Multipart singing
in the Balkans and in the Mediterranean

Investigating Multipart Music in Europe

Multipart music represents one of the most fascinating phenomena in European folk music. It has therefore been a favoured object of research for a long time, particularly in the na-tional framework. Regional studies, which extend beyond of the political boundaries, are, however, rare and sporadic. Since, as a rule, regional and the political boundaries in Europe do not coincide, there is an almost untouched area for research in European folk music. Therefore due to the search for specific characteristics of European identity at this time, the establishment of a “Research Centre for European Multipart Music” as an international network of specialists seems to have become more than necessary.

Because of the great diversity of the multipart music in Europe, a thorough examination can only be made through a concentration on specific topics and areas. Following these analysis the Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna has initiated the project devoted to the remarkable features of multipart singing on the Balkans and in the European Mediterranean.

Researchers for the most part from the countries concerned, discussed about the subject during the symposium “European voices” in Vienna in March 2005 from the historical per-spective and the present context. During the preparation work for more than one year the current status of the investigations and spread of this music were published at the web site www.mdw.ac.at/I121/html/emm. Live performances of brilliant singing groups emphasized the ‘multipart’ message of the activities.

Similarities and differences between musical traditions showed the different perceptions of this music in various areas. Different research traditions could also be recognized. All that demonstrated why there is no agreement in a wide range of terms beginning with “multi-part” or “polyphonic music”. Therefore the relations between folk terminology and musical phenomena would be important in the next steps.

More information:
2008. Ahmedaja, Ardian und Gerlinde Haid (eds.). European Voices I. Multipart Singing in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. CD and DVD with audio and video examples included. Schriften zur Volksmusik. Band 22. Vienna: Boehlau Verlag.