Same Form, Slightly Different Function: Senegalese Cumulative Songs as Contrasted to their Canadian and European Counterparts.

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In today’s North American and European oral traditions we are familiar with the cumulative song form through songs such as “Old McDonald had a Farm,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “Alouette”. We know them as “stand alone” songs unconnected to any other oral art form. My research among the Jola-Bandial people of southern Senegal in West Africa has revealed that their oral culture contains cumulative songs as well. There, however, these songs are a part of a greater whole—they are a key feature of the story-telling tradition. Through a Jola Bandial story, collected from oral tradition in 2009, this paper looks at the form of the cumulative song, and how it functions in the performance context in both the Jola Bandial (African) and the North American/ European contexts.
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