Mäetagused vol. 41


Relationship between Jazz and Ethnic Music in Estonia in the First Half of the 20th Century

Tiit Lauk

Key words: acculturation, haitarijazz, jazz, swing, The Murphy Band, village bands, village jazz

This article covers an underexplored facet in the Estonian cultural history – expansion of jazz music into our cultural space and facts related to this, focussing on mutual influences between jazz and Estonian ethnic culture. Although we have been long accustomed to the fact that jazz music is an inseparable part of our culture scene, debates on what is jazz are still ongoing and there does not yet exist an overall and widely accepted definition. The relations between village bands and jazz are studied from the point of view of several acculturation theories.

The article presents an overview of the situation in the Estonian music culture in the 1920s when jazz appeared in Estonia. This was an extremely favourable moment for new development – the state and the people had recently liberated themselves, thus there existed a natural wish to get oneself free from the cultural pressure dictated by politics. It appears that in several places in the region south of the Tartu-Viljandi-Pärnu imaginary line people have tried to play jazz with village bands. This refers to the start-up of the acculturation process in this region between the local ethnic music and the afro-American jazz music, which had intruded into our cultural space. In order to understand the singularity of this phenomenon, the article examines in greater detail the type of ensemble called a village band in Estonia. While studying these village bands, it appeared that the village bands venturing to play jazz-like dance music were divided into two broader style-based groups. The article covers bands of both of these groups in greater detail, presenting an analysis of their makeup as well as their repertoires. Music played by those bands should be defined as Estonian-(ethnic)-music-inspired jazz-like dance music (the first group) or jazz-inspired ethnic dance music (the second group). For a more specific classification the term “village jazz” could be used. For comparison, the article covers also haitarijazz – a symbiosis of jazz and ethnic music appearing in Finland in the 1920s–1930s. Recently more and more voices could be heard suggesting that jazz should be studied together with ethnic music, because the origin and development of jazz bear a number of common features with it.

As Rahvaleht (People’s Newspaper) writes, Sergei Insarov, a well-known dance teacher together with his assistants Tamara Istomina and Viktor Reitel had trained almost 12,000 people to dance in five years in Narva, Pärnu, Rakvere, Paide, including rural areas (“Õpivad tantsima...”(Dance classes) Rahvaleht, 9 March 1926).

On Estonian Kaerajaan Dances and Typology of Dance

Peter Pomozi

Key words: dance types, dance typology, Kaerajaan, motifs

According to a very old theory, the research methods of dialectology and language typology are also applicable in the study of folk dances. Studies into dance typology form a significant part of the work of Hungarian dance historians György Martin and Ern‰ Pesovár (e.g., Martin-Pesovár 1960, 1964, Martin 1995). Author of this study introduces the basic principles of the structural analysis methods of Martin and Pesovár, and at the same time compares the common parameters of dance structures and linguistic structures. Structural analysis is used to demonstrate this on one of the most popular Estonian contra dances, the Kaerajaan dance.

The Kaerajaan dances are primarily examined in the light of the book Kontratantsud (’Contra Dances’, 1995) by Kristjan Torop. The entire second chapter is dedicated to this analysis. The third chapter presents possibly the most detailed analysis of Kaerajaan dances, in which the parts of the dance is divided into motifs and similar motifs are systematized in groups. The last part of the article takes a look further: the author examines the relations of a few types of contra dance, and the frequency and distribution of the motifs, introducing a new type of ’dance isogloss’. This model provides a solid foundation for showing how this particular topic may help us in the research of both spatial and temporal aspects of the corresponding Fenno-Scandinavian folk dances.

