cultures of West Africa. (1) However, as the captives began to coalesce into a unified group of displaced West Africans, they became bound by a common concept of man's relationship to the universe; by a special system of attitudes and mores which govern human conduct; and by a sure knowledge of the efficacy of music in communicating with the gods, with nature, and with man. Thus, the slaves had to make music, for to them it was much more than mere entertainment. Its function was an essential part of their world view, which quickly became West African in character, as opposed to specifically Ibo, Hausa, Ashanti, etc. Having achieved this coalition, the enslaved West Africans moved to reshape this unified ethos in order to insure their survival in a hostile, European-dominated society. In other words, they began to see themselves as enslaved Americans, as opposed to alien West Africans, and it is possible to follow the process of this adjustment by examining the music performed by Black people in the southern United States during the late eighteenth century.

     In comparing the development of Afro-American music in the United States with Dr. Ward's* three stages of Afro-American language, one finds similarity as well as contrast. The "pidgin" stage of language may be compared with that Afro-American music which is clearly an adaptation of the West African idiom. Field hollers (with or without words), work songs, story songs, and African-derived dance fall into this category. "Creolization" might describe that music which borrows freely from African and European idioms-spirituals, blues, and later developing genres, including minstrelsy, ragtime, jazz and gospel music. In the opinion of this writer, it is at this point that the evolutionary pattern of Afro-American music breaks with that of Afro-American language. Instead of serving as mere milestones in the history of Afro-American music, these "creolized" genres have given definition to Anglo-American music as well as Afro-American music.  Moreover,

 

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HUAN 7 
February 2001