Sunday, November 1, 2015
Bertsolaritza or bertsolarism is the art of singing extemporary composed songs in Basque according to various melodies and rhyming patterns. Bertsos can be composed at a variety of occasions but are performed generally by one or various bertsolaris onstage in an event arranged for the purpose or as a sideshow, in homage ceremonies, in benefit lunches and suppers, with friends or at a competition.
Such a sung piece of composition is called a bertso, the person who sings it is called a bertsolari and the art of composing bertsos is called bertsolaritza in Basque. Traditionally these were sung by men but there is an increasing number of young female bertsolaris today.
There are scores of possible tunes which can be used for singing a bertso, stemming from traditional songs that once caught on and embedded themselves in folk culture. They are all, however, unaccompanied.
Any topic can occur in a bertso, anything from world politics to a humorous discussion about sex. Nowadays, the topic most used is politics. Bertsolaris criticize the state they are living on today's society.
A bertsolari might for example be asked to pretend to be a 17-year-old girl who has come home at 3 am to realise she has lost her house keys and must ring the doorbell. Bertsolaris may be required to compose an argument between two family members or to look at a topic from a philosophical point of view. The audience and the judges value humor as much as poetic value.