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2019/8/6 Bulgaria | Grove Music

Grove Music Online

Bulgaria (Bulg. Republika Bălgariya)

Stoyan Petrov, Magdalena Manolova, Milena Bozhikova and Donna A. Buchanan
Published in print: 20 January 2001
Published online: 2001
This version: 28 May 2015
updated and revised, 28 May 2015; updated and revised, 23 February 2011

Country in south-eastern Europe. Bulgaria is a country of 110,994 sq. km with a

population of approximately 7.25 million people, about 70% of whom live in urban
centres. The national language is Bulgarian, a south-Slavic language. Orthodox
Christianity is the o cial religion. Minority groups include Pomaks (Slavic Bulgarian
Muslims), ethnic Turks, Macedonians, Christian and Muslim Roma, Jews, Albanians,
Vlachs, and Armenians.

I. Art music
Stoyan Petrov, revised by Magdalena Manolova and Milena Bozhikova

Bulgarian musical culture began to take shape when the Bulgarian state was founded in
681, and its character was initially determined by the interaction of three fundamental
ethnic groups: the Slavs (who were in the majority), the Proto-Bulgarians, and the
remnants of the assimilated ancient Thracian population. After the introduction of
Christianity in 865 the starobălgarskiyat napev (old Bulgarian church chant) came into
being, at rst in uenced by Byzantine chant. Kliment, Naum, and several other followers
of SS Cyril and Methodius restored the Slav chantbooks which had been destroyed in
Moravia, and created new ones. The musical traditions were handed down from
generation to generation and the old Bulgarian chant was gradually formed: it took on
certain distinctive characteristics, primarily because of the discrepancy between the
number of syllables and the di erences of stress in the Greek and Bulgarian languages,
and also because of the in uence of folk music. Among the few musical works to have
survived are the 9th-century Keramichna plochka (‘Ceramic tile’) from Preslav, the 11th-
century Kipriyanovi listove (‘Kipriyan’s sheets’), the 12th-century Bitolski triod (‘Bitolya
triod’), the 13th-century Bolonski psaltir (‘Bologna psalter’) and Draganov miney
(‘Draganov’s menologion’; also known as the Zografski trifologii, ‘Zograph triphologion’),
and the Moldavski răkopis (‘Moldavian manuscript’), dated 1511. The Bulgarian
monasteries on Mount Athos, such as Zograf and Pavel, played an important part in the
cultural collaboration with Byzantium; musically gifted children from the lands north of
the empire were trained in Constantinople and often stayed on in the service of the Greek
churches and monasteries (a notable example is Joannes Koukouzeles).… 1/41
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Until the 19th century secular musical culture in Bulgaria was dominated by folk music,
but after the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 from the Turks, who had ruled the country
since the late 14th century, professional music-making developed rapidly. The rst
Choral Society, Bălgarski Pevcheski Tsărkoven Khor (‘Bulgarian Church Choir’), which
had been established in Ruse in 1870, was the expression of a protest against the Greek
church-singing tradition. Musical activities were uni ed by Bălgarskiyat Muzikalen
Săyuz (the ‘Bulgarian Musical Union’, 1903–41). In 1901 the rst professional union of
musicians was established. Bălgarskiyat Pevcheski Săyuz (the ‘Bulgarian Choral Union’,
formed in 1926) organized the country’s amateur choir activities. It also funded the
activities of the national choirs, orchestras, and chamber ensembles. Cultural clubs,
which had been of considerable importance up to the liberation, went on playing an
important role in amateur musical activities. Concerts by Bulgarian and foreign
performers were organized by private bureaux called kontsertni direktsii (‘concert
management boards’). Between 1933 and 1944, Bulgarian composers were linked through
the association Săvremenna Muzika (‘Contemporary Music’). The rst music school in
So a was opened in 1904, becoming the Dărzhavna Muzikalna Akademiya (‘State Music
Academy’) in 1921; the Operna Druzhba (‘Opera Society’), founded in 1908, became the
So yska Narodna Opera (‘So a National Opera’) in 1921. Military bands, amateur choirs,
and various professional orchestras were founded, notably the Bălgarska Narodna
Filkharmoniya (‘Bulgarian National Philharmonic’, 1924), the Dărzhaven Simfonichen
Orkestăr (Academic SO, 1928; renamed the Tsarski Voenen Simfonichen Orkestăr, Royal
Military SO, 1936), and the So yska Dărzhavna Filkharmoniya (‘So a State
Philharmonic’, 1946, now the National Philharmonic orchestra).

Although Bulgarian music has not been as widely disseminated abroad as the music of
most other eastern European countries, it has ourished domestically since the late 19th
century, when Nikola Atanasov (1886–1969) composed the rst Bulgarian symphony and
such composers as Georgi Atanasov (1882–1931) and Panayot Pipkov (1871–1942)
produced operas and solo and choral songs on folk subjects. A state School of Music was
established in 1912, and an Academy of Music in 1921. Andrey Stoyanov (a graduate of the
Vienna Academy of Music) is the founder of the Bulgarian piano school. In the 20s an
important contribution to this school was made by Ivan Torchanov (another graduate of
the Vienna Academy of Music, specializing with L. Godowsky).

After World War I and the September Uprising (1923), a new stage in the development of
Bulgarian music began. Composers professionally trained in Germany, France, Austria,
and Italy, who had assimilated the European tradition, returned to Bulgaria in order to
found a Bulgarian musical tradition. They made it their aim to create a national Bulgarian
style, drawing both on contemporary trends and the folklore traditions of the country.
Composers such as Pancho Vladigerov, Lyubomir Pipkov, Marin Goleminov, Veselin
Stoyanov, Dimitar Nenov, Parashkev Khadzhiev, Petko Staynov, and Georgi Dimitrov
created the basis of the Bulgarian musical tradition in all genres, and through their
teaching were a prime in uence on the generation of composers after World War II.

Between 1920-1950 pianists and composers of international renown, including Dimitar

Nenov and Pancho Vladigerov, were teaching at the So a Music Academy. In the piano
department these included Tamara Yankova, Panka Pelishek, Lyuba Encheva, Lily
Atanasova, Mara Petkova, Mara Balsamova, and Lyuba Obretenova. Many of them
graduated from music academies in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Milan, and Prague under
teachers including L. Godowsky, J. Ho man, L. Kreutzer, K. Aarau, E. Fischer, E. Petri, A.
Courtney, Yv. Lefébure, and M. Ciampi.… 2/41
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After the socialist revolution in 1944, the new social and cultural situation led to changes
in the development of Bulgarian musical life. All cultural activities were centralized and
acquired a strong ideological orientation. Socialist realism and the slogan ‘The more
among the people, the closer to life!’ became the order of the day. The new state
performing institutions were responsible for organizing concerts and popularizing
music. Composers and musicologists, all belonging to the Union of Bulgarian Composers,
consolidated the new socialist musical culture and organized festivals of Bulgarian
music, as well as musical education and criticism sessions. State opera and operetta
companies and symphony orchestras (foremost among them the Simfonichem Orkestar
na Balgarskoto Radio i Televiziya [‘Bulgarian Radio and Television SO’, 1949]) were
subsidised by the state, and their activities were directly under state control. The
Committee of Culture and the Arts presided over the work of musical educational
establishments such as the Balgarska Darzhavna Konservatoriya (‘Bulgarian State
Conservatory’, now the National Music Academy ‘Pancho Vladigerov’), and state music
schools. Amateur groups received support from trade-union funds, community centres,
and the Committee of Culture and the Arts. The state also controlled other activities, such
as the production and distribution of records and music scores.

The development of Bulgarian music between 1944 and the beginning of the 1960s was
determined by the imposition of a new model of national culture. This was the time of
revolutionary change, of realism. The neo-Romantic pathos found in Bulgarian music of
the 1930s and 40s was replaced by an emphasis on folklore as the expression of a
democratic aesthetic, particularly in genres such as cantatas, oratorios, and other choral
work. Most young composers were unable to study abroad, and contact with
contemporary European trends was inevitably limited. Leading representatives of new
trends in Bulgarian music included Konstantin Iliev, Lazar Nikolov, Alexandar Raychev,
Simeon Pironkov, Krasimir Kyurkchiyski, Vasil Kazandzhiev, Georgi Tutev, and Ivan
Spasov. The most brilliant of their compositions were performed at the ‘Warsaw Autumn’
International contemporary music festival.

