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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Music Inspired by Romania

Music is the shorthand of emotion.
Leo Tolstoy

Today's post features two pieces of classical music plus one of the original tunes that became a part of Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody #1.  Both were inspired by the composers' impressions of Romania.

The piece in Video #1 was created by a Norwegian, Johan Halvorsen. Halvorsen was offered a post at the Bucharest Conservatory. Although he didn't take the position,  he took an interest in Bucharest and Boyars, in particular, the entrance of the Boyars into Bucharest in the 18th century.  I don't know if he ever visited Romania, but it fired up enough of an interest in him to write a piece about it.

The result was The Entry March of the Boyars. It's 5 1/2 minutes of passion and excitement; I love it, even though it doesn't sound like anything Romanian.  This is what inspiration sounds like.



The Romanian Rhapsody #1 by George Enescu uses Romanian folk motifs. One of the tunes in the Romanian Rhapsody is the music for the dance Hora Lui Dobrica.



Here is the Romanian Rhapsody in its entirety, with some beautiful scenery to go along with the music. Hora Lui Dobrica is at 2:20. After watching this video, I will always associate barges and bridges with Hora Lui Dobrica.

This piece starts off slow and gradually speeds up until the wild finale. Reminds me of some Romanian folk dances.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Kolo Weddings

Your wedding can be the most memorable day and night of your life...or just another party.
Steven Crowder

What makes wedding celebrations so much fun is the dancing. Today's post features some spirited dancing at two Serbian weddings.

Video #1 is a basic version of the dance we know as U Sest or Uzicko Kolo. It's long (over five minutes) and energetic (young people in the line). The bride is second in the line and my guess is that the groom is the leader.  I love the energy and the shouting; the dancers are having a great time!



Video #2 is a group in traditional Serbian elaborate embroidered costumes performing a medley of dances at the wedding of Jelena and Dragan: U Sest, Makazice, Moravac (similar to U Sest), and Cacak. There were two other dances as well, one that I recognized but I didn't know the name, and the other was not familiar. Readers, if you know what they are, please post the names in the comments section.



If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Thracian Dances at Bulgarian Wedding

PeriniĊ£a: a Romanian Wedding Dance

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Music of Panko Dobrev

Lesser artists borrow. Great artists steal.
Igor Stravinsky

A number of years ago I wrote two posts about the Bulgarian composer Diko Iliev. While searching for Diko Iliev on YouTube I found several gems by a composer named Panko Dobrev (not the Japanese bread crumbs!) that were strongly influenced by Diko Iliev.

The first one is Gankino Horo, a dance that originated in Northern Bulgaria. Brass music is very popular in that region and this piece really sparkles. It made me want to get up and dance. By the way, the piece was named after a woman named Ganka, and there are numerous versions of Gankino Horo making the rounds. The dance itself is a basic kopanitsa.



The second piece is Rachenitsa Simona. I take it that Simona is also a woman's name. Rachenitsa is the national dance of Bulgaria and performed everywhere in the country. It can be in 7/8 or 7/16 depending on the speed. This one is rather slow and it's a lovely piece of music.



Video #3 is Elenino Horo, the dance we know as Eleno Mome, another dance that originated in Northern Bulgaria.  So far every dance tune I've found by Panko Dobrev was named after a woman; this time it's Elena.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find Panko Dobrev on Bulgarian Wikipedia, although he does have a YouTube channel.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Having a Blast with Diko Iliev

A Birthday Celebration and a Source of Inspiration: the Music of Diko Iliev

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Best of Slavi's Show

Talent does what it can, genius does what it must.
Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Recently I have been watching excerpts from Slavi's Show on YouTube.  The host is a very talented man who has captivated late night Bulgarian TV watchers since 2000. 

This show features Bulgarian pop and folk music and Slavi (full name Slavi Trifonov), with his Ku-Ku Band, have hosted numerous performers.  It is the Bulgarian version of the Tonight Show (the older version with Johnny Carson as MC.)  Unfortunately, the last broadcast of Slavi's Show will be on 31 July 2019.

Video #1 is a sing-along.  The song is Nazad, Nazad, Mome Kalino. I don't know the name of the woman who sings with him, if anyone out there knows who she is, please post her name in the "comments" section.

Note: in the lower right hand corner of the video, there is a logo for Seven-Eight Productions.  7/8 is a very common dance rhythm in the Balkans (especially in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania).  There are different forms of 7/8: lesnoto, chetvorno, and rachenitsa. depending on the grouping of the beats.  This song is a 7/8 lesnoto.