Traditional Dances of the Kihnu Island, Estonia

Ingrid Rüütel

Key words: folk dance, folk group Kihnumua, Kihnu, partner dance, round dance, wedding circle dance (“wheel dance”)

Kihnu is a small island off the western coast of Estonia, where a number of traditional cultural phenomena have been preserved. Quite a number of traditional dances are kept alive in the traditional and modern context. These dances are danced at traditional family and calendar events: pre-wedding rituals and weddings, gatherings on the eve of St Catherine’s Day, as social dances at different festivities, during organized performances for tourists, and at festivals and other events on the Kihnu island as well as in Estonian towns and abroad. The dancers are mainly members of the amateur group Kihnumua, which has been active for more than 30 years under the guidance of Katrin Kumpan. The groups have no fixed membership, as most of the island’s inhabitants know the tradition. Dances were taught also in the local school and dance club. Some old round and partner dances have disappeared, but about 10–15 dances, mostly partner dances, are still in active use. All partner dances (incl. waltz and polka) are danced in a circle. Couples can be mixed, though women often dance among themselves. Many widely known dances have specific regional style variants. The main musical instrument nowadays is accordion, which is often played by women. Bagpipe music is forgotten, and good fiddlers were found up to the mid-20th century. Also, hand harmonica, the most popular musical instrument of the late 19th and early 20th century, has become rather rare by now.

How to Conduct Research on Estonian Folk Dance Today?

Sille Kapper

Key words: analysis of dance, Estonian folk dance, ethnochoreology, folk/ethnic dance, folklore studies, history of social dance, traditional dance

The article presents a selection of contemporary theories and methods of ethno­choreo­logy. The selection was made based on the present reality of research into Estonian dance, which is currently at its very beginning. The need to bring into play recent theoretical and methodological approaches emerged in connection with project “Original Choreographic Text and Style of Performance of Estonian Folk Dances on the Basis of Recorded Audiovisual Material”, which aims at studying the authentic style of performing folk dance and at the identification and explanation of the changes that take place in folk dances during different periods and in revival processes.

In the article, the concept of ‘folk dance’ (Estonian: rahvatants) is used in its broadest meaning which incorporates the ritual and social dancing of people in the past and present, and the changing meanings that have been attributed to the concept of ‘folk’ (Estonian: rahvas), as well as author works which elaborate and stylize the genres of folklore. Participatory and presentational dancing are discussed in connection with the concepts of the first, second and third existence of folklore. The author aims to stress the importance of specific research into the real use of the key concepts and terms in the field of folk dance and how they are understood by different groups of Estonian-speaking people.

The article briefly addresses the historical research into folk dance studies, revealing some current problems in the history of European social and traditional dance and introducing the theory of dance paradigms. The author points out that next to studying local peculiarities in the Estonian dance tradition, more attention should be paid to parallels with the dance history of other nations and trends in the international dance practices.

Ethnochoreological research as a distinctive branch of contemporary cultural studies is also discussed in the article. The (so-called American) anthropological approach and (European) choreological one are compared in terms of their disparities and similarities, and the article introduces the holistic or integrated dance research which incorporates the two approaches. Special attention is paid to the so-called performer-centred folk dance research, which may be very relevant in Estonia today. In dance analysis, two levels can be discerned – the analysis of a dance event as a cultural text and specific analysis of choreographic text, or dance movements. Two principally different ways of notation – prescriptive and descriptive – are discussed. Descriptive notation is quite a new approach to Estonian folk dance tradition and may bring along revolutionary changes in research in this field. The article has been written with the conviction that even a brief introduction of recent theories and methods may help potential Estonian folk dance researchers effectively continue the first steps taken in scientific research into Estonian folk dance.

Folk Dancing among Estonian Expatriates and Its Role in the Preservation of Estonian Identity

Iivi Zajedova, Eha Rüütel, Angela Arraste, Kalev Järvela

Key words: expatriate Estonians, folk dance, Germany, hobby activity, identity, qualitative study

The current article is based on the research carried out among expatriate Estonians living in Germany. The aim of the research was to obtain an general understanding of the evolution and development of Estonian folk dance groups and the inception of these groups in the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War. The first target group was the Estonian expatriates in Germany, since German war refugee camps were the first stop for many refugees on their journey. Interviews were conducted with 13 expatriate Estonians in Bocholt, Bonn and Hamburg in 2007.

The study attempts to answer the following questions: What gave rise to such active hobby activities, including the establishment of folk dance groups, in German refugee camps? Why were these groups formed also in different places in Germany later, after people had left the refugee camps? What could be the main reasons for and the general context of such a phenomenon?

