By Julie Huntington

Intrigued by way of "texted" sonorities—the rhythms, musics, traditional noises, and sounds of language in narratives—Julie Huntington examines the soundscapes in modern Francophone novels akin to Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of wooden (Senegal), and Patrick Chamoiseau's Solibo brilliant (Martinique). via an ethnomusicological standpoint, Huntington argues in Sounding Off that the variety of sounds —footsteps, heartbeats, drumbeats—represented in West African and Caribbean works presents a rhythmic polyphony that creates areas for configuring social and cultural identities.

Huntington’s research exhibits how those writers and others problem the cultured and political conventions that privilege written texts over orality and invite readers-listeners to take part in serious dialogues—to pontificate, because it have been, in neighborhood and worldwide communities.

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Additional resources for Sounding off: rhythm, music, and identity in West African and Caribbean Francophone novels

Example text

From what I observed, New Yorkers appeared to be enjoying the warming springtime temperatures and the longer hours of daylight. When I arrived in Accra, it was near the start of the rainy season, with average daytime temperatures of around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius). m. , roughly the same time it usually does throughout the year. With the rainy season off to a slow start, the Ghanaians seemed to be looking forward to some relief from the intense equatorial sun and to the cooler temperatures of the rainy season.

So important that he made it a chapter title in his book La musique et le signe (Music and the Sign). In response to Chailley’s question, literary scholars including R. A. York and B. Eugene McCarthy would certainly reply, “Yes, one can write rhythm,” but they may not be able to agree as to precisely how rhythm manifests itself in the frame of the novel. Although York acknowledges that literary studies of rhythm can address “rhythm in the sense of temporal sequence and proportion,” in The Rules of Time: Time and Rhythm in the Twentieth-Century Novel, he focuses his analysis on “certain patterns of symbolism” (York 1999, 16), rather than insisting on the linguistic or musical aspects of rhythm in the novel.

By toppling the power structures that impose the taxonomy of clearly defined relationships and fixed identity typographies, music becomes a powerful tool that relativizes everything, and, in doing so, challenges dominant modes of thinking by creating alternative autonomous spaces for identity negotiation and configuration. Insisting on the ambiguous trans or in-between spaces that defy precise and enduring definitions, music operates as a transpoetic mechanism in the frame of the novel, one that activates the text as a transpoetic space.

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