Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bocet in my back yard

Bocet: Lament for a dead father, Romania
12" x 12", oil on luan, 2012
It's all happening in my back yard. All my favorite musicians have been visiting and they came from all over the world. I had Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix over to play some soccer, just a week ago I had some girls from Borneo prepare the rice. I had tons of live music happening, from Guatemalan street musicians to a performance by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, there's been naked people, Muslim women that only showed their eyes, Siberian people dressed to withstand extreme (cold) temperatures, cannibals, and pacifists, and now there's a funeral going on. Maybe it's time to do some further landscaping, to make the background more inviting. Especially since one of my next visitors will be my sister, and she is for real. What I really need to do is to make the house presentable, because my sister, unlike all the luminaries I've painted, will also come inside. The three sisters in the painting, lamenting the death of their father, are not the same Romanian women that lamented their brother on a 1930s recording by the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, that will feature in this year's Top 100. There's actually only one woman singing the Lament for a dead brother. The song is, of course, also represented on the CD Keening Songs and Death Wails I recently compiled. The following text accompanies the Romanian Bartok recordings:

"The woman designated at the funeral to bewail the death in Romania is called a bocitorre (comp. voceratrice in Corsica), and the lament a bocet (vocerata in Corsica). The tradition of funeral lamentation in Romania is similar to those of other catholic countries. The laments are often sung by relatives of the deceased but sometimes a professional wailer is hired. The bocitorres on the LP Folk Music of Rumania (as Romania was spelled) are relatives of the deceased except in Lament for the dead which is sung by a professional. It is also the only bocet that has a musical accompaniment (in the form of a flute). All bocitorres are anonymous on the LP that was released by the Folkways label of Moses Asch in 1968. The recordings however, all made by the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, are much older. (Smithsonian-Folkways on their website, gives 1951 as recording year, but this can’t be true: Bela Bartok died in 1945. He was living at this time in New York City. I suspect the recordings stem from the 1930s, or even earlier)."

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