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Folk-spectrum music as an expression of alterity in ‘normalization’ Czechoslovakia (1969–89): Context, constraints and characteristicsThis article seeks to evaluate the challenge posed by folk, country and tramping music to the Communist authorities in ‘normalization’ Czechoslovakia (1969–89) and the measures taken to limit their impact. It outlines the traditions and the historical context of folk-spectrum music, considers the reception of songs by the authorities and the constraints that were imposed upon their performers, analyses the defining characteristics of the compositions — focusing on lexical repetition and the use of recurrent themes and motifs in the creation, exploration and celebration of realities outside the officially promoted discourse of the time — and evaluates and exemplifies the use of colloquial language as a means of expressing informality and intimacy. The study concludes that, although it is impossible to quantify the effects of the music on the approved authoritative discourse, on balance, the folk-spectrum phenomenon was an unwelcome distraction to the Communist regime.