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Songs and Chanting (South American)

Subject Religion

Place Americas » South America

Key-Topics music

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxiii ] Recent research on the relations between narrative and music in South America shows that the distinction between spoken and sung speech is by no means clear-cut. Often, the musicality of speech is conceptually and pragmatically integrated within genres of spoken speech, such as narratives and ceremonial dialogues. It has been suggested, moreover, that the formalized speech varieties of myth, magic and ritual carry the propositional force of articulate speech to its outermost limits through the use of semantic principles that differ qualitatively from those used in everyday speech. Specialized ritual languages are seen as metaphorical processes of connecting the known, experienced world of natural, social beings with an unknown or partially known universe of mythic meanings. The mythic powers evoked in such languages are seen as emergent properties, or a sort of hidden dimension, of the world of everyday things and life experiences. Ritual chanting and song imbue human bodily processes and everyday activities of production, exchange and consumption with mythic powers of creation, destruction and regeneration. The power of ritual specialists ( see S hamans and religious specialists ) derives in part from their unique abilities to employ naming processes in chants as a way of converting their potentially life-taking powers into life-giving powers. Parallel to this transformation ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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