Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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

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both instruments, accompanying the tunes of the chirula with a drone on the ttun-ttun. Instrumental music is used in dances and for "mascaradas," processions accompanied by dances performed at car­nival time. Again, this custom is one found throughout Europe, but it is preserved in very elaborate form in the Basque country. Cere­monial dances are performed by certain stock characters—the hobby horse, which is surely a remnant of the tournaments of the Middle Ages, the fool, the sweeper, and the lord and the lady. Similar prac­tices are found among the Negroes of Uruguay, where the can-dombe, interestingly enough, features a broom-maker analogous to our "sweeper" (see Chapter 9). There is a sword dance which, like those of France, Spain, and England, was probably originally a representation of the century-long struggle between Christians and Moors. There is also an acrobatic dance in which dancers leap and turn complicated steps around and over a tumbler of wine without upsetting it. The instrumental music is similar in style to the songs, but the song tunes themselves do not normally seem to be used by instrumentalists.
The Basques have also retained a form of the medieval mystery play, called Pastorales. These folk plays make use of interpolated songs which appear at particularly important points in the plot. The themes of the Pastorales are biblical or legendary and frequently hark back to the battles of Christians against Moors in the Iberian peninsula. No matter what the plot, the characters are divided into Moors or Turks dressed in red costumes, and Christians, in blue. The battles for national or cultural survival in Spain and France have evidently had just as great an impact on the development of folklore as have the struggles against the Turks in Yugoslavia, with its epic tradition, or as did the fights between Christian and Tartar in Russia.
Spain and Portugal
There is tremendous variety in the folk music of the Hispanic peninsula, each region having its own styles. There are the special types of music used by the Spanish gypsies, by the Basques, in the southern areas influenced by Arabic music, and in the Provencal section whose music owes much to that of France. Nevertheless, there is also considerable unity: few listeners would fail, after some

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