Saturday, December 10, 2011

Allusions, Musically Speaking

Words are illusions.

First of all, let's begin with the definition of allusion. Most people confuse allusion with illusion. They are two totally different things, although the quote above states that "words are illusions." If you think about it, have you ever listened to a really good story that was the product of a crazy imagination? Most likely it was illusion and allusion at work.

Literary types would define it as a reference to something else in a written work, usually subtle or implied. An illusion, well, that's an idea that's taken up residence in your imagination, or something that you see when you've had too much to drink :)

Of course, to understand a literary allusion, you have to go back to the item it was originally written about. It's the same with music.

Today's post is about allusions in Balkan folk music. If you listen hard enough you will find them :)

The first video is of Gori More, a dance song which came from Serbia via Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hidden somewhere in the music is an allusion to another folk song, which leads me to believe the composer knows something about Macedonian folk music. (Hint: it's at 1:38). Listen carefully, because it's short, maybe about 20 seconds.

Now listen to the song Zajko Kokorajko, from Macedonia. The story behind this song is about a rabbit and his surprise bride (the fox who wants to eat him). The dance is Arap.

Berkovksa Duhova Muzika, a brass ensemble from Bulgaria, crosses the line between traditional and modern. They use an allusion to an American pop song in this rendition of their signature piece, Chichovo Horo, a folk dance from northwestern Bulgaria. This time it's up to you to find it. It's somewhere in the middle, and very well woven into the musical fabric.

Here's the original song, a one hit wonder from the 1950's on the original 78 rpm record.

If you are over 50 you probably remember 78's. If you're younger, your grandparents or parents may have a few gathering dust in the basement.

They were big clumsy things, 10 inches in diameter, made from vinyl and played on a turntable with a stylus. The sound came from the needle moving along the grooves as the record turned. You could get about three minutes of music on each side. They skipped when they got scratched, which was often, which is where the expression "you sound like a broken record" came from.

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If you enjoyed this, you may also like Bulgarian Folklore and Pop Culture

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