This book focuses on vocal expressions in the borderland between song and speech. It spans across several linguistic and musical milieus in societies where oral transmission of culture dominates. ‘Vocal expression’ is an alternative word for ‘song’ which is free from bias based on cultural and research-related traditions. The borderland between song and speech is a segment of the larger continuum that extends from speech to song. These vocal expressions are endangered to the same degree as the languages they represent. Perspectives derived from ethnomusicology, prosody, syntax, and semantics are combined in the research, in which performance templates serve as an analytical tool. The focus is on the techniques that make performance possible and on the transmission of these techniques. The performance templates serve to organize the vocal expression of words by combining musical and linguistic conventions. It is shown that all the cultures studied have principles for organizing these parameters; but each does this in its own unique way while meeting a number of basic needs on the part of human society, particularly communal interaction and interaction with the spirit world. A working method is developed that makes it possible to gain qualitative knowledge from a large body of material within a comparatively limited period of time.
In this chapter performances of waka poems (Japan) and ryūka poems (Ryukyu) are approached from the perspective of performance templates, particularly with regard to prosody. It is found that waka performances do not reflect the prosody of the Japanese language, whereas ryūka falls in the second half to end with a downward movement which reflects intonation in the Ryukyuan language.
The chapter deals with Seediq vocal expressions that start with a short motif that is often repeated once and then followed by another motif, which is repeated once etc. This pattern is sometimes called ‘litany form’. The form that results when two persons sing in alternation is called canonic repetition. It is shown that such performances can be understood as being built on performance templates that enable singers to vary their words.
This chapter analyses one section of a long shaman performance. A comparison of repeated lines shows rather stable patterns for the realization of lexical tones. A line includes rhyme-pairs: units of two syllables in which the latter is stressed. A repeated line may be compressed into a shorter time space. Analysis from the performance-template perspective reveals techniques that the performer uses.
This chapter provides an overview of research in ethnomusicology on the relation between music and language. The borderland between song and speech is described, and key concepts are defined. Research methods and methods of collaboration are discussed.
This chapter mainly deals with two major musical genres: memorial songs and dance songs. These songs are composed and then re-created with little or no variation. It is shown that the ‘performance template’ concept may be applied to the analysis of the compositional process. As a result, sections built on vocables can be explained as functional parts of performance templates. This is of importance for the understanding of the vocal expressions, particularly the dance-song genre.
This chapter contains a discussion of the methods used in the book. The results are summarized and their implications are discussed in relation to other research in ethnomusicology and linguistics, as well as to emerging interdisciplinary results. It turned out to be possible to recognize forms of human communication that can be described as vocal expressions in the borderland between song and speech. In addition, it was seen to be feasible to design a method for studying them that leads to new knowledge of this borderland.
Anastasia Karlsson, Håkan Lundström, and Jan-Olof Svantesson
This chapter deals with a number of vocal expressions in the tradition of the Kammu (or Khmu) people in northern Laos. The analysis of the performance templates shows how they are constructed and that most Kammu vocal genres can be explained by them. Vocal expressions typically include a degree of improvisation, and they are re-created in performance. The results include an overview of the types of interplay between music and language that occur. It is also shown that the two lexical tones in Kammu are handled differently in the various vocal genres.