Saturday, June 28, 2014

More Songs From the Romanian Folklore Region of Dobrogea

This week's post will feature some lively songs from the folklore region of Dobrogea.  I am not very familiar with the performers (except for Aneta Stan); nor the songs.  Although they may be popular in Romania, they are not so well-known outside the country.  The songs caught my attention, which is why they ended up on this blog.

The rhythms of Romanian Dobrogea have counterparts across the Danube in Bulgarian Dobrudja. Here are two examples:

Geampara - Rachenitsa
Cadaneasca - Daichovo

The Eliznik website goes into more detail about odd rhythms in folk dances from Romania.  Rustemul is also mentioned. I couldn't find any songs with that name, but here's the dance:

Now it's time to enjoy some very danceable songs by several Romanian folk artists. Although there is no dancing in these videos,  you probably will want to sing (and dance) along to them, and there are some very nice photos to go along with them.

The first song, by Natalia Serbanescu, is Mandra Floare de la Mare.I couldn't get a proper translation; Google ended up with  Proud Flower to the Sea. In the video you can see some pictures of the Romanian Black Sea coast. For all I know this is probably an ad for tourism:

The song starts as a cadaneasca, then changes into sirba rhythm. Sirba is another popular Romanian folk dance that was featured on a post about a year ago (see link at the bottom of this page).

The next song is a geampara, (a dance in the rhythm  of 7/16) performed by Ani Orheanu Stanciu: Sunt Fata de la Braila (I am a Girl From Braila). Braila is a port city near the Danube Delta. Some of pictures in this video are scenes from the Delta region. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here's another example of geampara rhythm, performed  by Elena Ionescu Cojocaru: Mult ma doare inima (my heart aches...a lot). If  you didn't understand Romanian, you'd never guess this is a tragic love song. Your first impulse would be to dance to it.

Aneta Stan sings Eu Sunt Fata Dobrogeana (I am a Girl from Dobrogea), another example of the cadaneasca. If anyone knows the name of the flower in the picture, please let me know in the "comments section."  Aneta Stan is from the town of Cernavoda; there is a playlist of her songs on the Cernavoda Blog

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

Crossing the River, Folk Songs from the Romanian Folklore Region of Dobrogea

If you're interested in music from Bulgaria read: Stamping it Out: Dances From the Bulgarian Folklore Region of Dobrudja

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three Variations on the Bulgarian Folk Dance Trite Puti

Omne trium perfectum (every set of three is complete)

Today's dance is the very popular Trite Puti, from the Thracian region of Bulgaria. In English translation it means "three times." Three times what?

It has different variations, three of which we'll explore here.  The first (and the easiest) is performed by the Filip Kutev Ensemble.  Here the dance consists of three steps forward, three steps back, an in and out step, and three pas-de-basque steps to the right, then left.

The videos were posted on YouTube from the website. There you can find dance videos from all the folklore regions of Bulgaria and also an English translate link in the upper right hand corner of their webpage, if you are Cyrillically challenged :)

Warning: the gaida (bagpipe) here is very loud, so turn up the volume! (This is especially useful in summertime when annoying neighbors sometimes keep you awake with their loud music.)

Variation #2 also features dancers in elaborate embroidered costumes.  The music is slightly different, although at the end it's similar to Trite Puti #1. This video is part of a series "Teach Yourself Bulgarian Folk Dance." This version is the one most commonly done in international folk dance groups.

The teaching part of the video (not shown) breaks the dance down into its individual parts. This is what it looks like put together.

Trite Puti #3 is similar to version #1, with grapevines and side to side steps added, and at a slower speed.  The music is different, although some of it is similar to version #1 and version #2.

This is part of a medley of dances (the other two are Varnensko Horo, at 2:03 and Shopska Rachenitsa  at 4:50 ), which are also worth a look. Good things come in threes!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Dances and Their Greek Relatives

Bulgarian Folk Dance in the United States (the Ethnic Dance Chicago does a really fancy version of Trite Puti.  It's the last dance in the first video at 4:55)

Three Variations on the Romanian Folk Dance Trei Pazeste (for those who really like things in multiples of three).

You can also watch these teaching videos on YouTube.  Emily Nisbet teaches Trite Puti (in English) and if you're feeling ambitious, you can try it in Bulgarian.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dancing Along the Danube: Folklore Videos from the Tour International Danubien

Today's post features a Bulgarian folklore show from an annual event: the Tour International Danubien or TID for short.

In 2014 the TID will begin in Ingolstadt on the 21st of June and ends in Sfantu Gheorghe in Romania on the 5th of September.  It includes the following countries: Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The Tour is in its 59th year and the intent of the trip is to foster good will and friendship amongst the people who live in the countries along the Danube River. I had never heard about it despite having lived in Germany for four years. There was no mention of it on the news programs nor was I able to find anything on Deutsche Welle, the German news service.

I found out about the TID via the Bulgarian National Radio affiliate in Vidin, about two years ago.

The TID is a demanding undertaking; it involves 2 1/2 months of paddling canoes/kayaks (no motorboats are allowed). They cover an average of 30-50 kilometers per day (and sometimes more) with rest days.  The participants sleep in tents, sometimes at primitive campsites, and have to deal with hazards such as thunderstorms, high water, strong currents, wind, and large ships.  Some sections can be compared to riding a bicycle on a highway while being surrounded by large trucks. The Slovak TID website describes some of the dangers. There have been a few casualties in the past; their advice was that if you pay attention, you'll be fine.

