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:
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.
View the clip
Avdo Kino performance
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 email@example.com
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Milman Parry Collection © 2012