2.3.1. Sámbadabts

In any event, the word sámbadats refers to the general category of Nenets shamanistic songs. The sámbadabts were performed by the shaman during the act of a shamanistic séance and they contained expressions about deities and helping spirits of the shaman (cf. Helimski 1989, 25). The shaman also described his journey in the supernatural world in the song.

Simoncsics (1978, 400) has made an interesting analysis of the oldest documented text of a Nenets shaman song. The text was recorded by M. A. Castrén among the Western Nenets in the village of Syomzha in 1842 (Castrén-Lehtisalo 1940, 302). A shamanistic journey is described in it in the course of the depiction of a shaman. The different phases of the journey are described in detail, while the shaman proceeds through the seven spheres of the sky. The spheral scenery and topography are supernatural and strange. The ultimate goal of the journey is the yesya mya" 'iron hut', the dwelling of the paramount god of the skies, the Num'. Here the shaman acquires the information, that was the objetcive of the séance. On the return journey, nothing is same anymore, the fantastic topography has been transformed. (cf. Simoncsics 1978, 400)

Lehtisalo speaks about "witch songs" e.g. thus (1922, 97): "If the singer may be exalted already by singing fable songs, raises his exaltation in witch songs to great primordial force. Surely the wizard has to 'ensavage', strengthen himself in order to present himself favourably to the elfs and to make his will known. In important places knocks he his head with the drum-stick and may raise up from his seat (...) in the back of the dwelling to take some dance steps (...). Every wizard knows a group of these songs, and chooses a song appropriate to the situation."

Simoncsics maintains that these kind of sámbadabtses differ from the more narrative shamanistic songs, especially on the level of their semantic structures, and that they relate to the semantic isomorphism of the "lyric" songs. According to his interpretation, the shaman tries to express something, that has no conceptual or linguistic form; that is "the great mystery of shamanism"..., which is ultimately "the interdependence, the secret connection of life and death". (Simoncsics 1978, 401)

The following is a fragment of Forest Nenets shaman song. The recording has been made for the radio of the Yamal Nenets autonomous district and recorded outside the ritual, however. The text line is octosyllabic, but the singer places lots of supplementary syllables between the text syllables proper. In this example is heard only the initial (octosyllabic) text line of the incantation, following a short intro line (11 sec.), consisting of supplementary syllables. In the transcription a text line encompasses a whole line in the score. The inner structure of the lines is shown with the broken lines. They divide the melodic line into four parts, in the beginning of which are the places for the meaningful syllables (underlined). This shaman song is very illustrative in pointing out the big amount of supplementary syllables in a text line.

Example 8. (313Kb, 28 sec.) Tachyipya'tma kinawsh "An old drum".
An incantation that is related to a shaman song called "Shye"wyi kingnya'ta pyenshaL 'The seven-ways-sounding drum'.
Performed by Ohol' Ngäywashyeta. Recorded by Yamal Nenets Autonomous District Radio (archive nr. Ya-204/3).
(A recording probably from 1980's.)
Transcription and translation (into Russian) of the text variant of this song by Inna Wello.
Unchecked transcription of the text, its translation into English and transcription of the singing by J. Niemi.

nyiLyinangy shyidyangkat(à)                   Worked out by our grandfathers (is the drum),

Due to the extreme rarity of examples of genuine Nenets shaman songs and even other octosyllabic songs, only some fundamentals of their metric construction can be outlined. First, as can be seen from the example of Ngäywashyeta, the meaningful syllables of a text line are scattered among and between the multitude of supplementary, synsemantic syllables. Second, the octosyllabic line can consist of two four-syllable parts, each of which has a default final supplementary syllable. Examining the available shamanistic and octosyllabic songs, some basic types of formation of a text line can be discerned:

1) As in the song of Ngäywashyeta, an octosyllabic text line is formed by certain succession and combination of proper text syllables "S1-8" and supplementary syllables or syllable groups "(S)". In this song their scheme is of the form of

     S1 + S2 + (S) + S3 + S4 + (S) +       S5 + S6 + (S) + S7 + S8 + (S),

with some exceptions, probably due to the highly expressive style of performance. Especially the final position (S) contains a group of supplementary syllables (how, kow, ow).

Another example of this type is a sung fairy tale reminding a shamanistic song (sambadabsraha lahanako), sung by Paraskov'ya Nikolayevna Maryuyeva in Nel'min-Nos, 1994. It has a simple succession scheme of

     S1 + S2 + S3 + S4 + (S)    +    S5 + S6 + S7 + S8 + (S).

