iistütlejä (n; sing.); lit. “the one who speaks before” (ütlejä– “the one who speaks”, “speaker”; iist – “before”, “ahead”).

One of the terms for a lead singer (see also sõnolinõ, iistvõtja, lauluimä). This term describes the main function of a lead singer in a Setu choir – she (he) must utter the words of the next line to the chorus, which repeats them. The other duty of the leader – to remember the tune – is also important, but not so crucial. The fact that the Setus use the verb “to speak” (ütlema) more often than “to sing” (laulma) when describing their song performance shows that the Setu song tradition (as Estonian regilaul in general) is rather more “text oriented” than “music oriented”.

In accordance with the aforesaid, the requirements for the lead singer concern primarily her (his) ability to remember and to improvise long texts. The quality of the voice is not very important, because iistütleljä usually sings in a recitative manner – with a rather soft voice and faster than the chorus.

The lead singer of the Setu choir should also have managerial skills. The chorus joins the leader on the last syllables of the line or on the refrain. The lead singer shows the moment of the chorus’ entrance by slowing down the tempo and amplifying her (his) voice, or by a short pause, or by a movement of the hand (Tampere 1934: 67). The lead singer is also responsible for keeping the convenient tessitura of the song (see kergütäminõ).

The musical abilities of the lead singer must be sufficient to remember the large corpus of the traditional tunes and to fit the tune to the variable structure of the verse. The creation of new tunes and melodic variations of existing tunes are not the traditional tasks of the Setu iistütlejä. During the chorus line the leader may rest and think through the text of the next line. If the leader sings with the chorus, she (he) joins the main lower part (see torrõ). Some researchers assert that in the choir the leader sings the third part, which is lower than torrõ (Tampere 1934: 62, Garšnek 1953: 33). According to the multitrack recordings made at the end of the 20th century, the lead singer actually may use the lower tune variations (see example 1), but it is not a general rule.

Phrasesiist ütlema – lit. “to speak before” (ütlema – “to speak”, “to say”, iist – “before”, “ahead”).



killõ (n; sing.); lit. “bright”, “shrill”, “high”.

1. The name of the upper part in Setu multipart singing. Killõ is a subsidiary part which is sung by a solo voice. This part functions as an embellishment and moves along the two or three upper degrees of the scale.

There are three principles for how the killõ part can be structured: 
(1) syllabic drone on the upper scale degree with resolutions to the tonic at the ends of the phrases (only in archaic tunes based on one-three-semitone mode [For more information on the Setu one-three-semitone mode see Pärtlas 2000, 2006b.]) (see example 1); 
(2) realization of “harmonic rhythm” [For more information on the “harmonic rhythm” in Setu folk songs see Pärtlas 2001, 2006a.] of the tune on two or three upper scale degrees (in both older and newer tunes) (see example 2, sound example 2); 
(3) motion in parallel thirds with main melody occurring periodically during the strophe as an addition to second principle (mostly in newer diatonic tunes).

The general meaning of the word killõ (“bright”, “shrill”, high”) points to a specific timbre peculiar to this part. The timbre contrast between torrõ and killõ is an important feature of the Setu singing style.

The carriers of tradition attach great importance to the killõ part and killõ singer. The performance of the songs is not possible without killõ and the quality of choir’s sound depends mainly on the killõ singer. The requirements for the killõ, unlike those for the lead singer (see iistütlejä), are of a musical kind. The killõ singer must be able to sing with chest voice in a high register and have a very strong ringing voice which can be heard against the background of torrõ singers (usually 5-6, sometimes even 20 people). The killõ singer must also have great endurance, since the Setu songs are often very long.

“Mehidse Anne had very big killõ! And she sang her killõ with 23 singers. It was very beautiful killõ! When we were returning from the concert tour in Tallinn, we sang all the time [The trip from Tallinn to Setumaa takes about 3.5 hours. – Ž. P.] and her killõ was not yet tired. [Mehidse Annel oll nii suur killõ! Ja tä laul 23 laulja siäh oma killõ araq. Väega illos killõ oll! Ku tullimi Talinast esinemäst, sis terve tii laulimi ja tä killõ viil arq es väsüq.]” (Interview with Liidia Lind (2004, Andreas Kalkun) – Kalkun 2004: 27

The absence of the killõ singer is often the reason why Setu singers refuse to perform songs. Of a killõ who has a too weak or flat voice, they say matal killõ (“low killõ”) or mahe killõ (“mild killõ”). The good killõ is kõva (“strong, loud”), suur(“big”), illos (“beautiful”). The duty of the killõ singer is also to keep the right balance between torrõ and killõ

“With regard to the killõ, the thing is that if there are very many torrõs, killõ has to take it more loudly. If, however, the torrõ is poor, the killõ has to restrain herself (himself). She (he) must not shout too loudly. [Killõga om ka sääne lugu, et ku veiga palljo om torrõsit, sis piat õks killõ kõvõbahe võtma, a kui om nõrk torrõ, sis piat jal killõ tagasi hoidma. Saa-ai nii kõvastõ ka' hõigata.]” (Interview with Maria Kala (2003, Õie Sarv) – www.sarv.ee/setokolledz/laulunaase.htm)

2. The term for a singer who sings the killõ part.



torrõ (n; sing.); lit. “low” (about voice); “splendid”, “gorgeous”.

1. The name of the lower part in Setu multipart singing. Torrõ is a main part, which is sung heterophonically by chorus. The torrõ part repeats, usually with extensions and alternations, the leader’s melody.

The divergences between individual melodic lines within the torrõ part are not consciously designed by the singers. If they are asked about it they usually explain: “Torrõs sing on one voice (tune) [Torrõd laulavad ühe häälega]”. At the same time the singers recognize that they do not sing in strict unison.

Sometimes one of the torrõ singers sings lower tune variations than others. Ethnomusicologists refer to this part as “the lower torrõ” [alumine torrõ], but there is no special folk term for such a voice. In the presence of “the lower torrõ” the texture of Setu songs approaches three-part singing with the main melody in the middle voice (see example 1).

The etymology of the term torrõ is not clear. It is possible that the second (more general) meaning of this word – “splendid”, “gorgeous” – points to the pleasant sound of torrõ voices, but this connection is, however, questionable. There are also some other associations: toro (“pipe”), toores (“raw”, “rough”, “rude”). The dictionary of Võru dialect gives the following example of the use of the word torrõ: “he (she) spoke in a low voice as if from the bottom of the tun” [kynõlõs torrõ helügaq, niguq pütüpõh'ast] (www.folklore.ee/cgi-bin/v6ros6nastik). This description seems to some extent characterize the vocal manner of torrõ singers (especially men).

2. The term for singers who sing the torrõ part.