In Video #2 Slavi sings Svatba. This is a different song from the one that we dance to (sung by Nikolina Chakardakova).  It means "wedding" in Bulgarian.  If anyone out there can get me the lyrics for Svatba, please post them in the comments.

The drummers in the intro are amazing.  They play for nearly two minutes!



Video #3 is another Slavi sing along. This time it's the Bulgarian National Anthem. You can feel the excitement here, as well as the Bulgarians' love for their country (too bad the end was cut off abruptly).



If you enjoyed this, you can watch many more excerpts of Slavi's Show on YouTube or on his official site. You may also like these posts:

Variations on the Bulgarian folk dance: Svatba

Folklore and Eurovision

Bits and Pieces:  More Folklore and Pop Culture from the Universe of YouTube

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bulgaro-Macedonian Sing Along Songs


The world has only one border. It is called humanity. The differences between us are small compared to our shared humanity. Put humans first.
Nadia Murad

Today's post features the Bulgarian singer Nikolina Chakardakova with a medley of Bulgaro-Macedonian folk songs. There are links to them in the same order as in the video.  I was able to find translations for most of these  (some in German, some in English) and transliterations via The Songbook for Nearsighted People compiled by Birgitt Karlson.  Songs that weren't in the Songbook I found at various websites including Wikipedia, where you can find almost everything.

These songs are excellent examples of songs that cross borders.  They are popular both in Bulgaria and in Northern Macedonia. Sing along with Nikolina!

Makendonsko Devojce
(Macedonian transliteration with German translation)

Zemi Ogin, Zapali Me
(Bulgarian Cyrillic lyrics)

Nazad, Nazad Mome Kalino
(Bulgarian to English translation and transliteration)

Ako Umram il Zaginam
(Macedonian transliteration, translations in German and English)

More Sokol Pie
(English translation)

Jovano Jovanke
(Macedonian to English, no transliteration)

Ludo Mlado
(Bulgarian transliteration and German translation)

We have sung and/or danced to all of these at one time or another. Usually our dances end with a lesnoto in 7/8 time.  The dancers here do a ten minute lesnoto sing-along that is fun to watch. 



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Bulgarian New Year Celebration (with Nikolina Chakardakova)

Dancing in Sevens, Part Two (there is a link to Part One in this post)

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dancing by the Numbers, Part Two

Numbers constitute the only universal language.
Nathaniel West

Today's featured dance is the 16 Count Tsamiko.  It's slightly more complicated than the basic Tsamiko that is usually done at Greek festivals.  We do it at the Sunday night dances.

The dance is sometimes called Tsamikos.  In Video #1 the spelling is "Chamiko." This dance and its variations may have originated with the Cham people; ethnic Albanians who lived in Greece.



This is the Tsamiko dance that we do when we're not dancing the 16 count version. It is often done at Greek festivals. Notice that it's the same music as video #1. At 1:54 the leader introduces a variation.  She also does a few turns: some leaders embellish the basic dance with turns, jumps and acrobatics.  Male leaders tend to do this more than women, but there are exceptions.



Since The Alien Diaries is an equal opportunity blog, the Tsamiko in Video #3 shows a female leader in an all female line doing some masculine moves that include turns, jumps, and knee bends. She spices it up with shouts.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing by the Numbers

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dances from Oltenia Part Two

You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.
Merce Cunningham

At the Friday night and Sunday night dances there are a number of dances from the Romanian region of Oltenia in our repertoire. They tend to be fast, with lots of crossing, stamps, and grapevines.

One that we're working on is Hora Lui Chisar. The music is delightful with caval, cimbalom and panpipes.



The next dance is VulpitaIt translates to "little fox" in English. We have been doing this one a long time.  It's short, only a minute and a half but really fast.



This is a dance I would like to introduce to the Sunday night group.  One of the Friday night leaders taught it a few years ago.  The one thing I remember about Hora Spoitorilor is that the first figure is in the form of a square.



Another favorite of ours is Rustemul. This is the tune that we use, although there are others out there. There are also other versions of Rustemul as well; you can see an example in Dances From Oltenia (part one).



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dances from Oltenia

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance Trei Pazeste

Balkan Dances That Are Often Confused Part Nine: Cimpoi and Sirba din Cimpoi

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