Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy New Year 2014: Same Dance, Different Music, Dunavsko Horo

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

― Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

One day I decided to check out the Universe of YouTube to see how many different tunes I could find for Dunavsko Horo (that were not composed by Diko Iliev).  I found five; there are probably more. The Bulgarians love this dance and play it on festive occasions, especially to ring in the New Year.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any notes (even in Bulgarian) about the origin of Dunavsko Horo.  I'm sure people did this dance or something like it before Diko Iliev (1898-1984) came along and made it popular.  The dance may have originated in the town of Svishtov; it is also known as Svishtovsto Horo.

Even though this is essentially the same dance in all five videos; there are variations in speed and style. This is where the "different village" concept comes into play.

The first video is a group of young people from the ensemble Pirinska Kitka performing at a Christmas celebration.  The recorded music is played on traditional Bulgarian folk instruments.

This brass band version, which reminds me of Diko Iliev's Dunavsko, is from a Bulgarian dance teaching video.  It's quite a bit faster than the one in the previous video. The costumes are from the northwestern folklore region (Severnjasko).

Here's another teaching video, this time from . They have an excellent website with videos and information about Bulgarian dance and folklore.  The dancers are from the Filip Kutev Folk Ensemble. Although there is an English translate button on the site, it doesn't work very well.  You are better off cutting and pasting the link to the site into an online translation program, although some of the meaning can get lost.

By the way, my group likes this version because it's not too fast.

If you're searching for a feminist version of Dunavsko, look no further. Since most women love to shop, here is a group of them in one of their favorite places: the shopping mall. For some reason they aren't wearing folk costumes.  Maybe they couldn't find them at any of the stores.

Young people add an element of energy, and this version is fast, with plenty of arm swinging! The group is the ensemble Goce Delcev, from Sofia.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Variations on a Theme by Diko Iliev:  Dunavsko Horo

The River of Many Names, parts Two and Four (Folk songs and dances from Bulgaria related to the Danube)

A Birthday Celebration and a Cause of Inspiration: The Music of Diko Iliev

Now That We've Survived the End of the World  (year end post from 2012)

A very Happy New Year 2014 to all!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Best of the Bisserov Sisters (and family)

It is as if we were fated to be a trio even before we were born.
Mitra Bisserov (during interview with Bulgarian National Radio)

I love music from the Pirin region (southwest Bulgaria).  I have to admit, though, that it's an acquired taste; my family does not feel the same way about it. 

Recently a program on the Bulgarian National Radio featured the Bisserov sisters. They come from a large musical family and specialize in music and songs from the Pirin region. 

According to what I heard in the BNR interview, they have performed all over the world and gave their first performance in Cuba.  In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how much Bulgarians admire music from Latin America.  I am sure people from Latin America feel the same about Bulgarian folk music.

Video # 1 features two songs from the Pirin region. The instrumentation is unique to this area with the three tamburas (string instrument which resembles a lute) and tarambuka (small drum).

In the next video, the Bisserovs do some amazing things with their vocal cords.  Song #1 sounds like the Bulgarian version of yodeling. The Pirin is a mountainous region, and yodeling was a way to call the cows or sheep home from a day at the pasture.  Certain sounds echo well, and carry across long distances.  Yodeling is certainly more reliable than cell phone service in remote mountain areas...

Song #2 is in 11/16 (kopanitsa rhythm), song #3 is a devetorka (9/16) and song #4 is in rachenitsa rhythm (7/16).  Bulgarian music is well-known for its odd rhythms, and the dances are built around them.

Seeing people dressed in elaborate embroidered costumes is probably par for the course when riding the subway in Sofia. I grew up New York City, where the underground rapid transit system is over a century old and smells like rat droppings and stale urine. The Sofia metro is gorgeous compared to New York's.

This video alternates between the Bisserovs wearing "civilian clothes" and folk costumes.  There is a scene at 1:40 where the ladies link hands and dance rachenitsa.

For more information about the Bisserov family you can visit their website, where you can read about the history of the group and listen to some samples of their songs.

By the way, if you are in Sofia on the 9th of December, the Bisserovs will be giving a 35th anniversary concert at the Sredets Culture House.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Singing Demystified

Leb i Vino: Traditional Music from the Pirin Region of Bulgaria

The Pirin Ensemble of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Mango Duende:  Latin Rhythm With a Bulgarian Accent

Nusha:  A Family Project with Neli Andreeva and Her Daughters

The Alien Diaries will be taking a break for most of December;  the next post will be published shortly before New Year 2014.  There are almost 200 posts here and and many people don't want to go out when it's cold and snowy outside.  Here's the antidote to winter: get a cup of your favorite hot beverage, sit down in front of your computer, turn up the heat, and read my blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.