After the 1950s many Bulgarian musicians graduated from the Russian piano school
(Moscow and St.Petersburg) under H. Neuhaus, Y. Flier, L. Oborin, T. Nikolaeva, V.
Gornostaeva, Y. Milshtein, and D. Bashkirov. These include the pianists Konstantin and
Julya Ganevi (studied under Neuhaus), Milena Mollova (specialized under E. Gilels in
Moscow and G. Agosti in Italy), Nikolay Evrov (specialized under H. Neuhaus), Anton
Dikov (specialized under N. Boulanger, R. and A. Rubinstein, and R. Casadesus), Bozhidar
Noev (under Carlo Zecchi), Ivan Drenikov (under Richard Hauser, Alexis Weissenberg,
and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli), Pavlina Dokovska (under Yv. Lefébure and Beveridge
Webster), Vesselin Stanev (under D. Bashkirov and Alexis Weissenberg), and the organist
Yanka Hekimova (under L. Royzman and Jean Guillou). Many composers, musicologists,
and conductors were similarly educated in Russia.

With the relaxation of the political situation in the 1960s, composers enjoyed greater
aesthetic freedom. The reinterpretation of folklore and the adoption of many of the
experiments carried out in the 1960s and 70s led to a new stage in the development of
Bulgarian music. The analytical, anti-Romantic aesthetic also characterized the
generation which emerged at the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s, including Stefan
Dragostinov, Emil Tabakov, Plamen Dzhurov, Bozhidar Spasov, Vladimir Panchev,
Alexandar Kandov, Rumen Balïozov, Yuliya Tzenova, and Neva Krasteva. Familiar with… 3/41
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modern trends, the majority of these composers were able to create an individual style,
independent from the totalitarian regime’s realist aesthetic. Their work appeared in
contemporary music forums around the world and won prestigious prizes.

During the 1970s and 80s several Bulgarian choirs achieved international fame, while
singers such as Nikolay Gyaurov, Rayna Kabaivanska, Anna Tomova-Sintova, and Gena
Dimitrova were among the leading names in the international opera world. The
So yskata Filharmoniya (So a Philharmonic), So yski Solisti (So a Soloists chamber
orchestra), Children’s Choir at the Bulgarian National Radio, and many individual
soloists were enthusiastically received abroad, as were numerous folk ensembles.

Interwar stands out the name of a student of Otokar Szewczyk – Hans Koch from Prague.
He taught in So a and his students are Vladimir Avramov and Leon Suruzhon. Other
violinists specialize in Europe: Sasha Popov (under O. Szewczyk), Nicola Abadzhiev and
Todor Văzharov (under Henri Marteau), Kamen Popdimitrov (under Lucien Capet),
Hristo Obreshkov (under Georg Kulenkamp ), Nedyalka Simeonova (under Leopold
Auer), Peter Hristoskov (under Gustav Havemann), and Leon Suruzhon (under George
Enescu and Yvonne Astrug). After World War II Bulgarian violin art is strongly in uenced
by the Russian and Soviet school. Boyan Lechev specializes with David Oistrakh, Boyan
Danailov – with Leonid Kogan, Mikhail Chilikov – with Yuri Yankelevich, Georgi Bliznev
– under Michail Weimann, Dora Ivanova – with Igor Bezrodny, Soyka Milanova – was
David Oistrakh’s student, Evgenia-Maria Popova – student of Leonid Kogan. The cellist
Stefan Popov studied under Svyatoslav Knushevitski and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Many teachers of this generation of violinists are winners of the most prestigious
national and international competitions: Emil Kamilarov (‘Paganini’ – Genoa), Georgy
Badev (‘Queen Elizabeth’ – Brussels), Stoyka Milanova (‘Queen Elizabeth’ – Brussels,
‘Carl Flesch’ – London), Ginka Gichkova (Montreal), Alexander Iltchev (‘Enescu’ –
Bucharest), Elisaveta Kazakova (‘Tibor Varga’ – Switzerland), Yosif Radionov (Osaka),
Mincho Minchev (‘Carl Flesch’ – London, ‘Paganini’ – Genoa, ‘Wieniawski’ – Poznan),
Vanya Milanova (‘Tchaikovsky’ – Moscow, ‘Queen Elizabeth’ – Brussels, ‘Paganini’ –
Genoa), and others.

After 1989 the centralisation of the totalitarian regime was replaced by a democratic
system. The state could no longer subsidise the many institutions and activities, and
could only provide modest funds for education and a few national institutions.
Nevertheless, private initiatives developed and sponsorship became the chief means of
subsidy in the music profession. Foundations now supported activities which under the
former regime had encountered ideological opposition.

With the lifting of travel restrictions many young artists chose to work abroad; these
included Bozhidar Spasov (Germany), Dimităr Naumov (USA), Vladimir Panchev
(Austria), Alexandăr Kandov (Spain), Russi Tarmăkov (Canada), Simeon Pironkov Jr
(Austria), Tsvetan Dobrev and Yasen Vodenicharov (France), and Boyan Vodenicharov
(Belgium). Others remained in Bulgaria, notably the composers Georgi Arnaudov,
Vladimir Dzhambazov, Mikhail Goleminov, Krasimir Taskov, Kiril Lambov, Atanas
Atanasov, Velislav Zaimov, Petar Petrov, and many others.

After the 1990s, more Bulgarian musicians have had the opportunity to study in western
Europe and America. Many young Bulgarian musicians have received international
recognition, including the composers Martin Georgiev (b 1983), Andrian Pervazov (b
1963), Penka Kuneva (1967), and Dobrinka Tabakova (b 1980); the violinists Svetlin… 4/41
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Roussev, Mila Georgieva, Nikolay Minchev, Albena Danailova, Bilyana Voutchkova, Yana
Deshkova, and Valya Dervenska; and the pianists Plamena Mangova, Evgeni Bozhanov,
Georgi Cherkin, and Vesko Stambolov.

See also Burgas, Plovdiv, Ruse, So a, Stara Zagora and Varna.

V. Krăstev: Ocherki vărkhu razvitieto na bălgarskata muzika [Essays on the development of
Bulgarian music] (So a, 1954, 2/1970)

S. Petrov: Ochertsi po istoriya na bălgarskata musikalna kultura [Essays on the history of

Bulgarian musical culture] (So a, 1959)

V. Krăstev, ed.: Entsiklopediya na bălgarskata muzikalna kultura [Encyclopedia of Bulgarian

musical culture] (So a, 1967)

D. Khristov: Muzikalno-teoretichesko i publitsistichesko nasledstvo [The heritage of music

theory and writing] (So a, 1967–70)

S. Petrov and Kh. Kodov: Starobălgarski muzikalni pametnitsi [Old Bulgarian music] (So a,

D. Cvetko: Musikgeschichte der Südslawen (Kassel and Maribor, 1975)

V. Krăstev: Pro li [Pro les], vols.1–6 (So a, 1976–86)

Entsiklopediya Balgariya (So a, 1984)

V. Krăstev: Părvostroiteli na bălgarskiya operen teatăr [Founders of the Bulgarian opera],

(So a, 1993)

P. Goranova: Klavirnoto izkustvo v Bălgariya [The clavier art in Bulgaria], (So a, 1999)

D. Danova-Damyanova: Musica nova v bălgarskata muzikalna kultura [Musica nova in the

Bulgarian music culture] (So a, 2009)

E. Kolarova: Dialogăt – traditsii – săvremennost v bălgarskoto muzikalno tvorchestvo v XX

vek (aspekti, proekti, re eksii) [The dialogue – traditions – contemporary in the Bulgarian
music work in the 20th century (aspects, projects, re ections)], (So a, 2013)

II. Traditional music

Donna A. Buchanan

The hilly and mountainous topography of Bulgaria made contact between villages
di cult and at certain times of year impossible. Thus, communities evolved in relative
seclusion. This, coupled with the country’s long rule by the Ottoman Empire, aided both
the preservation and development of great cultural diversity. The country is divided into
six ethnographic regions: the Shop, or So a district; Pirin-Makedoniya in the southwest;
Rodopa, comprising the Rhodope Mountain region along the southern border; Trakiya,
the central Thracian plain; Dobrudzha, in the northeast; and the area known simply as
‘Northern Bulgaria’ in the northwest.… 5/41
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1. The national renaissance and development of music

