The Metrics of Seto Choral Laments in the Context of Runosong Metrics


  • Janika Oras
  • Žanna Pärtlas
  • Mari Sarv
  • Andreas Kalkun



Seto runosong and laments, Finnic runosong and lament tradition, choral and solo laments, musical performance


The aim of this paper is to get an overview of the lament metrics in Seto oral song tradition, which belongs to the southern border area of the Finnic song tradition, and the placement and historical development of lament metrics in the framework of the whole Seto oral song tradition. In the paper the metrical structures of two main genres of Seto choral laments – choral bridal laments and death laments – are analysed that share common features with solo laments and are similar to the structures of Seto runosongs. Metrical structures of the laments are detected based on sound recordings, taking into account the linguistic structure of the lines and the varied realization of it in a musical performance rhythm.

The analysis showed that laments’ metrics where 5-unit end structures play an important role, differs the most from the main body of runosongs and is structurally more similar to a group of runosongs with refrains and varying line length. Outlining the development patterns of the metrical system of Seto songs, the influences of local unique musical tradition with varied rhythmic structures atypical of the most runosong area, specific functions of ritual song genres, historical changes in language, as well as possible external connections to early eastern and southern song cultures are highlighted.


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Author Biography

Andreas Kalkun