Centres of Polyphony


Unlike the Bulgarian traditions of vocal polyphony that are spread through only the Southwestern part of the country, a big part of Serbian ethnic territory is quite homogenous in terms of the distribution of the tradition of vocal polyphony. The only region where vocal polyphony has not been documented is Southwest Serbia and Kosovo (where Serbs actually represent the minority. Forry, 2000a:953). onal styles of vocal polyphony can be distinguished in Serbia: eastern into a drone-like section with the sharp second. The scale system is very specific for this region. Two main regi and western. The difference between them is mostly expressed in the position of the main melody and the accompanying part. The eastern Serbian polyphonic style (or more precisely, the Southeastern style) is quite close to the Bulgarian and Macedonian styles, with the drone in the lower part and the predominance of sharp secondal dissonances. Only two-part singing has been documented here. Songs are always performed by the soloist and a group of basses. Soloist always starts the song and the group ( drone) joins the soloist with a drone. The lead melody usually has a small range (third or fourth). The drone is often pedal (sung on “a”). The rhythm is free (rubato). Serbs sing with open voice, with a tense sound, emphasizing and obviously enjoying dissonant intervals. Unlike the Southeastern style of Serbian polyphony, according to Forry, the western style positions the accompanying part higher than the main melody (Forry, 2000a:942-943).

In the western (or Northwestern) Serbian polyphonic style, unlike the Southeastern style, both parts move, so it is not as easy to label them easily as “main” and “accompanying”. The lower voice of the western Serbian polyphonic style is more melodically active, mostly because of the downwards jumping performance style. Despite melodic activity, this part still might be the accompanying part. This part is closer to the specific accompanying part in some Balkan polyphonic styles (for example, among the Labs from Albania). Among the Labs this part sings a repetitive downwards-jumping melody just under the drone. In Serbia this part behaves in the same way, although there is no drone in this Serbian style and this part follows the top part in a more heterophonic manner. The cadences are of particular interest, as here heterophony changes109 It repre sents an interesting mixture of elements of chromatic and diatonic scales (for example: F, Gflat, and Adouble flat in some songs). The same type of scale is spread among the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina polyphonic songs as well. Here is an example of small-range dissonant two-part singing from Serbia: Ex. 50. West Serbia. (Kaufman, 1968:#263) As in many other parts of the Europe, there is a late polyphonic style in Serbia as well, based on the use of parallel thirds, and finishing on a cadencial fifth at the end of the mu akes a specific cadencial movement from the initial tonic a fourth downwards. Interestingly, this late style sometimes also uses the drone in the accomp Both the more archaic style (with the use of dissonant seconds) and the recent style (based on parallel thirds) are based on two-part polyphony (Golemovich, 1983):

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