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
FRANCE, ITALY, AND THE IBERIAN PENINSULA IO5
an example performed on the hurdy-gurdy (French vielle, but not to be confused with an early type of viol also called by that name). The tune is heptatonic, using both F and F-sharp, and could be con­sidered as being in major if it also made use of the note A. Its form is characteristic of many dance tunes in various parts of Europe (even the Cheremis near the Urals use it), repeating a phrase with first and second endings, then repeating the pair, and then going on to a contrasting phrase that is repeated in the same fashion. The in­strument used gives this piece an especially interesting character. The hurdy-gurdy—not to be confused with the barrel organ known also by that name—is widespread in Western Europe and goes back at least to the ninth century, when it was known as organistrum. It has a number of strings, all but one of which are used as drones. The single melody string has mechanical stops which are activated by a keyboard. Sound is produced by a rosined wheel which touches all strings simultaneously and which is turned constantly so that the music consists of unbroken melodic line accompanied by drone; this gives the music a bagpipe-like effect.
The importance of melodies accompanied by drones is remarka­ble in European folk music, perhaps sufficiently so to make this one of the special characteristics of Europe. The drone is of great im­portance in Middle and Near Eastern music as well, however. A number of otherwise unrelated instruments seem fashioned especially for use as drones. Besides the hurdy-gurdy there is, of course, the bagpipe (which is common in France, known as comemtise, and was evidently popular there for centuries, as is attested by the many pieces entitled entitled "Musette" in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century art music). The double flutes or clarinets of the Balkans, such as the Yugoslav dvojnice, use one pipe for melody, the other for drone. The dulcimer is frequently used in similar fashion. But even in the music of instruments that because of their structure are not especially suited to drones, the drone principle is often present. Thus, Anglo-American fiddle players often strike open strings in addition to the melody tones, producing a kind of interrupted drone effect. And the chordal accompaniment on instruments such as the banjo and the guitar frequently revolves around a single chord, which gives an effect related to the drone.
In spite of regional diversity and even though archaic styles of French music exist in isolated pockets, the predominant style of







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