American Folk Songs for Christmasby Ruth Crawford Seeger

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American Folk Songs for Christmas by Ruth Crawford SeegerReview by: Laura Pendleton MacCarteneyNotes, Second Series, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Dec., 1953), pp. 141-142Published by: Music Library AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 18/06/2014 22:05Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact .Music Library Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Notes. This content downloaded from on Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:05:40 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions The Parish Organist is a notable exception. It offers good advice, practical particulars, and an abundance of practical music material, and a parish organist in this instance would do well to pay some attention. The four volumes contain preludes on the one hundred tunes most often sung by congregations within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (most of which are equally popular in other groups), a three-voice harmon- ization of each tune (the editor makes a special plea for this device as being "in every respect more suitable . . . than the traditional four-part setting") and twenty additional preludes in as many keys for use with other hymns. An extra volume, called "Accompanying Manual," contains pertinent comments and excel- lent suggestions by the editor on such matters as registration, improvisation, pre- lude forms, and hymn playing. There is a "List of Offertories for the Sundays and Festivals of the Church Year," also a classified index covering all important church seasons and occasions, and a list of suggested Hammond registrations for each of the one hundred and twenty pieces. It is difficult to imagine what more could be done for the organist except per- haps to play the service for him. It is the intention that these preludes be used as an introduction to the hymn; consequently they are one-stanza siettings and therefore brief. The organist seeking more extended pieces will not find them in this collection. The editor hopes that they might be played to announce the hymn rather than to use the hymn itself as is the common practice. He is anxious also to encourage the improvisation of similar introductions and would prefer that the examples selected serve both as models and incentives. Since the choice of tunes was determined by a statistical survey of use-frequencies, the editor was obviously limited in his selection of mate- rials. This is apparent from the fact that sixty pieces were written especially for this collection by twenty-four con- temporary composers, most of whom are active as Lutheran church musicians in this country. These sixty preludes are mostly on tunes of later periods for which no classic settings exist. The remaining sixty have been drawn from earlier periods and the twenty-five composers represented are all from among the great names of the past. The contemporary pieces vary in quality from fair to ex- cellent with most of them falling some- where in between, and all are written in a most conservative idiom with the exception of the four preludes contributed by Ludwig Lenel. One wishes there had been more of these. This is an editorial and publishing ac- complishment which merits high praise. Other denominations should please copy, but in the meantime their organists can find much of value in what has been made available to them in this coflection. Mention should be made of the compre- hensive indices to be found in each of the volumes: one of composers with vital data, one of the tunes, and one of first lines. Composers and sources of tunes are not listed (presumably because this information is available in the hymnal); nevertheless it would be well if this could be added in subsequent editions. Organists not having the Lutheran Hymnal at hand would appreciate this. LUTHER Noss American Folk Songs for Christmas. By Ruth Crawford Seeger. Illustrated by Barbara Cooney. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1953. [8O m.. illus.: 83.001 The shocking news of Ruth Seeger's passing came almost simultaneously with the appearance of her book. Sadness is a difficult mood in which to approach this collection, suffused as it is with her vibrant personality. The book is actually far more than American Folk Songs for Christmas. It is a charming picture of early American Christmases, with the songs, mostly religious, that accompany the festival. The authori.tative introduc- tion is an integral part of the book, giv- ing a colorful background for the folk carols *as they develop. Much of the music has been gathered from the Archive of American Folk Song 141 This content downloaded from on Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:05:40 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions the Library of Congress. Tunes from shape note books, Shaker tunes, St. Helena Spirituals, and many others have been used along with material from various parts of the country, though chiefly from the southern states. The songs were collected with discernment and taste and are carefully documented. This book is a far cry from Mrs. Seeger's earlier American Folk Songs for Children, with its conventional harmoniza- tions, and its consequent appeal to young children. These "new" Christmas songs are unquestionably more difficult to sing and therefore will have a tendency to appeal to an older age level. They are arranged simply, but subtly, with a definite modal feeling. The treatment is largely contrapuntal, with frequent consecutive fourths and fifths providing an authentic setting for the haunting melodies. Chords are indicated for use with such instruments as autoharp, guitar, or banjo. Early American Christmas songs have been strangely neglected in the wealth of published Christmas music. This book will do much to fill the gap. The many illustrations by Barbara Cooney and their diversified placement add greatly to the attractiveness of the book. They are executed with a simplicity and a feeling that is in keeping with Ruth Seeger's intimate approach to the Christmas story. American Folk Songs for Christmas is an important book in the field, and for folk- lorists an indispensable one. LAURA PENDLETON MACCARTENEY The Burl Ives Song Book. American song in historical perspective. Song versions by Burl Ives; text by Burl Ives; arranged for the piano by Albert Hague; illustrations by Lamartine Le Goullon and Robert J. Lee. