Author: Julia Ulehla
Publication details: In From Folklore to World Music: In the Beginning There Was…, edited by Irena Přibylová and Lucie Uhlíková, 114-23. Náměšt nad Oslavou: Municipal Cultural Center, 2016.
Description: This presentation explores the sources, both real and imagined, of a diasporic performance
practice/auto-ethnographic research on Moravian folk song. The New York/Vancouver based Dálava project incorporates folk melodies from Slovácko that were transcribed by Vladimír Úlehla in the first half of the 20th century. Úlehla used his expertise in the biological sciences to perform an in-depth and novel study of folk songs from the town of Strážnice, and he considered the songs to be living organisms that were intimately related to their ecological environs. Inspired by his ideas of living song, but confronted with the reality of a deep cultural and familial heritage severed by diaspora, Vladimír’s great-granddaughter Julia Ulehla has taken the seeds of the folk songs and transplanted them into the ecological and cultural environs of her urban North American home. Along with musicians from avant-garde musical communities in these cities, she created musical microcosms around the song transcriptions, in an effort to re-animate, re-contextualize, and re-oral-ize the archival song materials into sound and body. Despite forces of dispersion, obstruction, and hybridization, what of the original source(s) can be made manifest? What is authentic in this case? What is borrowed, stolen, or rightfully owned?