The article describes the motives for practicing folk dancing as a hobby, the everyday activities of folk dance groups – repertoire, practicing, music, folk costumes and performances, what has become of the folk dance groups since their establishment and the role of folk dance in the life of expatriate Estonians. Aside from the previous aspects, the functions which describe the role of folk dance – preservation of continuity; organisation of community; social interaction and welfare; preservation of Estonian language; self-determination – also stood out in the analysis of the interviews.

Cultural pursuits formed a positive link between the past and the present, taking on a balancing role in the tragic understanding that seeking temporary asylum had become a constant state in exile and this prevented people from being trapped in the disconsolate condition of a refugee. Folk dance was not purely a hobby but a place where the Estonian language was spoken and learned; it helped people to stick together in difficult times, define themselves in the wind of changes and introduce Estonia in a foreign country by means of dance and folk costumes.

“There I Found a Bone Pipe”: On the Folk Songs and Self-Identification of Laine Mägi

Helen Kõmmus

Key words: folk song, folklore collection, regilaul or Kalevala-metric folk song, Võru culture, Võru language

The article discusses written and video material recorded from Laine Mägi, a folklore informant who was born in Võru County, South Estonia, but is living on the island of Hiiumaa. The materials were recorded during the folklore collection on the islandi n 2004–2007. The collected materials include fifteen Kalevala-metric end-rhymed folk songs (regilaul) in dialect and literary language. A more detailed discussion involves three Kalevala-metric folk songs in Võru dialect: “Veli ai ussõ” [‘Brother Drove Me out’], a song about family relationships, “Vanamiis minno kose” [‘An Old Man Proposed Marriage to Me’], a song about proposing marriage, and “Väikene olli” [‘When I Was Young’], a song about orphanhood. These three songs are analysed from the angle of formal rules and dialectal language, and the collected material is discussed from the aspect of the performer’s biography and the social context.

News, overviews   

In Memoriam Harry William Mürk 8 June 1954 – 24 February 2009

Editors’ eulogy for Harry William Mürk, Canadian-born linguist, mediator of Estonian and other Finno-Ugric languages and cultures, translator and editor, who always treasured Estonian culture and the Finno-Ugric identity.

“Traditions and Innovations in Contemporary Society 2”: The Joint Seminar of Estonian and Lithuanian Folklorists

On 29 September 2008, the second joint seminar of Estonian and Lithuanian folklorists “Traditions and Innovations in Contemporary Society” was held in the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu

The seminar was organized by the Department of Folkloristics at the Estonian Literary Museum. The seminar website is available at http://www.folklore.ee/rl/fo/konve/2008/eelt/. Overview of the seminar by Piret Voolaid (Estonian Literary Museum).

Medica 2008: Narratives about Illnesses and Their Treatment

The fifth international seminar on ethnomedicine was held on 21 October 2008 in the Estonian Agricultural Museum, Ülenurme. Overview of the seminar by Piret Paal. The English version of the overview is available in Vol. 41 of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore at http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol41/news.pdf

Conference about Research(er) Ethics

On 3–4 December 2008, the Finnish Oral History Network, which joins universities and research institutes in Finland (website available at http://www.finlit.fi/tutkimus/fohn/), organized the conference “Oral History and Ethics” in Helsinki, Finland. Overview of the conference by Tiiu Jaago and Ene Kõresaar (University of Tartu).

A Book about Cancer Patient Narratives

Piret Paal introduces the book Social and Cultural Imagery of Breast Cancer in Slovenia (Ljubljana, 2007) by Mojca Ramšak. The book review is available in English in Vol. 39 of Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore at http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol39/books.pdf

Authentic Komi Folk Music Album

Nikolay Kuznetsov introduces the album of authentic Komi folk music which was released in 2006 in Syktykvar, the Komi Republic. The record is entitled “Памятники коми фольклора: песенная и инструментальная традиции” [Komi Folklore Legacy: The Tradition of Song and Instrumental Music] and has been compiled by Anatoli Paniukov and Galina Saveleeva. The album presents traditional Komi folk songs and folk music collected in the course of folkloric fieldwork. The inserted CD booklet provides an introduction of the album, the lyrics of all songs complete with data about performers, the year of collection, related information, and also the translations of song texts into Russian and photos of some informants, collectors, folk instruments, etc.