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Greetings Colleagues:
I am performing Betelehemu for the first time and have some general questions.
1) The pronunciation of the letter J.  J as in "jam" or as in the German "ja."  I note that most recordings on Youtube tend to do "Jesu" as in "ja," while baba odaju has j as in "jam."  A website on how to pronunce Yoruba seems to indicate that it is as in "jam."
2) Regarding the tradition of calling out (animal noises, chants of the text, etc.) during the middle section with the soloist, can anyone speak to the significance of this and the cultural traditions behind it?
3) I note that the choregraphy is often very similar from one performance to the next.   Is there a guide to this choreography somewhere? Are these motions specific to this song because it has become tradition through mutliple performances, or is there a greater significance to the specific claps and motions?  (I recall a colleague mentioning once that in some languages (perhaps Yoruba?), there is not a separate word for "song" and "dance," rather there is one word that incorporates both... can anyone verify this?)
Ethan Nash
Replies (16): Threaded | Chronological
on January 8, 2011 10:18am
Are there any answers to the original questions about pronouncing the Yoruba "J" and the tradition of caling out words?  (I looked and found none.)
on January 8, 2011 3:02pm
Don't know about the "J" but there is an interesting discussion of "gb" in a recent Language Log. Not sure if it is from the same language group, but I found it worth the read:
Jeff DeMarco
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