Interpreted Music

God is a DJ, by Faithless.
The signer is using British Sign Language (note the two-handed alphabet for “D” and “J”). He seems to rely on a literal translation, taking few liberties with BSL’s capacity to generate meaning beyond the coded English. Since I do not actually know BSL, this is just an impression, but notice the production difference between the song lyrics and the clip of Deaf Britons talking. I’m not referring to the stylistic use of no facial expression – I assume this is an aesthetic choice by the interpreter – rather, the difference in the general animation of the language in use.
Cool. Very very cool. 🙂 Thanks David!

5 thoughts on “Interpreted Music”

  1. That signer in the video spelling things out is Maxi Jazz himself, the lead singer of Faithless. No wonder he’s more literal and less fluent in BSL than the Brits having a whole conversation in BSL.

  2. You’re welcome, Steph! Also, you contributed to my pop culture knowledge (before, I didn’t know how literal his signs in the video were). 🙂

    BTW, I noticed that he uses the same sign at the ends of “…heal my hurts,” “…remedies,” and “…bitterness ends” (my guess is that those have a common word root in BSL). Are these parts of the video an example of rhyming?

  3. I’m not sure its a common word root as much as a single concept that applies in all three instances. The BSL looks very much like the ASL sign for fading or easing away, dissolving, passing from substance to nothing. IF I’m semantically-correct, Maxi is emphasizing the result more than remedy, healing more than hurting, the transformation of bitterness into mist.

    I wouldn’t identify the repetition of the same sign rhyming – not by itself. (It could be if there were other elements of timing, motion, and/or counterpart signs present – I don’t see these.)

    There is a very famous ASL poem by a Deaf artist, Clayton Valli, that shows handshape rhyming beautifully. Here’s a high school student doing a version of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CffFLALSbMI

    Can you tell what its about? 🙂 Farm life. The first animal is a cow…

    Most of Clayton Valli’s poems are on DVDs used for language learning, but I did find this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CffFLALSbMI

    There is handshape rhyming and (probably) alliteration in “Dandelions.” Valli tells a funny and beautiful story of unintended human assistance in floral reproduction.

    [for future reference: I had to relocate an active link of the Faithless music video, the one embedded in the entry seems to have been removed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02BUCVBHSKw

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