Journal of Ethnology 1/2011 is devoted to musical instruments connected with folk music tradition. Jan Blahůšek pays his attention to iconographic proves within the wider musical and folkloristic context (Drawings and Paintings as an Iconographic Source for Folk Music Research in the Czech Lands), Jiří Höhn in his contribution outlines the terminological reflections (The Term „Folk Musical Instrument“ and the Function of Musical Instruments in the Field of Ethnocultural Traditions). Petr Ch. Kalina focuses on unique string chordophone (Big Fiddle in Folk Instrumentarium of Lusathian Sorbs) while young American ethno-musicologist Jesse A. Johnston writes about occurrence of cimbalom by Czech immigrants living in American Texas (“Unmelted”: Cimbalom and Assimilation of Czech Minority in Texas). Miroslava Sandtnerová publishes her view of changed use and functions of some musical instruments in small brass bands in Slovakia (On Contemporary Situation in Using the Instrumentarium of Small Brass Bands in Slovakia).
Transferring Tradition column includes the results of field research by Barbora Jarošová (The Past And Presence of Traditional Brass Instruments Production in Moravian Wallachia) and by Alena Schauerová and Magdalena Maňáková (Generation Changes in Children´s Game). Review Section remembers the anniversary of Josef Blau (1872-1960), who studied folk traditions and culture history of the Northern Bohemian Forest (author Marta Ulrychová), and.that of ethnochoreologist Zdenka Jelínková (1920-2005) and her relation to the ethnographic area of Malá Haná (author Věra Kovářů). Social Chronicle publishes the contributions devoted to anniversaries of Czech ethnologist Karel Pavlištík (born 1931), Slovakian ethnologists Peter Salner (born 1951) and Mikuláš Mušinka (born 1936), and the obituary for Slovakian ethnologist Ladislav Mlynka (1954-2010). Other regular columns include the information on conferences, festivals and reviews of new subject books.
Drawings and Paintings as an Iconographic Source for Folk Music Research in the Czech Lands
Pictorial documentary sources on the traditional folk music have been collected in the territory of our country since the 19th century. This has been going on until today, especially thanks to the protection provided by academic, museum and other scientific or cultural institutions; therefore, a researcher can use the unique iconographic potential to study concrete problems. Yet nobody has paid attention to the iconographic sources with music and folklore themes in summary. In addition, the research done by the National Institute of Folk Culture in Strážnice proves that it is extraordinary difficult to collect large source bases. The submitted study points out the most important iconographic sources of the Czech music folkloristics in a selective way, giving the scope for next treatment of the theme, which has to include mainly the rigorous and careful collection of iconographic material and its registration followed by its analysis and interpretation.
The Term "Folk Music Instrument" and the Function of Musical Instruments in the Field of Ethnocultural Traditions (on the Example of Moravia)
The essay pays attention to the issue of understanding the term “folk music instrument” within the context of Czech musicological and ethnomusicological literature and its relation to social changes in the territory of the Czech Republic in the 20th century. As a certain way out of non-uniformity of definitions, the author offers using a periphrastic term “musical instruments of folk culture”, or “musical instruments of ethnocultural traditions”. The term “folk”, whose meaning underwent wide changes in European context during the last two centuries, is excluded because it is also very difficult to relate it to the social situation in the secod half on the 20th century. Musical instruments used within the corresponding space, become the content of musical and instrumental culture relating to the changed society and maintained ethnocultural traditions (original, transformed and modern ones). The functional point of view becomes the main factor.
Big Fiddle in Folk Instrumentarium of Lusathian Sorbs
The study provides an ethnoorganological picture of big fiddle used by Lusathian Sorbs (Wends): a unique string chordophone from the folk music instrumentarium of the smallest Slavic nation. As to its construction, the instrument is a threestring bowed chordophone, belonging to the family of medieval fiddles. It is about 640 mm long, with a flat back board and a highly arched top board. The strings were tuned in d1–a1–e2. The big fiddle of Lusathian Sorbs was used exclusively in the Catholic region of the western Upper Lusatia, its oldest form dates back only to the 19th century The big fiddle repertoire was recorded mainly in the late 18th century Kral's Fiddle Songbook, and in the collections of Ludvik Kuba and Adolf Cerny from the 19th century. The study also comments on the folk revival of the instrument and highlights the role of musician Jurij Mencl: after his initiative, first copies of big fiddle were made and first revival ensembles were established, which further developed the big fiddle playing. In the early 19th century, the big fiddle had impact on the construction of another folk string instrument, called skřipky in Czech dialect, which was played predominantly in German speaking areas around the town of Jihlava (in the present day Czech Republic). There, the pioneering instrument maker was a German carpenter Johann Bernesch, who came to the region from the Upper Lusatia in the early 19th century.
“Unmelted”: Cimbalom and Assimilation of Czech Minority in Texas
Ethnomusicologists have often viewed music as a marker of cultural identity. Music may also have a more active role, however, in the hands of musicians, listeners, and dancers, to recreate, redefine, and fashion elements of new identities. This article explores this tension by introducing the cimbalom, an instrument familiar to many (at least in central Europe) in an unfamiliar setting. The article presents historical and archival research about the survival of the cimbalom and its use among Czech immigrants to Texas in the United States. Commonly described in Texas as a “dulcimer”, the instrument’s use in Texas is widely remarked upon in Texas museums and heritage documents, but it is not widely known outside the small Czech heritage communities Texas. A particular focus is placed on the heritage of the “Baca Band”, a longstanding family musical group that built and maintained the cimbalom in the town of Fayetteville, Texas. The article focuses on two main aspects of the instrument’s significance to Czech immigrants in Texas: the tension between the maintenance of cultural traditions and the creation of new ones, and the role of the instrument in the resurgence of ethnic awareness in the United States of the late twentieth century. In addition, the article contributes to research on old-time ethnic music, the history of recording of ethnic music in the United States, and the use of archival sources to investigate music in community life.
On contemporary situation in using the instrumentarium of small brass bands in Slovakia
Despite the missing thorough attention paid to the establishment of brass bands in tradition of folk instruments in Slovakia, there is no question about their significant participation in forming this tradition. The ensemble appearance of brass instruments has undergone some changes during the last thirty years. Those changes concern both the tendencies to professionalize the brass bands, and the new procedures in arrangement and composer’s work for this genre. Apart from the predominant limitations in expressions, the harmonic and metric and rhythmical structure of brass bands have to be equal with, we are now witnesses of mixing the genres in their interpretation. It is not only the moment of dance and entertainment functions of small brass bands that comes to the fore; the demands made on the players are increasing because of the concert repertoire composed for solo instruments and the interpretation of popular dance music and film melodies. As said by many brass music fans - the contemporary advantage of this genre consists in its ability to play almost everything.