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Gjama  

Bledar Kondi

Albanian funeral crying. Gjama represents the most powerful form of male funeral crying in Albanian tradition. Though the communist regime repressed the violent expression of tribal gjamë (1955–90) in the inaccessible mountains of northern Albania, it was revived again after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The term gjamë comprises a rich spectrum of complementary meanings such as ‘catastrophe’, ‘bad news’, ‘thunderbolt’, ‘woe’, and ‘shouting’. According to their relationship with the deceased ‘it should be shouted three times for the dead, repeating nine times the words “woe is me …” and step towards the dead’; ‘men who shout and groan upon the dead beat their foreheads and temples with fists and scratch their faces’ (E Drejta Zakonore Shqipëtare 1989: 448-9). The men’s ritual gjamë in Malësia e Dukagjinit is composed of explosive parallel shouting and spasmodic cacophonic groaning (see ex.1), synchronized epic postures and free self-aggressive gesticulations, strategic martial moving and cultic veneration of the dead. ...

Article

Bledar Kondi

Genre of epic songs in northern Albania and Kosovo sung to the accompaniment of the lahutë, a one-string bowed instrument. Kreshnik derives from Serbo-Croatian krajišnik, a ‘frontier warrior’ and it signifies a ‘noble hero’ in Albanian cultural context. These borderland songs are generally known as songs of Muji and Halil, both sons of a Turkish knight praised by Albanian mountain dwellers as heroes of resistance against south-Slavic expansion. Field recordings by M. Parry and A. Lord in Bosnia and Albania (1934–7) comprise full epic songs performed by bilingual male singers in the Albanian and Serbo-Croatian languages. Some scholars argue that north-Albanian rhapsodists have adopted the Bosnian heroic cycle of krajishnice together with the Serbo-Croatian decasyllabic meter, the deseterac, but the majority does not contest the authenticity of Albanian repertory. Unlike kangë trimash (songs of valiant men), which describe real persons and extol their deeds in national liberation, social revolt, blood feud, or banditry, ...

Article

Bledar Kondi

[Majekrahi songs]

Song genre. The term majekrahi refers to a vocal communication system and a traditional musical repertory in northern Albania, Kosovo, and the Albanophone highlands of Montenegro. It comprises antiphonic cries, homophonic songs, and instrumental pieces performed exclusively by men. According to the ‘Kanun of Lek Dukagjin’ [the self-administered, customary law of the mountains] a ‘clan herald has to cry out … from a specified site’. The herald cups his left ear with the left palm and then cups the open mouth ‘to pour out his voice’ (me derdhë zanin) in space while the receiver cups the right ear and sometimes closes with his index finger his left ear to hear better. This bodily position for vocal articulation is called majekrahit (‘over the peak of the arm’). The ‘mountain telegraph’ served in the past primarily for war cries and death announcements. The melodised cries are performed asqerçe (in the style of Ottoman soldiers) or ...

Article

Christopher Balme

The dances and music of the Polynesian peoples have had varying impact on the United States over the last one and half centuries. Of greatest importance are Hawaiian music and dance, including musical instruments such as the Pedal steel guitar and Ukulele, and practices such as the Hula (see Hawaii). Owing to US colonial involvement in the region, exchange and influences transcend just the Hawaiian connection. For the 1909 production Inside the Earth at the New York Hippodrome 50 Maori performers were imported from New Zealand for the season. To promote her 1926 silent film, Aloma of the South Seas, the dancer Gilda Gray toured with a Polynesian band, The Royal Samoans, and performed her “Polynesian dance” before showings. The Royal Samoans capitalized on the craze for Hawaiian and Tahitian music and dancing. They performed throughout the United States in the interwar period, even obtaining a live cameo in the ...

Article

Shane K. Bernard

Musical genre combining New Orleans rhythm-and-blues, country-and-western, and Cajun and black Creole music. Invented in the mid-1950s by teenaged Cajuns and black Creoles, the sound hails from the 22 parish Acadiana region of south Louisiana, as well as a small portion of east Texas.

Most swamp pop pioneers were born during the period 1935 to 1945. As children they imbibed French-language performances by Cajun and black Creole musicians; some played Cajun or black Creole music. They also listened to country-and-western music, and, coming of age in the 1950s, the new rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll sounds. Putting aside the fiddle and accordion, young “swamp poppers” embraced the lilting piano triplet style of Fats Domino’s love ballads. They also borrowed from Domino and other New Orleans artists the emotive saxophone sections, the electric guitar and bass, and the modern drumming trap set.

Swamp pop, however, is more than merely a duplicate of New Orleans rhythm-and-blues. Country-and-western roots help to set swamp pop apart from its more urbane counterpart, as do, most importantly, the infusion of Cajun and rural black Creole elements. For example, swamp pop musicians recorded rock-and-roll versions of Cajun and black Creole songs, and they sang both in French and Cajun-accented English. Swamp pop has thus been described wittily as “half Domino and half fais do-do” (the latter term referring to the Cajun house dance tradition)....