Robert McFall discusses the influence of folk music in Hungarian music

Dear SCO audience,

As an illustration to the short pre-concert talk I’m giving before the concert next week, here are some YouTube clips you might enjoy.

I shall talk about the influence of folk music on Bartók, including an account of his folk music collecting. Here are some of the original field recordings he made which he later arranged in his “Rumanian Dances”, the orchestrated version of which we often perform in the SCO:

And here is another example of how he arranged Hungarian folk tunes – Three Hungarian Folk Songs from Csík:

As an illustration of how demanding it was to transcribe such folk music, here is a page of Bartók’s transcription of a folk song:


I shall be talking about “polymodality”. Here is an amusing example, in which Bartók throws different modes together (the right hand is all flats, while the left hand is all naturals – other passages become increasingly buzzy and chromatic) – “From the diary of a fly”:

I shall also be talking about the delight Bartók derived from the irregular rhythms which he found in some folk music – most extremely in Bulgarian music: “Six Dances In Bulgarian Rhythm”, number 6:

and another good example of “polymodality” (mixing different modes or scales) – “Ostinato”:

I shall be talking about his use of the Lydian mode in the last movement of Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste. Here is a really simple piece: “Lydian Mode”:

and, for good measure, “in Mixolydian Mode” (G major with an F natural):

I look forward to pursuing such thoughts further next week!

All the best,

Robert McFall