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f38 Village People


Curious about the living traditions of Slovakia, Andrew Cronshaw takes his notepad and camera to the tiny village of Šumiac.


of the experimental music she and others had done in the village’s community centre, involving live-resampling their female vocal trio. I was excited – it reminded me very much of a recording that’s been a big influ- ence on me, Svetozar Stracina’s impression- istic traditional music tape-edit soundscape Pastierska Hudba on an all-time favourite LP, Prix de Musique Folklorique de Radio Bratislava 1974.


Dajana’s subsequent messages and links told me about musical and seasonal life in the village, with lots of very strong and wonderful female and male polyphonic singing, dancing, a summer festival, tradi- tional customs including weddings, proces- sions, sledge races, ornate traditional cos- tumes, folk crafts, art, photography, and small-scale themed film festivals. A village of culture, Šumiac seemed to be, where people celebrate where they live and make things happen, all year round.


Dajana invited me there in August 2015 to find out more and do a bit of collabora- tive playing at their festival, Šumenie.


roots musicians in any country, among the first questions are “Where do you get your material? Are there living traditions? What happens in the villages?”


W The after-concert dance


e have European Capital of Culture, and Cities of Culture; I’d like to pro- pose Villages of Culture. When I’m interviewing


Dajana Margetová is a young Slovak traditional singer who lives, as her family has done for generations, in Šumiac (pro- nounced ‘shoomiats’), a village full of a lovely variety of wooden houses around a white-painted church in a green valley of the Low Tatras in north central Slovakia.


She sent me a Facebook message in 2014, with a rough video of a short concert


It’s a small village, and the festival, begun seven years ago as a photographic competition, is still small but gradually growing. It centres on the building housing the community hall and the primary school with an outdoor stage out back. On the vil- lage square in front of it tables are set out with food and local crafts, including those of a maker of fujaras, other Slovak flutes and, er, didgeridoos, and a maker of live- stock bells and traditional wide leather men’s belts. (Another villager, shepherd and


The start of the Kacierina procession


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