Klapa singing is a multipart singing phenomenon of the urban Dalmatia. Originally, the term refers to the singing groups (4-10 male singers - klapa) that sing specific repertoire of Dalmatian klapa songs (klapska pjesma). The term "klapa" appeared in the mid-19th century in Dalmatia, initially denoting a group of friends. About the same time, group singing appeared to be later associated with the term.
The leader of the singing group is the highest voice - I. tenor, followed by several II. tenori, baritoni and basi voices. Multipart singing, a capella homophonic singing, oral tradition and simple music making are the main features of traditional klapa singing.     Another important feature of the klapa is the ability to sing freely, without the help of the notation of tunes and their harmonisation. During the performance, singers stand in the recognizable setup, tight semi-circle, communicating occasionally by the hand gestures and moves of the singing leader - I. tenor. I. tenor starts the singing followed by the others in a specific manner (singing formulas) where II. tenori sing in parallel thirds, basi feature the major key functions and baritoni "fill" the harmony of the chords. Technically, klapa singers express their mood by means of open guttural, nasal, serenade-like sotto voce and falsetto singing, and usually in high-pitched tessitura. The main aim of the singers is to achieve the best possible blend of voices. Topics of klapa songs usually deal with love, familiar life situations, and the environment in which they live. Love, though, is the predominant theme. 
    The bearers and practitioners of the klapa singing are skilled amateur singers that learned the tradition from their predecessors. Although the singers are most frequently brought together by similar interests or jobs, there are many instances where, for example, a teacher and a peasant, or a physician and a fisherman, sing together. However, joy of singing is the basic condition of their association in the informal, as well as in formal - organized klapa groups. They could be found on street corners, serenading under windows, or in a konoba ("wine cellar") as well as performing on the stage.
    The age of the singers also vary; there are many klapas where younger people sing "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the older singers; fathers and sons, or other family relationships, are quite common in klapas.
Considering all the musical and social circumstances, several models in the historical expansion of klapa singing can be recognized - traditional klapa, festival klapa and modern klapa.
    The organized klapa models introduced new roles in the process of the transmission of the tradition - klapa leaders and composers, usually but not necessarily trained professionals. The klapa's popularity led to the establishment of the first festivals of klapa singing, a network of various klapa festivals and performing activities. Over the years, klapa groups, singers, leaders, composers, and a repertoire have become increasingly well-known as the creators of klapa singing movement, not only in Dalmatia, where it emerged, but also beyond the borders of the local and regional communities.

Canadian video of klapa singing




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    Local and regional communities are very proud of having klapa singing as a central marker of their musical identity. Therefore, they would like klapa singing to continue in the future. The optimistic, humanitarian message that klapa singing proclaims through performance is a role model for new generations in local communities, which are willing to support klapa singing in the future, incorporating as it does respect for diversity, creativity and communication. There is great confidence in its capacity to facilitate interpersonal and social interaction within communities, as well as in relation to the national and international community.
    Klapa singers, bearers and active performers of their tradition are responsible for the transmission, through non-formal education. The organized formal education system for this tradition does not exist at present.
    A dominant role in the formation of the “rules” that emphasise the true value of klapa singing has been taken by the Omiš Festival. The Festival, in collaboration with researchers of the music phenomena, identified the general feature of the musical style: established the role of the first tenor as the most appreciated of all the klapa voices, and fixed both the number of singers (4-8) and the number of voices (four-part singing) all in order to protect and preserve informal music tradition. Over the years, the Festival has introduced various repertoires of traditional and newly-composed klapa songs, promoted leaders of klapa groups, created well-known composers and arrangers for klapa group singing, and launched prominent singers. The establishment of the competitive klapa festival has had a significant impact on the history of klapa singing, which, over the years, has become well-known, not only in the Dalmatia, where the musical phenomena emerged, but also beyond the local and regional communities.

Dana 5. prosinca 2012. klapsko pjevanje upisano je na UNESCO-ov Reprezentativni popis nematerijalne kulturne baštine čovječanstva


http://www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=8295

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