Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian Scale

Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian Scale is a complex style of folk music found even outside Istria and the Croatian Littoral, but it is most compactly preserved precisely in this area. Basically, two-part singing is based on non-tempered tone relations and a characteristic color of tone that is achieved in vocal music by powerful singing, partly through the nose.

There is often a degree of improvisation and variation during the performance in both voices, but endings in unison or in octave remain as a strict rule. This feature can be noticed in bugarenje sub-style, too, regardless of the fact that the lower voice drops additionally for a second or a diminished third.

Most of tone rows consist of four to six tones. Metro-rhythmical organization, formal structure and structure of the sung text range from simple to very complex patterns, and the relationship between music and lyrics is specific.  (Source: Ministry of Culture,

Istrian scale

Ivan Matetić Ronjgov, composer and folklorist, researched and transcribed Istrian melodies and helped interpret the Istrian scale. Thanks to him, folk music from Istria and the Kvarner regions has been included in the tonal system of artistic music.

He was the first to define the Istrian scale and explain the semitone intervals that are the basis of this folk music, which became part of the Croatian tradition in the Kvarner and Istria regions. By providing the theoretical explanation of the Istrian scale, Matetić established the basis for composing artistic music in this specific scale.

His birth house is located in Ronjgi, a small village on a hill close to the centre of Viškovo. It is today the seat of the ‘Ivan Matetić Ronjgov’ institution, which is committed to preserving the local cultural heritage. Discover the composer’s legacy in his memorial room and learn about the work of one of the most significant figures from the Halubje and Kastav areas. Afterwards, you can relax in the authentic ambience of the Ronjgi Restaurant or in the shade of the nearby walking trail in the shape of a musical note, a nostalgic link to the life and work of this great composer who made such a significant contribution to his native region.

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