Toni Morrison， the second of four children， was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931. Her father， a shipyard welder good at storytelling and her mother， a religious woman skillful in singing church songs， moved to Ohio from the South， desiring to raise their children in an environment more friendly to the blacks. Although moving to the North， the Woffords maintain a family atmosphere where the oral traditions of the South blacks exercise great influences as before. And undoubtedly the family atmosphere filled with songs， stories， and women’s gossip made a great impact on her literary creation. A great part of Morrison’s struggle has been to create a literary language of black Americans that draws strength from the oral art forms of Afro-American culture.
Examples of oral tradition are found everywhere in Morrison’s novels， where music is employed as an instrument to reveal the joys and ameliorate the sorrows of the blacks. This Africanist musical language would not be decoded by the white men. And she consciously stands away from Anglo-American writers in her literary craftsmanship placed in black music tradition. Through her multi-layered lyrical narration， through interweaving stories with music， myth and other oral traditions， Morrison provides readers with vivid portrayals of the African-American experience： their love and loneliness， their struggle and quests， their tradition and history. The characters and places she has created， the scenes she has imagined， the exploration she made on humanity and the bittersweet love ? all these make up an oeuvre that is unparalleled in the contemporary American literature. 口头传统的例子在莫里森的小说中随处可见，它们是用来揭示黑人的喜怒哀乐的完美工具，但这些是不被传统的白人文化所接纳理解的。莫里森正是自觉地远离英美作家的传统文学技巧。
讲故事的传统植根于非洲本土文化，Morrison tries to equate her art with both music and storytelling， which directs us to focus on the forms arising from the oral tradition， in which song and story intertwine and are often inseparable. Morrison consciously draws upon the storytelling tradition that springs from native African culture. Morrison's awareness of this tradition is effectively established in novels like Song of Solomon， which is structured around ideas based on folktales from the black oral tradition. Song of Solomon has its roots in traditional African tales of the Salt-Eaters， in which black people， gifted with the ability to fly ? even after having been taken as slaves to America ? lose that ability after adopting the practice of eating salt （Bonetti， 1983）.
As for the intricate way to draw on the oral tradition in the novel， Morrison’s personal experience of oral tradition provided her with rich knowledge. In an interview with Betty Fussell in 1992， Morrison stated that she considers herself lucky in learning two languages， “one from books and the other from family talk at mass gatherings that always took place when somebody came up from the South” （Taylor-Guthrie 284）. Her personal experience with language as a child is reflected in the combination of modern and ancient forms of discourse which has found its way into her writing style as a novelist.
It is interesting to note that Morrison’s childhood experience endowed her with a magic feeling for music. As mentioned before， we know Morrison surrounded by a family of musicians ? mother， grandfather and grandmother and so on. Every morning she woke up to the sound of her mother’s voice， and she could understand her mother’s tone quality， volume and timbre which expressed the information about whether her mother was happy or sad or angry. So in Morrison’s childhood environment， the sound of music spoke of much more than the words accompanying it.
Though nourished in such a music-based environment， Morrison was only a listener of music instead of a performer. Claiming no natural gift for music， she reminisces the frustration of being sent with her sister to learn piano out of a book. And we can trace the experience in Song of Solomon. Macon Dead II is totally fascinated by the songs of his sister， her daughter and grandfather. Being quite well-off and successful， Macon has helped his family climb up the social ladder. As a result， he refuses to accept his sister Pilate because of her low social status. By all connotations Pilate is a queer old woman， who lives her living by selling bootleg whiskey and lives without electricity and running water. Though without a navel， she possesses a beautiful voice and a sack full of a dead man’s bones， which is always hanging in the middle of her house. In Pilate’s eyes， by the way of her father’s ghost， she is dictated that she has the responsibility to maintain the family’s history and mythology in the song she sings. Regardless of his snobbishness， he cannot resist the temptation of sneaking around Pilate’s window， listening to the three women inside singing in the candlelight. He is put in a dilemma of choosing between sophistication and restrictions which are necessary components for moving upward to upper society and the unrestricted musical expressions arising from his sister’s house which can console his soul. 在小说中，麦肯?戴德二世成功而富有，所以他一开始是厌弃彼拉多的，因为她低下的社会地位。彼拉多的确是一个奇怪的老女人，她生活窘迫，靠卖威士忌为生，生活中连水和电都不能正常使用。但是正是这样一个如此底层的人，却天生拥有一副好嗓子。同时，她保留着她父亲的骨灰，因为她深深地相信，通过父亲的灵魂，她就有权利通过她所演唱的歌曲来传承家族的历史和神话传统。虽然戴德二世如此势力，但他却无法抵抗住偷偷在彼拉多窗下听三个女人在烛光中唱歌的诱惑。他面临一个两难的选择：是选择克制，这是成为人上人必要的条件，还是选择毫无保留地用音乐表达自我，那让他感到无法放松和慰藉。最终Eventually， Macon II chooses to reject Pilate and her music， which detaches himself from his family’s history in that Pilate is the key to be related to the story of their ancestors through music. Things Milkman as his mother intentionally allows him to suckle until he was six years old， begins to seek self-identity. This gesture signifies the re-establishment of the musical connection with their ancestors. Along with Milkman’s discovery of his own heritage， the song persists and finally exposes the mythic center of his ancestors.
