home | cv | courses


publications | research | music | archive


 lecture series | news | contact



One of the questions that preoccupied me during my stay in the Maradi area, studying the music of the boorii spirit possession cult, was how music mediates between different subjectivities. Unlike the majority of studies that assumed music to have a neurophysiological effect and thus to be key in the production of trance, and unlike Gilbert Rouget who sought to distinguish between trance and possession and saw music's role in taming or "socializing" the former, I was interested in the transitions between both states. Through extensive videotaping and measuring of tempi I hoped to be able to show how trance and possession were less the effect of musical parameters, but like music constructs that were embedded in larger systems of signfication. Below are two scenes from a video documentary that I produced in 1982. The clip on the left shows how the music of the spirit Buuzuu (fast-paced, highly repetitive short melodic phrases) sends everybody present into a violent, trance-like state. The clip on the right shows the carefully choreographed movements of the spirit...... The two images in the middle, finally, are of my diary entry describing the Buuzuu episode and of the flow of musical tempi during an entire session observed in.....




veit erlmann