Saturday, May 7, 2011

How Bulgarian Folk Music Induces Altered States....

It's not unusual to get into a trance when listening to certain types of music. If you click this link you can get an idea of how that happens. Although the article is primarily about modern techno and house music, people have gone into trances while dancing long before electronic music came into existence. Shamans in primitive societies have beaten on drums and performed ceremonial dances as a means of communicating with the spirits.

It is very easy to escape reality while dancing and listening to Bulgarian folk music. Some of it, especially pieces with bagpipes and drumming, borders on the hypnotic. The rhythms are ancient and transcend time and space.

In the first video, a group of dancers in traditional dress, with live musical accompaniment, perform in the town square, with the townspeople joining in. The piece that the musicians play has a mesmerizing quality, and you could very easily go into a trance while dancing to it. (I couldn't help but notice the flashing signs from the spa hotel. If you stare at them and listen to the drumbeats long enough, you will get hypnotized, or at the very least, have this uncontrollable desire to find the nearest casino and gamble away your life's savings.) Is there a subliminal message here?

The Nestinari ritual involves dancing in a pit of hot coals which have been burning all day. Hypnotic music is especially important to the performance of this ceremony. Although modern science has proven that just about anyone can walk on coals if they use the proper technique, many believe that the Nestinari have magical abilities and can communicate with God and the saints by going into a trance while dancing. The music used in the Nestinari ceremony is very primitive, the wail of a gaida and the beat of a drum (tupan). Even the little kids have no fear, they hold their arms out so the woman can carry them over the fire!

You can read last year's post on Nestinari, see the Myth Busters video, and learn about the science behind fire walking here:

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  1. Wow this is so interesting... it makes me think of the twirling Dervish. Love the drums!! :) This might be good for running.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Tracie! This music is very energizing, I can dance to it for several hours straight, and only start to feel tired when it stops. It would probably increase your stamina when running, too.

  3. lost three ounces, just tapping toes and fingers at desk...trance is greatly under-appreciated in western be induced into an altered state is beneficial to lifts the mind from daily mud and restores energy resources within.
    i could close my eyes during these dance videos--but then, i'd miss the festive spectacle and fancy footwork,
    well worth listening freely anytime a break is necessary..include in alternative medicine tools for future use..

  4. so true, Nadine. Escape from reality is what keeps us sane, and all you need is a little music.

  5. Yes, I see what you mean about the drum beats, the flashing signs, and the ensuing hypnotic ecstasy. And how all the dancers start out by immunizing each other to what lies ahead by holding hands. It's very infectious.

    Unfortunately, I'm not equipped to light and tend pits of burning coals. Nor do I know whether I could find crowds like those to urge me on. I don't have anywhere near that many friends with attention spans over 90 seconds.

    But once entranced, I just had to dance. My unconscious was acting on my pidgin Bulgarian prayers to let me glide over burning coals. Soon I lost track of space and time.

    When I came to, my feet and ankles were covered in blackened cole slaw.

    Thank you for the wonderful evening. From now on, I'll always think of you when I stop by the deli.

  6. Xex, thanks so much for the funny comment!

  7. Thank you for this one.

  8. Jonedae, thanks for dropping in and commenting. Pirin folk music has this ethereal quality and can induce altered states if you listen to enough of it :)