Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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The tunes with the meter frequently changing are illustrated by Example 5-5, a simple Rumanian Christmas carol with the range of a sixth, with alternation among 3/8, 4/8, and 5/8, and, except for the repetition of the first rhythmic phrase at the end, no recurring metric scheme. This song also illustrates the simple yet irregular structure of some of the Balkan songs. It could be described by the letter scheme ABA, although A and B are not of the same length.
Form in Balkan folk songs
The forms of the Balkan songs do exhibit considerable differ­ences from those of Western Europe. In the latter area, we are over­whelmed by a large number of four-line stanzas, in which we have either progressive developments (ABCD, each line a new melody with no repetition) or some recurrence of the first line. A ABA is very common in German folk music, in the British broadsides, and in modern popular and popular-derived songs. ABBA is common also in the older British ballads, especially in relationship to the curved melodic contour. The reverting forms—AABA and ABBA— are common also in the western part of Eastern Europe, in Czech, Polish, and Hungarian song. AABA especially is found in Czech and Polish music, perhaps because of strong German influence. ABBA is found in Hungarian and other Finno-Ugric groups, but more com­mon is a variant of this form, A A(5) A(5) A, indicating transposi­tion of the first section up or down a fifth for the second and third sections. The use of three sections, such as ABA, with the middle section longer and at a tempo different from that of the first, as in Example 5-5, is sometimes found in the Balkans and also among the Czechs. Songs with two, five, and six or more lines are found throughout the Balkans and in the Baltic area. Often these can be subdivided into asymmetrical units (like the measures in Bulgarian rhythm). A common form in the Rumanian Christmas songs is ABCAC, a form divisible into two main parts, ABC and the some­what truncated AC.
An area of the world as rich in both folk tunes and folk song scholars as the Balkans was perhaps bound to produce pioneer work in the classification of musical forms. Bartok devised a system which he used for his collections of Hungarian, Slovak, Rumanian, and

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III