Accepted paper:

"Beating" seconds against "sweet" thirds: revival of Baltic archaic singing as a protest against normality


Valdis Muktupāvels (University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore performative practices of Baltic (LV, LT) neofolklore groups in the last decades of the 20th century, challenging normative aesthetic views within dominant music spheres. The conceptualisation of these new practices has certain worldview, social and political implications.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how the dominant aesthetics in Baltic folk music and social singing since the period of sentimentalism has been challenged by alternative musical trends in the last decades of the 20th century, particularly focusing on musical folklorism. One of results of musical development in European continent in the last four centuries has been the establishing of functional tonality, represented by major-minor system. The core element of this system, representing the idea of beauty, harmony and consonance in music and forming characteristic triads, is a third. The new types of Baltic folk music from the 18th century and later have clearly characteristics of major-minor system, and so do the interpretations of traditional music since the period of national romanticism. In the last decades of the 20th century, when global grassroots and anti-establishment movements took their shape, it was neofolklore movement in the Baltics, that involved significant segment of population in the search for ancient, therefore valuable forms of traditional culture. Archaic vocal music forms, especially Lithuanian sutartinė and Latvian rotāšana, have musical systems different than major-minor and, consecutively, different aesthetics, the core element of which is a second. I propose to view the confrontation of the two aesthetic systems not as an aesthetic clash, but as a process reflecting significant changes in worldview and having certain social and political implications. Thus, the neofolklore movement was one of alternative cultural forms during Soviet period, and gradually became a strong expression of counterculture.

panel P39
'Alternative' beauty in 'alternative' communities, scenes and subcultures