her merchandise. Her style of delivery, somewhere between speech and song, is clearly related to West African tonal language. Listen carefully to this recording.


Urban Calls.

Library of Congress LBC 8. Folk Music in America.

Songs of Labor and Livelihood

Side B. Band 6. "Street Cries of Charleston."

A final example, not particularly related to the discussion of vocal cries, but certainly germane to the issue of tonal speech, demonstrates the survival of this cultural phenomenon in the sermons of Black fundamentalist ministers. Here, the preacher begins his sermon in a normal speaking voice, but as his emotional fervor intensifies, his oratory gradually assumes a tonal pattern built around a few pitches which evoke a tonal response from his congregation.

RBF Records RF 5. An Introduction to Gospel Song.

Side I, Band 4. "You Mother Heart Breakers."

     Afro-American work songs are closely related to their West African progenitors in terms of musical structure and function. They are usually composed of a few phrases which are repeated insistently by soloist and group in call-and-response fashion. Other West African retentions which may be noted in these songs are the use of "gapped" scales (scales of fewer than seven tones), strident, guttural vocal timbres, and the incorporation of the sounds of labor into the musical fabric. The leader of the work song is a very special person who commands the respect of the work crew, and who often escapes strenuous physical labor assignments because of his ability to maintain high morale and proper pace and rhythm in the work activity. Until the early decades of the twentieth century, work songs could be heard in many settings in southern areas of the United States. There were riverboat songs, harvest songs, chopping songs, planting songs, corn songs, and, as


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February 2001