Bulgarian musical ethnography originated in the Vazrazhdane, the 19th-century cultural
renaissance which helped form a uni ed Bulgarian nationalist ideology. This period
witnessed the institutionalization of education, the standardization of literary Bulgarian,
and the establishment of the periodical press, local library clubs, and reading rooms
whose activities facilitated later developments in music and theatre. Major literary
gures of the time collected and used folkloric materials in their writings. Several, like
the brothers Dimitar Miladinov (1810–62) and Konstantin Miladinov (1830–62),
published song text compilations that were characteristic of Bulgarian scholarship up to
the late 1980s: the collection, documentation, and systematization of narodni pesni

By the early 1900s scholars began publishing the melodies of narodni pesni together with
their texts, which in turn promoted theoretical studies of their musical characteristics by
academics such as Dobri Khristov (1875–1941). In 1926 So a’s ethnographic museum
established a department of narodna muzika (‘folk or traditional music’) directed by Vasil
Stoin (1880–1938) who, with such co-workers as Stoyan Dzhudzhev (b 1902) and Raina
Katsarova (1901–84), instigated the systematic collection, documentation, and analysis
of narodna muzika throughout Bulgaria. Beginning in the late 1920s their ndings were
published in volumes called sbornitsi (sing. sbornik). Although scholars began to use
recording devices in 1939, they did not employ tape recorders widely for collection
purposes until 1954. In 1948 the Institute for Musicology was founded within the
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAN), incorporating the ethnographic museum’s music
department and personnel two years later.

The institute’s sbornitsi are the cornerstone of ‘musical folkloristic science’, as

ethnomusicology was known until the late 1980s, and were used extensively by
contemporaneous composers to form a national school of composition. The collections
also generated important studies of indigenous music theory, including rhythmic
patterns, diaphony, and pentatonicism; speci c genres such as epic recitative;
organology; and the music of expatriate Bulgarian communities and Bulgarian Muslims.
By the mid-1960s numerous publications addressed topics such as state-sponsored folk
ensembles, their festivals, repertory, and relationship to the mass media. Concomitantly,
this period witnessed the foundation of Bulgarian ethnochoreology. These themes
prevailed until the mid-1980s, when the scope of publications broadened to include such
subjects as urban musics, popular culture, world musics, the music of minority and
diasporic communities, and issues of ethnomusicological theory and methodology.

Renamed the Musical Sector of the Institute of Art Studies in 1990, the institute has long
administered two archival collections that support ethnomusicological scholarship: a
large library of scores, books, and periodicals; and an ethnographic archive containing
more than 300,000 notated or mechanically recorded songs and instrumental melodies,
as well as 100,000 photographs, 800 lms, and 6000 videotaped examples of indigenous
dances and customs accompanied by music. The archive’s contents are currently
undergoing digitization; additional archival resources are housed in the Institute for
Ethnology and Folkloristics with Ethnographic Museum, newly restructured in 2010
under BAN’s auspices from the former Institutes for Folklore and Ethnography.… 6/41
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2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.

Despite its diversity, certain basic characteristics typify the performance practice of
19th- and early 20th-century village music throughout Bulgaria. This music was an oral
tradition performed for calendrical and life-cycle rites, during work, and for
entertainment. Contemporary scholars and musicians describe such music as ‘authentic’
and ‘traditional’, and although Bulgarian society experienced many changes after 1944,
elements of these earlier practices continue to underlie contemporary music-making.

(i) Gender, genre and labour.

Songs formed the basis of village musical culture. Bulgarians believe that their
instrumental traditions developed in emulation of singing. This belief was expressed
metaphorically and in song texts that praise the vocal quality of instrumental
performance, such as Kavalat sviri, govori (‘as the ute plays, it speaks’). Playing
instruments and singing were otherwise considered separate, gender-speci c activities.
Instrumentalists almost never accompanied singers; while a singer sang songs (pevitsa
pee pesni), a village musician played instrumental tunes (svirach sviri svirni), melodies
(melodii), pieces (piesi), or dance music (khora). Women rarely played indigenous
instruments, a convention still prevalent. Although it was not uncommon for men to
sing, women acted as the primary bearers of the singing tradition.

The reason for this gender speci city derives from the division of labour in village life,
which in turn prescribed the context and manner in which musical skills were acquired.
Men were engaged predominantly with animal husbandry; women, with domestic and
agricultural work. As herders followed their livestock from pasture to pasture, they
entertained themselves by playing music, especially on aerophones like the kaval or
duduk, considered shepherds’ instruments. Their melodies blended with the tinkling of
bells (zvantsi) hung around the necks of their animals. Carefully chosen by shepherds for
their clear tone in a range of sizes, these bells not only identi ed one herd from another
but formed an integral part of the pastoral soundscape. As one song text states, ‘He
played on a melli uous kaval, his silvery zvantsi accompanying him’.

Herding left men’s hands relatively free to play instruments. Boys absorbed instrumental
technique through individual experimentation, initially with whistles and then with
more complex instruments. They observed older, more experienced musicians,
eventually learning enough to play along with them at local celebrations such as weekly
dances (khora). Women’s hands, however, were continually occupied with housework,
food preparation, textile production, and crop cultivation. They utilized their voices to
accompany their work and express their emotions. Girls mastered songs by listening to
other women, especially their older female relatives, following the lyrics and embellished
contours of unfamiliar songs until they, too, could perform them.

(ii) Seasonal musics.

For villagers musical performance was not a profession but an integral aspect of
everyone’s daily experience inseparable from the community’s social life. Music
accompanied every aspect of labour. Women sang songs while cultivating produce, as
they walked to and from the elds or orchards, during short breaks and at lunch. Songs
performed while doing eld work were usually slow, sustained, non-metrical and… 7/41
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executed with an open throat so that the resultant intense, ringing sound would reach
women working in neighbouring plots. Songs performed during periods of rest, on the
other hand, were often rhythmic, lively, and humorous. In both cases the songs’ lyrics
were frequently related to some aspect of the work process (ex.1).

Ex.1 Harvest song

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(ii) Seasonal musics.: Ex.1 Harvest song

During the evening hours of autumn and winter, women attended ‘bees’ (sedenki, tlaki);
at sedenki (sing. sedyanka) they worked on their individual handiwork, often spinning or
needlework, while at tlaki (sing. tlaka) they assisted their host with a particular task, such
as shucking corn or stringing tobacco. While working they sang songs and ballads, some
of which referred to the speci c events of the sedyanka (ex.2). Later in the evening the
young men of the village joined them, and the sedyanka or tlaka became an occasion for
irtation and courtship. Young men and women engaged in singing competitions
(nadpyavane) in which teasing songs (pripevki) singled out potential couples. The youths
also danced ring, line, or chain dances (khora, sing. khoro) to the accompaniment of their
own energetic khorovodni pesni (‘dance songs’), or instrumental tunes played by the
young men.

Ex.2 Sedyanka dance-song

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(ii) Seasonal musics.: Ex.2 Sedyanka dance-song… 8/41
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Ritual songs and dances celebrating calendrical and life-cycle events were usually
performed by groups of singers. Important occasions for male singing were Badni Vecher
(Christmas Eve) and Koleda (Christmas), when a village’s young men travelled from
home to home in festive dress singing antiphonal carols that blessed the livestock, the
household, or speci c members of the family. Stereotypical refrains such as ‘koledo le’ or
‘oy, koledo, moy koledo’ (‘Oh, koleda, my koleda’) distinguished koleda songs. Most were
also typi ed by an asymmetrical metric structure, usually 5/16, 7/16, or 9/16 (ex.3).

Ex.3 Antiphonal koleda song with refrain

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(ii) Seasonal musics.: Ex.3 Antiphonal koleda song with refrain

Koleduvane (the performance of koleda traditions) was part of a larger group of mid- and
late-winter mumming customs enacted to bring good health, fertility, abundance, and
luck to the surrounding community. In some of these traditions (Surva, Kukerovden) men
dressed in elaborate masked costumes decorated with sheep- and cow-bells, some of
which were enormous. As the participants (survakari and kukeri) moved or danced, the
cacophony produced by the ringing bells expelled any evil spirits in the vicinity.

Another substantial body of bene cial ritual customs surrounded Lent and Easter. On
Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday teenage girls wandered throughout the village
singing and dancing brisk, laudatory lazarski pesni (‘Lazar songs’). These ‘lazarki’
dressed ornately in costumes symbolizing blooming owers, a metaphor of their own
budding beauty and the healthful good wishes they spread. This custom (lazaruvane) was
also part of the courtship process, for the lazarki made eligible young men the target of
special singing games in which participants obliquely expressed their interest.

