Slovene Folk Songs
HERE WE GO ROUND SLOVENIA … A JOURNEY OF SONG presents Slovenian Folk Songs that take user on a tour around this beautiful country. The songs rise and fall from place to place, from region to region, to the beats of the lively hills of Gorenjska, the broad waters of Štajerska, the undulating landscape of Bela krajina and the hard rock of the Karst. The songs contained in this treasure trove do not only ebb and flow according to place, but also according to time. They have sprung from the old Slovene village and they talk of the love of life felt by the people, despite the hardship and labour they had to endure.
All the songs are linked by one common notion: love. The love for one’s precious homeland, the love for one’s home town, the love for a beloved girl or boy, the longing for freedom and happiness. This eternal quest and longing is expressed in each Slovene folk song in its own particular way, but always with the same honest, touchingly simple words.
We set off on the path with the beautiful Where Are Those Paths? But when and where were those lanes? In the place we call home? Under the window of a loved maiden? When I was young? Is there not anyone amongst us who would not want to chop the shrubs, and reap the grass in order to find the right lane in the maze of life’s paths?
The song The Lass Went to Fetch Water tells us that in the past people from this area used to have a much closer and kinder relationship with nature than today. Only few homesteads in the Slovene villages of old had water in their wells. Every morning water had to be fetched from the village well or the mountain stream. This duty usually rested with the daughter of the house.
The young men would pass by the girls' windows. One such wooing song that could be heard from underneath the village lime tree is My Daddy has Horses Two or the amusing Micika in the Flower Garden.
But sadly, far too often the young men had to leave their home villages due to hardship to go in search of the world. Sing to Us, Katica was sung by the young man in Prekmurje upon his farewell. I Strolled Along is also a song of yearning for a beloved that has ventured abroad. This is how many girls remained without a suitor. Songs like Ripe is the Grain and All the Wreaths are White are two from the numerous maiden songs that belong to the gems of Slovene folk lyricism. They speak of the women that remained without a groom.
The joy of life overcame all anguish and at celebrations and feasts the villagers danced to the sounds of lively tunes, such as the two melodies from Bela krajina, Pretty Anka Leads the Round Dance or The Round Dance of Adlešici.
Much sadness was caused when the lads had to join the army, leaving behind their girlfriends, parents and homeland. There was only a glimmer of hope that they would ever come back alive. Tonight, oh Tonight is a song of farewell. Even Even the Flowers in the Garden Grieved on such occasions. The military song Beyond the Village Hill accompanied the tears of goodbye to the thousands of Slovene men that were left on foreign battlefields forever.
In the middle of the 19th century, the all-Slavic wind blew through Europe awakening the Slavic peoples, including the Slovenes. This is when the song On the Lake near Triglav flew to the foot of Slovenia’s highest mount. This was followed by decades of efforts for the equality of the Slovenes and the Slovene language within the Austro-Hungarian state, until it was drowned in the blood of the First World War.
When the young man had served his military service and had returned back home, he could begin thinking about getting married. What follows are two epithalamiums – Hop, Hop Marko – where the suitor remained empty-handed despite the gold coins that he had brought with him. Knocking Dance wittily describes how a daughter is passed on into the ‘yoke of marriage’. Ceremonial songs would be sung at weddings by the guests. The Istrians for instance would sing Give Them, Give Them, before taking to the dance floor to the sounds of jovial melodies.
Yet life flows on, like the waters of the Black Brook in Rezija. The title of the song and name of the spring is Black Brook, even though its waters are green. Green like young foliage, green like spring. The eternally green waters flow, bringing new life, bringing a new song …
Text is a summury from HERE WE GO ROUND SLOVENIA … A JOURNEY OF SONG book arranged by Blaz Pucihar, illustrated by Damijan Stepancic, accompanying text by Dusica Kunaver and published by OKA Otroska knjiga. If you would like to know more or have your own copy of the book you are able to order it here. Book comes with the CD.
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