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  • Rosenberg, Susanne
    Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Department of Folk Music.
    Abstract [en]

    Recordings and transcriptions of polyphonic singing is rare to find in the Swedish-speaking areas of the Nordic countries. The dominating tradition is a solo tradition. This paper present and discuss strategies in polyphonic singing in some rare recordings from the Swedish-speaking areas and sets them in relation to descriptions of older communal collective singing from the 19th century and back.

    The phonograph recordings were made in 1908 in the Swedish speaking parts of southern Finland. These are the oldest recordings of singing in Swedish language and present polyphonic singing with two singers, at the time well-known (Ahlbäck, 2003; Häggman, 1992).

    The singing style shows features much alike traditional solo singing from the Nordic countries: relatively high register for male voice, singing on nasal consonants etc. (Gjertsen, 1985; Ramsten & Jersild, 1988; Rosenberg, 1986, 1993, 2009). The tonality is modal in “herding-call mode” (Ahlbäck, 1986), with strong focus on tonal center, fifth and fourth. The singers change roles during their singing and present independent melodic lines including ornamentation and microtonality in the polyphonic setting, with phrases often ending on same pitch.


    What are the strategies of the two singers? This paper presents a view that both singers hold in their memory a kind of framework of the melodic idea of “the song” rather than a melodic line with an accompaniment. Suggesting that the singers have a perception of the mode, lyrics and melodic framework, but that the interpretation, the exact version of the song never comes out the same. This concept has been pointed out and described by e.g. Bronson (Bronson, 1969)


    Susanne Rosenberg is a professor in folk singing and Doctor of Music (DocMus) at the Royal College of Music, Sweden. She is also a well-known singer and has been a pioneer in rediscovering old singing styles and polyphonic singing in an innovative way, using traits from old tradition both Swedish and elsewhere to form music of today as presented both on CD and articles. Read more https://heartbeatbreathe.com/