We are singing two selections from the set of “Old American Songs” by Aaron Copland, “Ching-A-Ring Chaw” and “The Boatmen’s Dance. Sheet Music – £ – Old American Songs II No. 5 Ching-a-Ring-Chaw Minstrel song for mixed choir (SATB) with piano accompaniment. English. CHING-A-RING CHAW. 3. (Minstrel Song) Des. Res en HEAVE A. S.A.T.B.. Adapted by Aaron Copland. Arranged for Chorus by Irving Fine. RY AN: TNI A4.

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Copland nee Kaplan would be horrified to think so.

Ching-a-Ring Chaw

But if this was originally a song about the earthly joys of life in a free chinf, those references make sense. And here was where the story got really interesting, because it was indeed the case that the original song was drawn chiny pre-Civil War minstrel shows.

So the use of the makeup did not in and of itself indicate prejudice. Most people just enjoyed them without feeling any need to justify them; others did try to legitimize the portrayals by saying that the shows provided a venue for black music and culture.

The black characters tended to be portrayed in negative ways, as lazy, unintelligent and happy-go-lucky but also musically talented. I cannot leave this q subject without mentioning Al Jolson, most famous for his performance in the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, chinh performed often in blackface but who was also known as a proponent of racial integration. The words are actually supposed to represent the strumming of a banjo, so I was wrong in that assumption.


Ching-a-Ring Chaw – Song of America Song of America

Copland has left intact as much as he can even as he broadens the theme to that of a universal rather a specific Promised Land. The best answer is the following: The fascinating thing about that first set is that it was commissioned by the composer Benjamin Britten, and it had its premier in England at his Music and Art Chiny, with Britten himself playing the piano.

See the bottom of this post for videos. When I read through the lyrics of this piece at our first rehearsal I assumed that it was some type of backwoods revivalist hymn, with its references to the Promised Land and the glory of God. Tell them, also, that the expression of African-American music, even if organized and rong by arguably the best American composer-arranger of the 20th Century who happened to be Jewish, has nothing at cuaw to do with supporting slavery.

Aaron Copland – Ching-A-Ring Chaw SATB & piano

Tell them, in that case, they would have to stop singing other forms of chong performed by African-Americans throughout the past hundreds of years: First, some general background.

In some circles the heavy hand of political correctness has descended on this selection. By around the shows had become a major American musical form, with packed audiences. Racism and the transformative power of art are all packed into this one short selection. Both are great to perform, though. Then my revivalist theory hit the dust: Has anyone else encountered such a problem? If so, what to say????


Copland invested a great deal of time and energy researching the material for the songs, which were a great success at the festival. You may recall that there was a brief period of about a decade when Haiti was a republic governed by former slaves who had risen up against their white masters. This post fulfills both conditions.

Turning to some straightforward American folk songs must have been a relief. Segregationists, and especially slaveowners, saw them as subversive, especially in the sympathetic portrayals of runaway slaves.

Now that we know the source of our song some of the puzzling lines become clear. By the caw Copland started ransacking the Boston University Library for lyrics the minstrel shows were pretty much dead, but he was certainly aware of their legacy. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the immense popularity of the minstrel shows, there was a lot of controversy about them. How did we get the spirituals? It is true that after the Civil War there were some minstrel shows that featured black performers in blackface.