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Part Two: Structure

You can think of the Yiddish folksong as a huge set of resources that singers draw on to shape a particular performance. They may not make the same choices every time they sing it.  Every aspect- parameter, to use a more technical term-of a song is independently variable. You can have the same rhyme scheme in two songs, but completely different tonal materials, or the same melodic contour with a different rhythmic pattern, not to speak of voice quality, tempo, or other performance choices.  We can make a long list of parameters. This section deals with two large groupings of variables that create the structures of a song. These two combine in collaborative and competitive ways. The text can shape the melodic line, but sometimes the musical impulse inflects the way the text is delivered. It’s about autonomy and accommodation between two different human systems – language and music.

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