主人公奶娃也一直在一首歌谣中寻求自我认同。The song is for the first time unfolded in the novel on the night of Milkman’s birth. Standing on the hospital steps， Pilate watches a suicidal man in blue wings. “The singing woman wore a knitted navy cap pulled far down over her forehead. She had wrapped herself up in an old quilt instead of a winter coat” （Song of Solomon， 6）. To show respect of the man on the roof， she begins to sing， “in a powerful contralto”
Considered the most valuable treasure of the novel， the song which is sung by children and old women and changed and refined by those passing it along， interweaves the myth of a slave who had not forgotten how to fly， a gesture which mixes Afro-American mythology into the history of the Dead family handing down from generation to generation in a musical oral tradition.
“所罗门之歌”的三次出现绝非偶然，而是作者的匠心独运。它在奶娃寻找金子和寻找祖先两件事中起着连接和转换的关键作用，更为重要的是，它出现在每次奶娃成长的关键时候，为奶娃的自我实现和认同起到了关键作用。莫里森通过这种故事叙述，象征性地表达概括了美国黑人自解放以来的一百多年间为探求种族的出路所做出的不懈努力，分析了在这个过程中美国黑人屡次受挫的原因，并对黑人种族出路做出了新的探寻和思考。 Speaking of the “flying African” myth， Morrison explains that she tries to explore the myth in the slave narratives and discovers some examples of people who have heard about it but she cannot collect any hard data about its origins. She adds that she believes myth is “the way people learn narrative. Myth is the first information there is， and it says realms more than what is usually there” （Jones， 183）. It is obvious that Morrison has faith in the ability of myth to communicate nonspecific knowledge. Morrison gives voice to music to bring out the mythic center which provides a framework of Song of Solomon’s themes of history， identity and freedom.
A critic once claims the achievement of Song of Solomon is that through the network of narrative that transforms the central character Milkman， Toni Morrison takes on the role of griot and tells how we， her community of readers， could be transformed not only by the song in the story but by the story in the song （Mobley 133）. Milkman once dreams about gold and ends up in a failure but his quest for it turns up a surprise understanding of the “story in the song.”
The song is about the story of Milkman’s grandparents， who are possessing a mysterious talent to fly among the African slaves， one of whom is Milkman’s great-grandfather， Solomon. And Susan Byrd， Milkman’s cousin， understands the song in a doubtful way： “Oh， it’s just foolishness， you know， but according to the story he wasn’t running away. He was flying. He flew. You know， like a bird. Just stood up in the fields one day， ran up some hill， spun around a couple of times， and was lifted up into the air” （p.323）.
In this layer of music， Morrison attempts to mingle the music into her stories deliberately with an aim to imitate and recover black oral tradition. In an interview with Nellie McKay， Morrison admits that she is glad that the inclusion of oral tradition in her books “haunts” the readers after the reading is done：
莫里森试图将音乐和神话融入她的故事，意图模仿和恢复黑人口头传统。在内尔?麦凯采访时，莫里森承认，她很高兴她书中的“口头传统”和文本的紧密结合使读者念念不忘：“That is important because I think it is a corollary， or a parallel， or an outgrowth of what the oral tradition was…I want a very strong visceral and emotional response as well as a very clear intellectual response， and the haunting that you describe is a testimony to that” （Taylor-Guthrie 147）.