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38104 Yoruba Song Form

38104 Yoruba Song Form

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Nigerian Music Review 2004 No.




The study of the poetic and musical forms of Yoruba vocal music has not been adequately covered in scholarly literature. Merriam refers to this scarcity of materials when he says
So far as is known to the present author; there does not exist any published analytical study of the structure of Yoruba music. (Merriam 1956).

The situation has not changed very much since 1956 when Merriam made his statement. One of the early pioneering work in the study of Yoruba poetic forms is Babalola's Content and Form of Yorob a ljala (1966). In this work, Babalola spent considerable time describing the structure of Yoruba Ijala poetry in terms of poetic rhythm, tonal assonance and tonal contrast. Another pioneering work, IFA, An exposition of Ifa Literary Corpus (Abimbola: 1976) describes the form of "Ese Ifa" in terms of the textual contents of the poem and its historical nature.
Ese /fa has a structural pat/em which distinguishes it from other forms of Yoruba oral literature, Since Ese /fa is historical in content, lis structure is also based on its historical nature. (Abimbola 1976)

Both Babalola and Abimbola's work were based on a specific genre of Yoruba poetic forms and were analysed and identified by contents and chanting modes. Other similar studies have since followed. Among these are Sango-Pipe: One Type of Yorub a oral poetry (Isola: 1930) and lremoje (AJUWON: 1966) In the field of songs, among the few examples of analytical studies one comes across is "The poetic content and form of Yoruba occasional Festival songs" (Ogunba, O. AFRICAN NOTES 6, (2) 1971). In this study, theauthor, using textual contents as criteria, classifies Yoruba songs into six categories-satirical. political, entreaties, interrogatory, incantatory and elegiac. According


The Poetic and Musica! Forms.:


to Ogunba, the use of imagery and heteroyms in the poetic forms combining with the elements of repetition and solo/chorus alternation in the musical forms characterizes the expressive style of these songs. Gerhard Kubik's "Alo Yoruba story songs" (AFRICAN MUSIC 11; ii 1968) is limited to one genre and deals with the musical forms of this genre in terms of performing practices. Akin Euba's "Multiple Pitch lines in Yoruba Music" (Journal of the International Folk Music Council, XIX, 1967) is concerned about the use of parallel seconds and occasional parallel thirds and fifths in the musical style oftraditionalljesa songs. Ogunbowale's work on Yoruba poetry in The essentials of the Yoruba Language is largely descriptive and is based on random sampling and illustration of known examples rather than on systematic study and analysis of performed genres. Many of the works cited above have used, as the basis for taxonomy, criteria such as subject matter, contents, function and or chanting modes. The method of classifying vocal music into genres through subject matter, function, chanting modes, etc. is already well-known in Yoruba culture. Generally speaking, vocal music is classified in Yoruba culture and society in terms of
(i) Performing modes and contents. (Example of these are Ijala, Iyere -Ifa, Rara, etc)

(ii) Occasion for performance or context (Examples of these are various Orin Odun such as Agemo, Egungun, Oro, Magbo, etc)
(iii) Mu;icallnstrument

used as accompaniments (Examples of these are Igbe, Agbe, Adamo, etc)

(iv) Social functions of the music. (Examples of these are Oriki, Woro,etc). This method however is characterized by its benign neglect of structural form as criteria for classification and its over-emphasis on contents. Is it not possible to discover identical structures in the poetic and musical forms of many of these vocal forms classified differently by traditional methods? Can a new taxonometric system be set up that will place emphasis on structure and relate the musical form of a particular genre to it's poetic form and vice-versa? The present study has been undertaken in response to this problem. The study aims at identifying and analyzing the types of poetic and musical forms found in Yoruba songs through the technique of structural analysis. According to LEVIN's theory, the unity or symmetry that a poem evokes is a function ofa particular type of composition or structure (LEVIN 1962). Applying Levin's theory to Yoruba songs, it should be possible to study and classify Yoruba songs not solely on the basis of contents and functions but on the basis of its external and lntemal structures. The present study will therefore look into the corresponding

