Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dancing in Sevens Part 2: The 7/16 Rhythm in Macedonian Folk Music

Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that's what we are.
Mickey Hart

Asymmetric rhythms are extremely common in Balkan music. The Bulgarians, especially are best known for music in odd time signatures such as 7/16. There is variation within that all depends on which beats have the accent.

Today we will explore the 7/16 rhythm in Macedonian folk music.

The first is Sitna Lisa (3-2-2 or galloping-apple-apple). I especially enjoy the brass band orchestration in this video; it's loud enough to wake the dead. The Bulgarian equivalent of this rhythm can be found in the dance Chetvorno Horo.

Most folk dancers in North America are familiar with this version of Sitna Lisa: played on tupan (drum), tambura (a string instrument similar to a lute), gaida (bagpipe) and kaval (flute).  There is something about this music that sounds uniquely Macedonian, especially the long introduction on the gaida and the kaval solo. It's very beautifully done.

The next example of the 7/16 rhythm in Macedonian folk music is the song Zurli Trestat na Sred Selo.  (I couldn't find an English translation; if anyone out there can translate the lyrics, please post  in the "comments" section). This time the accent is a little different: it's 2-3-3 (apple-apple-galloping).  The Bulgarian equivalent is rachenitsa.

These young people perform the dance that goes with the song.  Looks like rachenitsa, doesn't it?

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing in Sevens (part one) This post explores the folk dances lesnoto, chetvorno and rachenitsa.

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa, parts one and two.

 The "Flavors" of Daichovo Horo. Daichovo is a folk dance from Bulgaria with nine beats to the measure.

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