The “Bassi“, descant of the Vodnjan folk tradition has been proclaimed World Cultural Heritage. Both the descant and the diatonic scale have become intangible heritage that the people of this region managed to upkeep proudly, modestly, and with respect for their ancestor's heritage.
“Bassi“ has been proclaimed Croatian heritage, and subsequently inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The descant of Vodnjan - bassi - is characterized by two-part singing, the oldest type of our folk singing related to the Istriot or Istro-Romanian dialect, the centuries-old dialect typical of this region that derives directly from medieval Latin. The tone system, too, not always tempered, defined by some experts as ‟oriental”, derives from religious, medieval singing.
The descant form is simple, lyrical, a single-stanza couplet with two hendecasyllables, often with a rhyme that, according to Baburdi, dates back to 1200 – 1300. It is performed by a male voice (tenor or bass) that proposes the theme, and is taken over by a female voice (soprano or alto) in the interval of a quint developed in a sequence of melismas, concluding in an octave.
Everything is defined by a hendecasyllable verse and the skill of the singer. At the end of the long final cadenza, enters the female voice continuing to sing following the rules of vocal ornaments, immanent to folk tradition. If the descant is performed by two male voices it is called a duj (bass for two). In the end, the descant of Vodnjan is one of the oldest, ancient forms of part-singing in Europe.