THE CRIES OF ITINERANT TRADERS OF GDANSK (1762-1765)
In the years 1762-1765, an engraving workshop in Gdansk belonging to M. Deisch (1724-1789) published a cycle of 40 etchings known today as 'Die Danziger Ausrufer' (The Gdansk Criers). The etchings show street traders, craftsmen and entertainers, and the texts of the verbal and musical cries of these pedlars. These are men, women and boys, who use the local variant of the German language, with an admixture of Dutch, Kashubian and Polish words. The cries are given a musical, but non-artistic form; they are not in the form of songs. The typicality and functonality of the musical form of the cries recorded on the etchings shows that the notation is close to the living original encountered in the streets: among other things, the selection of vocal registers, the ambit of the melodies, the natural concordance of the words, the melodies and the rhythm, the simplicity. The author of the musical record (who may have been Kunegunda Czacka, an aristocrat and a talented promoter of art) tried to record with precision the significant differentiation in the rhythm, the temporal progresss of the cries, and even attempted to record the movements of the criers, also using non-standard signs. Recording the cries in musical notation may have caused them to be smoothed out to some extent, sometimes to be too clearly delineated or to be stripped of some details which would have been difficult to record at that time. However, it is because they were recorded and published at all that we now have an approximate picture of the cries of Gdansk itinerant traders. What makes this publication all the more interesting is that it was produced in a century which precedes the development of professional collecting of folk music and the study of folklore.
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