Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie

The vocality of a religious poem among the Pomaks

The vocality of a religious poem among the Pomaks

Eftychia Droutsa — view the presentationEFTYCHIA DROUTSA (Iremus/University Paris 4 Sorbonne, France)

This work questions “vocality”, that is the sound production of speech and song among the Pomaks through their religious poem called mevlud.

Dating from the 15th century, the mevlud is a poem attributed to the poet Suleyman Çelebi, in which he relates the birth, the life and the death of the Prophète Mohamed. It is written in osmanli (Othoman, ancient Turkish in arabic characters) in the poetic form of masnavi, structured in a series of versified distiches where each verse adheres on a metric regularity of eleven syllables. We find this poem among Pomaks, a mountain population, muslim and trilingual, who speaktheir own Slavic dialect - Pomak -, Greek and Turkish. They live in the north of Greece in the area of Thrace and are recognized officially as “a religious minority” by the Greek Government. Pomaks learn to read the mevlud, on which they adapt a repetitive motif borrowed, modified and customized according to individual preferences and abilities. However, most of them do not understand the literal meaning of the poetic text. It is in this particular context, where the words are detached from their litteral meaning and become a medium for statement, that we will approach the duality of speech and song through a sound editing, where the words are sung, whispered, muttered, recited or simply said.