Nigerian Music Review 2004 No.5


relationship between poetic forms and musical forms. For each type of verse structure found in Yoruba songs, what are the possible musical forms? How are verse structures treated in musical structures? For the purpose of this study, a total of a total of about one hundred songs were collected from various areas of Yoruba speaking people. The areas include Ondo, Owo, Ekiti, Egbado, Osogbo, Ede, Iseyin, Ogbomoso, Iragbiji,Oyo, JjebuOde, Remo, Lagos and Ota. The data cover a wide spectrum of festival music in Yoruba land from lgogo in Owo to Egungun in Ede, Gelede at Lagos and Agemo at ljebu-Ode.

The data revealed that there are two main types of poetic forms:- (a) the
short verse form and (b) the long verse form. The short verse form accounts for

about one third of the total number of songs collected while the long verse or litany form accounts for the remaining two thirds.
The short -verse form

The short-verse form consists ofa series of verse lines ranging from two to about eight or nine in number. There may be one stanza or several stanzas of such structure. The simplest example is the binary line construction which consists oltwo contrasting linear units (ab)
(i) Omo olode rna 10 gbode (a)

lgba muren ma wa (b) The priest of the agemo is in town At another time, I shall appear (ii) Bi mo no'gho rna yo 0 (a) Tito ma yo Ie un mi 0 (b) Ifl have money, ( shall rejoice Truly, I shall rejoice over my things The contrasts arc often at the phonological and thought levels. Another variety of the short verse form is the ternary line construction. The ternary line construction consists of three linear units, the first two of which are identical while the third is a contrast (aab) Awa ora wa, a tun mo'gba (a) Awa Orawa, a tun mo gba 0 (a)
. Adelu mo'gba de o(c)

We recognize both cult and community members We recognize both cult and community members The visitors who recognize community members have arrived.


The Poetic and Musical Forms.:


The most COlll1110n construction in the short-verseform is thequaternary line cons/ruction. The quaternary construction consists of two linear units followed by a binary unit, (aaba) 01' two juxtaposed binary units (aba; b, ) or a series of two alternating linear units (abac) (i) Ajisu ko, nwon 1110ra won (a) Ajisu ko, nwon 1110ra won (a) E pe mi, e kagbon lenu mi (b) Ajisu ko, nwon mo ra won (a) The yam robbers, they know themselves The yam robbers, they know themselves Ask me and Ishall tell you a lot The yam robbers, they know themselves.
(ii) Idiwoowo


F' enu wo kan (b) Agbara owo 0 (a.) F' enu wo kan (b)
(iii) Ba we 10 nu gwa (a)

Ewe wa neyin e (b) Ba we 10 ni gwa (a) Ugha iye oe (c) When our father goes ahead' We come behind him When our father goes to meeting May our peace follow him.
The quinary line construction consist of three repetitions of the main thought alternated with tow contrasting thoughts forming a rondo-like structure. (abaca)

Fokete, Fokengbe (a) . Ajogbasile, Egungun Jaiyeolu (b) Fokete, Fokengbe (a) 80 ba sika, mo, ng 0 pada lehin re (c) Fekete, Fokengbe (a) It may also be made up of a series of four identical linear units separated by a contrasting unit. (aabaa) Agbe ko ya, gbogbo won ran ri 0 Agbe ko ya, gbogbo won ran ri 0 Won la won (J san wo Oil ibode Agbe ko ya 0, C Agbe ko ya, gbogbo won ran ri

Nigerian Music Review

2004 No.5


Farmers reject suffering, they all become belligerent Farmers reject suffering, they all become belligerent They said they will not pay taxes Farmers reject suffering Farmers reject suffering, they all become belligerent. The cote nary and nonary line constructions are not very common. They both constitute five per cent of the centire data. Besides these last tow, there are no other varieties of the short-verse fonn.
The long-verse or litany form

