Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Styrian folk music


The Styrian folk music is part of the Alpenländische Volksmusik. This folk music genre is mostly represeted in other German-speaking alpine countries like Bavaria, Switzerland and South Tyrol. The Slovenian folk music is similar to the Alpenländische Volksmusik.

The Styrian folk music is orginated in the German-speaking Alpine coutries and has developed in the different folks. musical skills and music were given from mouth to mouth to the next generation over many years. Already in the middle ages this folk music was written down.

Because this folk music was given by word of mouth to the next generation, there are some variantions of every composition. Repeats and simply harmonies are attributes for the Styrian folk music. Major keys are used frequently. The songs are composed of a main voice and a soprano voice which is a third higher. There can also be a tenor voice.

Styrians are among the most enthusiastic singers and musicians in the Alpine region. At the end of the 20th century, the most frequently played instruments were the diatonic button accordion, clarinet, trombone, violin, viola, double bass, trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor horn, zither, dulcimer and guitar. 

Styrian songs for groups of singers include the love song, yodels, folk ballads, meadow songs, workers' and handworkers' songs, lullabies, Christmas songs and some funny and satirical songs and drinking songs. Since around 1980, there has been talk of the "New Styrian Music". The creators include contemporary composers such as Kurt Muthspiel, Franz Koringer, Lorenz Maierhofer, and many more.

The technical developments in the second half of the 20th century (record players, cassettes, radio, TV and video) have lead to an enormous increase in folk music. Influences from beyond the Austrian borders and from other musical styles have also had their effect across the whole region. Today there are more people singing and making music than ever before.

Love: Eighty percent of all Austrian folk songs are love songs. Records of love songs can be traced back to the 16th century. There has always been a strong exchange with artistic music. The motifs are those of singing of the pains of love on separation and departure, or vice-versa of the joy of love, or the virtues of the loved one. Erotic songs very often contain hidden innuendos to the act of love. Songs that describe the suitor's experiences when climbing up to their sweetheart's window, or visits to mountain slopes, or which in former times were sung by young men at the windows of their sweetheart's chambers, are a special form of folk music. They are often written as dialogues. Some pieces are composed to express love, or thanks to the composer's wife, children and friends.

Work: Work songs describe professions, their working environment and their status in society. They proudly relate the importance of a profession, poke fun at it, or complain of adversity and poverty. The latter can even go so far as to referring to revolution.
The rise of industrialisation gave birth to songs that protest against the use of machines. In many cases, work songs actually refer to love using work activities as a metaphor for erotic innuendo.
On top of this there are songs that coordinate joint work by virtue of their rhythm. Some trades used calls or calling songs to communicate with each other across a distance or to praise something.

Childhood: Children's songs are characterised by specific content, motifs and musical structures. The are characterised by the combination of song, rhyme and game. They specifically include verses of endearment, teasing, and tickling, rhymes for bouncing children on your new and counting rhymes. Symbols play a central role.
In lullabies in particular they are depicted as figures, images and fairy tale elements. Since the "Aufklärung" there have been children's songs with an educational function.
Other types of singing integrate children into customs, such as carol singing at Epiphany.

Narratives: Narrative songs are characterised by their tale telling character and comprise many verses. The content can range from natural phenomena and events through to mythology. Especially in times without modern media they served to entertain, spread information and news.
The ballad is the best known form. It occurs time and time again in artistic music for example in Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig".

History: The historical song is typically short-lived due to the event, the contemporary political or historic context, which it describes. Important events in history, such as wars, sieges, reforms, power struggles are dealt with here. Often, the songs contain criticism against the authorities, politicians, or the state of economy; and it was not uncommon for the authors to be punished for publishing them.
Exceptions lived on beyond their temporal context and are now synonymous with heroism, resistance or national pride.
The problems of more recent times, such as pollution or affluent society have been picked up by critical songs or in cabaret since the 1970s.

Sociability: This group contains all songs that serve to entertain. They are sung and played in good company at home, in taverns or at celebrations. "Gstanzl" is a popular form of entertainment in this category. They are typically accompanied by dancing, and dancing songs are sung. Viennese songs and music in particular are for entertainment only. Drinking songs have been traced back to the 13th century, and reached the first climax of their popularity around 1600. The topics and motifs focus on drinking, women and the self-portrayal of the drinker and his philosophy of life. The 18th century saw the first "Lumpenlieder", vagabonds songs that jokingly and self-ironically portray a debauched lifestyle, decline and downfall.

Homeland: Due to industrialisation, upheaval in social standings, the migration this entailed, and the people's enthusiasm for folk songs, the homeland song became popular in around 1830.
Viewed from a remote location, the homeland is described and praised in a sentimental way, often involving clichés and kitschy descriptions. Texts and melodies often provoke an emotional effect. Many homeland songs were written by composers and local authors and were popularised by school song books and choirs. The best known examples are anthems that exalt countries and their acts, and provide a sense of identity.
Parallel to the classic homeland song, many other folk songs refer to the environment and nature, especially in Alpen, hunting or poaching songs.

Religion: Traditional religious folk music developed from singing in church. It can be traced back to the middle ages. The rise of Protestantism and the invention of printing introduced not only the German language and singing in the church, but also the religious folk song outside of the church. These songs are closely knit with faith, religious functions and the customs related to them. In the course of the seasons, they relate to Christmas, Easter, some Saints' days, pilgrimages and rogation processions. Weddings and deaths play a central role when songs refer to the life of humans.
In many cases religious songs are characterised by lead singing and repetition, or by Latin lyrics.

Alisa Wimmer

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