In Estonia an essential part of folk music research and coordinating of activities in this field falls to the Folk Music Department of the Institute of the Estonian Language at the Estonian Academy of Sciences, the Department being supervised by Dr. Ingrid Rüütel. This department carries out cooperation with universities and other institutions of folklore and culture (Estonian Folklore Archive, Folk Culture Centre, Viljandi Culture College). The researchers take part in a number of organizations and societies with corresponding interests (Folklore Association Baltica, Foundation Fenno-Ugria, Academic Folklore Society, Estonian Language Society, Folklore Society etc.). The major areas of work are summarized as follows:
1. Research, documentation and publication of Estonian traditional music. In the research of traditional music in Estonia the main studies have concerned the most ancient categories of vocal music: pre-song genres (lamentations, imitations of natural sounds, incantations, herding calls, commands, vocal dialogues by herdsmen, etc.); the oldest folk song melodies (structure, acoustic characteristics, typology, reference to texts and song categories, performance); their regard to the Finno-Ugric and the Baltic cultural context. The changes of traditional culture in contemporary environment have been observed with particular interest.
The most important skill in this filed is thesis for habilitated Dr.Phil by I. Rüütel: Estonian Folk Music Layers in the context of Ethnic Relations. Abstract of the thesis of the habilitated doctor of humanities in the field of folklore studies. Vytautas magnus University. Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. Vilnius 1995.23 p. Vaike Sarv's dissertation on Setu lamentations is on complection.
The Folk Music Department issues a series entitled "Ars Musicae Popularis" where the most recent publications are:
Anu Vissel: Eesti karjaselaulud IV. Põhja- ja Lääne-Eesti karjaselaulud. Ars Musicae Popularis 11. Tallinn 1992, 135 pp. (Estonian Herding Songs IV. Herding Songs from North and West Estonia) (in Estonian, summaries in English and Russian). /This is the last volume of the academic publications of Estonian herding vocal music./
Ingrid Rüütel: Istoricheskiye plasty estonskoy narodnoy pesni v kontekste etnicheskihh otnosheniy. Ars Musicae popularis 12. Tallinn 1994, 99 pp. (Historical Layers of the Estonian Folk Song in the Context of Ethnic Relations) (in Russian). /Collected articles discussing essential problems of the older layer of the Estonian song tradition from the perspective of ethnic relations: historic development of the Baltic Finnic folk song, the archaic non-runoverse song genres, layers and peculiarities of the song tradition of the Setu group from South East Estonia./
The folk music researchers have compiled some anthologies of Estonian folk music recordings:
"Voix des Pays Baltes. Chants traditionnels de Lettonie, Lituanie, Estonie. Documents d'archives. INEDIT Maison des Cultures du Monde. Paris 1994. Estonian recordings compiled by Vaike Sarv.
"Suu laulab, süda muretseb". Estonian folk songs and instrumental music. CD. Tallinn 1994. Compiled by Ingrid Rüütel.
In addition to anthologies several cassettes of Estonian instrumental music have been released.
A continuous task of the department has been the documentation and research of folk music of other Finno-Ugric traditions (Votic, Vepsic, Livonian, Hanty and Mansi). During the recent years a particular interest has been focused on the Samoyed (Nganassan and Nenets) issues. In 1995 Triinu Ojamaa had completed the thesis "From the confines of Music Nganassan Bird and Animal Sound Imitations" about her documentation and studies of Nganassan and Nenets traditional music. In summer 1994 she contributed extra field work material from the Yamal-Nnenets National District on the Yamal Peninsula. Last time she is concentrating on the relation between the tune and text in North Samoyed songs. We have continued to audio and video record the Finno-Ugric folk musicians and singers who have visited Estonia. Some LP and cassette recordings have been released with the Estonian Folklore Archive material ("Folk Songs of Ingerian Finns". C 80. Tallinn 1994. Compiled by Ingrid Rüütel).
The department continues to document and record Estonian traditional music and its cultural context. During the course of years it has become customary that the collected material is assigned to the central archive, that is to Estonian Folklore Archive in Tartu. In order to conceive the contemporary folklore process, strictly ethnomusicological, folklore or wider sociological projects have been carried out which include questionnaires among both broad and restricted social groups. K. Kuutma is finishing her M.A. thesis "A socio-cultural treatment of folk parties from the village party to the song festival. Last years Anu Vissel has followed the situation, structure and the tendencies of the parents songlore.
The current information on the Estonian ethnomusicology can be find from the homepage of the Estonian folklore: http://haldjas.folklore.ee./rli.
2. Cooperation with folklorists and scholars in other neighboring fields. The compilation of the large-scale publication "Vana Kannel" (Monumenta Estoniae Antiqua) continues as the joint work of folklorists and ethnomusicologists, and the next volumes will present the traditions from parishes Jõhvi-Iisaku, Kihnu, Lüganuse.
Recent years the ethnomusicologists have had good contacts with linguist and researchers of acoustics of Tartu University. T. Ojamaa has taken part in several common projects with the Finno-Ugric linguists. She and T. Särg have improve herself under supervision of Dr. Jaan Ross.