The long-verse or litany form consists of several linear units antiphonally balanced through a variety of technical devices. One of such devices is to alternate a series of principal statements or verbal units with a single subsidiary statement. . Oba meku 0 rna fe a Arufen ebo oni 0 b Oba rneja 0 rna ten c Arufen ebo oni 0 b Oba Oluwa koko d Arufen ebo oni 0 b Oba Oluwa ibo e Arufen ebo oni 0 b Oba je oba rna fen f Arufen ebo oni 0 b Alaja, ebo ma fen g Arufen ebo oni 0 betc. The king took rat and it was auspicious Today's sacrifice is accepted The king took fish and it was auspicious Today' sacrifice is accepted The Lord king ofkoko Today's sacrifice is accepted The Lord king rituals Today's sacrifice is accepted The king is answering and well attired Today's sacrifice is accepted Alaja, the sacrifice is accepted Today's sacrifice is accepted. This kind is structure can continue in length for as long as there are principal statements of identical linear dimension to alternate with the subsidiary or complementary statement' Arufen ebo oni 0'. The complementary statement need not necessarily be a complete sentence. It may be a phrase or even a word


The Poetic and




that functions as complete utterance as illustrated by the following example. Loku rna pa 0 rna iwo ye Teena Lokun rna pa 0 rna iwo ye Teena One ran e wa, oso ugboo Teena Oun la un oso ugo Teena Oso rno lugo e tugo de Teena Ogun lele gun 'eke Teena Ogun lele gba won 10 Teena a


b d b


f b g


Another device is to pair in two a series of verbal units in such a way that each pair contains linear units that are parallel by direct or modified repetition or by identical lexical beginning or ending. Moriwo ree Egun Agan ree Egun Moriwo ree Egun Agan ree Egun Moriwo ya wa woran Agan ya wa woran Moriwo wu yerl-yerl Agan wu yeri-yeri-yeri Moriwo ko-ko-ko woja Agan ko-ko-ko woja a, bI a a, b b, c c, d d I etc.

Sometimes, all the linear units may be identical, variety being provided through lexical variation of one or two words as inthe following example. Eni loro jogun rnomo jade 0 Eni loro jogun momo jade 0 Eni loro jogun momo goode 0 Eni Ioro jogun momo goode 0 Jogun momo jode 0, Jogun momo jode Eni loro jogun momo goode 0 Eni loro jogun rnajodeba mi Eni loro jogun mama goode 0
.',' .. ' .. ,.,'"


Not all the long verse forms are organize in strictly antiphonal structure. A fewexamples show no antiphonal, :":structure but repetitions of some sections or .

Nigerian Music Review

2004 No: 5


units within the entire long verse. Such types are used in the corresponding musical form know as "through composed form". Below is an example.

o se, 0 ko
Ose, 0 ko Fere le,Alare 0 Igboyi gbe mi sun 0 Pati ri se re Balaiye ti daiye Pati ri sere Balase ti se wa Pati ri se re Bonihu rna gbe de ikoro Bawon agbagba ilu nsededede Ose, 0 ko o se, 0 ko Ferele, Alare 0 Igboyi gbe mi sun 0 Osereoloro Oju won i wo riwo enia Yigi riporoporo Fun won yiporuwo Lajajagba niporo o se,o ko o se, 0 ko Ferele, Alare 0 lgboyi gbe ri sun o.




Four types of musical forms are used ·in the entire collection of songs. These are the (i) call and response antiphonal form, (ii) the through-composed form, (iii) the strophic form and (iv) the strophic responsorial form. The call and response antiphonal (A - B) form appears to be the most common form of vocal music organization in Yoruba Group singing as it accounts for sixty per cent of the total collection. The strophic form is only seventeen per cent while the strophic-responsorial and through-composed forms are fifteen and eight per cent respectively.
The Call The Response Form

The call and response form involves a soJo which alternatives antiphonally with a chorus. There are however a variety of ways in which such alternation can


The Poetic and Musical F(J/'II/s...