Songs also marked the calendar year in various ways. Some commemorated important
Christian holidays, such as the feast day of St George (6 May). In Strandzha the feast of St
Constantine and St Helena (3 June) was celebrated with a two-day ritual called
Nestinarstvo that culminated in re-dancers (nestinarki) walking through hot coals in an
ecstatic state, bearing icons of these holy gures above their heads. During Lent, when… 9/41
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dancing was proscribed, young men pushed girls in swings while they sang songs
connected with courtship, good health, and a rich harvest. The higher a girl was swung,
the higher the wheat would grow. Magical songs likewise brought rain during periods of
drought (Peperuda) or protected the community from inclement weather in general
(German). Songs connected to divinatory customs practised by young women foretold
whom they would marry.

Music and dance enhanced village weddings, which occurred during winter months when
the community, free of the burden of agricultural work, had more time to celebrate. The
wedding process, a week-long a air, comprised more than 30 episodes. The bride was
fêted by her female friends and relatives throughout the festivities with songs that
described her wedding preparations, extolled her beauty, o ered her advice, or expressed
her sorrow at leaving her natal family for a new life (see ex.4). Musical activity
accompanied the creation of the wedding banner, the shaving of the groom, the fetching
of the bride by the groom’s entourage, the procession to the church, and celebratory
banquets held after the wedding ceremony.

Deaths, too, were greeted musically. Women improvised laments (oplakvaniya) from the
moment of death to that of interment. These commented on the life of the deceased, his
or her relationship with the village community, and the pain of the lamenters (oplachki).
Particularly gifted lamenters were prized by the community and sometimes guided and
inspired the other women. Although spontaneous laments were, like the epic songs to
which they are related, non-metrical and recitative-like in character, particularly ne
examples were sometimes transformed into more lyrical mourning songs or
instrumental melodies.

Selections from the Bulgarian epos, a genre that includes heroic epics, and historical and
khayduk ballads regaled guests at banquets held in honour of holidays, weddings,
engagements, christenings, and other important community events. For this reason they
were also known as songs performed ‘at the table’ (na trapeza), or for enhancing
conviviality (na moabet).

The heartland of epic singing was western Bulgaria. Sung by male or female solo
vocalists, commonly to the accompaniment of a single instrument (often a gayda or
gadulka that heterophonically imitated the voice by following slightly behind it), heroic
epics recounted the legendary escapades of Momchil or of Krali Marko, who waged war
against Byzantium or the Ottomans in the 1300s. Such epics contain hundreds of lines;
these were improvised to a small number of similar, non-metrical melodies falling
within the range of a 5th called epicheski rechitativi (‘epic recitatives’) or trapezni melodii
(‘table melodies’). Each verse was distinguished by three features: an introductory,
embellished ourish on the syllable e or khey starting on the melody’s highest pitch;
several lines of text performed in recitative fashion to sequential, often descending
passages; and a melismatic, concluding phrase that, like the introduction, was
sometimes marked by a trill-like shaking of the voice called tresene (ex.4). The
instrumentalist provided an interlude between verses, improvised from the song’s
melody.… 10/41
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Ex.4 Shop epic song na trapeza with wedding text

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(ii) Seasonal musics.: Ex.4 Shop epic song na trapeza with wedding text

Historical ballads took gures and events from Bulgaria’s more recent past, particularly
the struggle for liberation from Ottoman forces. They described the fall of Tsarigrad,
presented episodes from the reigns of speci c tsars, and related tales of forced
conversion to Islam. A signi cant portion of historical ballads portrayed the deeds of
khaydusti (sing. khayduk) or voyvodi (sing. voyvoda: ‘leader’, ‘chieftain’), rebel ghters
who launched attacks against Ottoman brigades from the hidden recesses of Bulgaria’s
forested mountains (ex.5). Historical ballads were performed to epic, harvest, and dance-
song melodies and usually exhibited a wider vocal range than heroic recitatives.

Ex.5 Khayduk ballad from north-western Bulgaria

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(ii) Seasonal musics.: Ex.5 Khayduk ballad from north-western Bulgaria

In addition to these heroic and historical songs, village lore includes mythological ballads
that tell of dragons and their human lovers, wood and water sprites, demons and fairies,
human heroes endowed with superhuman qualities, and other miraculous or
supernatural phenomena. Some of these are part of larger ballad families found
throughout the Balkans.… 11/41
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(iii) Instruments.
Village life embraced several indigenous instruments whose distribution was regionally
di erentiated. Originally constructed by the musicians themselves or by master
craftsmen, the size and tuning of these instruments were not standardized until the mid-
20th century, when the creation of ensembles demanded precise pitch.

Four aerophones were found throughout the country with some local variation: the Kaval
(semi-traverse, rim-blown wooden ute), ovcharska svirka or tsafara (shepherd’s pipe),
duduk (vertical wooden ute), and gayda (see Bagpipe, §7, (vi)). The kaval’s large range
and its timbre, said to resemble the human voice, made it suitable for playing inside the
home, at the sedyanka, and in the pasture ( g.1).

1. Kaval (rim-blown flute)

Kaval (rim-blown flute)

Dr V. Atanassova

While there used to be several styles of kaval playing, the Thracian style, with articulation
and vibrato produced by the ngers, is prevalent today.… 12/41
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The svirka or tsafara, a smaller version of the kaval, was played in a similar manner. Once
fashioned from the bones of eagles’ wings, the instrument was typically made from a
single piece of wood or reed. Contemporary svirki may be constructed of metal and are
often considered children’s toys.

The duduk (also dyuduk) was a shepherd’s plugged whistle ute blown through an apical
slit, constructed in one to three sections in a range of sizes. The large, three-piece dudutsi
of central western Bulgaria had a three-octave range; the single-piece instruments
encompassed two octaves. Usually made of reed or wood, dudutsi possessed six nger-
holes spaced equally or arranged in two groups of three along the instrument’s face. In
north-western Bulgaria the duduk was once the most popular instrument; it is now
nearly obsolete.

The favourite instrument for accompanying weddings and outdoor celebrations was the
gayda. This is a bagpipe with a single chanter (gaydunitsa) and drone (ruchilo). Three sizes
of gaydi exist, the most widespread being the middle-range Thracian bagpipe ( g.2).… 13/41
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2. Gayda (bagpipe)

Gayda (bagpipe)

Dr V. Atanassova

Two other wind instruments popular in pre-socialist Bulgaria were the dvoyanka, a
wooden, double-block pple ute characteristic of western Bulgaria, and the zurna (also
zurla), a double-reed wooden aerophone that existed most prominently within Pirin’s
Muslim Roma communities and the towns of Ludogorie, Shumen, Razgrad, and
Kardzhali. A diaphonic texture characterized the performance practice of both
instruments. Finger-holes were drilled into only one of the dvoyanka’s two pipes,
allowing the instrumentalist to play a melody while simultaneously blowing into the
second pipe, which produced a drone. Likewise, musicians always played zurni in pairs,… 14/41
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one sounding a melody, the other a drone, to the accompaniment of one or two circular,
double-headed, wooden frame drums called tapani. Such ensembles only played outdoors
due to their raucous sound.

The tapan is the most widespread membranophone, used throughout Bulgaria in varied
performance contexts. The drum’s heads traditionally were fashioned from sheep or dog
skin and secured with hemp cords. In performance the tapan is suspended from the left
shoulder with string or a belt, and is played with two drumsticks: a thick, slightly curved
stick (kiyak or tokmak) that accentuates strong metric pulses, and a long, thin willow or
apple switch (shibalka, shibka), played with the left hand to mark weaker beats and
provide rhythmic elaboration. In village life the tapan was considered important for
weddings, community celebrations, and dances.

Pirin is home to two other membranophones that are linked to Macedonian and Middle
Eastern culture. The tarambuka (tarabuka, darabuka) is a goblet-shaped drum with a
terracotta base and a single drum head of cat or lamb skin. The drum is held under the
left arm or placed between the knees and struck with both hands. The dayre is a small
wooden frame drum with a single kid-skin head that, like the tarambuka, provided
rhythmic accompaniment for singing, instrumental music, and dancing. The modern
dayre also has pairs of round metal plates (zilove) inserted in slits in the drum’s frame.

