2.2. The owned (lyric) songs

Lyric songs, of which the majority are songs specifically owned by an individual, are in general conceptually the most accessible category among all the Nenets songs. However, they are far from unproblematic, because they include a concept of personal, intimate, even a secret song of everyone's own. Pushkarëva (1990, 81) notes, that these personal song-improvisations are also characterized by their non-traditional nature in terms of the creation of the song (performance).

Interestingly, Pushkarëva's attitude is connected to the interpretation of the concept of folklore as anonymous, shared tradition. In this sense, she sees the personal song as an idiosyncratic, individual creation, which should be paralleled in a way with the individual composition and textual traditions of a high culture. While this can be thought of as a logical parallel, it is still, in my opinion, most suitable to regard personal songs as an institution in the context of a traditional culture, although the songs are based on individual and idiosyncratic creation.

The vast majority of the songs of this type - especially the personal songs - are songs that people make for themselves. The singer-performer is not necessarily an expert like the singer of a narrative song. If the song is an individual song, it is not necessarily meant to be performed in the public, except among the closest relatives and in certain situations (see below: the yábe syo).

Is it possible to define the differences between the structures of epic and lyric narration? It is not sufficiently recognised that, while a lyric song (text) can be seen as a form of narrative language, which is used as a means of communication when trying to visualize an event or experience, at the same time it can be central in other forms of narration and storytelling too. The differences between the types of narration can be approached in terms of how to organise the flux of events in time and space. While the epic narration usually tends to give a logical, linear account of what is happening (where and in which order, in relation to the preceding or following events), the lyric narration tends to concentrate on expressing a more limited account of events in terms of time, space and logic of the events. However, the form of lyric narration can be much more diverse in mixing and blurring this time-space-order- continuum with the complex inner logic of emotions of an individual. Thus the narrative logic of the epic can be more easily understood than the logic of the lyric narration.

Simoncsics's notion about the semantic isomorphia in a lyric song text is, in my opinion, fruitful, if the conceptual or generic identity of the "lyric song" is pursued. According to him, this semantic isomorphia should appear as a kind of relational semantic autonomy of a text line, or a pair of text lines (cf. Simoncsics 1978, 401-402). Thus, whereas an epic narration can be seen as linear, conforming to the expectations of the logic of text narration, a lyric text may not give such a strong impression of a continuum of meaningful pieces of information, but rather an expressive whole, where the function and meaning of single lines or line pairs can be understood only in terms of themselves or in relation to the whole. A lyric text does not explain things in the way an epic narration does. It leaves many text lines hanging, adding only a good poetical "sound" to the composition.

In the case of the Nenets personal songs (see below) this is particularly clear. The song text functions as a kind of veil or filter, through which the outsiders can understand only the surface meaning and the insiders can guess (if they don't know already) the real meaning behind the words and expressions sung. Thus, these owned or lyric songs can be distinguished from the narrative songs by their contexts of performance and creation, by their (textual) structure and by their age (cf. Kupriyanova 1960, 240).

The role and essence of improvisation is also worth consideration. The "lyric" songs are often defined as "song-improvisations". However, the Nenets owned songs are not randomly improvised as such. The song text - if it is meant to be a sung equivalent of a person as in personal songs - has its firm structural fundamentals both at the level of text and melody. It depends only from the singer's and situation's mood, what fraction or perspective (s)he chooses for the moment. Besides, if the song has an autobiographical content, the logic of the textual composition corresponds to the logic of the biography of an individual. And as to the melody, the singer usually tends to rely on the basic personal melody types (s)he has created from the background of his/her social environment (cf. also Gomon 1980, 206). Seen as a whole, however, it can be argued, that the isomorphic text and melody structure in Nenets songs in general contains improvisation and variation only at the micro level, i.e. in the details of interpretation and intonation.