occur. When the chorus part is different from the solo part but is also of equivalent musical length with it we have a variety known as A - B anti/?honal.!o,.nt Solo Chorus Solo Chorus Solo Chorus Oba meku a rna fen Arufen ebo oni 0 Oba meja 0 rna fen Arufen ebo oni 0 Oba Oluwa koko Arufen ebo oni 0

Although the texts of the soloist varies slightly from one .linear unit to another one, the musical phrase varies very little. This is made possible through a careful selection of words that have similar phonological character thus necessitating little or no change in the melodic structure of the text. Oba meku 0 rna fen Oba meja 0 rna fen Oba mepo 0 rna fen (etc). In the following example, the texts of the soloist have identical phonological and rhythmic characters. Solo Chorus Solo Chorus Ogun dara, l'ode Oluwa Ogun nla e, lagbasigbo Lagbasigbo, lagbasigbo Og.un nla 0, lagbasigbo

When the chorus part is parallel to the solo part either by direct, modified or sequential repetition, we have another variety of the call and response form known as the A - A or A .- A I antiphonal form. In this variety, the texts of the soloist and chorus are parallel through identical lexical ending and similar phonological beginning of linear units. Solo Chorus Alagbaraje njaiye re 0 Aiye re dun, je njaiye re

The texts may also be parallel through direct repetition of the solo part by the chorus. Solo Chorus Solo Chorus

Lonii resaa ti nmu 'po
Lailai Lonii resaa ti nmu po, lailai lonii resaa ti ns'awo lailai Lonii resaa ti ns'awo lailai.

When the chorus part is different and shorter both in musical phrase and length from the solo part, we have another variety that may be called the A -

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2004 No.5


B Short-response Form. The response text of this variety is usually a two or three syllable utterance. The form is most commonly found in folk-tale songs where the chorus is usually a non-specialized group and must of necessity be given a simple response part, A textual example of this form is given below. Solo Lokun rna p a 0 rna iwo ye Lokun ma pa 0 rna iwo ye One ran e wa, oso ugbo Oun la un oso ugbo 050 mo lugo e tugo de Ogun lele gun leke chorus Teena Teena Teena Teena Teena Teena

When the chorus part is different and longer both in musical phrase and length from the solo part, we have a fourth variety that may be called the A - B Long -_- esponse Form Part of the response part may involve a repetition of the R solo part. Solo Chorus E ma sun a s'olowo, Oko mi

Mi gbe 'gi roba, me I' ofin. oko 0 E rna sun a s'olowo, okomi oe.

The call and response musical form uses only the long verse text form. The variety outlined above are only basic ones. In practice, the solo or chorus parts may be preceeded or followed by a refrain part of the solo part may include a recitative as practiced in the Ekiti-Owo area. The chorus part may overlap with the solo part as practiced in the Oyo-Iseyin-Ogbomos area. Sometimes both the chorus and solo parts may each consists of two musical phrases and two linear units of the text. Sometimes, the solo part may be preceeded by an introduction as the practice is with some songs in Ondo Area. The Strophic Form The strophic form is the musical form that is often used for lyrics. It uses only the short-verse form of the text. It involves the singing of one or more stanza of the text to the same melody as illustrated below. 1. E wa wese awo Ewawese awo SebeJe, Sebele E waweseawo 2. Opa pajigboro Opa pajigboro Ogbcri doju de Opa pa jigboro Come and behold the cult's dance steps


The Poetic and Musical Forms ...

