The Xth volume of the Collection of Hungarian Folk Music — Corpus Musicae Popularis Hungaricae (CMPH) came out in 1997. Its title page (Facsimilel), similary to the previous volumes, contains the remark: „Established by Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály.” As the editor of the Xth volume, I feel it is high time to face the question: do we still have the right to refer to the founders, as Bartók died well before the apperance of the first volume, and Kodály died after the Vth?
The new style of Hungrian folksongs emerged in the second half of the 19th century. The new-style tunes differ most obviously from the old-style tunes through their structure, which is rounded, architectural. That was a revolutionary change. At the beginning, the new style was the collective style of the youth. As regards the geography, the new style came into being in the central area of the language territory and spread to the surrounding parts and even to some northern neighbouring peoples. It arrived at a delay in Transylvania. The Transylvanian performing style varies by subregion. These features are describing on the basis of the degree of melody ornamentation. Four degrees of embellishment are defined. In Szilágyság, the new-style songs are sung almost like in geographically nearby Great Plain. In the Székely land, musical ornamentation has even less significant role. In Mezőség and Kalotaszeg the new style arrived in a traditional musical context in which ornamentation plays an important role in time-tested old styles, and this technique appears to get incorporated in the performance of new-style songs as well. The layout of ornamentation is basically the same for old- and new-style songs for all dialectal areas. In the urban dance house movement from among the new-style songs the embellished ones are the most fashionable.
Owing to its strong emotional effect, music plays a great role in experiencing and expressing self-identity. In Hungary, 19
century compilers of folksong collections consciously professed the national value of their work, while they were embarrassed by the tonality of genuine folksongs, having an aversion to pentatonic tunes. In the early 20
century, it was exactly this tonal world that attracted Bartók and Kodály and helped them to develop their own compositional style and create sovereign Hungarian music in opposition to German romanticism. Pentatony recognized in folk music aroused their interest in researching eastern, prehistoric connections and also inspired them to carry on the stylistic interpretation of the Hungarian folk music stock. Kodály based his music pedagogical conception on the acquisition of the musical mother tongue, first of all pentatonic folksongs, which he meant as a remedy against the identity crisis of the society. The role of pentatony as a vehicle of identity has been verified by new achievements of ethnomusicology which has explored the importance of the five-tone scale in the history of Hungarian folk music more thoroughly.
Zoltán Kodály’s Kállai kettős [Couple Dance of Kálló] was premiered by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble in Budapest in 1951. However, it was not in Kodály’s work that the folk songs arranged in it were first presented to the cultured public. In the interchange of folk tradition and high culture they have already cropped up in the past three hundred years, among others in stage productions. This paper examines the folkloristic sources of Kodály’s work from a dual angle: how they were connected to the stage before Kodály’s arrangement and how their variants were embedded in the folk tradition. Today Kállai kettős is living also a “double life”: Kodály’s work is part of the national canon, but it is also present in the traditional productions of the revivalists of Nagykálló.
In Hungary, the concept of “folk song” was clarified at the beginning of the 20th century only, accordingly, there were no “folk songs” noted down in the 18th century. Still, the number of music sources relating to folk music increased significantly in the 18th century. As a result of their scientific analysis the melodic parallels of some five hundred 18th-century tunes were found in the central folk music collection of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. These melodic parallels involve 153 folk song types. In a specific era of folk culture there is always a coexistence of elements and styles of different age. The sources also contain examples of the descending pentatonic styles (that either originates or developed from oriental roots), of the lament style and of the medieval and early modern tunes. Of particular interest are the songs that first appeared in the 17th century, then undergone significant changes in form and rich collection of variants developed around them. The most remarkable result of our research is that contrary to former beliefs regarding its insignificance, the 18th century enriched the Hungarian folk music with some sixty new melody types. One of the most interesting groups of this rather mixed collection of songs is that of the songs in a major key with a narrow compass that seems to be the most characteristic music of the time. Plagal songs in a major key with perceptive functional chords behind their melodies also entered Hungarian tradition at this time. Plagal tunes, unfamiliar to Hungarian folk music, were sometimes transformed into descending tunes. The antecedents of the new Hungarian folk song style hardly feature in these sources — this style probably developed in the late 19th century. However, among the popular art songs that flourished from the 1830s onwards we found about a dozen melody types with a partial or full similarity to 18th-century melodies.