Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Smithsonian folklife presents Basque music
The Smithsonian Folk-life Festival starting today on the Mall in Washington DC emphasizes the culture and music of the Basque region of northern Spain, and SW France, which I had visited in April-May 2001.
Much of the material was presented in Basque language . There also a section of California affected by immigrant culture.
I saw a costumed folkdancing demonstration, which was mostly in waltz-like rhythms.
Then there was a 45-minute concert of folk music played by two accordions, various homemade wind instruments (used in agriculture to call animals), and unusual percussion. The rhythms sometimes vacillate from triple to quadruple or duple, resulting in syncopated sequences of 5/4 or 7/4 time briefly. The harmonies are fairly simple, and the themes are laid out in stanzas in straightforward fashion. The music is tonal, and does not have a lot of modern dissonance.