Sergio de la Ossa, ethnomusicologist, the former instructor of the Kodály Institute has created this guide to folk song analysis and the accompanying test exercises with solutions.

Photo: Miguel Souto

To whom is this guide addressed?

This analysis guide is primarily intended to help teachers who use folksong in the classroom, but it may be also useful for anyone who would like to know folksong in greater depth. The text aims to lead you step by step into folksong analysis. You can benefit from it no matter whether you are just now starting to discover folk music, an experienced folk singer, or a primary school teacher. You don’t need to be an expert to use this guide: you will probably be closer to that stage after you finish using it!

What will you find in this guide?

Folksongs from different countries, in different languages, which use (or used) to accompany various moments of people’s lives (e.g. work, play, dance or storytelling). Lullabies, wedding songs, laments and Christmas carols, among other songs, have been chosen as examples to analyse their constituent musical elements.

Special care has been taken in the selection of songs. First of all, these melodies needed to be clear examples of the musical element addressed. Other important criteria I considered were: variety of origin, language and genre; variety of scale, metre and other musical elements used; representation of the song’s given musical culture; reliability of the written source; song quality (inevitably, according to my personal taste, but always keeping in mind Kodály’s words: “only art of intrinsic value is suitable for children!”).

Analysis: what for?

The data obtained from analysis may be useful for: 1) selecting, ordering and sequencing songs for pedagogical purposes, according to their musical characteristics; 2) determining the genre, historical layer or origin of songs; 3) identifying typical and rare elements of your own people’s music in your repertoire, or recognizing broader similarities and differences between musics (distinguishing music of other peoples from your own’s, or perceiving similarities between them).

In addition, analysis may be one of the tools, and a valuable one at that, through which we can experience the mastery present in folksongs, once described by Kodály and Bartók as models of simple forms. In more advanced levels, analysis helps deciphering complexity present in several features of folksong (e.g.: ornamentation, polyphony, variation etc.).

You will find more information about the objectives in the Foreword of the guide.



About Kodályhub

The Kodály HUB is a public on-line Knowledge Centre in which a Musicbook, a Community, a Calendar and further resources are available to assist teachers in their everyday work. The Songbook contains several hundred songs and music listening materials from all over the world. The songs are analysed using many key, searchable parameters and (when relevant) accompanied by a game or movement activity to support the teaching objectives and increase the enjoyment of the lesson. 

The Kodály HUB was created under an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Programme Kodály HUB - Sing. Learn. Share.

In 2019, 2020, 2021, the maintenance of the Kodály HUB has been supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and the "Everyday Singing" programme of the Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary, the fee of the logo registration was covered by the National Research and Development Office of Hungary.

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Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music
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