Rhyme, Tone, Intonation and Focus in Hausa Gada Songs: An Endogenous Prosodic Pattern


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Languages and General Studies


Much of the research on traditional Hausa songs has concentrated on exploring the philosophical underpinnings, literary and cultural interface, and metricality of the popular Hausa verses and songs; largely neglecting their phonological properties. This study investigates the use of rhyme, tone and intonation by Gada singers in deciding thematic foci of parenthood, girlhood, leadership, identity and cultural mores of the Hausa girl. It examines how these semantic realities are decided between prosodic variables. The data comprised 31 spontaneously recorded Gada songs. These audio-visual recordings are subjected to qualitative discourse intonation analysis and the prosody-level annotation of the floating traces and tone tiers is carried out using Hausa Break and Tone Indices (a hybrid of ToBI, J-ToBi and ToDI). All perceptual effects signalling focal prominence are determined by Speech Analyser 3.1. The project promises a prosodic typology of Gada songs and new approach to analysing Hausa traditional songs in particular and other African folk songs, which is of interest to African humanities.