The lutenist Vincent Dumestre summed up a thought in the preface to his ensemble’s recording of French traditional song that seems to encapsulate what song and singing means to us. He echoes what many writers have expressed over centuries:
“Songs are a singular and universal echo of humankind, carried to us by the now silent voices of the parents, grandparents, and ancestors who sang them.”
In other words, songs are not just an expression of the individual we become and the family we belong to, they are part of an entire culture and history. They exist simultaneously in the present and in the past.
Norway has a strong singing tradition in which songs have come down by both oral and written means—some of them even lack words. The Norwegians call it “tralling” where the singer improvises or makes up consonants.
Early America had a rich tradition of congregational singing. Songs could be heard at home and in church. They gave thanks, praised God, or simply recollected experiences that strengthened one’s faith. Collections of these songs, better known as folk-hymns, were very popular in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Spain and its colonies have a vast wealth of folksongs that date all the way back to the middle ages.
Our new release of the week brings us the Bach Collegium Japan‘s 38th volume in a series dedicated to recording the complete cantatas of J.S. Bach.
Here’s a video of the ensemble Musica Temprana performing the anonymous song “Entre dos álamos verdes”:
Here’s a video of Trio Mediaeval performing the traditional Norwegian song “Gjendine’s Lullaby”: