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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Foxy Singers of Bulgaria and Macedonia

Even the handsomest men do not have the same momentary effect on the world as a truly beautiful woman does.
Jonathan Carroll

One thing that I've noticed in my forays through the Universe of YouTube is the number of attractive female folk singers.  This could be a ploy to get more men to watch folklore videos.

I have to admit these videos are fun to watch and the performers are talented.

Video #1 is of Valya from Bulgaria. She wears a dress with folkloric accents that isn't overly revealing.  It looks good on her and she has an amazing voice.

Her backup is a group wearing costumes from the Northern folklore region.  The dance is a variant of Chichovo Horo.

The title of the song translates to "nine mountains." I couldn't find the lyrics or a translation.

Video #2 is of Aneta Arsovska, a singer from the Republic of Macedonia.  I think somehone had to pour her into that dress (it's tight!)  One of my readers (I won't reveal his name) will probably appreciate this video. She performs the song Majstore, Majstore.  

I found an English translation from Macedonian.  The word "majstore" is interpreted as "repairman." I think a more accurate word would be someone who is an artisan or master of a trade, The song is not about a master-slave relationship as depicted in  Fifty Shades of Gray. It is about the passion of a woman in love.

The dance to this is cocek.

In Video #3, this lady is practically popping out of that dress.  My guess is that it's attached onto that part of her anatomy with Super Glue since there were no wardrobe malfunctions.

Her name is Emilia and the song is Stano, Stano.  I had some trouble understanding the translation.  I think some idioms from Bulgarian don't translate well into English. My guess is that the song is about a man in love with a woman named Stana, who has burned the fire out of him.

A dance group accompanies Emilia and they wear elaborate embroidered costumes from the Bulgarian region of Thrace. The fire in the floor has some kind of connection with the song.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Women of Bulgarian Folk Songs

Songs From the Balkans About Women and Girls

Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance: Chichovo Horo

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Friday, December 30, 2016

A Bulgarian New Year Celebration

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Will 2017 be a better year than 2016?  I certainly hope so. There was the loss of Lyubka Rondova and Esma Redzepova in the world of Balkan music.  They will be missed.

Today's post features two Bulgarian New Year celebrations.  The first one has dancing and singing; the second, fireworks and music.

Video #1 features Nikolina Chakardakova, a Bulgarian folk singer from the Pirin region. Here she leads a New Year's celebration in 2014 with a medley of danceable folk songs.

The beauty of this is that she gets everyone up and dancing, even though it's cold outside (it is a good way to keep warm).

The event was broadcast on Bulgarian TV.

Video #2 is quite noisy because Bulgarians get a bit crazy with the pyrotechnics for Nova Godina. There are three pieces traditionally played at midnight: the Bulgarian National Anthem, Mila Rondino, (0:20),  Diko Iliev's Dunavsko Horo (1:44), and a Russian hymn sung by Boris Christoff (last name also spelled Hristov) Mnogaya Leta  Grant, O Lord, Many Years (6:27).

Boris Christoff was best known for his operatic performances, especially in  Boris Godenov.   He was born in Plovdiv. He left Bulgaria for Italy in 1945 and never went back for the rest of his life. When he died in 1993, his body was returned to Bulgaria and given a State funeral.

The Bulgarian National Anthem has undergone a number of changes over the years.  The version currently in use glorifies the beauty of the country. You can find the lyrics in the original language, transliteration and English translation here.

Notice: you won't find Auld Lang Syne anywhere in this video.  In my humble opinion it's a sappy song suitable only for those drunk enough to sing it.

Happy New Year 2017!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Best of The Alien Diaries 2010-2015

Now That We've Survived The End of the World (next prediction is for August 2017)

Happy New Year 2014: Same Dance, Different Music: Dunavsko Horo

In memory of two great singers who passed on in 2016:

A Tribute to Esma Redzepova

A Tribute to Lyubka Rondova

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Three variations on the Bulgarian Folk Song: Ripni Kalinke

We have a secret project at Third Man where we want to have the first vinyl record played in outer space. We want to launch a balloon that carries a vinyl record player.
Jack White

Today's post is about one of my favorite Bulgarian songs, Ripni Kalinke from the Rhodope region. It is about a couple who try to get close at a dance while their parents are watching. The parents are opposed to them being together.

Video #1 is the original version by Nadezhda Hvoineva, who lived from 1936-2000. This recording is used at folk dances. She was born in village near the town of Smolyan and performed as a soloist in The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices.

The dance for this is Pravo Horo.

Video #2 is Ripni Kalinke performed by Valya Balkanska, best known for the song Izlel e Delyu Haidutin. This was one of the songs on a golden record that NASA launched into outer space in 1977.

In this version, Valya Balkanska is accompanied by a kaba gaida, a traditional instrument from the Rhodope region.

Video #3 is the children's group Hopa Trop from Seattle singing and dancing to Ripni Kalinke.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Golden Record, Rhodope Folk Songs, and Valya Balkanska in Concert

Hopa Trop: Children's Ensemble from Seattle, Washington

Merry Christmas to all!  Enjoy some Bulgarian Christmas songs.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Tribute to Esma Redzepova

Čajorije, šukarije,
ma phir urde pala mande,
ma phir urde pala mande, čaje!

Esma Redzepova

Esma Redzepova passed away on December 11, 2016, after a short illness. She was 73.

One of my biggest regrets was that I never saw her live in concert. In April of this year she did a tour of the United States, which included performances in New York City and Washington, DC.

