string quartets are the most
original and important body of music in this venerable genre since
Beethoven." Gerard Schwarz
With your help the first part of this documentary mini series will look for an answer to Bartók's great fear about the disappearance of folk songs as a living oral tradition from the daily life of the people in Transylvania. Our documentary will recollect several samples of the remaining folk songs as they exist today.
As the father of a folk violinist and a classical music lover myself, I am aware of the recent flourishing world and folk music culture. For the last 40 years the 'Táncház' movement was one of the main indicator of the living folk culture in the Carpathian Basin. This movement and the respect I have for those involved in the research for the last hundred year will have a great effect on the documentary.
"Peasant music…is just as much a natural phenomena as for instance the various manifestations of nature – Flora and Fauna…" says Béla Bartók, one of the most important composer of the twentieth century. Bartók was also one of the founders of ethnomusicology. He collected and classified 7000 Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Arab, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ruthenian songs!
His predecessors used various written methods to notate all necessary information about folk songs and folk traditions. Besides the traditional methods of collecting and analyzing folk music, Bartók used an additional idiosyncratic element considered to be pioneering in his times: he recorded instrumental and vocal music with a phonograph. The phonograph enabled him to capture the authentic voice of the peasants and the sound of their mostly individually tailored instruments. The folk song recording process became less abstract and more tangible with the help of the phonograph.
My ultimate plan is to follow up on Bartók's last minute attempt to preserve the traces of archaic folk music in Algeria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Turkey and film the state of folk culture as it is today.
In our project we will follow the path of Bartók's first collecting
trip in 1907 and retrace the villages and possibly the "grandchildren" of the people Bartók met in the Carpathian Basin.
This region served as the gate keeper of Europe since the Roman legions withdrew in 271 AD and it was overrun by a succession of various tribes and nations. As the result of the continuous changes and migrations, Transylvania became the great melting pot for many nations. Some of them were isolated by mountains or often by 'grand politics' from the mainstream for several decades. That is one of the main reason why those people who have survived and live there today has preserved this archaic music culture.
Our small team of filmmakers will board a train from the same terminal as Bartók did, the iconic Eastern Train Station in Budapest and travel to Transylvania.
We will use Bartók's numerous letters and writings has been published to give us a compass during the shoot and to narrate the film.
"It would probably be difficult for you to imagine the great amount of toil and labour connected with our work of collection. In order to secure musical material uninfluenced by urban culture, we had to travel to villages as far as possible removed from urban centres and lines of communication." Béla Bartók “The Folk Songs of Hungary” (1928)
As a powerful illustrative element of our and Bartók’s journey to reach the remote Transylvanian villages we will use a horse and cart on one or two occasions to transport our crew and filming equipment.
We have to visit this beautiful region frequently to record enough samples for the documentary. We are planning to film ordinary people and singers, instrumentalists performing only for us like they did for Bartók's phonograph, and also we hope to observe events such as weddings and funerals where we might find people singing and playing in their natural environment.
Bartók used to record and later analyze folk songs
with the help of an 'Edison gramophone'. The gramophone also known as
the phonograph, was the state of the art recording instrument from the
late nineteenth century. Similarly to Bartók's approach, we will use
top quality recording equipment following Bartók's meticulous scientific
method adding the best possible visual dimension to it: high definition digital motion pictures.
We will use the most advanced sound and image recording devices available
today as far as our budget allows us to have. We will have experienced,
dedicated professional documentary filmmakers working behind every piece
Our first aim is to produce an hour long film which is entertaining, engaging, educational and easy for everyone to understand.
Following the footsteps of Béla Bartók by collecting the remains of folk songs in Transylvania with similar respect and attention, we also hope to preserve something extremely important for future scientist, musicians, composers and music enthusiasts. The archaic musical idioms Bartók has discovered collecting and studying folk songs is a unique heritage not only for the peasants of Eastern Europe, but for all of us. We hope to add another layer to Bartók's important work by making this documentary.
"We have so few written cultural memories [...] thus, folk music is forced to fill the gap left by missing historical accounts." Zoltán Kodály
We are also planing to build an on-line sound / video library of the recorded materials open to the public.
Our documentary has been supported by well renowned musicians and educators like Beáta Salamon, Tibor Szász and Tamás Hegedűs.
This documentary is a mission for us, not only to preserve something essential of world culture, but to put a spotlight on something beautiful and vital in our rat race like life!
My goal of $19.000 will cover the production costs of the first episode we plan to film in Transylvania. This is a tight budget covering transportation, equipment rental, media, lodging, insurance, performance and expert fees, financing the rewards and the fees Indiegogo will charge us for the project.
If the funds are more than the goal we set, our film crew can go ahead and start to film the other regions Bartók was collecting from.