Songs in the key of life: The semantic universals of adapting sound to artistic expression
A new investigation of how tone languages are sung has suggestions for the manner in which people control and adjust the sounds of their language to artistic expression. The investigation, “Tone-tune association in Tommo So (Dogon) folk songs,” by Laura McPherson (Dartmouth College) and Kevin Ryan (Harvard University), will be published in the March 2018 issue of the scholarly journal Language.
The article investigates a particular part of tone languages, which are characterized as those which use tone, or pitch, to recognize the importance of a word. While this may appear to be abnormal to speakers of most European languages, the tone is really a feature of at least half of the world’s 7000 or so languages.
In the event that pitch has such a big difference in meaning, at that point how might anybody sing in a tone language? This paper takes a gander at a lot of ladies’ people songs in Tommo So, a language verbally expressed in Mali in West Africa. Most by far of African languages are tonal, including languages like Xhosa and Igbo that were recently highlighted in the smash movie Black Panther, and Tommo So is no exemption. In this paper, the authors ask whether the songs follow the natural tunes of discourse, or whether artistic expression wins out – perhaps to the detriment of comprehensibility.
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