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Ethnomusicology Translations Issue No. 10 Now Online

Thursday, April 30, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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The Society for Ethnomusicology is pleased to announce the publication of Ethnomusicology Translations Issue No. 10:

Facci, Serena. The Akazehe of Burundi: Polyphonic Interlocking Greetings and the Female Ceremonial. Translated by Alessandra Ciucci. Ethnomusicology Translations, no. 10. Bloomington, IN: Society for Ethnomusicology, 2020.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14434/emt.v0i10.30278


Akazehe is one of the names in Burundi for forms of sung greeting performed exclusively by women. Studies carried out during the colonial era (in particular Rodegem 1965, 1973) and in more recent times (Ndimurwanko 1985-6) have shown how the contents of these greetings among women are closely linked to the feminine world in which these greetings are used—in specific private and public spaces in accordance with rural tradition. Although these greetings were becoming less common at the time the research for this article was conducted, the author was able to record a number of akazehe after listening to examples of them in the sound archives of the Centre de civilisation burundaise.

A greeting is defined by linguists as a formalized parenthesis that defines, reiterates, and encloses the relation between two participants. The formulaic character of a greeting makes it different from ordinary speech. In the case of the akazehe, the greeting emphasizes gestural and sound qualities to such an extent that it creates a veritable musical texture.

This article presents transcriptions and analysis of some models of akazehe, focusing on one that features procedures of vocal interlocking. The two parts—gutera and kwakira—are organized according to musical rules that manifest a strong spirit of cooperation between the two women who sing the two parts in dialogue. Furthermore, well-defined rules of exchange for the two roles semantically remind us of the social equality between the two participants. The musical enrichment of the time reserved for the greeting is experienced as amusing by the performers.  The greeting also represents an opportunity for artistic expression in a social reality that otherwise allows few performance spaces for women.

Originally published in Italian as “Akazehe del Burundi: saluti a incastro polifonico e cerimonialità femminile.” In Polifonie: Procedimenti, tassonomie e forme: una riflessione a più voci, edited by Maurizio Agamennone, 123-61. Roma: Bulzoni Editore, 1996.

To download Issue No. 10, please visit the Ethnomusicology Translations website at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/emt.

SEM thanks Serena Facci (Author), Alessandra Ciucci (Translator and Manuscript Editor), Richard K. Wolf (General Editor), and Catherine Mullen (Editorial Assistant) for the preparation of this translation. Special thanks also to contributors to SEM’s Sound Future Campaign, which is supporting this publication series.

Ethnomusicology Translations is a peer-reviewed, open-access online series for the publication of ethnomusicological literature translated into English. Articles and other literature in any language other than English will be considered for editorial review, translation, and publication. Preference will be given to individual articles published in scholarly journals or books during the past 20 years. As a central online resource, Ethnomusicology Translations aims to increase access to the global scope of recent music scholarship and advance ethnomusicology as an international field of research and communication.

For information on nominating articles for translation, please see the Ethnomusicology Translations information page on the SEM website and contact Richard K. Wolf (General Editor) at rwolf@fas.harvard.edu

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