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Monday, May 4, 2015

FC Groningen Wins the Cup Final

You may think: so what?

But the level of so-what-ness is quite low if you happen to live where I live, a village up-North bordering the city of Groningen. I had to drive to Amsterdam and back yesterday, and already at the end of the morning all fly-overs for the first 60 or so kilometers of my trip (yes, way into Frisian territory) were occupied by those FC Groningen fans staying at home greeting those FC Groningen fans on their way in cars and buses to the Rotterdam stadium where the Cup Final would be played at 6 pm. I had a festive trip.

It so happened that a couple of week ago I visited a game by FC Groningen with my ten years old son. I bought a ticket behind one of the goals, not realizing that this is the domain of the hardcore fans. A domain with its own rules, which became clear immediately; in the stadium you buy fixed seats but when we found our seats two guys had occupied them. So I said they were on our seats, whereupon they explained to me that in this particular part of the stadium seat numbers had no meaning whatsoever - you could sit anywhere you liked provided the seat was empty on your arrival. So we sat down beside them, me expecting at some point to be told that we were on the seats of others, but of course that never happened.

Another unexpected feature of the particular domain we were in was that, although we had bought seats, we were not supposed to use them. Being a hardcore fan means you stand the whole match. My son is not yet very long yet so for him this was a bit hard, but eventually he could see everything (we won 3-2) and although at points we looked a bit jealous to the opposite end of the stadium where people only stood if there was a goal-ripe situation and for the rest spent the match sitting, we were richly compensated for the inconvenience by the fine singing and dancing we were part of for over two hours,

We, music professionals, tend to think that singing in our culture is on the brink of extinction (what with the mass media and the current state of school music education and all that, et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseam) and that revival only has a chance if we spend lots of expertise, money, and school hours on relearning to sing. I already was not a big fan of this 'last of the Mohicans'-scenario (strange, because ethnomusicologists basically love those musical doom-scenarios) and was confirmed in my feelings by my fellow Groningen-fans. The number of songs was endless; they were sang in a beautiful unison and were very very witty; the little dances coming with some of them were hilarious; and the way the singing was informally organized was impressive.

A soccer match is shere joy for every true music lover.

Of course I directly wanted to study it and write about it. So many aspects of it were interesting as well as researchable. Who makes up the songs? Do other teams sing other songs? Is there a link between stadium song-battles and Inuit culture? How is the informal organization organized? Would the fans consider their songs as 'singing', let alone as 'music'? (In many circles there is a sharp distinction between song and music, as when in my shanty choir the conductor announces that we will do a song 'without music', which means without instrumental acompaniment.)

But I was aware that probably the topic would already have been taken up within ethnomusicology, which indeed shows to be the case: typing in 'soccer' in RILM, the music literature database, delivers at least a 150 hits of academic writings about all kinds of soccer music, including one entitled "Fussbal-Fangesänge; Eine Fanomenologie" ("Soccer Fan Songs; A Fanemonology"), indeed a title that only could be invented in the German-speaking area of this world.

There will come a time when I will devote myself to writing about singing in soccer stadiums. I'm so looking forward to it, I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Evert, you even manage to make a soccer match sound interesting!