29 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2021
  2. digital-grainger.github.io digital-grainger.github.io
    1. a white man’s skull

      Reading this passage, I can't help but think of Julie Kim's wonderful essay that includes the story the collecting/pillaging of a Carib skull in St. Vincent by an English naturalist, and the need to reverse the gaze in a certain sense as we read this description of Obeah.

    2. the wild banshaw’s melancholy sound

      This is one of a relatively small number of late 18th century descriptions of what we now now as the "banjo" but has many different spellings/names during this period. They tend to quote and interface with one another (the idea that it is a "rude guitar," for instance, is often repeated, though in a twist Thomas Jefferson called it "the original of the guitar" in his Notes on the State of Virginia." But this whole description of the music and dance, and the evocation of "melancholy sound," is particularly rich here for the period. For more on this you can check out musicalpassage.org (subject of the earlier annotation experiment!), and it's perhaps useful too to read this passage and check out the "Old Plantation" image painted by John Rose in South Carolina a few decades later.

    3. mountain-ground

      I find the discussion of this passage & of provision grounds in the Digital Grainger edition to be really great.

  3. Nov 2020
    1. the sneers of whip

      In Guadeloupe, the group Voukoum arrives to the sound of a parade of whips, the warning and call of the sonic wave that follows.


    2. Guadeloupe split in two with its dorsal stripe

      Guadeloupe, sometimes known as the "l'île papillon," is actually two islands, with a sea-river, the Rivière Salée, between the two of them.

      Here Guadeloupe becomes a dolphin, perhaps, its dorsal stripe the salted river.

      Image from Wikimedia Commons


      Just went down a rabbit hole on this song, an ancient one with a really layered history (going back to before Christianity). Which adds another layer to this scene I hadn't absorbed before. Here's an interpretation of the song.


    4. my non-enclosed island

      I love how you've translated this (as it helps see the Glissant seeds in this poem)


      This is a reference to a slave owner who was put on trial in 1841 for abusing a young enslaved boy. Vaultier Mayencourt was acquitted. You can read a contemporary description of the case here.

      I haven't been able to find information about the other names here, but I suspect something similar. Does anyone have information about them?

      This reminds me a little bit, too, of the way the Baron de Vastey in Haiti produced a work that documented the atrocities committed by particular masters in Saint-Domingue, a way of putting them on trial in absentia, after the fact, so that the crimes would not be forgotten.

    6. cailcedrat

      The cailcedrat is a large tree that goes by various other names (African Mahogany, Senegalese Mahogany).

      Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    7. Rise, sky licker

      This line always makes me think of this line of poetry in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze":


    8. He was COMICAL AND UGLY, COMICAL AND UGLY to be sure.

      I've found Gary Wilder's reading of this scene (notably his point that this was based on Guadeloupean activist Hanna Charley), particularly useful in understanding the layers at work here.

    9. more dead than a broken balafong

      This is the first time I've noticed this really powerful phrase, the image of a broken instrument, silenced, which feels like an important foundation for understanding the many sonic metaphors, and just the general sonic attack of the poem, throughout. Here's an image of a (non-broken) balafon from Gambia gathered from the site of Mary Caton Lingold, who is doing work on Afro-Atlantic musical history.<br>

      This passage also makes me think of one in Derek Walcott's Omeros (Book Three Chapter XXVIII, Part III): "They cried for the little things after the big thing/ They cried for a broken gourd."

    10. the mango trees flaunt all their lunula

      Throughout these text there are these incredible descriptions of fruit, leaves, trees, that like this where the words are so always already layered with translation: from lunula to the French lunules to the root Latin that takes us spiraling back to the moon, the crescent, but then when I read it I'm also just brought back to questions about tree biology and precisely what Césaire is referring to in terms of the different moments in the lives of mango trees.

  4. Mar 2019
    1. CREDITS

      The participants in this discussion (and their corresponding screen names) were:

      Kenneth Bilby, Smithsonian Institution (kbilby)

      Marlene Daut, University of Virginia (MLDAUT)

      Laurent Dubois, Duke University (duboismusicalpassage)

      Anne Eller, Yale University (aee54)

      Marc Fields, Emerson College (thebanjoproject)

      David Garner, University of South Carolina (DaveGarner) & David Garner’s Duke Talent Identification Program Class (DukeTIPStudents)

      Kim F. Hall, Barnard College (ProfKFH)

      Jessica A. Krug, George Washington University (Jessica_Krug)

      Jeffrey Menzies, Instrument Maker (jeffmenzies)

      Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy, Dickinson College (PvanLeeuwaardeMoonsammy)

      Mary Caton Lingold, Virginia Commonwealth University (marycatonlingold)

      Gregory Pierrot, University of Connecticut at Stamford (GregPierrot)

      Richard Rath, University of Hawai’I at Mānoa (rcrath)

      Pete Ross, Instrument Maker (PeteRRoss)

      Rebecca Geoffroy Schwinden, University of North Texas (Rebecca_Geoffroy_Schwinden)

      Matthew Smith, University of the West Indies (MatthewJSmith)

  5. Jun 2017
    1. We have now ended our week-long annotation experiment of "Musical Passage," sponsored by SX Archipelagos during June

      We are so deeply grateful to all who contributed this week. The remarkable knowledge and analysis shared here will help us both to improve the existing Musical Passage site and to think about how to continue to expand and develop the project. Our hope, from the beginning, was that this site would help generate a range of discussions and artistic interpretation.

      This week, we have seen richly how these two can come together in helping us deepen our understanding of this text and more broadly of Afro-Atlantic music, religion, and culture.

      Here are the next steps we'll be following:

      1. This annotated version of Musical Passage will be archived and published in a future issue of Small Axe Archipelagos. This way, it will continue to be available online so that researchers and students can consult it and learn from all the comments.

