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Poetry; Hip-Hop; Hip hop; Comparative linguistics; Intonational phonology;



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Tonal counterpoint is a common device in the oral improvisatory tradition of Yorùbá oríkì (praise-singing), first documented by Ọlátunji (1984). Both tonal and counterpoint are terms familiar to musicians, but the meaning here is the linguistic tonal, not the harmonic, and the rhetorical counterpoint, not polyphonic. Ọlátunji describes couplets in which each phrase is parallel if not identical in terms of phonic content and the first sets up a tonal expectancy for the second. The contrast might also be between words within a single phrase. There are three primary categories of tonal counterpoint in Yorùbá oríkì: parallelism of similar words; homophone change; and non-lexical contrast providing paralinguistic affect. Through the application of computational analysis to a broad corpus, we provide substantial documentation for a phenomenon that may be as ubiquitous in Africana (Black) vocal arts as rhyming is in Indo-European cultures. This presentation incorporates concepts from music theory and linguistics with signal processing techniques to analyze a newly gathered and annotated corpus of recorded music.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


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