Text-Melody Relationships: Translation of European Hymns into Dho-Luo
Omolo-Ongati, Rose A.
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This study addresses the problem of translation of European hymns into Dho-luo with specific reference to text and melody relationships. It focuses on the introduction of western hymns into the Seventh-Day-Adventist (S.D.A) church and further discusses how the Luo performers have altered the European melodies and rhythms to fit the Luo performance practice. The research was carried among Dho-luo speaking S.D.A.converts of Rachuonyo District, Kendu Bay division, using the Gendia mission congregation. A total of 30 hymns from Wende Nyasaye have been analyzed. Simple Random Sampling technique was used to identify the 30 hymns. Primary data collection was done through participant observation, interviews and recording tapes. There is a brief discussion of the establishment of Adventism in Kenya (since 1906) and the history of the three phases of S.D.A. translation of European hymns into Dho-luo. The study has also given a detailed textual and musical analysis of the hymns sampled. The analysis reveals the existence of distortions and irregularities in terms of syllabic accents, speech rhythm and intonation in the translated Luo hymns. This is due to the fact that English and Dho-luo are completely different in the way they structure their sentences. Suggestions of possible correction of the distortions detected have been done using the rule of parallelism governing text- melody relationship of Dho-luo songs. The study established that the use of hymns with translated texts and borrowed European tunes are stylistically and culturally inappropriate to the Luo context, hence the call for the development of culturally appropriate songs to achieve the three components of high communication in African songs i.e. language, music and performance.
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