Until the creation of folk ensembles in the 1950s the tambura, a strummed long-necked
fretted lute with a rounded back, was found only in Pirin-Makedoniya and among the
Muslim population of Rodopa, where it functioned as both a solo and accompanying
instrument. Tamburi once existed in several sizes with two, four, six, eight, or twelve
metal strings. The four-string tambura was the most common before 1950; the eight-
string (arranged in four double courses) dominates today. In pre-socialist Bulgaria three
of the four strings were tuned as unison drones; the fourth, or melody string, was pitched
a 4th or 5th away. The courses of the contemporary tambura, however, are tuned d–g–b–
e′, which enables the production of chords. Until the 1980s, the tambura and dayre were
the only indigenous instruments sometimes played by women.

The Gadulka is a bowed, three-string short-necked wooden lute, with a pear-shaped

rounded or, less frequently, at body, found everywhere except Pirin-Makedoniya and
Rodopa. The instrument is played vertically, resting on the knee or in a belt ( g.3).
Previously the gadulka existed in several regional variants, such as the small, reedy-
sounding Dobrudzhan kopanka and shallow-bodied, thin-voiced Shop kemene; the
standard instrument today is the large Thracian gadulka.… 15/41
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3. Gadulka (short-necked bowed lute)

Gadulka (short-necked bowed lute)

Dr V. Atanassov

Until the early 20th century Bulgarian musicians rarely combined di erent indigenous
instruments together in groups. There were some regional exceptions: the zurna and
tapan ensembles of southwestern Bulgaria; orchestras of variously sized mandolins and
tamburi that appeared in Pirin-Macedonia in the mid-19th century; and the so-called
Dobrudzhan trio, made up of the small dzhura gayda, kopanka, and the ( z)kharmonika, a
button accordion that probably came to the Danubian area from Russia. These groups
performed melodies in unison, heterophonically, or with a drone.

(iv) The khoro.… 16/41
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Few festive events were complete without communal dancing. In addition to sedenki or
tlaki, weddings, and calendrical rites, villagers performed a wide variety of khora at
community dances held every Sunday afternoon (except during Lent) on the village
square or green. They danced at evening parties called vecherinki, and at summer fairs
termed sborove or panairi that commemorated the patron saint of the community’s

Khora were executed in closed or open circles, spirals, a single long line, or several short,
straight rows. Dancers clasped each other by the hand, belt, shoulder, or around the waist
to produce human chains. Dance gestures involved primarily foot and arm movements,
especially steps on the heel, toes, or whole of the foot; slides, hops, squats, and knee
bends. The torso and head remained comparatively xed. Characteristic dance
movements often emulated animal behaviours or the motions of work, such as churning
butter, in a stylized fashion. These had descriptive names that could be shouted as
commands during the dancing. Each khoro combined such gestures in speci c gures
that varied in number.

Every khoro possessed a head, middle, and tail. The best dancers joined at the head to lead
the khoro, while girls, boys, and children learning to dance made up the tail. Those at the
front were free to extemporize their movements. Likewise, good dancers sometimes
attached themselves to the tail to energize the dance line or make it twist. The structure
of the dance line re ected the community’s social order in that the men were usually at
the head, the women in the middle, and the children at the end. For a bachelor to join the
khoro next to a young woman was a public expression of interest and sometimes a sign of

Most khora were performed to khorovodni pesni (‘dance-songs’) sung by the dancers
themselves, one after the other for hours on end (see ex.2). Customarily these dance-
songs were sung antiphonally by two pairs of women located near the front of the line,
but could include larger groups of singers. Most were in duple metre, but many also
exhibited asymmetrical rhythmic patterns. Tempos ranged from sedate to very fast.

A single instrument, often a gayda or gadulka, also commonly accompanied dancing. The
musician stood near the khoro’s centre and spontaneously improvised a dance-tune from
brief melodic fragments (persenkove), often derived from a song melody, that he
developed into longer phrases called kolena (sing. kolyano), usually within the interval of
a 5th. These kolena were irregular in length due to their improvisatory character or basis
in songs whose text settings resulted in irregular phrase structures, or because they
corresponded to the dancers’ actions. Sometimes an entire khoro resulted from
extemporization on one persenk; other khora comprised variations on three or four
kolena, but in all cases the melodic material developed organically throughout. Repetition
of a single motif, movement to a new pitch area or mode, the instantaneous working out
of fresh material, and tempo increases all heightened the musical tension and inspired

Under the in uence of emerging urban ensembles in the 19th and early 20th centuries,
two or three svirachi began playing khora together in unison to ease the strain of lengthy
solo performance. Instrumentation depended on local availability, but typical
combinations included homogeneous ensembles of two or three gadulki, gaydi, or kavali,
and mixed ensembles of gadulka, gayda, and kaval, or gayda and tapan. Along the Danube
small groups of Western and central European string instruments ful lled the same… 17/41
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function. Like the Dobrudzhan trio and zurna and tapan ensembles mentioned above,
these groups performed melodies in unison, heterophonically, or with a drone, although
intonation was not necessarily tempered or uniform.

(v) Texture and timbre.

Both instrumental music and singing were predominantly monophonic solo traditions
that emphasized the unfolding of intricately embellished melodic lines. When women or
men sang together they usually sang in unison. Such songs were often performed
antiphonally by two soloists or two groups of voices that repeated or alternated verses.
Repeating verses gave novices a chance to learn unfamiliar texts and lengthened a song’s
duration. Antiphony gave singers a chance to catch their breath while dancing or
cultivating crops. It was customary for the rst group to sustain its last pitch while the
second group began to sing a new verse, creating a momentary diaphonic texture.

Although monophony prevailed, diaphony (dvuglas) existed throughout Bulgaria and was
especially strong in the west. Every indigenous instrument produced two-voiced textures
except the duduk, svirka, and kaval; the dvoyanka, gayda, tambura, gadulka, chift kavali (a
pair of kavali), and zurna were either designed, tuned, or customarily played to yield a
melody and drone simultaneously. In the northwest, musicians even growled a drone
while playing duduk, a technique termed ramzhene (‘grumbling’).

Moreover, songs in the Shop and Pirin regions were distinguished by unique diaphonic
styles linked to similar traditions in Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, the
Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia. In both districts this dvuglas, sometimes also called
mnogoglasie (‘many voices’, part singing), consisted of a solo upper voice and a lower,
drone voice traditionally executed by one or two singers, but sometimes more. Singers
characterized the two parts with terms that metaphorically described their movement,
timbral quality, or function: the rst voice izvikva (‘cries out’), izviva (‘winds’), vodi
(‘leads’), diga (‘rises’), or trese (‘shakes’), while the second voice slaga (‘lays’), vlachi
(‘trails behind’), buchi (‘roars’), and occasionally trese (‘shakes’). These terms also
indicated the physical stance of the singers, as the melody bearer sometimes positioned
herself slightly ahead of the droners. Here the rst voice was said to go napred (‘in
front’), while the drone voice followed.

The types of songs performed diaphonically varied from village to village, but generally
included harvest, dance, sedyanka, wedding, calendrical, and all-occasion lyric songs.
Textual and rhythmic precision were vitally important. Once they had learnt the lyrics
and parts from older women, girls formed duos and trios to practise songs on their own.
Some of these singing partnerships lasted a lifetime.

Vocal colour and blend were also signi cant. Women described two basic categories of
timbres: voices that were chist (‘clean’) or piskliv (‘reedy’), and those that were debel
(‘thick’), mazhen (‘buttery’), and maten (‘muddy’). Singers preferred not to mingle the
two timbres. When singing antiphonally a ‘reedy’ group was often juxtaposed with a
‘buttery’ group. This di erentiation was also associated with age, as an older woman’s
voice tended to be thicker than that of a teenage girl. In both cases women projected their
voices to produce an open-throated, focussed, and intense sound that could be heard
some distance away.… 18/41
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Within western Bulgaria the movement of the drone voice, degree of pitch manipulation,
cadential formulae, ornamentation practices, and even the number of women singing all
varied from one village to the next. Diaphonic songs from the Shop district were marked
by arched contours, antiphonal performance, and a constricted range, usually a minor
3rd, resulting in a plethora of narrow interval simultaneities. One woman ordinarily sang
the rst voice, and two or three the underlying drone. Shop diaphony was particularly
loud and powerful; women preferred the drone to nearly overwhelm the melody. The
melody bearer thus often ended sustained tones with a glottal stop, a result of the vocal
tension caused by this forceful singing.

