The Rhythm of Culture
While the seclusion of the slave quarters provided some sanctuary from life's harshest realities, it is readily apparent that the bondsmen's creative energies took them beyond folktales, religion, and childhood games into other forms of expression. As we look at the various cultural avenues along which the slave trod, what stands out are the rhythmically musical elements that helped express so many of the bondsman's hopes of triumph and fears of despair. We need not be concerned that this observation will stereotype the slave or the black experience once we observe how much music and other cultural expressions helped bondsmen survive and even transcend the cruelest aspects of their bondage. These expressions may be seen as that marriage of great necessity and native talent which become the parents of creativity.
Without doubt interpretations of slave music are important approaches to understanding the bondsman's sense of life's worth, for music was nearly inseparable from his identity. His existence was built around repetitive work and rest rhythms which, through music, be translated into poignant expressions of life's direction and meaning. Through music he expressed the depths of his frustrations and the heights of his joys: "Outwardly we sung, in