"Kresnice" Making Their Rounds in Bela Krajina: Their Sound Image and Semiological Framework


  • Igor Cvetko




When considering his topic the author limited himself to so the sources he believes to be "undisputable": to Štrekelj's collection of Slovene National Songs (in four Volumes) and to the sound recordings themselves, with both examples of recorded songs and of evidence from the field. The description of an ideal or typical rounds-making by "kresnice" ('i.e. maids who in Midsummernight make rounds and with ceremonial or ritual singing pray for a good harvest), in fact two or only occasionally three groups of maids singing to the accompaniment of a "piskač" (piper), originally "dudaš" (bagpiper), and of the St. John's fire itself, is followed by an analysis of the musical part of the midsummernight festivity which in many respects complements the semiological framework of this custom; it sheds light on its strictly ritual nature, and points out its regular annual character - which all is a guarantee that the "charm" indeed works. Interesting is the way how midsummernight melodies are sung: in antiphonal way two groups of female singers sing in response one to the other, in characteristic "over taking" and "lagging behind", in the form of a "peasant canon" (S. Vurnik). The polyphony created in this way (with the end of one stanza overlapping with the beginning of the second) has a definite magic sense: "the sound gap", if created, could be - according to popular belief - the place where "an evil spirit", the Devil, might hide himself, and this would instead of good luck and good wishes to be brought by "kresnice" denote bad luck, misfortune for the home and the field, when and if this occurred. Therefore the function of the piper is most probably in ensuring a continuous flow of sound in the ceremony. In the continuation the author deals also with the rhythmic structure of carols, analyzes their textual framework, stresses the significance of asking for gifts, and presents the findings within the semiological framework of this truly ancient ritual "in honour of the Sun".


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1. 12. 1996




How to Cite

Cvetko, I. (1996). "Kresnice" Making Their Rounds in Bela Krajina: Their Sound Image and Semiological Framework. Musicological Annual, 32(1), 121-130. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.32.1.121-130