The Influence of Public Performances on the Reduction of the Repertoire on the Example of the Women’s Singing Group “Treće Doba” from Kosjerić

Folkloristics 7/2 (2022):
Author: Marta Janković

The repertoire and specificities of the performance of the female singing group “Treće doba” (“The Third Age”) from Kosjerić (West Serbia) is shown through an extensive review of the musical and poetic characteristics of the songs. A similarity of their repertoire and the material collected by Dimitrije Golemović, who conducted research in this area, can be established. This ensemble performs on stage only songs of recent rural practice. However, through interviews and conversation with interlocutors, we learned that the members of this ensemble could also play wider range of songs, but they did not take them into consideration for their performances. Genres of songs that are not performed on the stage are: pacifiers, lullabies, wedding and shepherd’s songs. The explanation lies within the rules of organizers, imposed on musical competitions and events, that require the performance of a certain repertoire. A similar phenomenon has already been noticed: groups of singers are encouraged to interpret certain predefined genres in competitions, leaving out other ones, deemed inappropriate. This type of selection leads to reduction of genre range and diminishes musical diversity of rural repertoires, scaling them down to several characteristic models. The songs are rehearsed and performed to fit into the given pattern, without much possibility for improvisation and spontaneity. Organizing events of this type leads to institutionalization and canonization of picked repertoire; that keeps an array of songs alive, but creates inaccurately homogenous image of local music culture. Specifically, the example of the singing group “Treće doba” shows that a “canonized” repertoire has been created, meaning that only songs of the newer rural tradition, mostly love songs, are performed. For the songs that do not belong to the mentioned genre, the interlocutors say that they are inadequate for the competition, so they are excluded from the repertoire. In addition, songs of the older rural tradition are performed by two to three performers, so the possibility that all members of the group sing on the stage at the same time is prevented. This would further influence the mutual selection in the group, so the singers more often opt for songs of recent rural practice in which the number of performers is not strictly determined. Since the only way to preserve songs is to sing them on stage, genres such as pacifiers, lullabies, wedding and shepherd’s songs are doomed to public oblivion or to life in the memories of these women.

Keywords: female singing group “Treće doba”, traditional singing, manifestations, ethnomusicology, repertoire, Kosjerić (Serbia).