Accepted Paper:

Folklore archives and Estonian traditional music and dance today  


Taive Särg (Estonian Literary Museum)
Sille Kapper (Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will be about causal relations and meanings of traditional folk dance and folk song in Estonia: how and what kind of folklore material has been circulated to archives and back again, and which collective ideals are revealed in that contemporary reality of traditional dancing and singing.

Paper long abstract:

In contemporary Estonia the vernacular concepts of 'traditional folk dance', 'folk song' and 'traditional song' range from the imagination of older 'peasantry' folklore forms fixed in archival records to the use of those forms or their elements today in participatory as well as presentational settings.

During the project we investigated what kind of folk dance and song material has been circulated from the field to archives and back again, how it was is used, and what the dynamics of dancing and singing in different communities and contexts is like. For the purpose of the holistic and interdisciplinary claims of the analysis the importance of audiovisual dance/song recordings combined with high quality context and metadata could not be overestimated. As the organic medium of a dancing and live community singing 'text' can never be fixed in archival records, a combination of various media is the way to retain the complexity of the research objectives and minimize the inevitable gaps that arise when data are transmitted from living human body and its movement to a record in audiovisual, verbal or graphic format. The analysis of versatile archival records in their cultural context may lead to reliable conclusions about those collective ideals emerging and acting in contemporary reality of traditional dancing, singing and culture in general.

The research was supported by ETF grant no. 9132

Panel P51
The role of archives in the circulation chain of tradition