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folium n : a thin layer or stratum of (especially metamorphic) rock [also: folia (pl)]folia See folium

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Extensive Definition

La Folia is one of the oldest European musical themes.


To start with, the indication 'Folia' in music has several meanings. There is for instance a folk tune with the name Folia at the Canary Islands and a 'Folia de Reis' in Brazil is sung during a celebration brought to Brazil by African slaves in the 18th century and runs from December 24 to January 6. In western-classical music there is an 'early Folia' which can take different shapes and the more well-known 'later Folia' which became famous in serious music till the present day. This 'later Folia' is a standard chord progression (i-V-i-VII / III-V7-[i or VI]-V / i-V-i-VII / III-V7-[i or VI7]-IV[4-3sus]-i) with a standard melody line in the theme and it is said that Lully was the first composer who introduced both the chord progression together with the melody line. This Folia can be considered as a structure to improvise on, as the 12-bar blues scheme with the flatted third in the melody line became famous in the 20th century. The melody line shows a remarkable similarity with the use in jazz nowadays. It is the introduction and the end of the variations to embrace the variations itself. Characteristic of that 'later Folia' (also known as Follia with double l in Italy, or Folies d'Espagne in France, Faronel's Ground in England) is that it is based upon a ground bass (passacaglia) while the melody line takes the shape of a slow sarabande in 3/4 meter. In the variations all sorts of meters and melody lines are accepted.


The Framework of the 'Later Folia':
The basic chord progression in the key of D minor, the key that is most often used for the later Folia:
/dm___ /A7___ /dm___ /C___ /F___ /C___ /dm___ /A7___ / /dm___ /A7___ /dm___ /C___ /F___ /C___ /dm A7__/dm___ /
Over the course of three centuries, more than 150 composers have used it in their works. The first publications of this theme date from the middle of the 17th century, but it is probably much older. Plays of the renaissance theatre in Portugal, including works by Gil Vicente, mention the folia as a dance performed by shepherds or peasants. The Portuguese origin is recorded in the 1577 treatise De musica libri septem by Francisco de Salinas.
Examples of early folias include works by Juan del Enzina in 1520, Diego Ortiz in 1553, and Antonio de Cabezón in 1557.
Jean-Baptiste Lully, in collaboration with Philidor in 1672, Arcangelo Corelli in 1700, Alessandro Scarlatti in 1710, Antonio Vivaldi in his Opus 1 No 12 of 1705 and Johann Sebastian Bach in his Peasants' Cantata of 1742 are considered to highlight this 'later' folia repeating theme in a brilliant way.
In the 19th century the theme's popularity decreased, but it regained composers' interest during the 1930s with Sergei Rachmaninov in his Variations on a theme by Corelli in 1931 and Manuel María Ponce and his Variations on "Spanish Folia" and Fugue for guitar. Since then, it has been frequently used by various composers, such as by Vangelis for the film Conquest of Paradise.
The folia melody has also influenced Scandinavian folk music. It is said that around half of the old Swedish tunes are based on la folia. It is possible to recognize a common structure in many Swedish folk tunes, and it is similar to the folia structure. Old folk tunes (19th century or older) which do not have this structure often come from parts of Sweden with little influences from upper classes or other countries.

External links

folia in German: Folia
folia in French: Folia
folia in Italian: Follia (tema musicale)
folia in Dutch: La Folia
folia in Japanese: フォリア
folia in Swedish: La folia
folia in Chinese: 福里亚
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