Traditional Hopi Songs - online book

Native American Songs With Sheet Music, Notation & Commentary

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THE ROTE-SONG OF THE HOPI                          9
approximate record of certain facts of pitch and time which had been caused to take place under circumstances permitting subsequent study. The present notations record similar facts, with an attempt at much greater exactness. Compared with the customary writing of music, these again are as annals to laws, as a ship's log to its sailing direc­tions.
The chief exegetical value of records of performance lies in the com­parison they make possible between different renditions of the same melody, or fragment, by the same or different singers. Repetition argues purpose; and in this music is frequently adiatonic repetition proving adiatonic purpose. In Snake Song No. 1 the singer repeats notes embodying a sequence of four approximate semitones, e-de-d-cd-c, below, and one above a minor third. No. 3 repeats a sequence of two major thirds (four tones) over three semitones, c'-ga-e-de-d-cd. Snake Song No. 6 repeats a semitone below a minor third and in the lower octave two semitones above it, forming the sequence c'-a-ga-d-cd. Anoshkaey repeats a fourth over a fifth divided by semitones sym­metrically placed, forming the sequence d'-c'-b-a-fg-f-d. Anonymous II repeats two approximate semitones above and four below a tone, forming the sequence ab-a-ga-f-e-de-d. All of these combinations, and others like them, are impossible within the diatonic scale in any one form, and some of them transcend all the minor forms together.
The explanation of the adiatonic features of the songs by accidentals or changes of key demands in many cases an improbably complex use of the scale.
The application of this theory to irregular sequences of tone like these songs involves two steps comparable to lower and higher literary criticism, — the settlement of a text and of its meaning to the authors. The notes intended by the singers must first be inferred before they can be interpreted as accidentals or as steps in different keys; this irregularity being in itself an argument against the possession of any scale-consciousness by the singers. The principle of the inference may be that diatonic intervals are intended; and the melodies seem, at least
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