Friday, January 04, 2008

Epic man on a string

Listening to Friends of Old time Music, a landmark Smithsonian collection from the early 60s. ON Disc 2 Doc Watson sings the "Hicks' Farewell", in which a guy about to die or somesuch writes home to his kin. In the song, a Watson's sings accompanied by a violin, which tracks the melody alongside the lyric and does almost nothing else. This in turn reminded me of a scene from an early Kusturica movie (I think it is Do you remember Dolly Bell) where a father figure sits in a courtyard and plays the gusla and sings a plaint for Bosnia as the protagonist and his older brother wrestle in the stone courtyard and grind each others faces into the stone. I think there's a similar epic tradition in Persian and/or India, an epic tune sung to the tight melodic accompaniment of rudimentary stringed instrument. It'd be interesting to dig into this parallel for real, in my ample spare time.