Keldáq and Keldáqimon

by Purple Wyrm on December 31, 2012

An significant aspect of Zurvár music is a form of harmony singing called keldáq (‘balance singing’). Keldáq has existed among the Zurvár for as long as their histories record and in addition to being a form of entertainment has a notable ceremonial aspect.

A full, traditional keldáqimon (‘balance singing group’) consists of five vocalists with no musical accompaniment,

1 Keldit Fodim (‘front singer’) – The fodim provides the main melody that the rest of the group follows.
1 Keldit Lârim (‘top singer’) – The lârim sings in a high falsetto, prefiguring and and echoing the lyrics sung by the fodim.
1 Keldit Burmá (anchor singer) – The burmá provides a rhythm by producing non-verbal sounds in a deep bass, interspersed with occasional echoes of the fodim‘s lyrics.
2 Keldit Nìad (back singers) – The mon nìad sing a counterpoint to the fodim and each other with a mix of echoed lyrics and non-verbal sounds. This is considered the most demanding role in the group.

A number of variations of keldáq exist. While many involve assigning additional singers to the roles, the most common is a simplified form called keldáq rèd (‘short keldáq‘), which uses only the fodim, lârim and one nìad. Use of instruments is more common in keldáq rèd than in full keldáq.

The most important ceremonial use of keldáq is on the sûln cârálân (‘day of the departed’). Held every five traditional years this is a commemoration of the community’s deceased and begins with the assembly of the population at the local cremation ground before dawn. As the sun rises a full keldáqimon perform the kelkârâ, a lengthy keldáq song sung in Old Zurvár. Properly timed, this should finish just as the sun clears the horizon. Being chosen to perform the kelkârâ is considered a major honor for a keldáqimon and in the larger settlements on Zurvár Arèáná there is fierce competition to be selected.

Keldáq is also used ceremonially at weddings and funerals, and any Zurvár party worth the name will feature some keldáq singing – if only at the hands of drunken attendees.

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