????? My daughter is 23 and has been using augmentative communication devices since she was a little girl. We have used devices from several different companies, so we are pretty experienced. This is, by far, the easiest to program. There are lots of preprogrammed categories, so it is possible to start communicating right away, without doing anything other than downloading it. ... After years of dragging around a 4–7 pound communication device that looks sort of ‘clinical’, it’s really cool to have a small iPod touch and a speaker (all of 15 ounces!) to bring with us. ... My daughter has enough things to separate her from her peers. It’s nice to have something for a change that’s the same as other people are using. Can’t say enough good about it!!!
Vocal runs that would sound bizarre without Auto-Tune have become necessary to create some now-common effects. The plug-in facilitates something analogous to a human-machine duet. Raskin has recorded with countless major vocalists, including best-selling rapper Lil Wayne. He says that, ‘99 per cent of all pop music has corrective Auto-Tuning.’ But when artists flamboyantly foreground its use, they sing and simultaneously listen to themselves being processed. Lil Wayne records with Auto-Tune on – no untreated vocal version exists. In an era of powerful computers that allow one to audition all manner of effects on vocals after the recording session, recording direct with Auto-Tune means full commitment. There is no longer an original ‘naked’ version. This is a cyborg embrace. In Cyborg Manifesto (1991), Donna Haraway notes that ‘the relation between organism and machine has been a border war.’ Auto-Tune’s creative deployment is fully compatible with her ‘argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction.’
Speaking of parting, it is only rarely that dirges are heard in Kawu nowadays. Two factors are contributing to their decline: firstly the fact that many churches discourage their use, preferring edifying hymns instead. The reason behind this, I am told, is that the dirges reflect a pre-Christian worldview and as such are to be eschewed by true Christians. A second factor has been the coming of electricity to the villages halfway the nineties, which has led to loud music taking the place of the dirges during the wakekeepings. Elsewhere I wrote that “culture is a moving target, always renewing and reshaping itself”, yet at the same time I can’t help but lament the imminent loss of such a rich vein of Mawu culture.
However, during my last fieldtrip there were some signs of a renewed interest in the genre. For example, one pastor told me that he had been reconsidering the rash dismissal of the dirges by his church. Realizing how important the dirges had been in containing, orienting, and canalizing the feelings of loss and pathos surrounding death, he felt that the Christian hymns did not always offer an appropriate replacement. Another hopeful event was that I was approached with the request to help record a great number of dirges in Akpafu-Todzi in August 2008. This was not just to record them for posterity (although this was part of the motivation), but also very practically so that they could be played at wakekeepings. I gladly complied with this wish of course. The result is a beautiful collection of 42 dirges, sung by eight ladies between 57 and 87 years of age. The first time the dirges were played at a funeral they sparked a wave of interest.