About Netta Hibsher
Although music theory has not been a very central theme in recent folk music scholarship in Sweden, some music-theoretical subjects have had a certain significance, directly or indirectly, in folk music pedagogy and musical production. In particular, the idea that older or indigenous layers of the music are characterised by “older tonality”, or modality, has been able to inform performance and composition. Although ideas on mode in relation to Swedish folk music are not uniform, but rather a complex of different approaches, the application of modal terminology may still create the impression that the music-theoretical concept of mode is a stable one. My study therefore aims to de-naturalise the concept of modality in the context of Swedish folk music. To do so it asks what conceptions of modality have emerged in relation to Swedish folk music since the beginning of music-theoretical discussions of it, as well as what these conceptions have consisted of in terms of music-theoretical arguments, approach to folk music, and relation to the musical practice. To answer these questions it traces the development of various conceptions of mode since the early 19th century, and offers a close reading of each of these concepts in the context of the music-theoretical premises available at each particular period. It then proposes to analyse how mode conceptions are constructed, and what this construction entails. This leads to a broader discussion of mode as an open concept, emphasising its aspects of emergence and acquiring of cultural value, and exploring its regulative force within musical production.