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Title: The music of the Sabaot : bridging traditional and Christian contexts
Author: Taylor, Julie E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Kenya has been in the throes of cultural transformation for several decades, and new concepts and values continue to permeate the lives of those within its many language groups. Yet so far there has been little critical study of the effects such a transformation is having on the older forms of music within the country. On the basis that a genre of music can share structural and semantic features with the language to which it is closest in origin, this thesis looks at the Sabaot people, many of whom prefer to use their mother tongue but are divided as to the future of their traditional music. The nature, motivations and consequences of their present day music use are drawn from ethnographic source material collected during personal field research amongst the Sabaot. After a broad overview of the physical, historical and social contexts, the traditional musical instruments of these people are documented in depth, along with a typology of older song forms and some of the ceremonies with which they are associated. Recent music styles and instruments are also covered, particularly those found in local churches of the Sabaot area. Both traditional and contemporary song texts are examined for features of stanza construction and vocal-linguistic tonal relationships, and examples of songs referred to in the text are included in transcription and audio format. Throughout this thesis, dynamics of change are examined wherever possible from the perspective of the Sabaot. The theoretical framework is drawn from existing ethnomusicological writing on change mechanisms, and includes correlations with relevant language-shift theories. In order to establish which emic genre features are unique to Sabaot traditional songs, chapter eight contains an analysis of various structural aspects such as mode, intervallic syntax and melodic phrasing. A series of ‘awareness workshops’ amongst local musicians has then enabled the consideration and testing of these features for relevance in other social and musical contexts, particularly that of the African Christian church. The results demonstrate that alternative styles of musical expression do not have to progress at the expense of older musical traditions, and are important findings for those ethnic communities that believe their earlier music or instruments are unsuitable for development in settings such as the church. In addition to ethnographic research on the Sabaot, this work also contributes a better understanding within the field of ethnomusicology of links between language and music shift.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available