Louis Peter Grijp
From the Dialectal Song to Country Rock: Music and Regional Identity
Researching music written and sung in local dialects, one discovers that the assump-tion that dialectal singing - the folk song - is encountered foremost among country folk is simply not true. In fact, folk song specialists have noted the exact opposite: while the people may speak a certain dialect, they sing in standard Dutch because it has more prestige. For centuries intellectuals have written songs in dialect. For example, Bredero and Vondel used the Amsterdam dialect for satirical purposes. In the 17th century, the Frisian poet Gysbert Japix published his light-hearted poems and serious psalms in Frisian. He considered Frisian a fully fledged cultural language and his poems manifest a difference in status between Frisian and the dialects. In the 19th century, Frisian played a pioneering role in dialectal singing. Noteworthy is the absence of old folk songs and traditional melodies. Two types of music can be distinguished, which somewhat form a link between the traditional folk songs and the Romantic elite songs, and contemporary regional music. First, there is `folk', the intellectual revival of folk music. Second, there is a regional resonance of musical trends in the west of the Netherlands (particularly in Hilversum), in the area of cabaret, sentimental tunes and romantic ballads, with carnival songs occupying a special place. Nowadays, dialectal music is only eschewed by the regional radio stations in the heavily urbanised area in the west of the Netherlands. Beyond the `randstad', radio managers ascribe the success of provincial music to the existence of a regional consciousness. In contemporary dialectal music, themes such as humour, the landscape, nature and nostalgia play a great role. It blends typical regional features with contemporary musical styles, including rock, the `chanson', country & western and texmex. Dialect is used to indicate that the music is by the `people', and thus represents one of the pillars of a desired traditional identity.