE, ALBANY, 1803

Copied by Geraldine R. Pleat and Agnes N. Underwood

[Editor's Note: One of the treasures of the State Library at Albany is a pamphlet containing the following Ode, perhaps the earliest description of a folk festival in the United States. On the day following Pinkster (Pentecost or Whitmanday) the Negroes of Albany held revels on Pinkster Hill, the approximate site of the present State Capitol. Gradually the celebration extended far into the week until in April of 1811, the Common Council of Albany passed rules aimed at "boisterous rioting and drunkenness"—rules which were the knell of the Pinkster holidays with their African folk dances. King Charley, the great Negro drummer and master of ceremonies, died in 1924, when he was said to be one hundred and twenty-five years old. He is certainly one of the important figures in American folklore. Folklorists and historians will be interested also in the other members of the crowd which swirled around old Charley, but it is also to be remembered that those who danced on Pinkster Hill were Negroes and nearly all of them slaves. (Slavery in the State was not completely abolished until 1827.) The whites were spectators.]"...

-snip-

Of course, this is only a partial response to the subject of venues for proto-minstrel Black American dance. I've shared this information not to sidetrack the conversation about minstrelsy and Irish music [which I was finding quite fascinating] but to respond to a question asked me.

Fwiw, I believe the question about Black dance in 18th and 19th century-before blackface minstrelsy became the rage [I mean that word 'rage' both ways]-to be relevant to this discussion because it can help us better understand American minstrelsy which was imported throughout the world & had such a large and lasting influence [even to this day] on show business and other performing arts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 07:40 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 07:04 PM

Malcolm: whether the Turkish bagpipe is European or not depends not on the EU but on which kind of bagpipe you mean. There are two of them. The gaida is essentially the same as the Bulgarian bagpipe, probably came from there, and shares the "single chanter and a drone" design with most of the bagpipes found in Europe. But it's only played in Thrace, the European part of Turkey. In Asian Turkey, you get the tulum, a double chanter pipe, probably invented in Armenia and disseminated from there as far as Malta and Morocco. The gaida plays music that most Europeans would recognize as melodies; the tulum is mainly a dance music instrument, sometimes used to accompany singing, and what it plays doesn't bear much resemblance to anything anybody might sing.

Some transported slaves must have known the double-chanter pipe, and it's much easier to make than the single-chanter type, for some of them you don't need anything more than a knife. Who knows, it could have been played in the New World at some time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Minstrelsy and Irish Music
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 07:47 PM

On the subject of slaves and dancing - apparently it was not unusual in the South for illicit dance-gatherings to be held in the bush near plantations at night, with slaves sneaking away to attend. Or so I once read in a reputable book - title and author long forgotten ...


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Mudcat time: 23 September 8:36 PM EDT

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