The drone voice, while variable in this region, typically followed one of two patterns: it
either sang the text on a tonic drone, dropping to the sub-tonic together with the rst
voice at certain moments; or it moved to the sub-tonic whenever the melody voice
descended to the tonic. The latter practice created occasional parallel motion between the
voices and a preponderance of 2nds. Moreover, singers often manipulated pitches so as to
further close the distance between them, causing them to ‘ring like bells’, perhaps
referring to the pulsation of the resultant di erence tones. Singers frequently prolonged
a song’s nal tone, dwelling on the ringing sound. In harvest songs performed during
rest periods, the rst voice enhanced such moments with tresene (‘shaking’), a vocal
technique comprising a trill-like succession of glottal stops. This was often followed by a
cadential formula called izvikvane that entailed a ‘unison leap of a minor 7th or octave on
the vowel sound “eee” followed by descending glissando and decrease in volume’ (Rice,
1977). This technique dissipated the singers’ accumulated vocal and respiratory tension
and intensi ed the sonic collision created when two groups of singers overlapped (ex.6).… 19/41
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Ex.6 Shop diaphonic song excerpt with tresene and izvikvane

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(v) Texture and timbre.: Ex.6 Shop diaphonic song excerpt with tresene and izvikvane

The diaphonic songs of Pirin and Velingrad were more lyrical than Shop songs. Melodies
contained wider ranges, could begin on any scale degree, and were sung with much
lighter voices. Antiphony occurred less frequently. Tresene and izvikvane were also
atypical. Songs were performed by the traditional trio of women, but also by groups with
six or seven singing a drone. In Muslim communities pairs of girls sang diaphonically, as
did large groups of men. In Bansko a Christian male ensemble performed a similar style
of dvuglas. Such male ensembles were exceedingly rare elsewhere.

Songs frequently began in unison and then split into the characteristic drone and melody.
Two types of drone movement distinguished Pirin diaphony: the second voice remained
on the tonic, sometimes dropping to the sub-tonic in unison with the upper voice; or it
moved in accordance with the melody to produce as many 2nds and 3rds as possible. In
the latter case the drone fell on any pitch from the sub-tonic to the dominant. Voice
crossings were common in both song types (ex.7).… 20/41
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Ex.7 Diaphonic song excerpt from Pirin-Makedoniya

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(v) Texture and timbre.: Ex.7 Diaphonic song excerpt from Pirin-Makedoniya

A distinctive corpus of vocal diaphony in Bansko called na atsane was typi ed by a rst
voice that frequently swooped up to the octave, moved to the sub-tonic, and then
descended to the tonic in a glissando. The octave swoops were further demarcated by a
sustained vocal clucking in the high register.

Performance styles in the Pazardzhik-Ikhtiman area marked a transition between Shop

and Pirin dvuglas and from western Bulgarian diaphony to the monophonic singing of
eastern Bulgaria. Several styles of dvuglas existed. As elsewhere, a tonic drone sounded
constantly or occasionally dipped to the sub-tonic, usually in unison with the rst voice.
In many villages, however, the upper voice performed an elaborately embellished melody
whose basic skeleton was sung by the second voice in long, sustained tones, producing a
heterophonic texture. Moreover, in towns like Ikhtiman the lower voice, rather than the
lead singer, performed tresene in both heterophonic or the more usual melody-drone
song types.

In villages west of the Struma River the second voice maintained a tonic drone on the
vowel sound ‘eee’ throughout a song. When cadential izvikvane occurred the rst voice
sustained a minor 7th above the drone voices. Other songs cadenced on tonic and sub-
tonic together. Songs in this area generally had a slightly wider range, lacked tresene, and
frequently opened with an ascending 4th, setting them apart from those of the Shop

Outside western Bulgaria, dvuglas was practised only in the Rhodope village of Nedelino
and its environs. Unique styles of narrow-interval three-voice singing existed in the
Pirin town of Kostursko, near Petrich, where the voice movement resembled that of
Albanian polyphony, and in villages surrounding So a, where the voices frequently
produced three-note clusters of adjacent pitches, an intensi cation of the parallel 2nds
found in Shop diaphony.

(vi) Structure, form, and mode.

Bulgarian melodies usually move by step and frequently have a narrow compass, often
within an octave. Two- to ve-pitch melodies are the norm; these regularly drop one
whole step below the tonic. Songs are structured in verses containing one to three lines of
text. Each line usually comprises six, eight, ten, or twelve syllables, divided into two
syllabic groups by a caesura. Within a single song the placement of the caesura may be… 21/41
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inconsistent. Phrase structure and rhythm generally follow the text’s syllabic structure
and phrases do not always contain the same number of bars. Refrains of one to three lines
are common. Vocables, expressive variations of names or common nouns, and other
evocative interjections frequently ll out text phrases. Such poetic devices can create full
lines or an entire verse; these often function as refrains.

Five varieties of anhemitonic pentatonicism exist in Rodopa and Trakiya, but songs do
not always feature all ve requisite tones. The intonational system of pre-socialist village
music was untempered, nonstandardized, and frequently employed untempered
intervals, including microtones, complicating any discussion of modality. Melodies are
generally constructed within diatonic tetrachords or pentachords whose pitch content
corresponds to that of the Aeolian, Dorian, or Phrygian west European church modes.
However, innumerable melodies display underlying chromatic tetrachordal,
pentachordal, hexachordal, or heptachordal structures distinguished by the presence of
augmented 2nds between any two successive scale degrees except one and two (see exx.9,
10, and 11). Some of these structures may be related to Middle Eastern modal
con gurations (makam), or the old Bulgarian or Byzantine church modes.

(vii) Rhythm and metre.

Two distinct types of rhythmic activity characterize narodna muzika: pulseless,
unmetered melodies, and metered tunes con gured in symmetrical and asymmetrical
rhythmic patterns. A large repertory of unpulsed rubato, improvisatory, densely
ornamented songs generically termed bavni pesni (‘slow songs’) exists in all regions.
These include harvest and other agricultural work songs performed to extended,
sustained ‘long melodies’ (dalgi glasove); lyric songs and ballads performed to more
moderate tempo, parlando rubato ‘drawn-out melodies’ (vlacheni glasove; see ex.1); and
songs performed to ‘broken’ or ‘chopped-up’ melodies (secheni glasove), a phrase that
describes the rapidly owing, recitative-like character of many laments and ‘table’ songs
(see ex.4).

Musicians perform similar non-metrical solos called bavni melodii (‘slow melodies’) or
svirni (sing. svirnya). Some are shepherds’ melodies, freely improvised from idiomatic
motifs and phrases; others are instrumental renditions of slow songs (ex.8), which
musicians contend they cannot play well unless they know the associated texts.

Ex.8 Svirnya for kaval based on song motifs

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(vii) Rhythm and metre.: Ex.8 Svirnya for kaval based on song motifs… 22/41
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The terms used to specify pulsed rhythmic patterns also designate particular types of
khoro melodies and dance steps. The most popular and widespread duple metre dance is
the pravo khoro (‘straight dance’). Although described and written by contemporary
musicians as ‘in two’, this dance has the underlying compound duple character of 6/8
(ex.9). Other common duple metre dances include the buenek, a moderate tempo khoro
found in Strandzha; the lively trite pati (lit., ‘three times’) of eastern Thrace, in which a
sense of four semiquavers underlies every beat; and lyavata (‘to the left’), another
Thracian khoro in which the dancers move anticlockwise. Melodies in triple metre are
rare except in Pirin.

