Thursday, June 18, 2015

Beli Dunav Part One: Danube Songs from Bulgaria

We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb.
Bill Bryson

You may be wondering why I used a quote about candles.  Read on and you'll find out.

Today's post is first in a series featuring Danube songs from Bulgaria. The title for this one is Dunave, Beli Dunave. In English it translates to "White Danube."  In Bulgaria, the color white is associated with "joy, grandeur and beauty," among other things. There are a number of arrangements and different versions of this song, and I have written about them in previous posts (see links below)

Songs like this are the reason people are so enchanted with arrangements of Bulgarian choral music.

Back in the late 80's people in the States took notice of vocal music from Eastern Europe.  Marcel Cellier had put together an album called the "Mystery of Bulgarian Voices." It became extremely popular in the United States, and Americans were amazed at the beauty and harmony of Bulgarian folk songs.  One was even used in the TV series Xena, Warrior Princess.

The name of the group in the video is Rosalitsa and this performance took place in the community center (chitalishte) in the town of Svishtov , Bulgaria.  Svishtov has been settled since the time of the Romans, who called it Novae. The Bulgarian name of the town is derived from the word "candle."  There was once a lighthouse there to aid night time navigation, back in the days when there was no electricity.

The song is performed a capella and there are two distinct, yet harmonious melodies blended together. It sounds like something you'd hear in a church or a concert hall.  This is Bulgarian folk song at its best.

If anyone out there can find the lyrics of this beautiful song, please post them in the "comments" section.  It would be much appreciated!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Bulgarian Singing Demystified

The River of Many Names Part 4: The Danube in Bulgarian Folk Songs

Modern Versions of Traditional Bulgarian Folk Songs Part One

For more on Bulgarian singing click this link

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