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Slave Songs Of The United States (1867)

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1437194692
ISBN-10: 1437194699
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"It is hard to explain why no systematic effort has hitherto been made to collect and preserve their melodies.

The public had well-nigh forgotten these genuine slave songs, and with them the creative power from which they sprung.

These are the songs heard . . . upon the Mississippi . . . wild and strangely fascinating."
--from the Introduction

The authors lived during the nineteenth century and recorded the music of the slaves from what was actually heard on plantations during, and immediately following, the Civil War. Dramatic and melodious songs like "Come Go With Me," "Hold Out to the End," and "The Lonesome Valley" speak truthfully of the slave way of life--the hardships, the spirituality, the community.

In this edition, directions for singing and musical scores are provided, thus accurately preserving the original intonations and rhythms of these songs that are an integral part of the nation's history.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

1830-1899

1840-1921

1842-1877 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (October 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1437194699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1437194692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,995,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book gives great insight in to the true meaning of African American slaves songs. This book also discusses the origin and uses of the songs and provides footnotes for most of the colloquials and variations in dialect for each song.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are 136 songs in this book, most of which are no longer sung. They are simply amazing, musically and theologically. An example: "Come and Go With Me", collected in Augusta, GA, presents a major scale with a flat 6th and 7th, and the tune ends on the 4th. Unfortunately, the collectors, as went on for generations as standard procedure, did not acknowledge the names of any of their sources. The original "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" is in here; it is a rowing song from the sea islands, addressed to the archangel Michael as a prayer for safe passage; these lyrics are more striking than the familiar ones. Here are the complete lyrics to "Come and Go With Me", which is singular both in its scale and its notion that heaven is in the present, to be accepted rather than earned:

Ole Satan is a busy ole man

He roll stones in my way

Master Jesus is my bosom friend

He roll 'em out my way

Oh, come and go with me

Oh, come and go with me

Oh, come and go with me

A-walking in the heaven I roam

I did not come here myself my Lord

It was my Lord who brought me here

And I really do believe I'm a child of God

A-walking in the heaven I roam

Oh, come and go with me

Oh, come and go with me

Oh, come and go with me

A-walking in the heaven I roam

It was reported that the freed slaves did not want to remember their old songs. And we all have reasons for forgetting a painful past. But look at these songs; they are the heart and soul's truth of life. It is not too late to learn from these people. Put this music in your heart.

Water spring that never dry, Hallelu, Hallelu

The more we dig, the more it spring, Hallelujah!
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Format: Paperback
No doubt about it, this is an essential book in the field of American music history, black music history, ethnomusicology, etc. However, one would do better to buy the 1995 Dover edition--the reprinting is much clearer and legible, and the paper stock is smoother. And the price is the same, plus you get a preface (undated) by Harold Courlander. Sorry, this Applegate printing is just not as good.
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Format: Paperback
Those who love spirituals often find the origins of spirituals in general to be elusive, if not impossible to track with any degree of reliability. Though this collection of spirituals is quite limited in terms of being highly localized (versus attempting to comprehend all of the spirituals of all of the South), it covers many of the best-loved Negro spirituals. Published first in 1867, it provides perhaps the strongest link for the largest grouping of spirituals, contemporaneous (or nearly so) with the music it attempts to capture.

For those who love the Negro spiritual, this is a 'must have' for your collection.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My high school sophomore English students read Julius Lester's book "To Be a Slave" as a foundation for understanding the slave experience in the United States, particularly during the final decades leading up to the Civil War. To further their immersion into the slave culture, I have also purchased numerous slave narratives and other reference materials, including this book: "Slave Songs of the United States," first published in 1867.

This collection begins with a 28-page introduction from editor William Francis Allen (1830-1889). In it, he writes: "More than thirty years ago those plantation songs made their appearance which were so extraordinarily popular for a while; and if "Coal-Black Rose," "Zip Coon" and "Ole Virginny nebber tire" have been succeeded by spurious imitations, manufactured to suit the somewhat sentimental taste of our community, the fact that these were called "negro melodies" was itself a tribute to the musical genius of the race."

And this collection of 136 songs is, indeed, a tribute to the musical heritage of African-Americans. The collection is divided into four sections: I. Southeastern Slave States (82 songs), II. Northern Seaboard Slave States (20 songs), III. Inland Slave States (9 songs), and IV. Slave Songs of the United States (25 songs).

Each song includes music and lyrics, as well as occasional notes of the songs history, origin, lyric meaning and/or use. It would be simply amazing to actually hear these songs as they were originally sung, but having the music and knowing these were songs that helped sustain an enslaved people gives me chills. These songs tell their own story, and it is a fascinating read. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Look for the Dover reprint Slave Songs of the United States: The Classic 1867 Anthology for a better quality printing at a lower price. This publication in 1867 is, if I recall correctly, the earliest publication of African American spirituals in book form. It did not have the lasting influence of the pivotal The Jubilee Singers and Their Songs (Dover Song Collections) published a few years later, but this book is absolutely indispensable to anyone interested in the subject. The book is available free online with some searching but this inexpensive reprint is an easy read and easy to consult.
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