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This research examines the structure and strategy of Azorean-Canadian song duels called desafios. These duels are improvised sung dialogues cast in poetic form and argumentative in tone. The approach is based upon performance-centered folkloristics and ethnomusicology. It views the musical event as a scene of human interaction in which various means of communication, displaying specific structures, are employed for strategic purposes.
The fieldwork was conducted among the Portuguese-Canadian communities of Ontario, Canada, primarily those in and around the city of Toronto. Live performances of desafios were recorded and extensive interviews with performers were conducted.
The dissertation provides ethnographic, generic, and performance contexts for the desafio and demonstrates its dynamic relationship to those contexts. A tagmemic model is used to describe the structure of verbal and musical communication in the desafio, using the concept of a part-whole hierarchy for analysis. The performance goals of the singers are described, and specific strategies to achieve them are analyzed and illustrated. This analysis is facilitated by the improvisatory and competitive nature of these duels, which causes the audience to judge constantly how well new materials are organized into appropriate structures for strategic purposes.
The dissertation seeks to analyze the diverse means of communication used in the desafio, particularly speech and music, and within a unified framework to deal with the issues of context, structure, and strategy. It attempts to provide a more closely integrated approach to the study of human verbal-musical behavior than previous research provided.