Monday, October 22, 2012

The Zurna in Bulgarian Folk Music

Today's post features a musical instrument that people either love or hate: the zurna. In that respect it is related to the bagpipe (gaida).

The zurna looks like a wooden horn with finger holes, and has a double reed like an oboe. According to this article it may have originated in Asia; it is a very popular instrument in Turkey and the Middle East.

Shepherds played zurna to frighten the bears away. The Ottoman Turks, who ruled Eastern Europe for nearly 500 years brought the zurna to the Balkans. The zurna and the tupan (double-headed drum) were important instruments in Turkish military bands, and the purpose of the music was to intimidate enemies of the Ottoman Empire.

The people of the Pirin region (southwest Bulgaria) incorporated the zurna as well as the tupan into their folk music. It's loud enough to wake up the dead and played during festive occasions. This one happens to be a New Year's Day celebration.

The zurna is usually accompanied by a tupan. In this video the purpose is not intimidation, but music for dancing.

The last video is from the festival "Pirin Sings." This is more like Pirin, get up and dance, or else :)

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The Bagpipe and Bulgarian Folk Music

If Drums Could Talk....

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