Faetrad is the study and performance of aspects of music of mystical beings as related in folklore world-wide. The broad categories of this, with some overlap, include:
Worldwide, 85% of cultures studied have indicated some degree of traditional folk-belief in "little people" or what falls under the broader definitions of "faerie" in English. The purpose of the Faetrad Project is to document and compare examples of the musical aspects of this folklore.
Although many cultures have terms to describe these phenomena within their own traditional music (e.g. Gaelic Orain Sidhe, Maori Waiata Patupaiarehe,) we have lacked, in English, a term to describe this across cultures. Furthermore, using periphrasis in search engines does not yield much information: When searching using "Traditional Faerie Music," regardless of the spelling chosen for "faerie", the search results usually return pop-tunes, video game music, and classical music based on literary sources.
In order for academics, musicians and individuals fascinated by faerie music across cultures to better find information, I propose the use of the single-word designation of Faetrad. I have derived this from "Fae," meaning "otherworldly" and "trad," a term used in Ireland and elsewhere to designate the living repertoire of traditional music.
Historically, the broadest categories in the study of music have been the religious and the secular, with often very distinct differences between the two in their structure, technique, and transmission. As faerie-lore co-exists with official religious belief, and often outdates it, we need the study of Faetrad as a classification of music to get a fuller picture of the traditional music of a culture.
Information about older cultures is often preserved in Faetrad as examples of tribes and cultures (albeit, with mystical attributes) that preceded the culture whose musical repertoire preserves it. For example, both Trow music of the Shetland Isles and songs attributed the Daoine Síth in Scotland can give us clues about the culture of the Picts, who preceded the Gaels, and later united with them to form the nation of Scotland. In stories about "Winyadepla," a well-known tune in the Shetland fiddle repertoire, the designations of the small, hairy night dwelling beings, from whom the tune was learned, include "trows," "fairies," or "Picts" depending on the story-teller.
Those desiring an encompassing and global approach to ethnomusicology must pose the fundamental question: "What are the boundaries of human music-making?" We can better understand the extent of human music when we study Faetrad- music which is, according to folklore, not human in the strictest sense.
In the past several decades preceding this writing, science has quantified what musicians have known for ages: Music changes consciousness and perception. Furthermore, period performance practices demonstrate how details such as tuning methods, instrument construction, language, and architecture all effect how this music influences consciousness far beyond the effect that the same notes set outside of this context might have. For instance, the "Mozart Effect"- the tendency of listening to certain music has on increasing specific cognitive functions, is most often cited with the use of baroque pieces (from several generations before Mozart.) The effect of Pachelbel or Handel played on a period harpsichord using quarter-mean tone tunings and baroque techniques of trills and improvisation can have a more profound impact than the same piece as written played on a modern instrument, lacking such context, may have. Many pieces of Faetrad are believed to have profound impact on consciousness. Huldreslåtten of Norway, often played on the Hardinger fiddle and other instruments that take advantage of rich overtones and tunings using "blue" notes, can put a listener in a state to be more receptive to perceiving huldre themselves.
The effects of a given music are not entirely dependent on the listener's cultural relationship to it. People of many religions and backgrounds experience healing and ecstasy through hearing Gregorian plainchant, and as such it is used by Music Therapists and Practicioners in The Music for Healing and Transition programs. Faetrad represents a largely untapped repertoire of music that performers and listeners alike can use to expand consciousness and modes of healing. As in the examples above of Early Music, these pieces can be most effective when the context of the music is studied and applied accordingly, though the listeners who benefit may themselves not be aware.
For the large number of people worldwide who love faerie-lore, Faetrad- hearing, playing, dancing- is the most direct means to experience connection to the Otherworld apart from direct mystic experiences. Incorporating Faetrad into storytelling and celebrations enriches the experience by demonstrating the multicultural and emotionally complex nature of faerie-lore which most pop, classical, and new age music based on literary portrayals of faeries can not.
The broader goals of the Faetrad Project, which extends the research I have done to network with scholars and musicians with other areas of expertise concerning traditional music and folklore:
This can be done through the following methods, among others:
You can help spread the word about Faetrad by using the term on your site, and linking to Faetrad-specific sites, and promoting performers who include Faetrad in their repertoire.
Incorporate the traditional musical aspects of Faerie-Lore in your research, presentations, and festivals. Share your research with other folklorists and interested members of the public on forums discussing Faetrad. Contribute to online bibliographies and discographies of Faetrad source materials.
The Faetrad Project needs individuals who can format an online database which incorporates multiple file types, and to create a very user-friendly hub site for its varied foci.
As The Faetrad Project attempts to gather information from all cultures in which Faetrad is present, we need people who can both translate and explain works in Less Commonly Taught Languages to other cultures, but also translate information gathered by the Faetrad Project into multiple languages.