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Folk-Music - By J. C. Fillmore.

The time has arrived when musical historians and students of the history of music can no longer afford to ignore the study of folk-music. It is common to begin our musical histories with a meager reference to the music of the ancients, especially the Egyptians and the Orientals, followed by a more or less inadequate account of the music of the Greeks. The historian then proceeds to show the connection (slight at best, and very confused and perverted) between the Greek music and the music of the early Christian Church. The “ecclesiastical modes” are expounded, with more or less clearness, mostly in a way which leaves the student wholly unable to comprehend the relation of the Ambrosian and Gregorian melodies to the keynote, or doubtful whether they could possibly have had any tonality at all. Then the student is told that only two of these “modes” have survived in modern music, having become our “major” and “minor,” the latter considerably modified from its original form. But no information is given as to why or how this change came about.

Recent studies in folk-music, especially that of our American aborigines, have thrown a flood of light on this hitherto obscure subject. It has been shown beyond reasonable question that primitive men, making music spontaneously, follow harmonic lines and develop songs having precisely the same major and minor tonalities with which we are familiar. These tonalities are, therefore, natural. Further, this is true of all races of men whose music has thus far been examined, and not only so, but none of them have developed any other kind of tonality.

It is plain, therefore, that the great majority of the ecclesiastical modes disappeared because of their more or less artificial character, leaving those to survive which conformed more perfectly to natural laws.

Students who desire to know what has been done of late years in the investigation of folk-music can probably obtain copies of “A Study of Omaha Indian Music,” by Miss Alice C. Fletcher, Mr. Francis La Flesche, and myself, by addressing Prof. F. W. Putnam, Curator of the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. The number of copies printed was limited, and the price is $1.25. Information as to magazine and review articles I can furnish.

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