Vocal Imitation and Linguistic Processing of Super Mario Theme Music by Yorùbá Gamers
Samuel Akinbo
September 2021

An aspect of gaming culture among Yorùbá millennials is the linguistic interpretations of the background music that accompanies the popular video game called Super Mario. The themes of the linguistic interpretations are comparable to those of music texts at traditional Yorùbá competitions (Apter, 1998; Fámúle, 2018). Drawing on the Yorùbá music tradition, the account in this work is that the gamers assumed that the background music of the video game performs a similar function as the music at traditional Yorùbá competitions. Semantically, the choice of words in the linguistic interpretation is conditioned by the situational contexts or scenes where the music is heard in the video game. The results of an acoustic analysis show that the choice of words in the linguistic interpretations are also determined by mapping the pitch trajectories of the music melodies to the tones of the gamers’ native language. Notably, the results of this study suggest that the linguistic processing of music may not only involve phonetic iconicity (Hacohen and Wagner, 1997; Koelsch et al., 2004; Steinbeis and Koelsch, 2011) but situational context and social expectation (Feld, 1984; Agawu, 2001; Patel, 2008; Garc´ıa et al., 2014; Neumeyer, 2015).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006165
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: tone, vocal imitation, music, linguistic processing, video game, yoruba, context, phonology
previous versions: v1 [July 2021]
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