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. [(xii), 276 p.; hardbound edition, $5.00: DaDerbound edition. $.501 Burl Ives gathers together in print 115 American songs, chiefly of folk origin, which he has already made widely known through concerts and recordings. The songs, with guitar and piano accompani- ments, are all in the British-American tradition, which Ives knows and sings well, and no artificial attempt is made to include Negro, Spanish, German, or other material alien to his own tradition and bent. The book is, thus, well titled. Burl Ives frankly acknowledges sources in his introduction, without, however, specifically noting them for each song. The sources include his own family tradi- tion of song, published collections (Cecil Sharp, and others), and the recorded collections of the Library of Congress, and the Universities of Missouri, Vir- ginia, and Harvard. He also describes his own professional voice training, and admits to altering and changing texts and tunes when "the song could be improved." There is, thus, no attempt to hornswoggle and hoodwink the user of the book into believing that the material is Simon-pure, unadulterated folksong. It is folksong funnelled through Burl Ives. Ives is a pretty big funnel, and the book is, there- fore, well titled on a second count. The 115 songs are divided into five roughly chronological groups: Colonial America, 1620-1775; Revolutionary Amer- ica, 1775-1790; On the Sea, 1790-1850; Religious, Professional, and Folksinging, 1800-1850; The Frontiers of America, 1800-1850. The titles include traditional old favorites ("Froggie Went A-Court- ing," "Barbara Allen," "Sourwood Moun- tain"), as well as lesser known historical songs which add a strong note of Amer- icana to the collection ("Ye Parliaments of England," "The Battle of Saratoga," "The Abolitionist Hymn"). The five sub- divisions, on critical examination, do not always hold up, since "Barbara Allen," entered in the Colonial period, was cer- tainly not as representative of that period as it was of a later time. An historical song may reasonably be pinned to a given period (The Battle of Saratoga), but a folksong, which survives without benefit of print, is considerably more fluid. With this academic carping aside, the book is an excellent one which will prove a wide favorite. Burl Ives alone has done 142 This content downloaded from on Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:05:40 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Contentsp. 141p. 142Issue Table of ContentsNotes, Second Series, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Dec., 1953), pp. 1-172Front Matter [pp. 1-24]Oscar George Theodore Sonneck (1873-1928) [pp. 25-32]Unlocated Titles in Early Sacred American Music [pp. 33-48]Notes for NOTES [pp. 49-56]Index of Record Reviews: With Symbols Indicating Opinions of Reviewers [pp. 57-98]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 99-100]Review: untitled [pp. 100-101]Review: untitled [pp. 101-102]Review: untitled [pp. 102-103]Review: untitled [pp. 103-105]Review: untitled [pp. 105]Review: untitled [pp. 106]Review: untitled [pp. 106-107]Review: untitled [pp. 107-108]Review: untitled [pp. 108]Review: untitled [pp. 109-110]Review: untitled [pp. 110-111]Review: untitled [pp. 111-112]Review: untitled [pp. 112-113]Review: untitled [pp. 113-114]Review: untitled [pp. 114-115]Review: untitled [pp. 115-116]Review: untitled [pp. 117]Review: untitled [pp. 117]Review: untitled [pp. 117-118]Review: untitled [pp. 118-119]Review: untitled [pp. 119-120]Other Publications [pp. 121-137]Music ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 138-139]Review: untitled [pp. 139-140]Review: untitled [pp. 140]Review: untitled [pp. 140-141]Review: untitled [pp. 141-142]Review: untitled [pp. 142-143]Choral MusicReview: untitled [pp. 143]Review: untitled [pp. 143-144]Review: untitled [pp. 144]Review: untitled [pp. 144-145]Review: untitled [pp. 145]Review: untitled [pp. 145]Review: untitled [pp. 145]Review: untitled [pp. 145]Review: untitled [pp. 146]Orchestral MusicReview: untitled [pp. 146-147]Review: untitled [pp. 147]Review: untitled [pp. 147-148]Review: untitled [pp. 148]Review: untitled [pp. 148]Review: untitled [pp. 148-149]Review: untitled [pp. 149-150]Review: untitled [pp. 150-151]Keyboard MusicReview: untitled [pp. 151]Review: untitled [pp. 151]Review: untitled [pp. 151-152]Review: untitled [pp. 152]Review: untitled [pp. 152]Review: untitled [pp. 152]Review: untitled [pp. 152-153]Review: untitled [pp. 153]Review: untitled [pp. 153]Review: untitled [pp. 153]Chamber MusicReview: untitled [pp. 153-155]Review: untitled [pp. 155]Review: untitled [pp. 155]Review: untitled [pp. 155-156]Review: untitled [pp. 156]Review: untitled [pp. 156-157]Review: untitled [pp. 157]Review: untitled [pp. 157]Review: untitled [pp. 157]Review: untitled [pp. 157]Review: untitled [pp. 157]Review: untitled [pp. 157-158]Review: untitled [pp. 158]Review: untitled [pp. 158]Review: untitled [pp. 158-159]Solo SongsReview: untitled [pp. 159-160]Review: untitled [pp. 160]Review: untitled [pp. 160-161]Review: untitled [pp. 161-162]Review: untitled [pp. 162]Selected Current Popular Music [pp. 163]Publications Received [pp. 163-170]Back Matter [pp. 171-172]


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