Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Bagpipe in Bulgarian Folk Music

(photo from Wikipedia)

This is the musical instrument some people love to hate, and my daughter calls it music from Hell. The bagpipe is strident and loud, and you do not want to hear one the morning after a night of drinking! Most people associate the bagpipe with Scotland, where it is called the Great Highland Bagpipe. It takes a lot of lung power to play one.


Here's a traditional Scottish tune played on the Highland bagpipe:

Bagpipes are common to a number of cultures: the Scots, the Irish, the Bretons of northwest France, Macedonians, Greeks, and Bulgarians, to name a few. Here's some information about the Eastern European gaida (bagpipe) with some pictures, from Wikipedia:


An ad for Bulgarian rakia (brandy) cleverly combines Scottish bagpipes and kilts with Bulgarian music and dance:

In Bulgaria, the bagpipe is called the gaida. It is the predominant instrument in the Rhodope Mountains, near the Greek border, but common to all the folklore regions of Bulgaria. Most folk ensembles have a gaida player. You can really hear it in this performance of Kabile, a Bulgarian wedding band that toured the United States in 2008 and 2010.

This is what happens when 100 Bulgarians play the gaida at the same time. You will either be totally delighted by the performance or running to the medicine cabinet looking for a headache remedy. The fireworks add a nice touch!

When a female voice accompanies a gaida, you have a formidable combination. The song is Izlel e Delyu Haidutin, performed by a young lady named Nevena on the show Music Idol (the Bulgarian counterpart to American Idol). Her performance is on a par with that of Valya Balkanska, whose version of the song was launched into outer space in 1977.

There is no middle ground with bagpipes. You can love them or hate them, but they are pretty damn hard to ignore!

I love gaida music.
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  1. I actually do like them! That woman's voice is incredible! I want to be her best friend! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. Glad you enjoyed this. I happened to catch that video of Nevena on YouTube and was blown away by that voice of hers along with the gaida player that accompanied her. It was one of the most moving performances I've seen.

  3. Gaida is my favorite instrument. I love any rhythm that can't be divided by 2.

  4. Thanks, Karia, for stopping by. You will find a lot of rhythm on this blog that is not divisible by 2, as well as plenty of music played on the gaida. Glad you enjoyed!

  5. If you liked Nevena's rendition of Izlel e Delio Haidutin, you should check out Valya Balkanska's (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VUY6n4W1VA). Note: the sound and video are obviously out of sync.

    I do like gaida as well.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Manuel. I am familiar with Valya Balkanska's rendition of the song. Her version of Izlel e Delyo Haidutin is the original and gives me chills every time I hear it.