Music researchers participate also in short-term local projects. With the aim of studying and promoting local traditions, the researchers have joined local municipalities in compiling and publishing regional surveys of traditional culture. In 1992 was issued the first collection of such kind, which included contributions by folklorists, archaeologists, dialectologists, ethnographers, ethnochoreologists and ethnomusicologists: Virumaa rahvakultuurist (The Traditional Culture of Virumaa). Ed. by I. Rüütel. Tallinn 1992, 294 pp. The volumes from Saaremaa and Tartumaa are in print. Preliminary works continue with materials from various regions.
3. International cooperation. International cooperation may be divided into two subdivisions: continual contacts with Finno-Ugric and Baltic ethnomusicologists, and the recently broadened international cooperation.
Finno-Ugric researchers of traditional music have arranged joint seminars, conferences, scholarly publications already for decades. Since the re-establishment of independent Estonia have re-opened the Kinship Days during the 2nd week in October, when all over Estonia are arranged meetings with Finno-Ugric cultural figures and folklore groups, academic conferences discussing Finno-Ugric aspects of various linguistic, folkloristic, ethnomusicological, political, etc. issues. The organizing body of these events has always included researchers of traditional music. During the Kinship Week in 1993 took place a Finno-Ugric conference "Authentic Folklore and the Contemporary Folklore Movement". Finno-Ugrian ethnomusicologists and folklore movement specialists analyzed the various situations of traditional folk culture with various people, and discussed the possibilities how to protect that heritage from the aggressive mass culture. One topic was also current reciprocal relations between traditional, professional and mass culture.
On October 17-20, 1996 an international conference "Folk Song and Music as the Carrier of Identity and the Object of Cultural Exchange" was arranged in Estonia where the researchers of Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania) and Finno-Ugric (Vepsic, Saami, Finnish, Mari, Mordvinian, Udmurt, Hungarian, Hanty and Estonian folk music and song met.
On the other hand there has developed an international cooperation on a wider scale. Estonian scholars have attended conferences arranged by the Nordic Institute of Folklore in Turku (1992: A. Johanson, I. Rüütel, T. Särg, A. Vissel); in Copenhagen (1993: I. Rüütel, A. Vissel). In 1994 the UNESCO Year of Family was celebrated by the Nordic Institute of Folklore and the Institute of Estonian Language with a joint conference "Family as the Tradition Carrier". It took place on 20-24 May in North Estonia (Võsu) where family problems were analyzed by folklorists, ethnomusicologists, ethnographers, sociologists, family researchers from Scandinavia, Baltic and Finno-Ugric countries. One third of the presentations dealt with ethnomusicology and discussed the Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Ingerian Finnish, Estonian, Mari, Mordvinian, Udmurt, Hungarian, Komi and Nganassan tradition. The significance of family both in the traditional and changing contemporary societies was considered not only as preserving and transmitting music traditions, but also cultural identity under particular political pressures. Observed were folk music genres transmitted inside the family, common and exceptional chains of tradition transmission with various people, discussed were genealogies of renown singers and musicians, their repertoire, performance peculiarities and effect on local traditions.
Rather active have become the relations with our Baltic colleagues.
During the discussed period Estonia has participated at the CIOFF (Council International Des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d'Arts Traditionelles) conferences and its world congresses.
4. Dissemination of folklore, participation in folklore movement. The Estonian ethnomusicologists are closely connected with folklore movement. The international folklore festivals "Baltica '92" and "Baltica '95" were arranged in Estonia, and the researchers participated in various ways: as members of the organizing committee, the artistic council or as director of folklore groups. In recent years local folklore festivals take place during summertime all over Estonia. In the summer of 1995 Estonia hosted again the "Baltica", and since the last months of 1994 seminars in various districts for folklore group directors, and lectures about local traditions, etc were started. The training for folk group directors will begin also at the end of October, 1996 with an introduction of typological files of Estonian folk tunes and a series of lectures.
Folklorists continue to make programmes for massmedia, folklore issue series are on both TV and radio. A number of TV films have been released lately: 11 films about the island Kihnu ("Ceremony of Baptism", "Funeral", "Kaevndu Anni's Story" etc. profiles on outstanding tradition carriers) and 2 films about the Setu cultural traditions ("Women's Feast in Polovina", "Three Setu Folk Tale Songs"). Setu and Kihnu are two cultural regions in Estonia where traditional music and folklore have preserved to some extent in its authentic context.
Virumaa rahvakultuurist (The Traditional Culture of Virumaa). Ed. by I. Rüütel. Tallinn 1992, 294 pp. (in Estonian, summaries in English and Russian).1993
Rüütel I. "Estonian Folk Music Layers in the context of Ethnic Relations. Abstract of the thesis of the habilitated doctor of humanities in the field of folklore studies. Vytautas magnus University. Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. Vilnius 1995.23 p.Rüütel I. Estu liaudies muzikos sluoksniai etniniu santykiu kontekste. Humanitariniu mokslu folkloristikos krypties habilituoto doktoro teziu autoreferatas. Vyatuto Dizioho universitetas. Lietuviu literaturaos ir tautosakos inistitutas. Vilnius 1995.15 p.(Estonian folk music layers in the context of ethnic relations) (in Lithianian)