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A Heritage of Expression

A Heritage of Expression Paul Laurence Dunbar The strange, fantastic melody of the old plantation music has always pos­ it-a sessed a deep fascination for me. There is an indescribable charm in certain poetic sadness that appeals strongly to the artistic in one's nature. The idea that art really had anything to do with this quality of negro music I never for a moment entertained. But, question as I might, I could never find out its source until passing through Midway Plaisance some weeks ago I heard the Dahomeyans singing. Instantly the idea flashed into my mind: "It is a heritage." Perhaps this thought has already struck many others, but I must confess that it has just dawned upon me, and I am startled at its suddenness and evident plausibility. I heard in the Dahomeyans' singing the same rich melody, the same mournful minor cadences, that have touched the heart of the world through negro music. It is the unknown something in the voice that so many people have tried to define and failed. The Dahomeyan sings the music of his native Africa; the American negro spends this silver heritage of melody, but adds to it the bitter ring of grief for wrongs http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

A Heritage of Expression

Black Sacred Music , Volume 1 (2) – Sep 1, 1987

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Copyright
© Copyright 1987 JBSM/Jon Michael Spencer
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-1.2.27
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Paul Laurence Dunbar The strange, fantastic melody of the old plantation music has always pos­ it-a sessed a deep fascination for me. There is an indescribable charm in certain poetic sadness that appeals strongly to the artistic in one's nature. The idea that art really had anything to do with this quality of negro music I never for a moment entertained. But, question as I might, I could never find out its source until passing through Midway Plaisance some weeks ago I heard the Dahomeyans singing. Instantly the idea flashed into my mind: "It is a heritage." Perhaps this thought has already struck many others, but I must confess that it has just dawned upon me, and I am startled at its suddenness and evident plausibility. I heard in the Dahomeyans' singing the same rich melody, the same mournful minor cadences, that have touched the heart of the world through negro music. It is the unknown something in the voice that so many people have tried to define and failed. The Dahomeyan sings the music of his native Africa; the American negro spends this silver heritage of melody, but adds to it the bitter ring of grief for wrongs

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 1987

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