Ojkanje is the oldest type of singing in Croatia. It is a remnant of pre-Slavic Balkan singing from the area of ancient Dalmatia (today's Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro), which was adopted and preserved by the Croats. On November 16, 2010, the UNESCO Committee for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World included the Ojkanje singing on the list of endangered intangible world heritage sites.
Ojkanje is a special way of singing the syllables hoj, voj, oj with longer tremors or longer or shorter melismata. It appears as a chorus in decasyllabic or octosyllabic poems and is performed individually in the so-called single or traveler's songs, or more often in two voices; while one performer sings elongated tones of the same pitch, the other performer 'tremors'.
Ojkanje is still existent thanks to organized groups of local folk singers who maintained the tradition of Ojkanje by performing it during special occasions in Croatia and around the world. Today, Ojkanje is passed down and taught at organized folklore societies, but also by modern audio and video media, but the skillful technique of voice-shaking/tremoring depends mostly on talented and skilled performers and their ability to educate new generations.
The recent war conflicts and constant migration of the rural population to cities have reduced the number of Ojkanje performers, thus losing many archaic styles and genres of solo singing. Therefore, UNESCO emphasizes the need to pass on this traditional way of singing to new generations and that takes research, documentation and international exchange with countries with the same or similar tradition.
The song lasts as long as the breath of the lead singer. Women's singing belongs to the lower register, whereas men's belongs to the upper.
In Promina, there is a special form of singing which usually takes place at a table during a wedding. There are at least three performers, male or female.
The song is presented by one performer, and the rest follow. This would be the order:
The first performer sings by him/herself:
U Promini devet sela ima, svaku curu poznajem po njima. (There are nine villages in Promina, I know every girl because of them.)
The second performer sings the same melody the first one did.
U Promini devet sela ima, svaku curu poznajem po njima.
The first and the third performer join in on the second one and hold a flat tone.
devet sela ima, svaku curu poznajem po njima. (nine villages, I know every girl because of them.)
Treskavica – očenje
After a few decasyllabics the first performer starts with treskanje, a shaking type of singing, by producing a shaky tone in the larynx.
The first performer starts with oj, oj, oj – treskanje
The second and the third performer join in and hold a flat tone - očenje
The first performer after a while lowers their tone to match the other two and forms a unison tone. After a few moments, the third performer lowers their tone and sings the ending.
Zapopivanje usually takes place at weddings or similar joyful occasions. One singer starts by listing everything they can think of that has connection to the occasion and finally starts shaking the voice (treskavica) when the rest of the singers join in.