What is the Association for the Diffusion of the Styles?

To understand the purpose of the association requires explaining briefly some basic aspects that characterize traditional music. One of these aspects and which also originated the name of the association, is the existence of styles, which are musical forms recognizable in the communities where they are interpreted, and distinguishable from one another, which differ on aspects such as order and metrics of the verses, the instruments that are commonly played, if they have a dance linked to them or not, the mood that it uses to transmit (more festive, more quite…), the division of roles between the performers (a soloist with a choir, only a choir, soloists that alternate as a conversation …), if they use to be played in a certain time of the year…

These characteristics of what we call styles are not unique, are not always present and exceptions are usual in a context in which the use of music is not an end but a means to communicate, to generate social interaction contexts that foster, for example, flirtation, competition between performers, identification with your community, the relief of social inequities and differences of classes on a tolerable way… The fact of the existence of styles shared by the people in a community makes the artistic performance in traditional music not limited to the “artists”, but it extends to the community. Everyone participates, in the way he or she is able. If your skills permit, you perform as soloist. If not, you will play to accompany or you’ll sing with the choir. The same is true in dance. Thus, there is no separation between artist and audience, nor is there a special worship of the artist, because there is no such vision of the artist as being exceptional.

This we call styles is present throughout the Iberian Peninsula and islands of the same cultural surroundings and, at least, in all Western cultures. Our association focuses on the styles of this part of the world of ours, but it is also interested in traditional artistic expression from other regions, with the awareness that there is no watertight compartments in traditional culture and there is a common substrate in art at least all along Europe and, of course, in traditional music in America in its manifestations developed after colonization.

Another aspect of traditional music, reflected in our so-called styles, is the fact that stable rhythms that could be quantified sufficiently with the terminology of academic o modern music do not really exist. In traditional music we do not really find 3/4 or 5/8. Applying these expressions to traditional music imposes on it a conception of rhythm that is extraneous, it typecast it and the interpretation acquires strangeness. In traditional music accents are mark by melody and lyrics: communication, instead of a repetitive rhythm, is prioritized, so the performance in the context of traditional music seems to have a significant degree of unpredictability. How interpreters understand each other to play a style together, without that element, the stable rhythm that allows to foresee? The mechanisms are different, based on communication between the performers. Our association’s more abstract objectives include the recovery of this way of communicating in the performance of music.

There is another element of unpredictability in traditional music. The piece begins in a style, but nobody knows when it will end. It ends when someone males it end, but in general, one stanza can follow other and other, with new melodies, melodies can be repeated with other lyrics, lyrics can be repeated with other melodies, improvised verses appear and they perhaps will die there or they will fructify in the memory of anyone present, who will repeat it another day, will change it, will alter it or will make it grow. In this way, you can’t talk about a repertoire of traditional music. The so-called repertoires appear only when the performance has been gathered, written or recorded and, afterwards, it was considered that that concrete performance on a style was a piece with its structure established that way. Again, the fact that unpredictability, the openness of the styles, that allow entering on the performance anyone who had the ability and desire to do so, make the styles a path for the exchange and communication between performers, even if they don´t know each other beforehand. In other words, on the style of seguidillas a person from Baltanás (North part of Castilla) can sing, receive the replica by one from Puertollano (South part of Castilla), while some ladies from Requena (Valencia) play percussion.

So, our association distinguishes the musical expression called folk, from the traditional music. Folk arises from the point of view of modern music, establishing for the piece a certain rhythm, lyrics, a structure … It is inspired by traditional music, taking mainly lyrics and melodies, making them enter in those mentioned rhythms, providing new timbres, arrangements … from the point of view of modern music. Our association recognizes the relationship between folk and traditional music, but it differentiates them. Our goal is focused on the second.

This Association has been founded in the Autum of 2015 by Araceli Tzigane, Juan Antonio Torres and Javi Muñoz.

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