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"The Music of American Folk Song" [Spanish]

This is the first publication of an annotated monograph by the noted composer and folksong scholar Ruth Crawford Seeger. Originally written as a foreword for the 1940 book Our Singing Country, it was considered too long and was replaced by a much shorter version. According to her stepson, Pete Seeger, when the original was not included "Ruth suffered one of the biggest disappointments of the last ten years of her life. It just killed her . . . She was trying to analyze the whole style and problem of performing this music." Along with her children Mike and Peggy Seeger, he has long desired to see this work in print as it was meant to be read. The manuscript has been edited from several varying sources by Larry Polansky, with the assistance of Seeger's biographer Judith Tick. It is divided into two sections: I. 'A Note on Transcription' and II. 'Notes on the Songs and on Manners of Singing.' Seeger examines all aspects of the relationship between singer, song, notation, the eventual performer, and the transcriber.In Section I, Seeger develops a complex and well-organized system of notation for these songs which is meant to be both descritive (transcription as cultural preservation) and prescriptive (she intended that others would be able to perform these songs). In Section II, she provides an interpretive theory for performance of this music, and suggests how performers might make the songs 'their own' through a deep knowledge of the original styles. Ruth Crawford Seeger considered this work to be both a major accomplishment and a central statement of herown ideas on the topic. Larry Polansky is Associate Professor of Music at Dartmouth College, and a well-known composer and theorist onAmerican music. Judith Tick is Professor of Music at Northeastern University and author of the first major biography of Ruth Crawford Seeger.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 A note on transcription: the singer and the song; phonographic recording of the song; transcription of the song from phonographic recording; the reader and the song; music notation as a bridge; three basic types of transcription illustrated; song-norm; majority usage; underlimits of amount of detail shown in notation, especially with regard to the simpler singing styles; the mode tune as representative of the song as a whole; the initial tune as model tune; the composite tune; the transcriber and a changing oral tradition. Part 2 Notes on the songs and on manners of singing: adherence to a dynamic level throughout the song as a whole; adherence to a dramatic level throughout the song as a whole; adherence to the tempo set at the beginning of the song; strict time and free singing styles; pulse and count; anticipation and delay of beat; simple and compound meter; metrical irregularities - prolongation and contraction of measure; metrical irregularities - divisions of beat and measure; rest; phrase pattern; interstanzaic variation; manners of accommodating extra syllables of succeeding stanzas; tone attack and release; intonation; scale and mode; accompaniment; appendices.


This volume should find a place in every serious folk music fan's library. It's certainly a fitting legacy from so gifted and encompassing an intelligence as Ruth Crawford Seeger's. SING OUT, Winter 2004

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