Come and behold the cult's dance steps See how wide and broad Come and behold the cult's dance steps The cult shall destroy all social pests The cult shall destroy all social pests The uninitiated hide your-self The cult shall destroy all social pests. The mono-strophic form is the one found in all the collection of songs. The poly-strophic form in which different melodies are sung to different stanzas of the same text, a practise common in the Hausa speaking area, has not been found among the Yoruba speaking people. Often, the strophic form consists of single stanza as in the following example. Ajoye je mo Orawon Ajoye je mo ' ra won 0 E pe rni, e kagbon lenu rni Ajoye je mo ra won. The crown usurpers know themselves The crown usurpers know themselves Ask me, and I shall tell you a lot The crown usurpers know themselves. When more than one stanza is used as in the example 'E wa wese awo'. The texts of the other. stanzas are such that they exhibits similar phonological and rhythmic characters as those of the first stanza thereby making it practicable to sing the stanzas to the same melody without loss of meaning to the text. In practice, the strophic form can be used in either group or solo performances. The musical structure of the strophic form is such that a repetition ofa verse line is often matched by a corresponding repetition in the musical phrase. The repetition may be direct, modified or sequential as in the following example. Idiwoowoo Fenu wo kan Agbara owo 0 Fenu wo kan Text: MUSIC: ABAtB ABAtBt

At of the music is modified repetition of A while B, is sequential repetition of B. Besides, Q is a contrast to A and this corresponds to the contrast in the verbal unit B of the text.

Nigerian Music Review



Strophic - ResponsoriaJ

The third form of vocal music organization is the strophic - responsorial.It also uses the short-verse form. It consists of repetition (by the chorus) of each stanza sung by the soloist. It is therefore a hybrid of the call and response form and the strophic form. This musical form seems to be more the result of performance practices rather than a conceptualized composition. Practically speaking, almost any strophic form can be turned into a strophic -responsorial in a situation that involves a chorus or group by alternating stanzas between solo and chorus. One example of the strophic-responsorial is given below. Solo Akoda, mo juba Aiseda 0, mo juba One a mojo onl ko Unae oe Akoda, mo juba Aiseda 0, mo juba One a mojo oni ko Ubaeoee. The first being, I salute you The last being, I salute you The one who brought the dawn of this day, This homage is specially for you. Form



This form uses the long-verse form ofthe text. The difference between this musical form and the call and response form is that the music is not organized along the antiphonal alternation of solo and chorus as is the case with the call and response form. The form is often without any solo and chorus and as such can be performed by one individual (that is as a solo).as welsas by a group. Whenever it does contain solo and chorus, the musical organization is such that it is not based on the concept ofantiphonal alternation. This musical fonn consists of several musical phrases corresponding the several linear or verbal phrases of the text. There is very little repetition; except those of some sections within the entire structure. Two examples are given below. The first example involves no solo and chorus, while the second example involves soJo and chorus.


(a) E, Ojugbo Orisa iku laja 0, 0 Eejao Oba imule, i gbadura wa E, e ye e Orisa iku laja 0 Omo iku riye


. The Poetic and Musical Forms ...


Orisa iku laja 0, 0 E, e igba 0 10 wo Igba 0 10 wo e, ida wa E, eye e Orisa kiku lase e Omoikuriye Oju gbe 0 Orisa kiku lase o. (b) Ose, 0 ko Ose, 0 ko Fere le,Alare 0 Igbeyi gbe mi sun 0 Pati ri se re Balaiye ti daiye Pati ri se re Balase ti se wa Pati ri sere B'onihun rna gbe de ikoro Bawon agbagbe i1u nse dede de o se, 0 ko o se, oko Ferele,Alare 0 Igboyi gbe mi sun o. Solo 0 sere 0101'0, oju won i wo Riwo enia yigi riporoporo Fun won yiporuwo Jajajagba niporo Chorus 0 se, 0 ko Ose, 0 ko Ferele, Alare 0 Igboyi gbe mi sun o. The Prosodic And Musical Features Of Songs The corpus of songs analysed in this study, though varied in terms of context, function and usage, reflect certain aesthetic qualities which are germaine to any artistic work. These aesthetic qualities stimulate a feeling of proportion, balance and interest in both the poetic and the musical forms of the songs. The aesthetic qualities of unity and variety featured prominently throughout the songs. These qualities were generated through a combination of certain poetic and musical prosodies, much of which had already been discussed. The first is the prosody of repetition.

