|Putting aside questions concerning functionality, the
interplay between the stage culture and grassroots
activity, and the originality or otherwise of
contemporary idioms, the fact remains that much of the
output of the groups in terms of new material is, in one
way or another, recognizably Corsican. Behind the
rhetoric there are tangible veins of kinship linking
many, if not all, of todays more exotic flowers to
a common complex of roots. To ask to what extent these
offerings on the altar of Corsican culture qualify as a
logical and legitimate evolution of the tradition is,
perhaps, to ask the wrong question. As the world appears
to spin ever faster, the notion of tradition
in itself becomes ever more problematic.
Aspects of the contemporary oeuvre as discussed in the present article might, perhaps, be viewed in terms of new aesthetic, a concept introduced by Stekert (1993) in her analysis of the folk revival in the United States and applied to those musicians who did not set out to imitate or emulate traditional practitioners directly but rather developed a synthetic style which, while drawing on traditional forms (as well as classical, pop and jazz) and being sited in opposition to more commercial popular genres, nonetheless represented a separate music culture which had its manifestation primarily in formalised performance contexts even if it was popularly described as folk or traditional. Here a parallel can usefully be drawn with the new aesthetic of Bulgarian choral music represented by the various state ensembles with their repertoire of arranged, recomposed and composed material in a recognizable idiom - which was, after all, one of the inspirations for groups like Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses (12). Even if the dislocation of such material from folk contexts is acknowledged, the aesthetic of this new style remains distinctively Bulgarian and is indeed the sound that many world audiences would associate with Bulgaria in the absence of a broader acquaintance with traditional rural genres.
Whilst drawing on Stekerts model it has, of course, to be acknowledged that - as noted at the outset of this discussion - those who operate in the language of Corsicas new aesthetic are not outsiders to the folk traditions from which it has drawn sustenance: they do not, as did many of the new aesthetic camp of the American revival, come from a different class, race or landscape. On the other hand, it must also be noted that, despite their public prominence, they remain numerically very much in the minority: the greater majority are witnesses to, rather than practitioners of, this new aesthetic which in some ways threatens to overshadow the older aesthetic that still has its place in their day-to-day lives.
Meanwhile, the new aesthetic itself continues to move on. Whether any particular manifestation will stand still for long enough to register itself as a potential candidate for the traditional label, as opposed to simply being seen in retrospect as a passing phase, remains to be seen. Perhaps, by the end of the twenty first century, we will in any case no longer find the concept of tradition either useful or relevant.
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