Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Mededovic in Bijelo Polje, he tried the following experiment. Avdo had been singing and dictating for weeks; he had shown his worth and was aware that we valued him highly. Another singer came to us, Mumin Vlahovljak from Plevlje. He seemed to be a good singer and he had in his repertory a song that Parry discovered was not known to Avdo; Avdo said he had never heard it before. Without telling Avdo that he would be asked to sing the song himself when Mumin had finished it, Parry set Mumin to singing, but he made sure that Avdo was in the room and listening. When the song came to an end, Avdo was asked his opinion of it and whether he could now sing it himself. He replied that it was a good song and that Mumin had sung it well, but that he thought he might sing it bet­ter. The song was a long one of several thousand lines. Avdo began and as he sang, the song lengthened, the ornamentation and richness accumulated, and the human touches of character, touches that dis­tinguished Avdo from other singers, imparted a depth of feeling that had been missing in Mumin's version.4
Scales and intervals: Bulgaria, Greece, Poland
The use of small intervals—some microtones, but more frequently minor seconds—is an important feature of some Balkan styles outside the epic tradition. The importance of ornamentation seems to have contributed to this predilection, for vocal ornaments as well as in­strumental ones seem especially made for the use of small intervals. Thus a Macedonian song uses a scale with the tones E-flat, D, C, B, and A-sharp. The fact that the ranges of Balkan songs are, typically, small may also be a contributing factor. According to Kremenliev,5 Bulgarian songs rarely exceed an octave in range, and a great many of them are within the compass of a fifth. Occasionally one even finds two-tone melodies with only a minor second between the tones. Ornaments in Bulgarian folk song are improvised; they vary from stanza to stanza and, in one song, from singer to singer. Their pur­pose may be that of pleasing the audience through vocal virtuosity, of calling attention to the song or to particular words (this is evi­dently the purpose of melismatic passages preceding a song, a prac-
4 Lord, The Singer of Tales, p. 78.
5 Boris Kremenliev, Bulgarian-Macedonian Folk Music (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1952), p. 78.

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