Monday, December 29, 2014

Manifestations of the Drone in the Tradition of Lithuanian Polyphonic Singing

Daiva Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė
(pdf Link)

"We have reason to suppose the roots of collective (ostinato, bourdon) singing are quite deep. Apparently, the aforesaid examples, where [there are] functional chords sound, have been influenced by homophonic polyphonic thinking. The oldness of bourdon singing tradition in Lithuania could be witnessed [demonstrated] by some other facts."

"There was recorded some examples of collective sutartines Buvo du–doj velnias (‘Was a devil in a Bagpipe’) in Švenèionys region (East Lithuania bordering with Byelorussia) which is famous for its preserved particularly old customs, traditions, dialect and folklore. According to a respondent, this sutartinë imitated music of a bagpipe (Raèiunaite.-Vyèiniene. 2000b: 98) and its strange text attracts our attention (Raèiunaite.-Vyèiniene. 2002a: 312; 2000b: 98; 2004: 20–21) (see ex. 8)."

"In the usual variations of this type of sutartines there are texts about ‘a pipe in Vilnius’ or ‘uncle (old woman) in Vilnius’. Apparently, the connections of a bagpipe and a devil (or other unearthly being) are not casual. We are particularly interested in a bass part singing a continuous sound u–-u–-u– as if imitating a devil’s voice. It is worth remembering that once upon a time various nations considered a produced humming sound as an unearthly one, (by the way, it was unimportant how that sound had been made, i. e. by what instrument it was played) (Encyklopedia instrumentow muzycznych…; Klotin,š, Muktupavels 1989; Musikinstrumente der Welt…; Ole² dzki 1978; Sachs 1975; Ñóçóêåé, 1993, etc.) . It might be said, in the past any making of continuous low sounds or their monotonous repetition was conceived as somebody’s (more often as an unearthly being’s) buzzing, droning, murmuring."

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