Syncretization and Synthesis:
Folk and Written Traditions
When God shuts a door for us, he will open another door.
I do not see why the devil should have all the good
In the early years of the nineteenth century, white‐ to-black and black-to-white musical influences were widespread, a fact documented in numerous contemporary accounts. For example, in chapter 2 I mentioned the report of a black nurse singing black songs to white children. Add to that occurrence a report (Gilman 1834) of black children singing "hymns" to white children ("Master Jesus Is My Captain" and "I'm Walking On to Jesus") and the knowledge that at slave balls, the cotillion, the quadrille, and other European social dances were danced by blacks, and it becomes clear that the prevailing musical interactions and influences in nineteenth‐ century America produced a black populace conversant with the music of both traditions. It is with this perspective in mind that I examine the continuing development of the old, established, and developing genres and their syncretization into new forms.
Pre-twentieth-century writers and compilers of black religious music began to publish collections of