      As part of this, the three of us will write a short piece reflecting on the various questions that were raised by contributors and thinking through some ways to respond to the critiques and suggestions. In part, our hope – and that of the editors of SX Archipelagos – is that we might see this as a new kind of peer review through public peer engagement of digital work. The journal will sponsor other experiments of this kind in the future, building on some of what we learned from this process.

      2. We will make some changes to existing site (musicalpassage.org) based on the suggestions here, first by revising some of our interpretive text, and then by exploring some of the changes in design that have been suggested.

      3. Finally, we are hoping to continue finding ways to nourish and participate in having other musicians and performers do interpretations of these pieces, since we feel that will be one of the most important ways to deepen our understanding of this. We have some ideas under way, including deepening our work with the group that participated in the Jamaica Workshop, but we are also eager to hear other ideas and excited to explore possible collaborations. And we are think about how to effectively create a digital space where performances of these pieces can be shared in a variety of formats.

      We look forward to more conversations with all of those who participated this week, and thank everyone for such a mind-opening and positive engagement.

      Laurent Dubois David Garner Mary Caton Lingold

    2. In the notation for “Angola,” furthermore, there are words presented to be sung: “Ho-baognion, Hoba, Hoba, Hoba-ognion.” In “Koromanti,” meanwhile, one phrase is included: “Meri Bonbo mich langa meri wa langa.”

      We would love any leads or ideas about how we might figure out what these lines mean, what language they are in, etc.

    3. while the base is plaid,

      I'm realizing that we may not have pondered this line (which should be "when the base is plaid"!) enough. What does Sloane mean by the playing of the "base"? Is this a reference to drums, or to something else? What did this term mean in seventeenth-century musical terminology?

    4. Papa

      This is the only piece that we have interpreted with an mbira, and indeed the only one we have interpreted on a non-stringed instrument. What other instruments might be used to interpret this or other pieces, and how might that change how we think of the songs?

      You can listen the interpretation of the song (based on the Fretless Banjo version, not the mbira) by musicians in Jamaica on our SoundCloud page:


      & watch the same performance here:


    5. Mr. Baptiste

      We present one theory about who "Mr. Baptiste" might have been here. Given that all the information we have about this figure (as far as we now know) is what is printed on this page, does this theory seem convincing? What other possibilities might we consider?

    6. Angola

      We have interpreted this piece as a call and response between the vocal line and the melody line. Are there other ways to interpret this? We also have not been able to identify what the vocal line means. We presume the language is Central African, but what language might this be? What does the word or phrase mean?

      During the Jamaica Musical Passage Workshop, Earl "Chinna" Smith heard a song called "Runaway" within this piece. You can see them interpret it here:


    7. body movement, spirituality, and often, political organizing

      This was powerfully illustrated at the end of the Musical Passage Workshop in Jamaica, which concluded with a recognition and celebration of Rastafari elder Sam Clayton through song & dance:


    8. Welcome to the Musical Passage discussion!

      We are delighted to hear your thoughts both about the current state of the site and some of the ways we might envision expanding it, particularly in order to include contemporary interpretations of the music.

      We participated in a workshop held at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston on March 17, 2017, during which Rastafari musicians listened to interpretations of Sloane offered here and then played their own versions of the sings. You can watch five videos of the workshop, which include interpretations of Koromanti 2, Koromanti 1, Angola, & Papa, starting here:


      We hope to organize other such events involving a variety of musicians in the future. We are curious therefore if you have thoughts about the following questions:

      Are there ways we might incorporate such material directly in the site?

      Or would it be better to create some kind of other portal or site to showcase this material and other interpretations by musicians? If so, what types of approaches/ tools would be best for this?

      We also welcome your thoughts about any other aspects of design or content!

      Thank you,

      Laurent Dubois, David Garner, and Mary Caton Lingold

    9. Koromanti

      Scholars have long debated how to best interpret the meaning of African ethnic terms as used in the Caribbean and the Americas more broadly. One of our questions is whether these songs can actually give us a better understanding of what "Koromanti" meant as a term in seventeenth century Jamaica. How might we read back from the music? What does the fact that three songs that are so different are all called "Koromanti" signify about the term and its meaning at the time?

    10. a flexible feel inviting improvisation

      In the Musical Passage Workshop in Jamaica, Earl "Chinna" Smith did a great improvisation on the piece using slide guitar, which was a really interesting way of engaging with the scales laid out in the piece:

      His solo is here about 7 minutes into the video:


    11. a beat divided into 3 parts instead of two

      There was an interesting discussion between a scholar named Peter Espeut & Earl "Chinna" Smith about the beat of this song during the Jamaica Musical Passage Workshop (starting about 10:20 in the video below)


    12. Koromanti

      Scholars have long debated how to best interpret the meaning of African ethnic terms as used in the Caribbean and the Americas more broadly. One of our questions is whether these songs can actually give us a better understanding of what "Koromanti" meant as a term in seventeenth century Jamaica. How might we read back from the music? What does the fact that three songs that are so different are all called "Koromanti" signify about the term and its meaning at the time?

  6. May 2017
    1. Hans Sloane

      Are there aspects of Hans Sloane's work that could give us deeper insight into this text that we may be overlooking that could usefully be emphasized or drawn out?

    2. Koromanti (Part 3)

      We have not yet been able to interpret the vocal line in this particular song. Are there ideas about what language this might be? About what this might mean? About how it might have been sung in relation to the melody of this particular piece?

    3. cry "Alla,” which probably refers to the Muslim deity, since many West Africans practiced Islam

      We are curious about whether this intepretation seems the most plausible, or whether there might be other ways to read this line. What are other possible readings?