Follow by Email

Monday, November 5, 2018

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra

Today's post features an excellent group from Barcelona, Spain with a couple of Serbian musicians playing frula and accordion (in Video #1). They are the Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra. (Don't mind the weird typing but that is how they spell it.  It is on their logo, too.) The group's members are diverse as you can see on their web page; they are united in their love for Balkan music.

They do an excellent job playing the rhythms of the Balkans. At 3:48 the music sounds like a fast U Sest and at 4:55 the rhythm changes to kopanitsa then at 6:22 to a fast rachenitsa (apple-apple-pineapple). The singer and the tarambuka player are the rhythm section.



Video #2 is a dramatic performance of the popular song Makendonsko Devojce. This is the tune that we often use at the end of dance sessions. It is lesnoto, another rhythm grouped in sevens (pineapple-apple-apple).

At 1:45 the audience joins in with the refrain.  This repeats throughout the song.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Modern Versions of Traditional Macedonian Folk Songs

Dancing in Sevens

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dancing in Circles: Serbian Kolo on YouTube

The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.
John Hartford

Kolo is a dance from the countries which used to be part of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia. The literal translation of the word is "wheel" and kolo is often danced in a circle, but not always.  According to a tweet from UNESCO: "Kolo, traditional folk dance just inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Congratulations, #Serbia!"

Today's post features two kolo videos from Serbia and one from Canada.

Video #1 is a group of young people dancing in the street in Belgrade, Serbia. The group's name is Krsmanac. They perform a medley of dances that people who folk dance regularly will recognize. Two of them are U Šest and Čačak.



Video #2 took place during a halftime show at a basketball game in Toronto, Canada. Skip the intro and start at 1:00.  The dance that begins the medley resembles Bulgarian rachenitsa, apple-apple-pineapple, in 7/16 time. Čačak begins at 4:14.



Video #3 is Malo Kolo  (small circle dance) from Banat, from a festival that took place in Novi Sad in 2011. This dance is anything but small and it is not to be confused with another dance with the same name from Croatia.  This is a large group dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes. Check out the small circle in the middle of the crowd at 4:00.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Serbian Kolo

The "Flavors" of Serbian Cacak

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Tune: Bucimis

I'm attached to the beat. The beat speaks words. I love music.
Travis Scott

One of the most popular (and difficult) folk dances is Bucimis from the Thracian region of Bulgaria.

Video #1 is the melody and the dance we know and love.  It is short, only a minute and half long.



This tune has made the rounds in some musical circles (pardon the pun).  It is challenging to play because it's in 15/16.

Odd time signatures are very common in Balkan music.  This is the only dance I know of in 15.  Western musicians in general, have difficulty internalizing the rhythms because they are so used to music in 2's and 4's.

In the next two videos, the musicians have mastered the rhythm.  They also play it on instruments not usually used in Bulgarian folk music (except for accordion in Video #2, and tarambuka in Video #3).

Video #2 starts with a very long drum solo.  For some reason drummers have a field day with this piece. The melody, played on mandolin and accordion, starts at 2:50.



In video #3, a group that usually performs Middle Eastern and medieval music, plays Bucimis with violin, two recorders, drum, tarambuka, and oud.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Classical Musicians Play Balkan Folk Music

Mandolins, Marimbas, and Bulgarian Folk Music

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Golden Steps and Greek Blues

The nearer the dawn the darker the night.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I was at a Greek festival recently. One of the performing groups danced a Hasapiko. I didn't capture it on video because I ran out of space on my phone; but I did manage to take a picture of the dancers.


Hasapiko  was originally a dance performed by the butcher's guild in Greece.  The more modern form is also known as Sirtaki.

On the Universe of YouTube I found a superb rendition of Hasapiko performed by a couple to the beautiful song I Fili Mou Haramata (My Friends At The Break Of Dawn). The song blended so well with the dance that I had to share it.