The analysis of the text lines in this song points to the firm existence of a caesura in an octosyllabic text line, and in this example the crossing of the caesura is marginal, which means, that the major word border groups in this song (and in other songs as well) are paired (SSSS+SSSS, SS+SS+SSSS, SSSS+SS+SS, SS+SS+SS+SS). Especially here, in Maryuyeva's song, the predominance of the SSSS+SSSS-type is obvious (36.6% of all the lines). The majority of the text lines (63.4%) represent the "full" 8-syllable line, while the rest are "incomplete", where either the sixth (23.9%) or second (4.2%) syllable is missing. There are clear traces of hexasyllabic lines among these incomplete lines. The rest of the lines are half lines, mostly sung by mistake (8.5%).

Example 9. Sambadabsraha lahanako (A fairy-tale reminding sámbadabs).
Performed by Paraskov'ya Nikolayevna Maryuyeva (née Taibarei).
Recorded by J. Niemi, Nel'min-Nos, 11.8.1994.
Transcription and translation (into Russian) of the text by Anastasia Lapsui.
Further transcription of the text, its translation into English and transcription of the singing by J. Niemi.

It has to be noted also, that there is no need to organize the melodic rhythm according to the word-border and accentuation, like in hexasyllabic songs. Therefore there is only one word-border type in the octosyllabic songs, resulting as uniformity in the melodic rhythm and in the location of the sung syllables. Maryuyeva's song is representative of this also, as a rare case of a long (71 lines) performance of a song in the octosyllabic meter. The sung syllables concentrate quite uniformly to the fourth and eighth syllabic position, but they can occur also in the sixth position.

The strict organization of this type of an octosyllabic line in some of the shamanistic songs led, for example, Lehtisalo to organize his text transcriptions into columns of four syllable lines (1947, 469-546). It is especially interesting to refer here to this kind of shaman song (Lehtisalo 1947, 469), which has been possible to identify with the corresponding phonogram (Ph. 26a-b) (see: Niemi & Lapsui 1995, 147-148). The line scheme of the phonogram here, however, does not even suggest the presence of a two-part octosyllabism:

     (S) + S1 + S2 + S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8.

2) The similar line structure can be echoed, i.e., the some of the proper text syllables may be repeated according to a certain scheme. Examples of this type can be found from the songs recorded by Lehtisalo in 1911 (see: Niemi & Lapsui 1995, 154; 161). The succession scheme in the example 11. (Ph. 32a) can be discerned as

     S1 + S2 + S3 + S4    +    S5 + S6 + S7 + S8    +    S5 + S6 + S7 + S8 + (S),

although because of the bad quality of the recording, it was not possible to transcribe all the words of the song.

The second shamanistic song in the same phonogram (example 26. (Ph.32b)) contains another principles of repetition. It is interesting to notice, that there are alternating schemes in this song. After S1 and S2, there is a place for the optional (S), and after that follows the rest of the text line S3-8. After that follows either echoed S5 and S6, or (S). The line scheme ends with echoed S7 and S8 followed by yet a final (S):

     S1 + S2 + (S)   +   S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8   +   S5 + S6   +   S7 + S8 + (S),
     S1 + S2 +           S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8   +   S5 + S6   +   S7 + S8 + (S),
     S1 + S2 + (S)   +   S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8   +  (S) +          S7 + S8 + (S),
     S1 + S2 +           S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8   +  (S) +          S7 + S8 + (S),
     S1 + S2             S3 + S4 + S5 + S6 + S7 + S8   +                 S7 + S8 + (S).

An example of more uniform echoed line scheme can be found from the shaman song performed by Ngabtiko Lapsui (audio example not available). There are two alternating line schemes in this song:

     S1 + S2 + S3 + S4    +    S1 + S2 + S3 + S4    +    S5 + S6   +   S5 + S6 + S7 + S8 + (S)
     S1 + S2 + S3 + S4    +    S1 + S2 + S3 + S4    +    S7 + S8   +   S5 + S6 + S7 + S8 + (S).

Example 10. Sambadabs (Shaman song of Ngabtiko Lapsui).
Performed by Valentina Ngabtikovna Salinder. Recorded by Elena Pushkarëva, Nyda 1993.
Transcription and translation (into Russian) of the text by Elena Pushkarëva.
Further transcription of the text, its translation into English and transcription of the singing by J. Niemi.

It is worth noticing here, that the echoed syllables can also be a part of a word and furthermore, a part from the end of the word.

Helimski (1988, 72-74) has an interesting notion of similar principles in the formation of a text line with the material of the allegoric keyngeyrsya-songs of the Nganasan. Although the keyngeyrsyas conform to the general rules of the hexasyllabismus of the Northern Samoyed, the principles of echoing and repeating of syllables of a text line, as well as the reorganizing their succession are strikingly similar. It has to be emphasized, however, that there is no such a thing in Nenets hexasyllabic text lines.