Nigerian Music Review 2004 No.5


The Prosody Of Repetition The aesthetic quality of unity is achieved through the prosody of repetition. The repetition of entire linear units has already been described; so also is the repetition of segments, phrases, or words within the linear units. To this must be added the repetition of tone sequences. This repetition may occur either in the entire units. At the beginning or at the end of units as illustrated below. Text (i) Alaagbara -----Aiyeere dun (ii) Text .... Ba mi yo folukoso ............. Lailala Tone sequence

/\ /\


/\ 1\
Tone sequence

/\ /\
/\ /\

As described earlier, these repetition are matched by similar repetitions in the melodic structures of the music. The melodic structures are guided by the relative rise and faJl of the speech tone patterns. In the Ondo-Ekiri-Owo area. The melodic structures may be slightly altered so that they fit to certain predetermined pattern. The Prosody of Contrast and Variation

While the prosody of repetition ensures unity of structure, that of contrast and variation provided the aesthetic quality of variety. Monotony is avoided through the use of verbal contrast with are reflected at the phonological level. The contrast may involve ideas, statements or intonation. The tone sequences of entire linear units or segments there of, may be contrasted as illustrated below. Text (i) Opa pajigboro Egberi doju de (contrast of entire linear units) Text (ii)Awa 'ra wa . / Tone sequences

Tone sequences

Adelu mo 'gba . (contrast of segments within linear units)


711ePoetic and Musical Forms ... ·


The elements of variation is also important in providing variety. The use oflexical substitution at the beginning 01' at the end of a linear unit is evident of variation. So also is the use of certain non-sense syllables. Certain particles such as (e), (0), (a) and (un) which feature prominently in repeated units or segments there of are also evident of variation. Musical variation is achieved through the addition of one or two music tones at the end points of some linear units. Performance practices however is the best guide to the principles of musical variation. Poetic And Musical Rhythm In my paper of "Rhythm and Metre in Yoruba songs" (VIDAL 1978), [ mentioned that a poem may.have a poetic rhythm as well as a musical rhythm if the poem is to be performed in the musical mode. Many of the prosodic features discussed above are devices by which poetic rhythm is achieved in every one of the songs. Syntactic parallelism, phonological and lexical repetition or substitution, sense balancement sequential repetition of tone structures are all definitive of poetic rhythm in each poem in a general sense. Specifically however, one must speak about the balancing of long and short verbal phrases into identical durational period. The number of syllables uttered in each verbal unit are not always equal to one another. When this happens, certain syllables are lengthened while others may be shortened to achieve this rhythmic balancement. Non-sense syllables may be introduced. Certain particles such as (a), (0), (e), (un) may be added at the beginning or more'appropriately at the cadential endings of phrase units Two types of syllables provide the basis for the organization of different rhythmic patterns in both poetry and music. The two syllables are the short and the long syllables. They are usually organized in a ratio 2: I. Musical rhythms and material schemes however tend to alter this scheme when necessary. For example, the ratio may be increased to 3: 1, or it may be 3 :2: I, the long syllable receiving two types of value depending on its specific placement within the phrase units. The following are the general principles which govern schematization into rhythm.
(i) Nasalised vowels are generally longer than non-nasalised vowels by a ratio of2: I, e.g ken, gun, etc. as against ke gba, etc. (ii) When two naalised vowels follow consecutively, only the second gets the longer time value. (x.) Egungun

V+CVN+CVN Here the second 'gun' gets the longer time value while the first 'gun' gets the shorter time value as 'E'.

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2004 No.5


(iii) The terminal points of each line or phrase units has a longer time value (ratio 3: I) attached to it no matter whether it has a nasalized vowel or not (Ex.) Ogun nla 0, lagbasigbo. (iv) In quantitative scheme of versification short syllables (S) are generally placed before long syllables (L)

