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Puirt-a-beul, the Scottish Gaelic term for mouth music, is a toe-tapping and tongue-twisting genre of song that parallels the Celtic instrumental dance tune tradition.
Though puirt-a-beul are popular with both Gaelic-speaking and non-Gaelic speaking audiences, this book offers the first comprehensive study of the genre. Heather Sparling considers how puirt-a-beul compare to other forms of global mouth music and examines its origins, its musical and lyrical characteristics, and its functions.
Sparling brings together years of research, including an array of historical references to puirt-a-beul, interviews with Gaelic singers in both Scotland and Nova Scotia, observations of puirt-a-beul performances on both sides of the Atlantic as well as on recordings, and analysis of melodies and lyrics. Her Nova Scotia viewpoint allows her to consider puirt-a-beul in both its Scottish and diaspora contexts, a perspective that is too often absent in studies of Gaelic song.