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Products for grant PW-264175-19

Africana Digital Ethnography Project Collection Accessibility Program (ADEPt-CAP)
Aaron Carter-Enyi, Morehouse College

Grant details:

Africana Digital Ethnography Project in RADAR (Database/Archive/Digital Edition)
Title: Africana Digital Ethnography Project in RADAR
Author: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Abstract: The African Digital Ethnography Project (ADEPt) gathers data-rich ethnographies from across Africa and the African Diaspora. Our growing repository of video and audio documents what UNESCO calls intangible cultural heritage (ICH), including oral history, performance and ritual. ADEPts list of research sites includes locations in Africa, the Caribbean and North America and will continue to expand.
Year: 2019
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Main portal for ADEPt collections in institutional repository
Access Model: open access

Melodic Languages and Linguistic Melodies: Text Setting in Igbo (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: Melodic Languages and Linguistic Melodies: Text Setting in Igbo
Writer: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Writer: Quintina Carter-Enyi
Director: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Director: Quintina Carter-Enyi
Producer: Africana Digital Ethnography Project
Abstract: There are no other sense-altering aspects of culture that equate with language’s effect on aural perception (hearing). Increased sensitivity to pitch is a cognitive characteristic in the 60% of the world’s ethnolinguistic cultures that speak tone languages (Yip 2002). Lexical tone is a pitch contrast akin to the contour of a melody that distinguishes between words. An example is [íké] (high-high, like a repeated note) and [íkè] (high-low, like a falling interval) which forms a minimal pair between the Ìgbò words for strength and buttocks. Being a tone language speaker also impacts ways of musicking, especially singing. This is the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where “language and music are [] tied, as if by an umbilical cord” (Agawu 2016:113). A favorite tool for evangelism among 19th- and 20th-century European missionaries in West Africa was to translate European hymn texts into the language of the missionized and teach them to sing the translation to the original hymn tune. An example included in the video is “All hail the power of Jesus’ name” which is often sung to the Coronation hymn tune by Oliver Holden (1792). Unfortunately, early missionaries would translate the texts metrically (to preserve the number of syllables) but had no understanding of the necessary tone. Drawing on field recordings gathered in Nigeria from 2011–2020 by the authors, and commentary by Ekwueme and Dr. Christian Onyeji, this SMT-V entry studies the phenomenon of “tone-and-tune” in Ìgbò culture.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Video is available on the Society for Music Theory's vimeo channel.
Access Model: open access
Format: Web

How We Got into Drum Circles (Article)
Title: How We Got into Drum Circles
Author: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Author: Quintina Carter-Enyi
Abstract: Babatunde Ọlátúnjí’s Drums of Passion (1960) caught the attention of prominent American musicians from John Coltrane to the Grateful Dead and turned on subsequent generations to West African djembe drumming. The inclusion of djembe drum circles in education is alarming because they are “based on the partial appropriation and transformation” of African-based drumming. This article suggests how to get out of drum circles by recognizing and embracing African melody, especially pitched idiophones and ensemble singing. We describe a program at two Historically Black Colleges that combines more equitable and accurate representation of African cultures with technological literacy and a greater range of learning modalities.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Online publication Feb 17, 2021
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Intersections
Publisher: MusCan

“Bold and Ragged”: A Cross-Cultural Case for the Aesthetics of Melodic Angularity (Article)
Title: “Bold and Ragged”: A Cross-Cultural Case for the Aesthetics of Melodic Angularity
Author: Quintina Carter-Enyi
Author: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Abstract: Smaller corpora and individual pieces are compared to a large corpus of 2,447 hymns using two measures of melodic angularity: mean interval size and pivot frequency. European art music and West African melodies may exhibit extreme angularity. We argue in the latter that angularity is motivated by linguistic features of tone-level languages. We also found the mean interval sizes of African-American Spirituals and Southern Harmony exceed contemporary hymnody of the 19th century, with levels similar to Nigerian traditional music (Yorùbá oríkì and story songs from eastern Nigeria). This is consistent with the account of W. E. B. Du Bois, who argued that African melody was a primary source for the development of American music. The development of the American spiritual coincides with increasing interval size in 19th-century American hymnody at large, surpassing the same measure applied to earlier European hymns. Based on these findings, we recommend techniques of melodic construction taught by music theorists, especially preference rules for step-wise motion and gap-fill after leaps, be tempered with counterexamples that reflect broader musical aesthetics. This may be achieved by introducing popular music, African and African Diaspora music, and other non-Western music that may or may not be consistent with voice leading principles. There are also many examples from the European canon that are highly angular, like Händel’s “Hallelujah” and Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Although the tendency of textbooks is to reinforce melodic and part-writing prescriptions with conducive examples from the literature, new perspectives will better equip performers and educators for current music practice.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Journal website on Open access.
Access Model: Open Access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Music & Science
Publisher: Sage

Speech to Music: Analyzing Cross-Domain Mappings in West Africa (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Speech to Music: Analyzing Cross-Domain Mappings in West Africa
Author: Aaron Carter-Enyi
Author: Laura McPherson
Author: Jude Nwankwo
Abstract: Speech surrogacy is a well-documented phenomenon in West Africa, celebrated as an indigenous means of long-distance communication. In The World and Africa, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote: “The development of the drum language by intricate rhythms enabled the natives not only to lead in dance and ceremony, but to telegraph all over the continent with a swiftness and precision hardly rivaled by the electric telegraph (1947).” Amanda Villepastour has updated Du Bois’s analogy to the telegraph, referring to the Yorùbá practice of Batá drumming as “ancient text messages” (2010). Despite nearly a century of academic study, the full nuance of speech-to-music mappings is only recently becoming known through computational analysis, such as Seifart’s study of Amazonian Bora drumming. Seifart revealed minute variations in speech rhythm were preserved in slit drum interpretations (et al. 2018). Through careful comparison of phonetic and musical features, scholars may understand the depth of the cross-domain mapping, developing a phonological explanation of how surrogate speech is communication and the cognitive and physical limitations in different contexts. This 90-minute workshop will include live demonstrations of computer-assisted annotation and analysis of field recordings by an ethnomusicologist, linguist, and music theorist. The workshop leaders will present current methods applied to recent recordings from fieldwork in Mali and Nigeria funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities and National Science Foundation. Software covered will include ELAN, MATLAB, and Melodyne. Indigenous concepts and metalanguage for surrogacy drawn from ethnography will inform discussion of the validity of the analytical methods presented.
Date: 11/1/21
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Link to YouTube video of panel presentation.