Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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

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rice common also in the Yugoslav epics), or imitating instrumental passages.
Greek folk music, like that of some other Balkan countries, seems to be a combination of archaic and more recent melodies and contains a tremendous diversity of styles. It is possible to find traces of the ancient Greek modes, and many Greek songs fit perfectly into the system of the diatonic modes. Many other songs, however, are more chromatic. Perhaps the combination of these two concepts-diatonic modes with small, chromatic steps—is responsible for the existence of heptatonic scales that have four minor seconds, such as the so-called Gypsy scale: C-D-E flat-F sharp-G-A flat-B. In most ways, however, Greek folk music seems to show the influences of centuries of Turkish and Muslim occupation. What remains of the ancient Greek traits seems best preserved in Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean.
One of the most interesting folk song types of the Greeks is the "Klephtic song." The Klephts (meaning bandits in Turkish) were the men who fought for Greek independence against the Turks from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Klephtic songs deal with these fighters, who have become folk heroes, in a way somewhat similar to that of the Yugoslav epics. These songs are performed in a rubato manner, with much ornamentation and complex metric ar­rangements. They do have a strop hie structure, but the melodic and poetic forms do not coincide; in fact, the musical line ordinarily cov­ers one and a half textual lines. Thus, in a sense the modern Greeks share in the epic traditions of Eastern Europe.
Polish folk music is quite different from that of the Balkans and also from that of the Czechs and Slovaks. It is more closely related to that of Russia. The oldest layer of songs is pentatonic, but the majority make use of seven-tone scales, which can be classed as church modes. Those modes similar to the minor mode, with lowered sixth and seventh or lowered third, are the most common; this is true also of Russian folk music. In contrast to Russia, Poland has little polyphonic folk music and what part-singing there is seems to be of recent origin and emphasizes parallel thirds. The range of the songs is relatively small. A peculiarity of the singing style—typical perhaps of many and varied peculiarities of singing through Europe that never seem to appear in the printed collections of folk songs-is the practice of holding the final note of a song for several seconds, or of trailing off with a downward glissando.

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