SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 86

Understanding Signed Music Cripps & Lyonblum Video 2: Eyes The distinction between lyrics and non-lyrics can be identified with the two signed music clips under consideration here. An Experiment Clip has incorporated the wordings of ASL, which suggests a direct relationship between language and music for deaf people. Witcher’s piece entails the use of language that is similar to what is generally known as “[t]he words of a song in a ‘musical’ or of a popular 20 th -century song” (Kennedy, Kennedy, & Rutherford-Johnson, 2012, p. 513). Signed words in sentences are included in ASL phrases such as “it is nice to meet you.” In contrast, Eyes is non-lyric with J. E. Cripps’ avoidance of signs representing specific words. She performed using hand and facial movements in an abstract way. J. E. Cripps successfully produced what is visually perceived as music from beginning to end. Such outcome includes the use of signed notes, which is proposed as analogous to the audible musical notes. Some Clarifications While signed music has been the term used throughout this paper, another term to identify music performances by deaf people also exists. In both literature and in the labeling of published signed mu sic pieces, deaf music is a widely used term. Loeffler (2014) and Leigh et al. (2016) used the term “deaf music” to represent the art of deaf performers who perform auditory-centric music, which does not characterize the definition of signed music as presented in this paper. In both Loeffler’s article and Leigh et al.’s book, the understanding of what music really means to deaf people appears to be limited. Of particular concern is how deaf musicians listed in Leigh et al. are influenced by the auditory tradition of music as follows: The Wild Zappers, founded in 1989, combines ASL, music, and dance to promote cultural and educational awareness of sign[ed] language and [d]eaf people. There are deaf jazz singers (Mandy Harvey), deaf bands (Beethoven’s Nightmare), opera singers (Janine Roebuck), and solo percussionists (Dame Evelyn Glennie) (Lammle, 2010). There are also deaf rappers and groups, such as Prinz-D, Warren “Wawa” Snipe, DJ Supalee, Sho’Roc, Signmark, and Sean Forbes (Peisner, 2013) (as cited in Leigh et al., 2016, p. 249). A large number of hearing performers have attempted to translate various English music pieces into ASL with the naive thought that deaf people would enjoy these performances. Similar performances have been made by deaf people themselves, unfortunately. J. H. Cripps, Rosenblum, and Small (2016) explained that some deaf performers were prone to the paradigm of music as an SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Summer/Fall 2017 86