Music in Karolia
Music is one of the most significant aspects of Karolian culture and identity.
The 'Plains Style'
The style of music originating in the area around Kyor and the eastern plains is the folk music most recognised as Karolian in other countries. It has come to be known as 'Foldamuszikä' although this term is a relatively recent one, and exists broadly in a choral tradition and an instrumental one.
Typical instruments are folk fiddle (which may have more than the usual four strings in many variants), clarinet, baljos (the traditional guitar), dulcimer, bass fiddle, shawm, pipe, Karolian accordion, and Iirto (lyre harp). Traditionally, the instrument used in maturity would be crafted by the player themselves, requiring an intimate knowledge of the workings and making each one unique in construction and sound. In the northern areas the simple drum is still given great reverence due to its primeval connection with the shamanic rituals of traditional beliefs.
The practice of singing in groups dates back at least to medieval times, when men and women would alternate verses or lines of hymns. This evolved into songs with 2-3 parts and hetrophonic groups (everyone singing the same basic line but with individual differences) and in more recent centuries into songs arranged with multi-part harmonies throughout. Songs cover a wide range of subject matter: wedding songs, children's game songs, laments, love ballads, drinking songs and epics celebrating local heroes.
The styles of music in the mountainous areas are markedly different to the plains.
Mountain singing comes from an ancient tradition associated with shamanism and magic rituals; mythology holds that the world was created by singing, and that the ancestors must be reminded of those yet to join them by performances of an 'eternal song' that maintains the connections between generations of the same family. Solo singing is the most commonly found discipline, with the singer unravelling often lengthy, half-improvised, performances that include throat sounds, humming, whistling and words which only they can understand.
The alphorn is frequently associated with mountain folk music, either on its own or in a quartet or quintet. As with the plains style, the shaman drum holds an important place (although the rhythmic style is different to the music of other areas).
Karolian popular music is diverse and frequently crosses over into the folk traditions of the country. Amongst younger followers of a particular genre there are dress and style cues that are followed as an expression of one's taste.
Karolia, like all countries, has its share of middle of the road singers, boy bands and girl bands performing dance and pop music, usually in Inglish. That said, there are some singers who move between the conventional pop sound and more experimental styles.
Arguably the most popular genre is heavy metal and related sub-genres (Thrash, Death, Speed, etc...) The biggest bands are Submission, Blood Diamond, Death Folk and Kääästigit who play packed stadiums and rarely disappoint fans coming to hear thrashing speed guitars, deafening drum fills and the larger-than life singers screaming out the lyrics in an unashamedly over-the-top show.
Rivalling metal in popularity is a style of music usually referred to as 'folk rock', 'folk pop' or more colourful labels such as 'magic rock'. This generally involves a mixture of acoustic and electric instruments as well as the use of electronic effects and is usually based around the beat patterns of folk music. The sound is generally bright and uses voices (more often female ensembles than male) as well as colourful harmonies, changes of meter and general complexity of timbres. Lyrics are rarely conventional love ballads and may play around with the spoken language. The main artists working in this field are the group Myllariid, led by cellist Hanu Őrlőképa; and the all female Kierrepallo who often use obscure dialects or even make up their own languages. 'Heavy Folk' is closer to metal although tends to use the complex chord progressions and lyrics described above.
Rap, dubstep and garage music have a more underground following in the country. Some producers actually align themselves more with the classical scene (which has widely embraced collaborative crossover projects) and consider their creations to be more artworks than dance music.
Karolian orchestras and musicians are regularly rated amongst the best in the world. The main professional performing groups in the country are:
- Säntjana Philharmonic Orchestra
- Säntjana Concert Orchestra
- Karolian Sinfonia
- Karolian National Opera, Karolian National Ballet and Orchestra of the Karolian National Opera
- Karolian Radio and Television Orchestra
- Lapise Festival Orchestra
- Fontjäna Concert Orchestra
- National Symphony of Karolia
- State Orchestra of Kyor and State Opera of Kyor
- Vasireii Symphony Orchestra
In addition to the above are numerous regional orchestras and amateur groups. Around 60% of Karolian adults belong to some kind of performing group
The earliest Karolian composers were attached to religious institutions in the middle ages. Monastic chant was introduced in the seventh century and the Vosrei Codex dating from around 1135 contains an invaluable treasury of chants and accompaniments as well as evidence of unique forms of notation. A few folk songs from the medieval period survive to the present day despite not having been notated until the nineteenth century.
Toomas Pästoreii (1871-1950) is widely considered the greatest Karolian composer of the Romantic period: his music includes eight symphonies, opera, ballet, chamber music, songs and other works, as well as being conductor of the National Opera Orchestra and towards the end of his life chair of the Karolian Academy of Music. His style was initially rooted in folk idioms but developed into a fresh modernism which nonetheless never rejects older styles.
Other significant Karolian composers include:
- Edin of Gallien (c.901-960)
- Giovo det Fontjäna (1454-c.1510)
- Vadaano/Pordan (c.1500-c.1560)
- Haanu Isatorii (c.1650-1724)
- Giani Martellini (1695-1736)
- Kuuan Lieja (1675-1741)
- Otto Maartiin Sek (1770-1829)
- Freija Forstaaliit (1835-1892)
- Petro de Romansi (1853-1901)
- Väänu Tepp (1896-1970)
- Eeno Karolji (1902-1983)
- Torvo Per Saatäkainen (1913-1979)
- Henriik Orves (1928-)
- Siimo Vaas (1930-2009)
- Elspet Raatakainet (1937-)
- Enu Kaaps (1963-)
- Bekkä Liitä (1980-)
- Säärä Torviipära (1986-)
- Jänne Särepäva (1987-)