- Croatian Traditional Music Recordings: The 1990s and 2000s
An online search for Croatian music in the folk and world music departments of global cultural shops such as Amazon.com brings up a small selection of recordings, typically klapa ensembles, American-based tamburitza groups, perchance a city folklore ensemble, unusual cocktail compilations, and only a handful of releases that would be considered, from the domestic, especially ethnomusicological perspective, worthy representatives of "Croatian traditional music." Likewise, browsing through audiographies in professionally based, English-language music encyclopedias reveals differences between domestic and foreign writers' perspectives on the subject. So, for instance, Mark Forry's entry in Europe: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (2000) includes releases from the whole second half of the twentieth century, produced for international labels by foreign researchers and collectors such as Laura Boulton, Peter Kennedy and Albert Lord, Martin Koenig, Wolf Dietrich, and Wolfgang and Dagmar Laade. These releases are placed primarily within the framework of Yugoslavia. By contrast, Grozdana Marošević's entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001) comprises, with one exception, exclusively Croatian releases; more precisely, she includes overviews of traditional regional musics by the leading producer, Croatia Records (known as Jugoton until 1991), with the addition of one album of Dalmatian klapa singing and one of children's folklore. This would indicate that the domestic understanding and production of Croatian traditional music recordings differs significantly from external ones.
The intention of this review essay is to identify the main features of Croatian traditional music record production since the beginning of the 1990s, paying special attention to the domestic classifications of izvorna (authentic) and stilizirana/obraðena (stylized/arranged) folk music and tradition-based popular music. We will also be concerned with the intent of discographic releases (from ethnographic releases to local souvenirs to commercial releases), the characteristics of the production process itself, social processes that influence the dynamics of Croatian traditional music record production, and the effects of the recorded product itself. In comparison with most of the twentieth century, there has been an outburst of production since the 1990s. It is hard to gauge the exact number of releases in the last twenty years, but a rough estimation yields around 1,500 items, including those created with rather localized ambitions and scope; approximately one third of them pertain to klapa singing, a third to tamburitza music, and another third to the sphere of authentic and stylized traditional musics. Therefore, we shall concentrate on main characteristics and trends and single out the most important and more easily obtained releases.
Canonizing Izvorna Versus Stilizirana Folk Music
Among the "significant changes" that have marked European traditional musics since the 1950s, namely "festivalization, orientation toward public performance, professionalization, internationalization, institutionalization, and mediaization" (Ronström and Malm 2000:149), processes of festivalization and the related institutionalization of traditional musicians have an unquestionable primacy in Croatia. Since the [End Page 331] 1930s, the production of folklore festivals (the most important site for the application of ethnomusicological, ethnochoreological, folkloristic, and ethnological scholarship in Croatia) played a major role in the canonization of traditional music—that is, in configuring particular genres and styles as legitimate traditions and in distinguishing particular performers as legitimate bearers of tradition. At the same time, the adjudicators and expert advisors, including scholars, gained heightened status as connoisseurs of tradition. In Croatia today, (canonized) traditional music is to a large degree practiced in relation to folklore festivals. Rehearsals for and performances at festivals are the most important practices in traditional music, and festivals serve as a strong incentive for the continuation of these activities, which are understood as the way to safeguard traditional music. Indeed, festivals and/or similar events have a well established, if not inevitable, role in representing diverse communities, traditional or otherwise, in Croatia (see Ceribašć 2003 on the history and ethnography of folklore festivals in Croatia).
The process of the discographic production of traditional music is dependent on concepts and practices associated with festivals. Singers and players who participate in...