Ex.9 Pravo khoro

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(vii) Rhythm and metre.: Ex.9 Pravo khoro

Bulgaria’s asymmetrical rhythms may be thought of as combinations of simple duple and

triple metres strung together to create heterometric patterns. Ex.10 illustrates many
commonly performed heterometres. Each pattern serves as the basis for one or more
dance types, which may be di erentiated by region and choreography. Khoro melodies
may be named after their associated locales (e.g. Makedonsko khoro and Shopsko khoro),
after a musician who creates or favours a particular melody, or after distinguishing
elements of the dance itself (e.g. the kalaydzhiysko khoro from Pirin is danced by turning
the body to the right and left, causing the dancer to ‘spin like a kalaydzhiya’, or ‘dried
pea’ – a name for a dget).… 23/41
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Ex.10 Frequently used meters in Bulgarian music

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(vii) Rhythm and metre.: Ex.10 Frequently used rhythms in Bulgarian music

The most popular heterometric dance is the rachenitsa, an energetic khoro in 7/16 (2 + 2 +
3) with various local names (ex.11). It is performed individually, by couples, or in groups,
indoors or outside, especially during weddings and other celebrations. In Pirin the khoro
subdivided 3 + 2 + 2 is named pravo makedonsko (‘straight Macedonian’) and mazhka
rachenitsa (‘men’s rachenitsa’). The kalaydzhiysko khoro mentioned above and the
paydushko (ex.12) are dances in 5/16 (2 + 3).

Ex.11 Rachenitsa… 24/41
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Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(vii) Rhythm and metre.: Ex.11 Rachenitsa

Ex.12 Paydushko khoro

Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 2. Characteristics of pre-socialist musical culture, 1800–1944.
(vii) Rhythm and metre.: Ex.12 Paydushko khoro

Melodies in 9/8 (or 9/16) when divided 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 are known as daychovi khora (see
ex.2). The daychovo is associated with northern Bulgaria, where it is usually a quick dance
accompanied by an instrumental ensemble, often a wind band. It is also encountered in
other areas, but under di erent names. A favourite dance of central and western Bulgaria
is the kopanitsa in 11/16 (2 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 2). This is known by various local names, including
gankino khoro in the Shop area and krivo (‘crooked’) khoro in Pazardzhik, western Thrace.
Numerous dances in increasingly complex asymmetrical patterns, such as the petrunino
khoro in 13/16 (2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 3) of the Shop region and the buchemish in 15/16 (2 + 2 +
2 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 2) from western Thrace, are found throughout the country.

Although these heterometres and others which exceed them were termed ‘Bulgarian’ by
Béla Bartók (1938), they are linked to similar patterns found in Albania, Greece, the
Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, and the Caucasus.

3. Urban musics, 1850–1944.

The late 19th century witnessed the emergence of a vibrant musical life in towns and
cities that di ered substantially from older village traditions. These new urban styles
derived from the musics of neighbouring peoples. During the last years of Ottoman rule
Turkish administrators, Balkan merchants, and emigrant workers maintained
continuous inter-city contact, spreading new styles throughout the Balkans. Their
popularization marks the beginning of both professional and amateur institutionalized
musical activity.

Gradski pesni (‘urban songs’) became important even before the Liberation (1878), when
residents of larger cities began to favour songs imported from Greece, Turkey, Russia,
and Germany, with translated or new Bulgarian texts. Other new gradski pesni appeared
soon afterwards, based on local melodies but modelled on the foreign songs. Unlike
village songs, gradski pesni had known authors, including famous Bulgarian, Russian, or
German poets; their lyrics were composed in rhymed couplets; their melodies were… 25/41
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metred, often in 6/8, 3/4, or 4/4, displayed wide ranges, and had pitch movements that
implied functional harmony; and they were published as part of the Vazrazhdane’s
literacy movement.

By 1900, as villagers sought employment in cities, town and village culture intermingled.
Two urban song types became widespread in both venues: lyrical love songs with poetic
texts by well-known literary gures performed to Greek or Turkish melodies, romances,
waltzes, tangos, and German Schlager tunes; and songs with patriotic or revolutionary
texts, sung to marches and other militaristic or nationalistic genres. These included
songs of the Vazrazhdane and Liberation, soldiers’ songs, workers’ songs, which rst
appeared in Bulgaria during the 1890s and gained popularity with the rise of socialism
and, as institutionalized education developed, school songs. These genres were
performed by amateur civic and military choirs established in the 1890s in emulation of
similar Russian groups that arose along the Danube in connection with the Liberation’s
military campaigns.

During the 1930s and 40s sentimental, melancholic love songs from Macedonia, which
contemporary Bulgarians call starogradski pesni (‘old urban songs’), acquired great
popularity. These songs were composed in regionally speci c metres to Greek- and
Turkish-in uenced melodies, and frequently performed as duets in parallel 3rds with
orchestral accompaniments. They were disseminated through a growing recording
industry and by professional (often foreign) musicians who sang at restaurants and

The Liberation era also saw radical developments in instrumental performance practice.
By the late 19th century ve types of non-indigenous instrumental ensembles existed in
Bulgaria: symphonic chamber groups established by immigrants in the Danubian region;
Ottoman Turkish Janissary orchestras; Czech wind bands; urban ensembles of minority
musicians, often Christian and Muslim Roma, called svirdzhii or chalgadzhii; and small
bands of foreign musicians from Serbia, Romania, Turkey, and Bohemia. Together with
the civic choirs mentioned above, these introduced Bulgarians to western European
instruments, notation, and collective musical performance. By 1911 wind bands directed
by Czech Kapellmeisters existed throughout the country, performing brass band
arrangements of symphonic works, operatic overtures, marches, and medleys of
Bulgarian folk tunes (kitki, ‘bouquets’). Such groups in uenced local musical practices
signi cantly, inspiring village musicians to form small ensembles of mixed

The svirdzhii and foreign bands constitute early examples of semi-professional

musicianship in Bulgaria. Although often employed as labourers, they travelled from
town to town according to the calendar of local festivities, providing music for
engagements, weddings, fairs, and even upper-class Macedonian balls to augment their
incomes. The svirdzhii’s repertories and instrumentation were eclectic, often combining
indigenous and Western European instruments and genres. Svirdzhii who played clarinet,
bass, double-bass, and drums became widespread around 1900, especially in north-
western Bulgaria. A villager’s ability to hire such groups as wedding entertainment
enhanced his social status. The players were highly talented musicians whose repertories
included narodni pesni, gradski pesni, khora, and svirni, the music of ethnic minorities and
neighbouring Balkan peoples, and popular Western European dances, like waltzes and
mazurkas. This re ected the increasingly international and syncretic Balkan music scene.… 26/41
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The svirdzhii’s performance of these genres emphasized virtuosic, improvisatory, highly

embellished solo or heterophonic playing, sometimes over a rudimentary bass line, an
idiomatic style called chalga.

By the 1920s and 30s, therefore, major cities possessed a thriving, cosmopolitan
population of musical ensembles. The small foreign orchestras performed for occasions
similar to those of the svirdzhii, and these groups in uenced each other’s repertory.
During the early 20th century such ensembles were hired in restaurants, taverns, and
cinemas, where they became known as salon orchestras (salonni orkestri). These
orchestras performed Schlager, celebrated symphonic works, khora, kitki, narodni pesni,
patriotic songs, and many imported American dances then fashionable in Europe. Urban
Slavic Bulgarian musicians soon formed similar ensembles to perform indigenous music;
these groups were important forerunners of later, state-sponsored folk orchestras.

4. Institutionalized folkloric music a er 1930.

The Bulgarian National Radio (established 1929) promoted live performances of khora
and narodni pesni with instrumental accompaniment by small ensembles of well-known
musicians and singers. These groups, such as the Bistrishka Chetvorka (Bistrista Quartet,
established 1936; gayda, kaval, gadulka, and tambura), were basically salon orchestras of
indigenous instruments. The Ugarchinska Narodna Grupa (Ugarchinska Folk Group)
(established 1939; kaval, gayda, tambura, gadulka, tapan, and cello gadulka) also
performed under the name ‘Tsvyatko Blagoev’ using Western European instruments
(clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, accordion, and tapan), illustrating the musicians’
abilities to adapt to varied performance contexts. Such ensembles were eventually
designated ‘modern orchestras’ because of their non-indigenous instrumentation; bitovi
narodni orkestri (‘traditional folk orchestras’) described groups like the Bistritsa Quartet.

The collective playing fostered by the National Radio altered village musical practices
considerably. Musicians learned to play khora more or less in unison, each performing
the melody in a manner idiomatic to his instrument, with slight di erences in
ornamentation. They structured their khora in a new, sectional format known as the
kolenna forma, in which each successive phrase derived from the last. Every phrase was
repeated, and as the years passed, became equal in length, so that the khoro’s phrase
structure became regularized. Instrumentalists interspersed solo improvisations on
fragments of the khoro melody within the larger group structure while the other
musicians vamped on the tonic pitch. When accompanying singers the musicians
improvised an appropriate introduction and refrain, called a pripev or otsvir. During the
sung verses one or two instruments, generally the kaval, gayda, or gadulka, followed the
melody heterophonically, while the others played a drone or paused. Whether a song or
instrumental piece, the tambura accentuated metric patterns through rhythmic
strumming, followed the melody, or provided an underlying drone or rudimentary
chordal accompaniment.