This week's post is a tribute to the great singer and humanitarian who was an advocate for the Romani people and women's rights.  She was the first performer to make Romani music popular with non-Romani people.  Everyone knows her by her first name.

Video #1 is Djelem, Djelem, the anthem of the Romani people. You can find the original lyrics and a translation here. It is the song of a people who have traveled all over the world.  It is the lament of those who have suffered persecution.

Video #2 is her best-known song, Chaje Shukarije, a love song about a beautiful girl.

Video #3 is a performance in the studio of  KEXP in Seattle, in April 2016. Here she appears at 8:23 after the Folk Masters play.  She talks about her music through a translator, and performs both Macedonian and Romani songs.

She made a trip to India to a festival in 1976 and was crowned by the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. (The Roma people originally came from India.)

If you have an hour to spare, here is a performance of Esma with her band Folk Masters which took place at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in April, 2016.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

A Romani Potpourri

A Romani Potpourri Part Two

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Dances from Oltenia

The saddest country I went to was Romania, years ago, during Ceausescu's rule.
Christopher Lee

Before the revolution of 1989, Romania was a totalitarian regime ruled by an autocrat who wouldn't let people leave the country. Food and clothing shortages were commonplace. There were also orphanages full of children whose parents couldn't afford to raise them, many who got AIDS from unsterilized needles. Birth control was forbidden in Ceausescu's Romania. The situation was so bad that people froze in the winter because the government exported heating oil for foreign currency. It was a terrible place to live until 1989, when on Christmas Day, Ceausescu and his family were assassinated.

Although the situation in Romania is much better than in the past, poverty and discrimination against the Roma population are still social issues. Despite the problems, the country has a rich folklore tradition that has survived World Wars and totalitarian rule.

Today's post features three southern Romanian dances from the province of Oltenia, on the northern side of the Danube from Bulgaria.

Video #1 is a dance very popular in one of my groups: Hora Lautareasca din Dolj. Dolj is a county in the province of Oltenia. The dance is named after the Lautari, the term for a band of Roma musicians.

There is a review of the dance at the beginning of the video.  The dance teacher is one of those "crazy" instructors and keeps a running monologue going throughout the dance. Her group consists entirely of senior citizens (old enough to remember Communist Romania).

Dancers tend to live longer and are less likely to suffer from dementia than non-dancers.

Video #2 is another dance from Dolj and one of the numerous variations of Trei Pazeste.  There is Trei Pazeste de la Goicea Mare,  Trei Pazeste Batrinesc, and others.  You can read about them in one of the posts below.

Video #3 is a Japanese group dancing Rustemul Oltenesc. This is a different variation with different music than the Rustemul we usually do (although some of the steps are similar). Notice that the young woman in the line wears a man's costume.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance Tune:  Hora Lautareasca

Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance: Trei Pazeste

Crazy Dance Instructors

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Some Comedy From the Universe of YouTube: Rum Dum Dum!

Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won't think you're going gaga.
David Ogilvy

Today's video is from the Republic of Macedonia. It features a slapstick routine with an elderly couple. The woman gets on the man's case because he's trying to impress the young girls with his mustache. The dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes are fun to watch as well.

The dance to this is rachenitsa, a dance in 7/8 or 7/16 depending on the speed. I don't know what the dance is called in Macedonia.  Rachenitsa has traveled beyond Bulgarian borders to Macedonia, as well as Serbia, where it is known as Bugarka.  The Romanian version is Geampara.

The song goes by two names: Zurli Trestat na Sred Selo or Rum Dum Dum. You can find the lyrics here, in transliterated Macedonian.

I was able to get a rough translation.  The song is about musicians (zurna and tupan) players coming to the village to play for the dancers.  The tupan is a double headed drum, and the zurna is a double reed instrument related to the oboe.  The Ottoman Turks brought these instruments to the Balkans (the zurna was originally used to intimidate enemies!)

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Age is an Issue of Mind over Matter: Old People in Balkan Folk Songs

The Best of The Alien Diaries 2010-2015 features some funny and/or satirical songs from the Balkans, and includes a slapstick routine from Bulgaria (Kraj Dunava).

You can find two other versions of Zurli Trestat Na Sred Selo here: Dancing in Sevens Part Two

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Hopa Trop: Children's Ensemble from Seattle, Washington

Young people need models, not critics.
John Wooden

The folk ensemble Bulgarika will be performing in New England this weekend. I did a search for them to see if anyone had posted recent videos of them on YouTube, and found this group of young dancers from Seattle. They are an energetic bunch of kids and great ambassadors for Bulgarian culture in the United States.

The name of this group is Hopa Trop, and they have a blog in Bulgarian and English.

Video #1 shows Donka Koleva of Bulgarika teaching the dance song Kukuvicka to the kids.  It reminds me of the Romanian dance Alunelul (also a children's song).

In video #2, Hopa Trop dances Dunavsko Horo to the music of Bulgarika.  This version is played on traditional folk instruments and is one of the most popular dances in Bulgaria. The young people range in age from five to fifteen.

Video #3 is a dance from Northern Bulgaria: Veselba.  I haven't seen it anywhere else on YouTube.

The emphasis with this group is easy dances that the youngest children can do, and it also channels their energy in a positive way.  From what I've seen on their blog, Hopa Trop is a good sized group. I counted 19 kids on the blog's home page.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

The Best of Bulgarika

For more on Bulgarian folklore groups in the United States:

Bulgarian Folk Dance in the United States: Ensemble Lyush from Dallas-Forth Worth

Bulgarian Folk Dance in the United States (features Ethnic Dance Chicago, Ludo Mlado from Boston, and Rosa from Atlanta

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