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Ifionu, Azubike O. (1979) Ifo: A study of an Igbo vocal genre. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study comprises a description and analysis of the textual and musical components of a homogeneous corpus of Ifo songs - songs which occur within the telling of traditional folktales - from the Orumba area of Anambra State of Nigeria. Because Ifo is a mirror of the mind and thought of the people, a reflection of the tensions and conflicts within the society, in Chapter One different but related facets of Igbo cultural life deemed essential for the understanding of the content of Ifo are delineated. The two subsequent chapters demonstrate that Igbo concepts of music differ from those of the west, and that although Igbo vocal and instrumental musical expressions may have some features in common, basically they differ in idiom and style. Hence in Chapter Two Igbo concepts of music, musical categories, and types, are explained. In this context Ifo is established as sui generis in the gamut of traditional vocal music. The social functions of music, and the forces, both indigenous and foreign, that influence Igbo musical practices, are also discussed. In Chapter Three traditional vocal music is treated in detail, and in subsequent chapters the focus is on Ifo. The special features of Ifo are described in Chapter Four; the textual components in Chapter Five; and the stylistic elements in terms of music-text relationships, vocal modes, and singing style in Chapter Six. Chapter Seven is devoted to musical analysis. Chapter Eight consists of a summary and conclusion. The potential value of Ifo in Igbo studies, especially in the field of Arts and Humanities, is unquestionable. The melodies are of importance for composition; the subject-matter is appropriate to folk opera, and to use by novelists, and dramatists; and the texts provide excellent material for the study of Folklore, poetry, linguistics and sociology.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:13

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