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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Gibb Sahib Lyr Req: Fire Maringo / Fire Marengo (77* d) RE: Lyr Req: Fire Maringo / Fire Marengo 05 Jun 20


I don't know much about the theories of "schema," though it's something one of my colleagues, a music theorist, works on (I should have a conversation with him about it!), and I suspect it's something related to what I'm trying to articulate. Perhaps "schema" is better than what I've called "paradigm."

What I'm getting at, vaguely, is that there is (I believe) a meaning in these words (e.g. maringo) that is best understood in the context of (repeat) performance. Considering MUSIC and the act of performance are important to understanding their meaning and what they "are." I propose this as opposed to (or in addition to) an approach that favors (mostly) looking at words separated from performative context (etymology, cross-textual comparison, literary heritage).

I observe (maybe in error, but it's my perspective) that the discussions of songs have "too much" (scare quotes, to mark my opinionated view) emphasis on direct verbal text and conventional meanings and not enough attention to music. It is music, after all. Music has, arguably at least, a different way of communicating than spoken language. A different logic. Even Hugill, in a way, acknowledges that chanties have much in them that simply "sounds good" as opposed to being intended to convey the direct meaning of words. It's more of a ritualized speech.

When I think of "Shannydoh," "Sally Brown," and "Shallow Brown" -- and when I give voice to those names -- it is almost some kind of invocation. Sounding silly here, but it's like voicing the Name of God. It's quite possible I'm overlaying my own prejudice, including the influence of studying music in Islamic, Sikh, and Hindu traditions, where intoning the name(s) of the Divine vocally is a kind of spiritual mandate. But I feel, when singing the word "Shenandoah" or "Shallow Brown", that my brain lights up in a special way. I'm tapping into a meme or archetype that evokes all kinds of thoughts, taking my brain down a chain of semiotic connections. These terms aren't banal, they're deeply poetic. They tap into some deep well of meanings, even if I'm not sure what those meanings are. I expect the utterance of these words to evoke in listeners some thoughtful connection to experience, "heritage," history. They are "powerful," not ordinary. "Shenandoah/Shallow Brown/ Sally Brown, I long to hear you" is great, even MYSTICAL poetry to me. It's not sound to universalize my experience and to assume it's so for others, but in any case that's how I think of them.


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