Si a la-Ie e 0
S L S LS L l-ba mi na la Ie SLS LSL

The following song illustrates some of the occasional variation of the above principles under certain conditions. Fokete, Fokengbe A - jegbasile e - gungun jaiyeolu Fokete, Fokengbe Bo bu sika mo, Ng 0 pada lehin re 0 Fokete, Fokengbe. In the above example, line two starts on an unaccented syllable. The value of"gbe" at the terminal point of the line one is reduced to ratio (2: I) as the unaccented syllable "A" in "Ajogbasile" takes the last beat or more of line one. According to principles (iii) above, "gbe" should have taken three mora instead of two. Furthermore, the last two vowels or syllables my coalesce to give the speech characteristic phenomenon as in "re 0" where "re" is shortened in durational value and "0" is slightly lengthened by the same amount. This interplay of rhythm frequently occur between poetic and musical rhythm. Musical rhythm generally follows the scheme Of poetic rhythm and poetic rhythm. One interesting phenomenon is that each phrase unit corresponds to one cycle of the musical pattern to which the particular song is sung or with which it is accompanied. Both the phrase unit and the cycle of the modal rhythm last for four claps or four foot-movements of the dancer.
Ishall give some examples below. (a) Claps:' 2 3 E wa wese E wa wese 4


Sebele Sebele E wa




The Poetic and Musical Forms ...


(b) Claps

(c) Claps

2 3 ro - ro - i - la 0- be a - yo bi san -go ba wo ja yo worere 0 - ya I 2 3 si a - la - Ie - eo iba mi na la Ie 0



The modal rhythm may be organized in duple or triple schemes depending on the durational value oflong and short syllables in a poem. When organized in triple as in example (a) and (c) above, the cycle last for twelve pulses or twelve mora as each clap takes the value of three mora or three pulses. When organized in dupple as in (b) above, the cycle lasts for eight pulses or eight mora as each clap takes the value of two mora. The presence and articulation of the four - clap duration per phrase unit and its syncretization with each cycle of modal rhythmic pattern in the music is the music is the basis for the interplay between poetic and musical rhythm in Yoruba songs just as the realization of speech tone patterns in melodic structures provided the interplay between speech and music. CONCLUSION Thiq paper has introduced a new taxonometric system for the classification of Yoruba songs into nomenclature. The taxonometric system is based on the universals of structure as a prime determinant of genres in contrast to the universals of function and values used in the traditional system of classification. Through this new system, It has been possible to classify Yoruba songs from different ethnic groups and different context and functions into two main poetic genres and four main musical genres on the basis of structure and form. Through this system, it has been shown that the kind of unity or variety that one comes across in a poem or song isdetinitive of a particular type of composition or structure. The variational distribution of these genres in terms of their geographic and ethnic location is an aspect that is still undergoing further studies. The basis for the use or occurrence ofa particular genre in a particular context are all areas that are undergoing further research and studies. It is hoped that with this new concept, Yoruba songs would be more readily studied on a general and comparative scale with specific examples to concretize in the place of the old method of regional and ethnic studies which often fail to arrive at valid generalization that could be applicable to the whole of Yorub a speaking area.

Nigerian illflSic' Review 2004 No.5


Abimbola, Wande (1976) IFA: An Exposition ofIfa Literary corpus, Ibadan: Oxford University Press. Ajuwon, Bade (1966) Funeral Dirges of Yoruba ljala, Oxford: Clarendon Press Euba, Akin (1967) 'Multiple Pitch lines in Yoruba choral music' in Journal of the International Folk Music Council, XIX. Isola, Akin (1973) Sango-Pipe: One Type of Yoruba Oral Poetry (Unpublished M.A Thesis) University of Lagos. Kubik, Gerhard (1968}'Alo Yoruba Story Songs' in African Music IV (ii). Levin, R. (1962)
Linguistic Structure in Poetry, Mouton: The Huge.

Merrian,Alan (1956) 'Song of the Ketti cult of Bahia 'African Music I, (iii). Ogunba, Oyin ( 1971) 'The poetic content and form of Yoruba Occasional festival songs' African Notes 6 (2) . Ogunbowale, P.O. (1970) The Essentials of the Yoruba language, London:Oxford University Press. Vidal, Tunji (I 978)' Of Rhythm and Metre in Yoruba songs' an unpublished Seminar paper, Department of African Languages, University ofIfe.

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