EMIGRANT MELODIES (2021)
video (5 min, 10 sec), hand made musical instruments
(Ailanthus horn, Japanese knotweed overtone flute)
For the past 5 years Kitti Gosztola and Bence György Pálinkás have been exploring the term of “emigrant melodies” defined by composer Béla Bartók in his essay on Race Purity of Music (1942) as melodies that cross linguistic barriers because of emigration. In their new cultural environment, foreign melodies adapt to local language and traditions thus becoming an integral part of the specific local culture.
In their research the artists connect the phenomena to the migration of plants, which are the material for producing folk instruments such as flutes and horns. Brought to Europe in the colonial era (because of human intervention), the invasive species such as black locust, tree of heaven or Japanese knotweed have bred rapidly, often damaging local ecosystems. Cultivated on a large scale for utilitarian purposes, some of them also have increasing economic value.
The artists use the interdependencies between nature and humans to question the balance of positive and negative impact of migration. They explore the history of folk music and the exploitation of foreign plants to address pertinent socio-political issues. The version of the work prepared for the Art Encounters Biennial features Romanian and Hungarian cross-cultural folk melodies in reference to the complex political and ethnic history of the two countries.
Folk songs in the video:
Elindultam szép hazámból (Collected by Béla Bartók, Békésgyula, 1906)
Inimă, dî ce nu mori? (Collected by Bálint Sárosi, Méhkerék / Micherechi, 1973)
Mioriţa (Collected by Gheorghe Prichici and Adrian Fochi, Tulnici (Focșani / Foksány, Galati / Galac, 1956))
Szép fehér pekulár (Collected by Pál Péter Domokos, Klézse / Cleja, 1957)
Singer: Gergő Pojendán
English translation: Anna Bentley
Hungarian and Romanian translation: Alexandru Polgár
Additional footages: Sári Ember
Special thanks to Viola Biró, István Pávai and Kata Riskó researchers of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.