"Avdo Kino"

From The Milman Parry Collection

In the years 1934-35, Milman Parry's ethnographic research in the former Yugoslavia yielded over 3500 aluminum disks of recordings of South Slavic heroic songmaking, plus a wealth of transcripts. There was also this one short "kino" recording of Avdo Mededovic, whom Parry considered the "most talented" of all the singers he worked with (see Lord, Singer of Tales p. 78). In this kind of oral tradition, there is no "script," since the technology of writing is not required for composition-in-performance. This means that every performance is a new composition, and no song is ever sung in the same way twice.

One of Avdo's compositions, recorded by Milman Parry of Harvard, was over 12,000 lines long.

What is a "line" here? Avdo's basic medium of remembering: heroic song.

The basic unit is the heroic decasyllable.

The basic rhythm of this unit is

- u - u - u - u - u.

Parry and Lord applied what they learned about oral composition, that is, composition in performance, to the Homeric texts. They showed for the first time that Homeric poetry was not only traditional, but oral, and that it must be studied as such.

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Avdo Kino performance
16 MB

Text and Translation


All materials in the photo and film archive are ©2012 by the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature and the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Please contact the curators at mpc@fas.harvard.edu with questions about the use of these materials.


Milman Parry Collection © 2012