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Performance Notes

The piece is completely a cappella. There are six different sections. There are various body percussion elements in each section.

In each section, the phrase “One language is never enough” is translated into each culture's language. The only text that is not a direct translation of this phrase is the initial

phrase used in the first section. In Somali “Hohey bohalaha Xargagen, Nin xiimay ay xidhaan” means “Oh, the ditches of Xargagan, they do block the flight of a man.”[1] This is taken from the popular Somali children's story, Dhagdheer. [2] The ditches of Xargagan refer to the distinctive hargega holes in the specific region in Somalia where the story is set.[3] In the story, those holes are what stops the monster who is chasing the protagonists, the mother and son, making the line of text chosen for this composition pivotal to the story’s ending.[4]

The first section (mm. 1-20) features Somali music. This section uses the pentatonic scale and features male and female soloists. In mm. 9-16 it is intended that members of the choir pick a pitch from the pitches shown.

The second section (mm. 21-25) features Kurdish (maqam) music. This type of music doesn't use traditional time signatures. A standard way of notating it is to devote one measure to each phrase. This section uses the Rast scale. This type of music uses quarter tones. You will notice the half flats on the E and B. There is a recording demonstrating the Rast scale and its rendering within this composition on the unit website.

The third section (mm. 26-48) features mariachi music. This section modulates to F minor. Beginning at m. 36 the time signature alternates every measure between 6/8 and 3/4.


The fourth section (mm. 49-77) features sacred harp music. At the beginning of this section, the key modulates to F major. Sacred harp does not obey the traditional rules of four-part harmony and, therefore, has a raw sound.[5] At m. 58 a round begins which is sometimes referred to as “fuguing” in sacred harp music.[6]


The fifth section (mm. 78-115) is in the style of a spiritual. In the section

beginning at m. 86, the second beat should be emphasized.


The sixth section (mm. 116-133) combines all of the styles. Melodies should be sung in the style they are sung in the previous sections.

Text and International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription

Hohey bohalaha Xargagan

(International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription [IPA]) hɔhei bɔhælæhæ ħɑrgægæn


Nin xiimayay xidhaan
(IPA) nɪn ħɪːmæiæi ħɪdhɑːn

Hal luuqad marna kuma filna

(IPA) hæl lʉːqɑd mærnæ kumɑ fɪlnæ


Yek ziman hîç bes e

(IPA) jεk zɪmaːn hiː͡tʃ bεs ε

Un solo idioma nunca es suficiente hoy

(IPA) un ˈsolo iˈðjoma ˈnuŋka es sufiˈθjente ˈoi


[1] Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Culture and Customs of Somalia. 2001. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 173.


[2] Ibid.


[3] Sheekooyin Carrureed, Somali Folktales from Lyndale School S.P.I.R.A.L. Project (Mashruuca S.P.I.R.A.L. ee Lyndale). Minneapolis, MN: Lyndale Community School, accessed September 21, 2017,, 259.


[4] Ibid.

[5] B. F. White and E. J. King. 1991. The Sacred Harp. Carrollton, GA: Sacred Harp Publishing.


[6] Laurie E. Jasinski, 2012. Handbook of Texas Music (2nd Edition). Denton, Texas: Texas State Historical Association.

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