For today’s music let’s go back to the ancient Corsican tradition of performing the Passion story during the procession of Good Friday: Lamentu di Ghjesu, based upon the folia theme, which is probably the oldest known ostinato ground (a harmonical line played repeatedly while the player/singer improvises a melody upon it). I could write pages about its origin and use through the centuries* without making you understand what it actually is, so let’s make it really simple instead:
- You have a few bars long harmony line that goes on and on and on, always in the same way
- Try to sing the main music theme of Vangelis‘ 1492 upon it
- Does it fit?
- a) Yes, it does – congratulations, you have a folia!
- b) No, it does not
- it must be some other ostinato line
- sorry, you probably didn’t sing it properly, try it again
Christina Pluhar‘s band L’Arpeggiata has been lately accused in early music circles** with “popularizing” early music, but I’m not sure if this expression really fits what they do, and even if it does, I don’t mind it at all. Because, actually, that’s exactly what this music needs: to made be known and loved by as many people as just possible. And, a fact that most of these devoted and oh so critical early music players tend to forget: this kind of music was intended to be performed mostly by common people. Just for pleasure. With no higher purpose than to serve everyday life events and/or to entertain. It should be taken for what it is: popular music at its best.
PS: While last year’s Good Friday music was the great classic Es ist vollbracht from the Johannespassion, the year before I posted another, very beautiful Corsican passion song on another ancient ostinato line: Maria (sopra la Carpinese).
* I’ve actually done this for one of my music theory courses at the university
** not that I’ve had anything to do with early music circles since my depression other than writing vague, very unprofessional music posts twice a year, haha