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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can you whistle a poem in English ?

El Silbo teacher Jesus,  here whistling
 it skilfully without the use of his hands
That's the question posed by poet Albert Pellicer of the Contemporary Poetic Research Centre of the Royal Halloway University of London. The professor and author has written a poem called Breath of Sense which explores the El Silbo whistling language of La Gomera and for quite some time he'd been hoping to try if this poem could be whistled in the El Silbo language. He's now teamed up with the singer/songwriter and El Silbo master Rogelio Botanz and travelled to La Gomera to put it to the test here. With the financial support of La Gomera's local government six students from Tenerife travelled to La Gomera to interpret the poem through El Silbo. The artist Helen Petts will compile a video of the experiment with the landscape of La Gomera that gave rise to El silbo as a dramatic backdrop. The video is being shot for the universities of Kingston and Birkbeck who also do contemporary poetics research in collaboration with Pellicer. The group is due to leave today to publish their findings.
Well, if you've ever been on one of the excursion tours on La Gomera you'd know that the El Silbo demonstration given during the lunch stop always includes whistling in whatever language the guests want and the whistler will gladly whistle even your name, no matter how complicated. El Silbo whistles are phonetic and can be employed in any language, as words and phrases are formed by the varying pitch of the whistling. On La Gomera, the whistling is quite complicated, with varying lengths, ranges, pauses and emphasis on vowels and consonants.
The outcome of this new poetic experiment can only be positive and it will foster the interest in this ancient form of communication internationally even on an academic level.

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