Axudádeme a Cantar (Help me Sing): Galician Women, Song, and Hand-Held Percussion
Renée DePalma (University of A Coruña) will present the documentary video Axudádeme a cantar (2023) [Help me sing], which explores the Galician tradition of singing accompanied by hand-held percussion, an historically feminised art form. Funded by the Council for Galician Culture, the film was co-directed by Renée along with Carme López (musician and teacher educator), Xulia Feixoo (musician and ethnomusicologist) and filmmakers Alejandro Gándara and Olaia Tubío.
From a sociolinguistic standpoint, this film considers this practice as a form of oral literacy, and therefore a rich source of information concerning historical cultural practices and forms and varieties of the Galician language. Adopting a feminist lens, it sets out to recognize the important role of women in preserving, performing, and reinterpreting this key aspect of Galician social life. As an ethnographic endeavour, it analyses the ways in which "tradition" evolves and continues to take on new forms, rather than existing solely in an essentialised, idealised past.
Each of the six chapters is based on interviews with traditional percussionists and younger educators and artists who draw upon these women as a source of material and inspiration. The contributions of these informants are complemented by live recordings of festivals and archival video and audio footage. Specific topics addressed include geographical diversity, the rupture of intergenerational transmission, more recent forms of collection and dissemination, the influence of emigration, and new artistic interpretations that draw upon these traditions in creative ways.
In this talk sponsored by the AHGBI (Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland), Renée will focus on the relevance of this documentary for the Centre for Galician Studies at the University of Bangor and similar institutions, as a resource for learning about language and culture. The documentary includes subtitles in Galician, Spanish and English, and a project is currently being designed to produce a teaching guide that will provide ideas and materials for use in secondary and tertiary education.