The TID paddlers also have a lot of fun on their journey, get to explore different countries and cultures and have an enjoyable time out on the water.  It's not all work.  (If it were no one would go!)

They have to be self-sufficient, which means carrying tents, sleeping bags, personal gear, etc. in their boats. At each town where they stop for the night they are welcomed, fed, and entertained, sometimes with folk music.  The participants pay a fee for each section of the Tour and the money goes towards providing food, a place to camp, sanitary facilities and entertainment.

I have a feel for what they do because I have canoed and kayaked rivers here in the States (the largest was the Connecticut River in Massachusetts).  My husband and I went on a canoe camping trip many years ago on our own for seven days, in Pennsylvania. I don't know if I could do a trip like the TID at this point in my life, one section would probably be plenty for me. It is something you have to train for; and you have to be prepared for anything.

Note:  As of March 2015, the videos originally posted here are no longer online.  I have replaced them with a video from the 2014 TID, taken by Bulgarian Nikolay Dandanov, of a folk dance in Vetren. The group is the Ensemble Dobrudja from Silistra. They perform a medley of dances from different regions of Bulgaria.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Two Varations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Opas

The River of Many Names Parts Two, Four, and Five (Danube music from Bulgaria and Serbia)

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa: Part One and Part Two

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Some Famous (and not so famous) Folk Songs from Romania

I never wanted to be famous.  I only wanted to be great.
Ray Charles

Today's post features music by three female Romanian folk singers. Two of them are almost unknown in the United States. 

We begin with Maria Tanase, born in a suburb of Bucharest in 1913, and best known for her song Ciuleandra. You can find the lyrics here in Romanian, English and German. While you're there, check out the rest of the Songbook for Nearsighted People, a collection of folk songs with translations (mostly in German and some in English).

She became interested in folk singing at a young age and gave many performances in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately she died from cancer shortly  before her 50th birthday. Maria Tanase has often been compared  to Edith Piaf, a French singer from the mid 20th century, because of her sultry voice.

There is a dance to this song, and it's very popular among international folk dance groups around the world.

The next song, also performed by Maria Tanase is Bun ii vinu' ghiurghiuliu.  It has a very danceable rhythm (7/16), and a cimbalom (tambal) accompaniment. You can find the lyrics here.

By the way, Romanian wine is very good, but not easy to find in my area.  I drank some at a friend's graduation party last year which was held in a Romanian restaurant. It was open bar, too!

7/8 or 7/16 is the rhythm for rachenitsa, the national dance of Bulgaria.  When rachenitsa crosses the border into Romania it becomes geampara. 

Aneta Stan is from Dobrogea, in southeastern Romania. She performs songs from all the folklore regions of Romania, however, much of her repertoire is from Dobrogea.

Dobrudja is divided in two parts: Northern Dobrogea in Romania, and Southern Dobrudja in Bulgaria.The spelling is slightly different for each country. For you geography buffs out there, this is the region between the Danube and the Black Sea.

Stan, born in 1944, lived a good portion of her life during the repressive dictatorship of Nicolae CeauČ™escu.  He ruled Romania with an iron hand from the mid 1960's until his assassination on Christmas Day, 1989. The borders were surrounded with barbed wire and watch towers, and those who tried  to escape were shot. CeauČ™escu's austerity program in that country included the rationing of food, heat and electricity which were sold to pay off Romania's foreign debt.

She is not well-known in the United States, although, according to the interview here in Romanian, she has given concerts all over the world. The places that made the biggest impression on her were Africa, Italy and New York City. During her stay in New York, she volunteered at a hospital and cared for an elderly patient.

She visited the United States during one of her performing tours and her impression was that "America was as gray as Romania" and that at night everything came alive with light. She was probably describing the bright lights of New York City.

The song Cernavoda is about Aneta Stan's home town. It's on the Danube, River of Many Names, in the region of Dobrogea, and has a Bulgarian name which translates to "dark water."

If you listen closely, you can hear a bagpipe (cimpoi). By the way the dance to this is a sirba, and the rhythm closely resembles the Bulgarian pravo horo.

Ileana Constantinescu, born in 1929, is another singer little known outside Romania.  She also used the odd rhythms of Dobrogea in her music (she was born in the region of Oltenia, southern Romania) The song, Dunare (Danube) is an example of schiopa, a rhythm related to Bulgarian daichovo, but with the accents on different beats.

The lyrics to Dunare can be found here, along with a translation in English..This is a very haunting love song with lots of rhythm.  The recording is from the year 1954.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

Crossing the River, Part One: Music From the Romanian Folklore Region of Dobrogea

The River of Many Names Part Seven (Another song by Aneta Stan:  Balade Fetei Dunarene with scenes from Cernavoda)

The Cernavoda Blog (blog in Romanian with a playlist of Aneta Stan's greatest hits) with a short bio of the singer.  She was made an honorary citizen of the town in 2003.

Folk Ensembles Named After Dances (includes the dance Ciuleandra).

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

You can also visit my new blog Light and Shadow, with poetry, stories and pictures by (who else?) me!

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