Babino Polje, the island of Mljet
The older tradition of monodic singing, the soloistic singing of epic songs and ballads, is a living traditional musical practice of Southern Dalmatian island of Mljet. Hexacordal melodic structures, parlando-rubato, free rhythm structure, glissando and specific ornamentations are the principal features of the singing style from Mljet . These features are entirely different from accustomed epic song repertory singing (small ambitus, simple melodic curves, clear rhythmic patterns, short repeated motifs). Structurally, the singing of epic songs and ballads from the island of Mljet is analogous to women's (urban) song repertory from the inner, Bosnian, regions . The other notable attribute is the content of the songs. The content of the epics is frequently presented in balladic style where family related themes and adventure and novel-like long stories dominate over the heroic, epic contents (Dukic 1992:35) .
second part of the video clip introduces a dancing tradition of the
island of Mljet. In Southern Dalmatia, it is common that singing does
not accompany dancing; singers sing only in breaks between the dances.
According to Ivan Ivancan, the dances in Southern Dalmatia used to serve
as places of social contact, practically the only social occasions on
which male and female could meet socially (Ivancan 1973:462).
The lijerica playing is accompaniment for the traditional dances of the island of Mljet. During the performance, lijerica player (lijericar, sonatur, sinjatur, glumac) is sitting on the chair holding the instrument on the knee. With the opposite leg the player is tapping his foot, marking the strong beat of the dance . The criteria of elegant and inelegant dancing are quite clear and understood by the local population.
These are illustrative examples of traditional music making alive on the island of Mljet. However, it is important to notice a fundamental change in context of performing. Informal playing and dancing for the local events is replaced by stage performing of local folklore groups for the festivals and incoming tourists.
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