Style in Performance: The Prosody of Poetic Recitation.

Barney, Thomas Henry (1998) Style in Performance: The Prosody of Poetic Recitation. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis presents an empirical study of the accentual and pitch patterns of poetic recitation. Its chief aim is to show the prosody of recitation as a substantial contributor to the overall prosodic effect when a poem is read. It uses a small annotated corpus of multiple recitations of two poems, stored in a relational database, a means of investigation which allows prosodic properties of the text and of performance to be clearly separated. In Section I previous linguistic models of poetic prosody are reviewed, and it is concluded that they have either confined themselves to metre and word-stress patterns, prosodic properties that are inherent in the text, or, if they have investigated performance, have done so unsystematically. The present investigation of performance is then introduced, and the prosodic patterns of the text defined as defaults, which provide starting points that a performance can comply with or depart from. Section II investigates the accentual patterns of performance. A model of accentuation and accentual patterns is set out, and the circumstances in which accentable syllables can lose their default accents. The accentual patterns of the recitations are then examined and related to the default patterns, showing the wide variety of ways available to the reciter to resolve or refrain from resolving any tension between speech rhythm and metre, or to add further tension. Section III examines pitch patterns, regarding them as a system of recurring patterns which cross-cut those of metre and verse form. A new system for classifying pitch patterns is put forward, founded upon the shapes of whole contours and taking account of degrees of resemblance between patterns. This system is used to analyse the pitch patterns of the recitations, in particular the ways in which, within a relatively narrow set of patterns, resemblances and differences between pitch patterns are used to flag syntactic connections and semantic parallelisms in the texts. Section IV attempts to draw together the different prosodic features into a single, but loosely-structured system; in conclusion some further refinements to the analysis are suggested.

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Thesis (PhD)
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02 May 2019 16:28
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:34