VII
WORK SONGS--GANG LABORERS

THE Negro sang work songs long before he came to America, and in America he sang work songs long before there was any widespread interest in what he sang. Travellers in Africa frequently commented upon the songs sung by the natives at work.1 Travellers in the ante-bellum South noticed these songs earlier and more frequently than they noticed the religious songs.2 Both the travellers in Africa and those in the Slave states made constant reference to boat songs. These songs, necessarily timed to the work in hand, were frequently of a religious nature. They were plentiful as long as boats remained an important means of communication, but they died out completely when railways and good roads supplanted the old plantation long-boat. Their chief reminders to-day are the boats themselves, several splendid specimens of which are to be seen in the Charleston City Museum.

The work song, however, has persisted, and will persist as long as the Negro retains his dominant racial traits. It is by far the most numerous group of Negro folk-songs. When songs in the present collection had already reached an unwieldly number and I was devoting several consecutive summers, in Durham, N. C., to their classification and analysis, I heard almost every day various Negro work songs that I had never heard before, mixed with songs that I had heard years before, hundreds of miles away.

The earlier work song seems very often to have been a work song in the strict meaning of the word; that is, a song actually timed to the work in hand and setting a rhythm for it, like many sailor chanties. The boat songs were of this type. Charles Peabody told of slaves protesting that their song-leader sang songs that made them work too hard.3 Songs of this type are still used by the Negroes, for example, numbers 27 and 87 in this chapter.

____________________
1
See chapter I, pp. 20-21. Mrs. Natalie Curtis Burlin, in Songs and Tales of the Dark Continent, New York and Boston, G. Schirmer, 1920, records several African work songs from the singing of two African students at Hampton Institute.
2
E. g., Charles Peabody, as quoted in the article, "American Music", in the American History and Encyclopedia of Music; C. F. Deems in Annals of Southern Methodism for 1856 ( Nashville, Tenn., 1857) chap. 9; William H. Russell in My Diary North and South ( Boston, 1863), p. 207, etc.
3
"American Music."

-250-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Negro Folk-Songs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword v
  • Preface xxi
  • Contents xxv
  • I The Negro Song in General 3
  • II Religious Songs 31
  • III Upstart Crows -- The Reaction From Religion 130
  • IV Social Songs -- Dance and Banjo 148
  • V Social Songs: Narrative Songs and Ballads 185
  • VI Songs About Animals 224
  • VII Work Songs--Gang Laborers 250
  • VIII Rural Labor 281
  • IX General and Miscellaneous Labor 290
  • X Songs About Women 311
  • XI Recent Events 341
  • XII The Seamier Side 356
  • XIII Race-Consciousness 376
  • XIV Blues and Miscellaneous Songs 387
  • APPENDICES 403
  • Bibliography 467
  • INDICES 481
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 501

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.