Can you help me identify this impossible to describe folk song?
January 7, 2014 9:40 PM   Subscribe

I've got very little information about a folk song, possibly traditional, in some Germanic language. But I'd really love to hear it again!

I'm a little worried that this can't be answered since I have so little to go on, but I just love this song and want to hear it again.

I will try to tell you as much as I can about this song, which it is not much:

It's a folk song, recorded anywhere between 1960 through the present, but it isn't a modern song. So no Mumford & Sons. It's entirely in another language than English. My guess would be possibly nordic/scandinavian, and definitely germanic. Maybe Icelandic? I don't know.

It begins with a short intro that is simply a flute or pan pipe sounding instrument. And then it goes into a male vocalist singing. It has a very "warm" feel, and there are possibly strings. But again, I'm not certain.

It sounds more traditional folk than anything modern, and I wouldn't be surprised if it has been around for a while.

Just as another data point, I've only ever heard it on a mixtape made for me by a friend who is very into all kinds of folk music and scandinavian culture. Just to give more context because this is so vague, other songs on the mix included Apple Tree Wassail (again, not sure which version), the Pentagle version of Willy O Winsbury, and The Minotaur's Song by The Incredible String Band. Sadly, the mix tape was lost, and I'm no longer in touch with the friend who made it.

Here is a "doot-do" of what I remember of the male vocal part.

Any help is appreciated, thank you!
posted by moons in june to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The soundcloud link is dead. If it was at all intelligible, I was going to render it into musical notation for you. I'll try to remember to check back for an update.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:51 PM on January 7, 2014

Response by poster: Hopefully this works!
posted by moons in june at 9:58 PM on January 7, 2014

Does work, but I've gotta crash. Will try to get to it in the morning if nobody does it first.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:40 PM on January 7, 2014

One thing, though. What you're humming is quite syncopated. It's either not a folk tune, or else the version you heard was a modern updated neo version. Those rhythmic patterns weren't around (at least not in that form) before the 1960's or so.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:55 PM on January 7, 2014

The rest doesn't really match up, but the first seven notes sound like the vocal beginning of Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell. A Swedish cover came out in 2006, but there are probably dozens more cover versions out there in various languages.
posted by mikepop at 6:37 AM on January 8, 2014

Response by poster: Found the tracklist from the tape! It was Muzsikás - Betyárnóta (Outlaw Song).
posted by moons in june at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2014

Ah, you jazzed it up considerably in your hummed version!

If you like this sort of thing and want to take a step further away from what the ear finds familiar, consider Bulgarian folk music. The standard point of entry is Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, and if you like that (you'll get a quick idea from the samples), there's a wealth of great Bulgarian folk music, even less accessible to the western ear.

Another side of this vein is the jazzed-up versions of traditional Quebec music by Bottine Souriante. Check out this. Or here's a great track from their "Rock and Reel" recording. The pounding sound is from their dancers (wearing wooden clogs), who are also part of the recording.

Obviously, I'm just skimming icebergs here. If you have an open ear for musical beauty outside what the mainstream inundates you with, you are living in the greatest possible time for surfing and discovering and enjoying it. There's incredible music all over the world that most people never heard of (check out Brazilian choro, Serbian oro, Indonesian gamelon, Portuguese fado, Russian village music (look for Dmitri Pokrovski), Mexican banda, Indian karnatic) and a great many experts to guide you. A great start is to sign up for the New Sounds podcast. Host John Shaefer knows everything about everything. There's so much on YouTube. It's so easy to get started now than it was 25 years ago when I started exploring this stuff!
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:57 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Subletting apartment for Super Bowl?   |   Replacement toy missiles for 1970s era robot toy Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.