The song itself is about a woman who wants to hide from everyone, including her friends, because of a relationship breakup.  They gather at her house at dawn, happy, with drinks in their hands.  She isn't having any of it.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Beethoven With a Bulgarian Accent; Mozart Goes Greek


The Butcher's Dance in Balkan Folklore

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Periniţa: A Romanian Wedding Dance

“Who wouldn't want to get married in a room full of love stories?”
Jen Campbell

Many of the dances on The Alien Diaries recently have been about weddings. Today's dance is Periniţa from the Romanian region of Muntenia It is pronounced "peritnitza." The dance is in sârba rhythm, a popular dance form in southern Romania similar to the Serbian Cacak or Bulgarian Pravo Horo.

The idea behind the dance is to "capture" a partner with a scarf. Both women and men can pick partners. They kiss after their turn at the dance and move on to find other partners until the music ends.



Periniţa can be done as a hora (group), couple or even as a threesome (1:44).  The threesome part reminds me of the Russian dance Troika. At 2:48 two couples kiss.  It's really sweet!


You can read the story behind the dance here.  It was a favorite of the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and under his regime it was the last dance at every party. It's still popular from what I've seen on YouTube.

Once you listen to Periniţa, it will live on in your head for days because it's a catchy, repetitive tune, also known as an earworm.


Here is another version of Periniţa performed at the wedding of Marius and Geana in Galati.



If you enjoyed this you will also like:

The "Flavors" of Romanian Hora

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

Romanian Wedding Videos from the Universe of YouTube

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused: Part 15

Before I came here, I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture, I am still confused -- but on a higher level.
Enrico Fermi

Folk dancers are often in a state of confusion because there are so many dances with similar names.

This post is a part of the longest continuous series on The Alien Diaries.  There are 14 other posts on this subject (see links at end).

Today's dances are Maleshevsko Horo and Maričensko (the full name is Maričensko Pravo Horo, but no one ever writes that on request lists.)

Video #1 shows the dance club Chanove from the city of Ruse performing Maleshevsko.  Although this is a very macho piece of music, there are women as well as men in the line, so this is an equal opportunity dance.

Maleshevsko is from the southwest Bulgarian region of Pirin.



Maleshevsko can be danced to more than one tune; here is another example done to the folk song Ay da idem Jano; click on the link and you can sing along, provided you can read Bulgarian. This is a slightly different choreography by the group акцент (Accent).



Video #3 is Maričensko Pravo Horo. It's a moderately fast Pravo from the Shope region.

Pravo is one of the most popular dances in Bulgaria; it has many variations, from slow to hold on to your neighbor's belt fast.



Video #3 was the only example of Maricensko I could find with dancing, but here's another version  that's worth a listen, played by a very talented guitarist, Ewan Dobson. You can dance to this one too.



If you enjoyed this you may also like the rest of the Balkan Dances that are Often Confused Series.  You can link to all posts by going backwards from this one:

Balkan Dances that are Often Confused, Part 14

Pravo Horo variations from different regions of Bulgaria:
Dancing Across Bulgaria, the Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dance Name Malapropisms, Part Two

“I think he’s suffering from a nervous shakedown.”
Stan Laurel

Today's post is about a piece we used for the final dance recently. One of the people there pronounced it "Hora of Misery."

 Hora Miresei, from Romania, was actually a dance for the bride and her family, done after the wedding before she leaves with her new husband. Maybe that's what the "misery" is about. Can you imagine how maudlin they were about the bride moving to another village, to live with her new family?  If there is booze involved, and there usually is, mourning her loss is even harder!

Nervous breakdowns (or "shakedowns") are common before, during and after weddings.  The drinking and the dancing help by alleviating some of the stress. After the wedding is when reality sets in, especially for the parents of the bride. Then for the bride, there's the wedding night...

The lyrics for Hora Miresei are beautiful and poignant, and the story told from the viewpoint of her mother. She wants to prolong what little time she has left with her daughter.  Here are the lyrics so you can sing along.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dance Name Malapropisms (Part One)

Songs and Dances about Brides


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.