Traditional / folk music of Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a country with rich and varied type of folk music. Music has a deep roots in Bulgaria even in mythologies. Orpheus, the Greek hero born in south part of Bulgaria. Based on mythologies, he could charm wild beasts and leads rocks into movement with his musical power.
After World War II, from 1954 Bulgaria was a communist country under the rule of Todor Zhivkov. He repressed many kind of music which was not approved by the state (but not all), specially those who had “Bulgarian” origins. But folk music of Bulgaria survived in the blood of Bulgarian and did not die.
Traditional and folk music in Bulgaria is related to Balkan music with some roots in Turkish and Gypsy music. It has similarity with its neighbors, Greek, Romania and Macedonia. Bulgarian rhythms are famous for their complication in measures like 5/16, 7/16, 11/16, etc. This amazing measures in the music of Bulgaria and also Balkan built up around various combinations of 'quick' and 'slow' beats.
Different type of dances from different regions are played important role in folk music and traditions of Bulgaria. Many of these dances are line dances, in which the dancers dance in a straight or curved line, holding hands. Hora or horo is a popular dance which has many different shape. For example in a wedding more than five types of horo maybe performed. They are different in the rhythm of the music and the steps taken. There are no two horo dances with similar steps. Each has different sequence of rhythms and steps. Some types which can be named are pravo horo (which is considered as national dance of Bulgaria), petrunino horo (common in in north-west of Bulgaria which is example of 13/16 meter dance), shopsko horo (men’s dance often accompanied by gaida and type of horo), varnensko horo, daychovo horo, shibilevo horo and etc.
One of the unique genre of folk music in Bulgaria is wedding music. It is an important part of wedding ceremony and it is mixture of Bulgarian, Turkish and Gypsy music which today spice up with jazz improvisation. It is played with various type of musical instruments like clarinet, saxophone, violin, accordion, santur, kaval (type of Bulgarian flute), etc. Today many wedding bands and musicians give new blood and taste to wedding music and have created new fusion genres.
There are many different type of folk musical instruments which are used in Bulgaria. Kaval is kind of flute similar to Turkish kaval and middle eastern Ney. Gaida is a kind of bagpipe which is popular in Balkan and Southeastern parts of Europe. It is made of goat skin. Gadulka is a bowed string instrument. It usually has three strings, but only one of them is touched by the player fingers. Tambura is another instrument. It is a stringed instrument which has doubled steel strings and is played with a plectrum, in the same manner as a mandolin. It is also common in Macedonia and Croatia.
Women’s choirs is also another notable element in folk music of Bulgaria with unique rhythms and harmony.
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Traditional / folk songs for Bulgaria
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