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COMMUCK, Thomas (A Narragansett Indian)

Published by G. Lane & C. B. Tippett, New York (1845)

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Hardcover
First Edition

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About this Item: G. Lane & C. B. Tippett, New York, 1845. Hardcover. First Edition. Oblong octavo, 114 (2) pages. Original calf-backed printed boards with leather corner tips. A collection of original songs written by a Narragansett Indian who had worked on the compilation for seven years, only having learned to sing "scientifically" two years before. Apparently the first published attempt at such a feat by a Native American and thus of extreme historical importance. According to the author in his preface, he was aware of no other "son of the forest" trying to do what he had done. The songs are harmonized by Thomas Hastings, the famous American hymn compiler and composer, perhaps best known for writing the music for "Rock of Ages," who also happened to be an albino. The approximately two hundred songs in this compilation are for the most part titled after Native American tribes, though the lyrics are more traditionally Christian reflecting Commuck's Methodist Episcopal beliefs. Very scarce! One of the earliest books to be authored by a Native American regarding Native American culture. Library perforated stamp on title page and two pages of preface, ink notation at top of first page of preface and first page of music; contents clean and crisp. Spine leather worn away, both covers neatly detached. Very Good. Seller Inventory # 017524

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Commuck, Thomas. A Narragansett Indian

Published by Published by G. Lane & C.B. Tippett, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 200 Mulberry Street. James Collord, Printer, New York (1845)

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Hardcover

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From: Bartleby's Books, ABAA (Chevy Chase, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item: Published by G. Lane & C.B. Tippett, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 200 Mulberry Street. James Collord, Printer, New York, 1845. Harmonized by Thomas Hastings, Esq. Oblong 8vo. vi, [7]-114, [2] pp. Printed paper boards, leather spine and corners rubbed and worn, front joint starting, closed tear to blank rear endpaper. Previous owner's inscription on front endpaper. A collection of over 100 short songs, each dedicated to a different Native tribe. From the author's introduction, p.vi, written from Manchester, Wisconsin Territory in 1845: "As the tunes in this book are the work of an Indian, it has been thought proper by the author to have it all of a piece. The tunes therefore will be found to assume the names of noted Indian chiefs, Indian females, Indian names of places, &c. This has been done merely as a tribute of respect to the memory of some tribes that are now nearly if not quite extinct." Commuck also states that he only first began to learn the art of singing "scientifically" in 1836, "unaided by any instruction, except what he could obtain by simply reading the rules contained in the few musical works to which he has had access." This is considered the first published book of music written by a Native American. Commuck was born in Rhode Island in 1804 or 1805 and migrated to Brotherton, in Wisconsin Territory with his Pequot wife Hannah Abigail Abner after 1831. They settled the area along with a group of Native Americans, becoming know as the Brothertown Indians. Commuck died there in 1855 when he fell through a hole in the ice and drowned, according to a sketch in the papers of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Seller Inventory # 62004

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