Thursday, December 10, 2009

12-page PDF file on Swedish folk music

Ronström Owe, "Swedish Folk Music: Originally written for Encyclopaedia of World Music." PDF file at

ment. psalmodikon, but not religious music ... good on modes, history from Middle Ages onward -- the following perspective:
In the construction of the "Swedish national folk music tradition", the
importance of the collectors and researchers often rather narrow
preconceptions of what an "original, authentic, national folk music" is
and should sound like, cannot be overemphasised. From the first articles
published in the early 19th century up to today, the most common
approach to folk music has been a combination of two different
perspectives, the historical and the geographical. The historical
perspective is often a paradoxical combination of evolutionary and
devolutionary ideas: on the one hand folk music is understood to be
constantly developing from simple to complex, from primitive to
cultivated; on the other it is also understood to be constantly corrupted,
distorted, step by step vanishing, through the influence of modernisation
and urbanisation.

From the geographical perspective Sweden is treated either as a single
homogenous unit, or as consisting of several enclosed units, "landskap".
The "landskap", a medieval administrative unit, was reintroduced as a
symbolic "imagined community" in the second half of the 19th century.
Since then it has become firmly established in folk taxonomy, as the main
organising unit of folk traditions.

The historical-geographical perspective was seriously challenged in the
mid 20th century, by the introduction of structural-functionalist ideas,
which underlined forms, functions and social origins of folk music. ...
Owe clearly belongs to the latter group.

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