The many ways of returning to the refrain in Telugu song
Paper in proceedings, 2019
A refrain (abbreviated R) is a line in a song repeated after each verse, and often used as the song’s name. Returns to R are usually high points both melodically and lyrically. E.g., a verse ending "I feel upon my lips again" makes a smooth lead-in (abbreviated L) to the refrain R = "A taste of honey" (Scott/Marlow, 1962). We notate this "(I feel upon my lips again) A taste of honey", and call such patterns (lead-in)refrains or (L)R’s. The song goes R … LR … LR, where L could change verse to verse. In our examples, R and (L)R are often both full sentences. More interesting L’s are often phrases, clauses or rather than interjections. A word-prefix L can transform R.
Our main contribution is to point out that (L)R patterns are a striking feature of Telugu (TEL) song, remarkably various and profuse in both old and new songs, yet little remarked in the literature as far as we are aware. We give examples from the 15th c. to the 21st. In transcription, a colon marks long vowels, and M, nasalized ones. Retroflexion is shown by capitalization, and aspiration by h, also a consonant by itself. Glosses are given, some also /morpheme-wise/.
Kannada (KAN) and Tamil (TAM) share features with TEL that help make L(R)’s: fairly free word order, agglutinative particles, and adjectives and relative clauses preceding the noun. We give only lone KAN and TAM examples, but expect to find more when we search. Hindi (HIN) shares fewer features with TEL; perhaps therefore, we have so far looked but found few (L)R s in HIN.