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Fragments and Meaning in Traditional SongFrom the Blues to the Baltic$
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Mary-Ann Constantine and Gerald Porter

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262887

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262887.001.0001

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Beating time: resistance and the subaltern voice in prison work songs

Beating time: resistance and the subaltern voice in prison work songs

Chapter:
(p.142) (p.143) 6 Beating time: resistance and the subaltern voice in prison work songs
Source:
Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song
Author(s):

Mary-Ann Constantine

Gerald Porter

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197262887.003.0007

This chapter discusses resistance and the subaltern voice present in prison work songs. It shows that the songs that accompany work and follow its rhythm stand as a collective challenge to ideas of what makes a ‘complete’ or shapely song. The chapter presents excerpts of several prison songs, which show that these songs are full of breaks, have episodes that return to their starting-point, and that their leads are not followed up. These songs assume not only a world ‘out there’, but also a context of more or less indefinite variation.

Keywords:   prison work songs, resistance, subaltern voice, leads, episodes, variation

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