Mhongo and the Effects of Performance
The chapter explores emotional experience via attention to mhongo spirits, possession, and the effects of musical performance. It compares multiple performances in order to demonstrate how ceremonial conventions can be manipulated or undermined. The chapter introduces mhongo spirits, the intricate drumming that brings them to dance, and the consequences of shifting performance signs. The goal is to demonstrate how emotion itself is meaningful and explain how semiotic processes shape participants’ emotional experiences. I compare the successful Horus Farm ceremony to two other, atypical performances of music intended for mhongo spirits in which the host hoped to avoid spirit possession.
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