A couple of years ago I was browsing YouTube videos when a video popped of a 1941 recording of an old Slovenian choir song Lipa zelenela je (“The linden tree grows green”). I knew the song only too well. It was a ubiquitous sonic feature of my growing up in the socialist Slovenia/Yugoslavia, part of choir repertoires, and a popular funeral song (as it is today). Hence it was generally disliked at the time by myself and my peers, and also became a matter of pop musical reinterpretations. Lačni Franz, for example, took the title and ironicised the funeral motive in his reinterpretation of the song. However, I hardly knew anything about the 1941 recording that, found on YT about 75 years later, shows two images, one of a map of occupied Slovenia during the Second World War (1941–1945) and another of Ljubljana under fascist occupation (1941–1943).
We live in deeply paradoxical times. Everybody has access to more music than ever, but at the same time music is becoming less and less powerful as a social activity. Music – especially popular music – does still affect society, but not the way it did decades ago. All around the western world, music venues are rapidly disappearing or barely surviving at the margins. Pocket loudspeakers occasionally disturb social “peace”, but earphones seem to inscribe definite symbolic boundaries in everyday reality, at home and in public.
Still, music’s basic appeal has not changed, with it being the most effective symbolic practice that catches both the whole body and the mind. It is essentially intimate, social and common at the same time. Live music will not disappear so easily.
In this short post I will present some thoughts related to continuous encounters with various music venues in Slovenia in several capacities – as part of the audience, as an active participant in the establishment and short-term operation of such a venue, as a musician, and, finally, as a researcher. In the 1990s I studied the Rock and Youth Club in the Slovenian village of Trate, which eventually became a dissertation-based monograph.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic not only determines our agenda but also surrounds us all. What we do and what we cannot, everything is related to it. We live through the pandemic and speak its language. Our way of seeing the present world, our ways of understanding the past and envisioning the future are all under transformation. This epistemological shift, most probably, will become more distinctive in the following days and we will discuss it a lot. My intention here is to think about how our relationship with music gets and can get its share of this transformation.