EASA2012: Uncertainty and disquiet

Nanterre University, France, 10/07/2012 – 13/07/2012

(W003)

Saying the unspeakable: the uses of voice in the narration of traumatic events

Location R10 (in V)
Date and Start Time 13 Jul, 2012 at 11:30

Convenors

Estelle Amy de la Bretèque (Instit.de etnomusicologia (INET-MD) - UNL) email
Alexandra Pillen (University College London) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel focuses on the sonic specificities of the narration of traumatic events, analysing their pragmatic features (intonation, rhythm, timbre...), their status in the local typologies of enunciation (in relation to speech, song, cry...) and their agency in the acoustic space of the performance

Long Abstract

In daily conversation, variations of pitch and accent indicate to some extent the emotions of the speaker. They may also highlight specific dimensions of the words being said or can be used for emphatic/contrastive purposes. This is often lost or distorted in the narration of traumatic events. Researches have shown that when speakers are deeply affected by the events they narrate, they often use linguistic markers differing from normal prosody.

This panel focuses on the sonic specificities of this type of utterances. How do narrators control (or uncontrol) their voices and body postures to narrate traumatic events? Are there specific registers of intonation, rhythm, timbre, temporality or breath which are linked with this kind of narratives? Do these changes enhance the emotional aspects of the words being said, or do they distanciate the narrator from them? Are they reshaped according to various contexts of enunciation? How do people link them discursively with other types of enunciation, such as speech, cry, song, etc.?

This panel welcomes ethnographic and theorical contributions from the fields of anthropology, ethnolinguistics and ethnomusicology.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Trajectories of lament: sonic speficities and shifting dynamics of affect

Author: Korina Giaxoglou (Kingston University London )  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

This paper calls for the study of the poetics of discourse circulation and affect, based on an eclectic analysis of the sonic specificities of pain and violence in the register of lament, from ‘traditional’ Maniat lament performances to the vocal performances of Diamanda Galas.

Long Abstract

This paper focuses on the sonic specificities of laments, broadly defined as mourning performances of grief expressed along a speech-song continuum. More specifically, the paper examines the acoustics of pain and violence in the register of lament (Seremetakis, 1991, pp.118-120). The starting point for the discussion is the Inner Maniat lament (Greece, South Peloponnese) and its multiple trajectories. From 'traditional' rituals to ordinary communicative events of local significance to contemporary vocal performances by the avant-garde composer and musician Diamanda Galas who creatively draws on the lament register in her compositions, the affective dynamics of the lament register shift constantly. Specific features of rhythm, intonation, tempo and breathing that serve as markers of those different, though interrelated types of lament performance indexed by and at the same time, indexing varying levels of emotional intensity are identified and discussed. The present analysis, combining linguistic, narrative and ethnopoetic analytic tools, argues for the continuing force of lamenting in manifold guises and calls for the systematic study of the discursive and vocal delicacies of the poetics of its circulation beyond 'traditional' contexts of grief and mourning.

Lamentation as an expression of grief among Christian mourning women in Syria: an anthropological analysis

Author: Anna Poujeau (fondation Thiers-CNRS)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

In the Christian community in Syria, funerals unfold into a particular pattern. Their most characteristic feature is undoubtedly the full range of lamentations "said" or "sung" by women with lots of loud weeping and special "sad dances" that may last all day long. Through an analysis of a recorded corpus of the different type of lamentation, called in Syrian dialect nadb, tanawih and sakaba, this paper aims to cast out evidences on how women express their affects individually and collectively by the means of wailing. In an anthropological perspective, I explore how these women say their grief and compose a community of mourning women through their tears, body postures, voices and repetitions for several hours of lamentations.

Long Abstract

In the Christian community in Syria, funerals unfold into a particular pattern. Their most characteristic feature is undoubtedly the full range of lamentations "said" or "sung" by women with lots of loud weeping and special "sad dances" that may last all day long. There are three types of lamentations called in Syrian dialect nadb, tanawih and sakaba which may be performed by one woman, a women's choir or all of the women depending on the age and the social status of the deceased. Each type of lamentation is associated to a different metaphorical register where death is never directly evoked but their poetical power is strong enough to make all of the women cry.

Through an analysis of a recorded corpus of the different type of lamentation, this paper aims to cast out evidences on how women express their affects individually and collectively by the means of wailing. In an anthropological perspective, I explore how these women say their grief and compose a community of mourning women through their tears, body postures, voices and repetitions for several hours of lamentations.

Voices of sorrow: laments, epics and melodised speech among the Yezidis in Armenia.

Author: Estelle Amy de la Bretèque (Instit.de etnomusicologia (INET-MD) - UNL)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

In the Yezidi community of Armenia, melodized speech is the preferred way to express sad feelings and talk about traumatic events. This paper will analyze the pragmatic features of this specific vocal register, showing the way they construct a sonic space where emotions are shared.

Long Abstract

In the Yezidi community of Armenia, sad thoughts are often told in a melodized tone of voice. This specific vocal register, which the Yezidis call "words about" (kilamê ser) is the preferred way to express sad feelings and talk about traumatic events. It can be used in ritual contexts (such as funerals) but also in the conversations of daily life and to narrate epic stories.

The Yezidis consider kilamê ser as speech, not as music nor even as songs. Comments of the audience always focus on the words said, not the melodization of the voice. However, without the melodization, kilamê ser do not have the same efficiency. By placing the words within definite melodic contours, the semantic content is uttered in a larger temporality, intonation is neutralized and feelings are best shared with the audience.

This presentation describes the formal and performative characteristics of Yezidi melodized speech, analyzing the ways in which they help speakers create a sonic space of emotional empathy.

Acoustic indirection: the intonation of painful injustice in the Kurdish community of London

Author: Alexandra Pillen (University College London)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

This paper orchestrates a comparison between narratives of painful injustice recorded in the Kurdish community in London, and laments amongst Yezidi speakers of Kurmanci in Armenia. Kurmanci intonation of painful injustice is considered in the context of forced displacement, affective globalization, chronic forms of pain, and the representation of the violation of human rights.

Long Abstract

This paper orchestrates a comparison between narratives of painful injustice recorded in the Kurdish community in London, and laments amongst Yezidi speakers of Kurmanci in Armenia. Introduced on the basis of texts by Bakhtin, Janacek, Silverstein, and Kristeva, intonation and prosodic ideology are fore grounded as a focal point for the study of inter-textual permutations between genres. Kurmanci prosodic ideology is oriented towards the autonomy of voices; or an affective regime of pain unfettered by the prosodic grooves of everyday life. Two intertwining analytical modalities document this prosodic ideology. First of all 'acoustic indirection', or a linguistic ideology of indirection as it manifests itself in the tones of narration. Secondly, an aesthetic of place, or the landscape and sonic ecology of high altitude pastures as they are refracted in the drone of fast paced detailed reported speech in London. Ultimately, such intonation of painful injustice is considered in the context of forced displacement, affective globalization, chronic forms of pain, and the representation of the violation of human rights.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.