Folke Rabe: So that this song will not die /1999/
for large symphony orchestra

In Bosnia there is a unique two part singing tradition where the singers are alternating between unison and minor seconds. Occasionally chains of these intervals are following a pure unison. The jarring dissonants may seem rasping to Western ears. To the Bosnians, however, they are obviously an indispensable spice. "Listen, it sounds like a bell!" This is a music you cannot make alone. Two singers are a condition.

In the late winter of 1963 I made field recordings in a small Muslim village in the Romanija Mountains, 100 kilometers north of Sarajevo; an area that was one of the most ravaged during the war actions of the 1990s. Some of the songs I recorded were sung by two young women. The text to one of them says: "You have to give birth to another one like me, mother, so that this song will not die." A complex message. On one hand it is an expression for the consciousness of tradition, on the other hand it is a statement of the fact that you have to be two persons with equal voices in order to carry on this singing tradition.

In my orchestra piece these Bosnian music experiences make out a background. The song I just mentioned is exposed shortly before the very end of the work. In general, however, it is based on fragments from another song "Kad mladi vojnik na strazi stoji" about a young soldier who is stopping a young girl passing by.....

Folke Rabe, 2000-09-12