Accepted paper:

Deconstructing utopia on Youtube: a case of Klapa singing and Ljubo Stipišić


Jaksa Primorac (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

The paper describes how a research of YouTube recordings dismantled the theory of autochthonous genesis of Dalmatian klapa singing, which was created primarily by Ljubo Stipišić, and linked klapa singing to Italian and Greek traditions.

Paper long abstract:

Deep interconnectedness of rich musical heritage and a utopian quest for a lost Mediterranean paradise is accomplished in various ways in discursive practices of Dalmatian klapa singing in Croatia. A mythical and nostalgic imagery of Dalmatia is expressed primarily through verses, tunes, and performances of klapa songs, but also through klapa participants’ rhetoric and their significant social status. Ljubo Stipišić Delmata (1938-2011), a "patriarch of klapa singing," played a major role in shaping and presenting of this klapa image. During the past decade, many klapa video clips were uploaded on Youtube. This material reveals the past, strengthens the present, and ensures the future of klapa social formation. The case of klapa recordings is not exceptional in this regard; however, as a researcher, I was truly astonished to find out that these recordings completely subvert and deconstruct Stipišić's utopist theory about autochthonous genesis of kl apa singing. Unexpectedly, examples of contemporary singing styles from Greece (Ionian Islands) and Italy (region of Quattro Province) in musical terms are deeply akin to klapa singing and, therefore, testify about same common roots, which could be traced to Italy. This could lead us to some general questions: How much does YouTube influence processes of opening of certain musical cultures towards a close or a distant Other? How will YouTube contribute to the survival of various traditional musics? Regarding legal regulations, until when will YouTube serve as the biggest audio-visual archive (repository) in the world's history? How and to what extent will it expand?

panel SPS002
Idealism, Utopia and (post)Yugoslav popular music