Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Brown, Rae Linda. "William Grant Still, Florence Price, and William Dawson: Echoes of the Harlem Renaissance." In Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays, ed. Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., 71-86. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990.

While William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony, Florence Price's Symphony in E Minor, and William Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony are examples of American musical nationalism, they also represent the culmination of the Harlem Renaissance, an affirmation of the black cultural heritage in which composers sought to elevate the Negro folk idiom to symphonic form. Still's Afro-American Symphony is based on a theme in the Blues idiom. The second theme of the first movement of Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony is based on the spiritual "Oh, M' Littl' Soul Gwine-a Shine," and the two themes of the third movement are based on the spirituals "O Le' Me Shine, Lik' a Mornin' Star" and "Hallelujah, Lord I Been Down into the Sea." In Symphony in E Minor, Price is more subtle in her use of elements from the Afro-American folk tradition: her instrumentation calls for African drums; the principal theme of the first movement and its countermelody are built upon a pentatonic scale (the most frequently used scale in Afro-American folk songs); and the third movement is based on the syncopated rhythms of the Juba, an antebellum folk dance.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Reginald Sanders

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