Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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(iii) Individual music.

Typical of this genre are yayshama, in which an improvisatory effusion of emotions is inserted between repeated refrains of yayshama-nena; yaykatekara, a love song; and iyohay-ochis, a plaintive song on the subject of a broken heart. In any song of this kind the melodies are characterized by personal traits, and each melody can be identified with a specific member of the tribe. The Ainu lullaby (ihumke) is similar in this respect. One of its distinctive features is its peculiar manner of voice production: refrains are sung in high falsetto with a rolled tongue, to soothe a crying baby. Improvised words are repeated between refrains.

Ballads are divided into two major types, prosaic and prosodic. The former are epics the subject-matter of which is the myths on which the Ainu religion is founded; they are referred to as kamui-yukara (‘divine ballad’). Ballads of this type are relatively short and are told in the first person by the gods of nature – animal and plant gods. The other type of ballad is called yukara (‘human ballad’). The heroes of these ballads are mortals, and their lives, wars and romances are dramatically told in the style of extended epics. Kamui-yukara, the older type, is derived from the form of oracles of mediums possessed by animal gods. Onomatopoeic motifs linked with the heroic animals are repeated, and the melody carrying the story is inserted between these refrains. The melodies may be a repetition of the refrain motifs or new recitative-like figures. Kamui-yukara gradually developed into yukara, in which human heroes play leading roles; it then lost its religious connotations. The refrains diminished and melodies became longer.

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