(Ethno)musicology Forum: “Examining Speech and Song Surrogacy in the Yorùbá Dùndún Talking Drum”
Kristina Knowles (Arizona State)
The Yorùbá dùndún drum serves dual purposes as a musical instrument and speech surrogate. This talk shares a series of interdisciplinary studies that explore the dùndún’s ability to acoustically represent Yorùbá speech and song and potential factors that may contribute to the successful decoding of drum messages. The first half of the talk will focus on results from a set of acoustic analyses conducted on a corpus of Yorùbá speech and song excerpts and their representation on the dùndún, focusing on microstructural correlations in pitch and rhythmic features. The second half will discuss a cross-cultural behavioral study exploring the role of individual differences in language and musical expertise on the effectiveness of speech and song surrogacy recognition.
Kristina Knowles is a music theorist with research specialties in rhythm and meter, music and time, music theory pedagogy, 20th-century music, and music cognition. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in music theory and music cognition at ASU, and has presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences in the fields of music theory and music cognition, including the Society for Music Theory, the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and the European Music and Analysis Conference. Her most recent publications include chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Time (2022) and Expanding the Canon: Black Composers in the Music Theory Classroom (2023) and an article in Contemporary Music Review (2022) on rhythm and meter in works by George Crumb. Currently, she is working on several multi-disciplinary collaborative research projects as well as a larger project examining experiences of time in music.