SETTING A FOLK SONG

A folk song is usually just a melody, sung alone or in groups. If there is an instrumental accompaniment, it tends to be quite simple, capable of being played by local and often untrained musicians.

Composers throughout music history have tried their hand at creating folk song arrangements. In a folk song arrangement, the composer generally preserves the original melody, but creates a more elaborate accompaniment, choosing distinctive harmonies, instrumental colors and rhythms. Often, the composer will try to find ways to highlight the spirit and heritage of the original, but in a more personal way. Thus, a song shared by all comes to bear the stamp of a particular musical personality. In this section of the program, we compare "authentic" versions of two folk songs with more unusual and original settings. Studying folk song arrangements provides a rare glimpse into a composer's creative process: We can observe how a familiar source gives rise to often unexpected and unusual sounds.

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