Monday, August 22, 2016
Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Song: Kaval Sviri
Gabrielle: Xena, this was our only frying pan! Why do you do that? You do have weapons, don't you?
Xena: I like to be creative in a fight. It gets my juices going.
Gabrielle: Can we cook with your juices?
from Xena, Warrior Princess, Episode: A Day in the Life
Today's post features variations of the Bulgarian folk song Kaval Sviri, which was used in the series Xena, Warrior Princess. It ran from 1995 - 2001 and was extremely popular. Despite its popularity, I never watched an entire episode, and never knew that the theme music was from Bulgaria.I found out entirely by accident while traveling through the Universe of YouTube.
Xena, Warrior Princess was a fantasy show based on Greek, German and Norse mythology. Xena attempts to redeem herself from the sins of her past by using her fighting skills to help the defenseless. Her sidekick and best friend, Gabrielle, is also a major character.
Kaval Sviri is a song about a young woman who falls in love with a young man who plays the kaval (also known as a shepherd's flute). I found the lyrics (in Bulgarian) with transliteration.
Video #1 is the song as used in the program, played by the group Dashina from the Berklee College of Music. It is a very powerful piece and familiar to fans of the show. I really like this passionate, modern rendition of Kaval Sviri. There are no traditional Bulgarian folk instruments used here. Instead, there are a bass, violins, viola, a keyboard, drums, clarinet, and an electric guitar.
Video #2 is what Kaval Sviri sounds like with a large ensemble, a capella (no instrumental accompaniment) with male and female performers. The group is the London Bulgarian Choir.
Video #3 is performed by Ensemble Trakia. It was released in 1988 on the album Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Vol. II.
Video #4 is the same song, also a capella, with a small group this time.They have very powerful voices that harmonize well.
You can read about The Nightingale Trio here. Surprise, none of the ladies is Bulgarian! They used to perform with the Yale Slavic Chorus, and started their own group after they graduated.
If you enjoyed this you may also like:
Modern Versions of Traditional Bulgarian Folk Songs, Parts One, Two and Three
Bulgarian Folklore and Pop Culture
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.