Folk songs and melodies of Transylvania’s regions on a unique audio map

Folk songs and music constitute essential parts of Transylvanian cultural heritage. Songs and melodies transmitted from older generations to the younger ones convey all kinds of life experiences, joys and sorrows of the people, their outlooks on major life events. Some ethnographic collections were founded in the 19th century, and from the beginning of the 20th century the collection of folk songs was based on scientific methodology as well. Folks songs, music and dancing create a very strong connection of a community’s present to its past, so they shouldn’t become just a sum of recordings from different eras kept on shelves. These melodies will actually stay alive until people sing them, know them, and have access to them.

In this regard, the latest project of the Musicology Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is an outstanding initiative, as it has created a rather unique public database: more than 12 000 hours of Hungarian folk songs and music from Hungary, Transylvania and all around the world, stored in the audio archives of the Institute were transposed on a digital map.

This way, if there were folk songs and melodies collected at a certain settlement, and were destined for the audio archives of the Institute, these would be now just a few clicks away. So, if one chooses a certain location, and searches for it, the map signals if there are melodies collected there. If songs were gathered by ethnographers in the specific settlement, these can be reached and listened to in a very easy manner.

Basically, the whole folk music collection, around 200,000 melodies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences are connected to the digital map. This way one can listen to the songs that had been sung in small villages or even in bigger cities.

Transylvania’s different ethnographic regions are well represented in this database, and besides listening to the song or melody chosen on the map, there is valuable information provided, concerning the date of collection, the name of the ethnographer, the genre (nuptial czardas, men’s solo, legényes and so on) the presentation technique,  and of course the presenters. The Musicology Institute plans to broaden the database connected to the map with video materials as well, so Hungarian folk dances would be reachable as well according to the different ethnographic regions. The map can be found on this link: https://zti.hungaricana.hu/hu/map/?layers=google-roadmap%2Cvector-data&bbox=-4822259%2C3190787%2C8483897%2C8777416


Title image: The late fiddler from Kalotaszeg (Călata region) with a legendary fame, Sándor “Neti” Fodor

 Source: Facebook/Fodor Sándor “Neti”

Author: Éva Zay