Musical, Poetic and Linguistic Form in Tom Yaya Sung Narratives from Papua New Guinea

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    Abstract

    Tom yaya kange is a genre of metrical, sung narrative performed in the Ku Waru region of Highland Papua New Guinea. Describing and exemplifying two varieties of this genre, I show how the language used in them differs from ordinary spoken Ku Waru. The Ku Waru system of lexical tone is largely overridden by the tonal organization of the tom yaya melody, and there is a marked reduction in the length and complexity of maximal syntactic units so as to map them onto single isometric lines, greatly increasing the scope for poetic parallelism. Tom yaya kange are compared in these respects with genres of sung narrative from two other language areas within the New Guinea Highlands and with a range of musical genres from elsewhere in the world, and some conclusions are offered about possible interrelationships among their various linguistic, musical, and poetic features.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-282
    JournalAnthropological Linguistics
    Volume49
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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