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Friday, December 6, 2013

The Best of the Bisserov Sisters (and family)

It is as if we were fated to be a trio even before we were born.
Mitra Bisserov (during interview with Bulgarian National Radio)

I love music from the Pirin region (southwest Bulgaria).  I have to admit, though, that it's an acquired taste; my family does not feel the same way about it. 

Recently a program on the Bulgarian National Radio featured the Bisserov sisters. They come from a large musical family and specialize in music and songs from the Pirin region. 

According to what I heard in the BNR interview, they have performed all over the world and gave their first performance in Cuba.  In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how much Bulgarians admire music from Latin America.  I am sure people from Latin America feel the same about Bulgarian folk music.

Video # 1 features two songs from the Pirin region. The instrumentation is unique to this area with the three tamburas (string instrument which resembles a lute) and tarambuka (small drum).



In the next video, the Bisserovs do some amazing things with their vocal cords.  Song #1 sounds like the Bulgarian version of yodeling. The Pirin is a mountainous region, and yodeling was a way to call the cows or sheep home from a day at the pasture.  Certain sounds echo well, and carry across long distances.  Yodeling is certainly more reliable than cell phone service in remote mountain areas...

Song #2 is in 11/16 (kopanitsa rhythm), song #3 is a devetorka (9/16) and song #4 is in rachenitsa rhythm (7/8).  Bulgarian music is well-known for its odd rhythms, and the dances are built around them.



Seeing people dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes is probably par for the course when riding the subway in Sofia. I grew up New York City, where the underground rapid transit system is over a century old and smells like rat droppings and stale urine. The Sofia metro is gorgeous compared to New York's.

This video alternates between the Bisserovs wearing "civilian clothes" and folk costumes.  There is a scene at 1:40 where the ladies link hands and dance rachenitsa.



For more information about the Bisserov family you can visit their website, where you can read about the history of the group and listen to some samples of their songs.

By the way, if you are in Sofia on the 9th of December, the Bisserovs will be giving a 35th anniversary concert at the Sredets Culture House.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Singing Demystified

Leb i Vino: Traditional Music from the Pirin Region of Bulgaria

The Pirin Ensemble of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Mango Duende:  Latin Rhythm With a Bulgarian Accent

Nusha:  A Family Project with Neli Andreeva and Her Daughters

The Alien Diaries will be taking a break for most of December;  the next post will be published shortly before New Year 2014.  There are almost 200 posts here and and many people don't want to go out when it's cold and snowy outside.  Here's the antidote to winter: get a cup of your favorite hot beverage, sit down in front of your computer, turn up the heat, and read my blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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