Cheers and Shouts in Adyghe Rituals, by Alla Sokolova

Amongst Caucasus people the Adyghes have a reputation of very reserved, patient, collected people. They are such in everyday life. The situation is changed cardinally at moments of the rite or ritual dance. The funs, outcries and remarks aside dancing youth or musicians become the normal space of the dance circle. The main loudmouth of the rite is hatiyako (chief, leading). Hedistinguishes himself from people by shouts and special behaviors. He can whoop only cheers: "_-_-_-_-_!", "A-ya-ya-yay" etc. Such cheers divert and encourage all people. He can force the public to slam in palm: "Agur, agur, agur!"- “Palm, palm, palm!” Typical is also to encourage dancing people with exclamations: "Good lad!", "Show your heels!", "Turn around, do not let anybody over dance yourself!" etc. Herewith the name of the dancer is identified.

The shouts inside a circle, sounds of music instruments (particularly sounds of idiophones) mark the protected space. Outside this space is a darkness and chaos. Within a dancing circle is an order and strictness.

The semantic significance of outcries in a dance circle is revealed in comparing them with traditional performance of the ritual songs and geographical conditions of residence of the people. The mountains, in which the Adyghe ethnic culture was formed, have created the feeling of importance and aesthetic ideal of the top, summit. The peak of the mountain is a desired purpose and this top is reached by a few. But before those who have entered on tops, such types and prospects are opened, which give birth to the feeling of the delight, joys caused by the vicinity to the God. This signifies that a ritual shout is a state of high joy pleasing to the Gods during socially important events.

The comparative analysis of outcries and instrumental tunes also brings us to more complete understanding of the semantic contents of dance tunes. The highest sound in traditional dance melodies forms the culmination of the folk melody. Sometimes performers continue playing (hover) a high sound for some time. This is perceived by dancers as the sign of the increase in velocity of the dance performance. So when a dancer tells the musician to play quicker the harmonist merely plays a long, continued sound in high register.

The shouts and music are elements of one system. At the same time the shouts and music belong to the common ethnic picture of the world.

XX European Seminar in Ethnomusicology

29 September - 3 October 2004 Venice