The political events of 1944 resulted in the institutionalization of all musical activities
within a monolithic network of state administrative organs whose representative
bureaus extended into every city, town, and village, and whose structure and ideals
emulated those of Soviet cultural development. The Vazrazhdane’s civic choral and
instrumental groups were incorporated into the larger, state-directed programme of
khudozhestvena samodeynost (‘amateur artistic creativity’), which dictated the
collectivization of musical performance in kolektivi (‘collectives’) and ansambli… 27/41
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(‘ensembles’) for song and dance. By 1950, 3400 such groups existed in association with
labour unions, agricultural cooperatives, factories, schools, local libraries, communist
youth organizations, and houses of culture. The groups’ activities were closely associated
with political life; the development of khudozhestvena samodeynost fell directly under the
government’s Agitation and Propaganda department until 1954, when a separate
administrative bureau, the Centre for Khudozhestvena Samodeynost, was established in
So a.

One chief function of these kolektivi, whose numbers had swelled to 22,760 by 1987, was
to popularize socialist mass songs. These included songs in praise of the September
Uprising of 1923, the Bulgarian army, Bulgarian–Soviet relations, and political gures
such as Joseph Stalin and Georgi Dimitrov; partisan and revolutionary workers’ songs,
many of which substituted new names and events into the basic structure of pre-existing
heroic, khaiduk, or soldiers’ song texts; and songs ‘for the new village’ (ex.13), whose
melodies are in the folk style but whose texts celebrate the building of socialism. New
work songs commented on agricultural collectivization, the activities of work brigades,
and the construction of reservoirs or similar projects.


Bulgaria Republika Bălgariya II. Traditional music 4. Institutionalized folkloric music a er 1930.: Ex.13

During the late 1940s amateur ensembles promoting more traditional presentations of
folklore arose, among them the Ensemble for Macedonian Folk Songs and Dances ‘Gotse
Delchev’ (So a, 1945), the Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances ‘Yane Sandanski’ (Gotse
Delchev, 1946), and the Plovdiv Folk Ensemble for Songs and Dances (1948). Unlike other
ensembles these groups employed regionally speci c orchestras of indigenous
instruments. The popularity of these amateur ensembles, coupled with a visit from the
USSR’s folk choir ‘Pyatnitski’ in 1949, inspired the Council of Ministers and composer
Philip Kutev to establish the rst professional folksong and dance ensemble in 1950–51.

The primary objective of the National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble ‘Filip Kutev’ was
the preservation and performance of village music from all over Bulgaria, but in a
contemporary format representative of the new socialist state. Kutev travelled widely,
auditioning the best performers from every ethnographic region to build a women’s folk
choir, a mixed dance troupe, and a (male) folk orchestra constructed from the ve most
prevalent indigenous instruments (kaval, gayda, gadulka, tambura, and tapan). Leading
composers produced polyphonic arrangements of folksongs and khora, termed obrabotki,
for these groups, while choreographers designed similarly complex presentations of
dance gures. Together the three units enacted theatrical, stylized renderings of… 28/41
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traditional lore called postanovki on concert stages at home and abroad. In 1952, shortly
after the Kutev Ensemble’s rst concerts, the Ensemble for Folk Songs of the Bulgarian
Radio and Television was established in So a to popularize new obrabotki through the
mass media. Several other professional narodni ansambli with regional foci soon arose in
major cities. These included Ensembles Pirin (Blagoevgrad, 1954), Rodopa (Smolyan,
1960), Dobrudzha (Tolbukhin, 1970), Trakiya (Plovdiv, 1974), and the Severnyashki
Ensemble (Pleven, 1970).

Initial members of early folk ensembles were villagers who possessed no formal musical
training. While participants learnt how to read notation and follow a conductor,
performing narodna muzika in a collective fashion posed signi cant obstacles whose
solutions dictated drastic modi cations in traditional performance practice. Vocalists,
for example, learnt to sing together in multiple parts and with orchestral
accompaniment. Although two or three lines characterized early choral obrabotki, over
the next 40 years they became steadily more contrapuntal, complex, and classical in
nature, employing four to ten parts.

Contemporary folk orchestras expanded the instrumentation of earlier bitovi narodni

orkestri into a larger symphonic scheme. Kutev enlisted master craftsmen to construct
standardized families of neo-indigenous instruments, including new bass, cello, and
viola gadulki and tamburi modelled on the Western European viola, cello, and double bass.
Intonation subsequently became more precise, but the new instruments required special
instruction. Ensembles therefore often employed conservatory-trained musicians to play
the newly designed strings, which supplied the bass lines and inner parts of polyphonic
arrangements. The gayda was utilized without its ruchilo, so that its drone would not
interfere with an obratbotka’s harmonic scheme. The large kaba gayda and Dobrudzhan
trio were utilized primarily in appropriate regional ensembles, while the dvoyanka,
duduk, and small Shop gadulka fell into virtual oblivion. The tambura, however, became
part of every folk ensemble despite its localized distribution.

Although folk orchestras initially performed melodies in a style similar to bitovi narodni
orkestri, in succeeding years orchestral obrabotki featured multiple parts, large-scale
forms, chromatic harmonies, countermelody, imitation, and symphonic playing
techniques. While the kolenna forma still provided a structural basis, contemporary
obrabotki exhibited many more kolena than a traditional khoro; these were often
unrelated in substance, incorporated modulations to di erent key areas, and displayed
marked registral contrasts.

By 1988 the state supported 14 professional folk ensembles and hundreds of similar,
amateur formations. These became the principal vehicle through which traditional music
and customs were experienced. Secondary schools providing intensive training in
narodna muzika were established at Kotel and Shiroka Laka; a third school for
choreography and ‘traditional dance’ was founded in So a. The Vissh Muzikalno
Pedigogicheski Institut (Higher Musical Pedagogical Institute; renamed the Academy of
Music, Dance, and Fine Arts in 2004), located in Plovdiv, furnished Kotel and Shiroka
Laka graduates with additional instruction at the collegiate level. These institutions
equipped professional ensembles with a ready supply of quali ed personnel, and amateur
ensembles with skilled directors. They also a ected conventional modes of performance
greatly, for young people no longer acquired knowledge of narodna muzika within the
course of daily life, but in a structured environment from notated materials written
speci cally for this purpose: obrabotki for folk choir and orchestra, scalar and technical… 29/41
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studies for each instrument, and chamber works for soloists with folk orchestra
accompaniment. Numerous juried competitions and festivals for both amateur and
professional groups (a contemporary manifestation of pre-socialist village fairs) allowed
panels of o cial adjudicators, usually folklorists, government o cials, and folk
ensemble directors, to supervise the shape of folk music performance through their
awards, and through lectures following the staged events.

As their repertories became further divorced from their village roots, folk ensembles
grew less popular. The glasnost era, however, prompted an increased number of
international tour and recording invitations for prominent groups. Foreign impresarios
sponsored governmentally selected concertizing formations derived from major
ensembles, especially choirs performing multipart obrabotki and more conventional
instrumental groups of three to ve musicians. After 1989, ensemble members
established privately sponsored chamber and choral groups seeking international
contracts. Intense competition arose between them, as each strove to devise a unique
creative identity. Moreover, the personnel ranks of large folk ensembles were weakened
as major artists resigned to perform in private organizations.

These factors, together with a sharp decrease in state funding, caused many ensembles to
disband in the 1990s. By 2010 only the recently renamed National Folkloric Ensemble
‘Philip Kutev’ continued to receive its primary subsidization from the Ministry of
Culture; others, such as Ensemble Pirin, have persevered with nancial backing from
diverse public and private sources, adapting their sta and concert programmes to
contemporary circumstances (developing smaller concert-giving formations;
diversifying the ethnic, regional, and topical foci of productions; employing female
orkestranti; and incorporating electronics and special e ects). In 2000 choreographer
and gymnast Neshka Robeva founded an innovative dance company, ‘National Art’,
which melds rhythmic gymnastics with various folkloric music and dance traditions in
contemporary multimedia productions, while 2003 witnessed the establishment of the
country’s rst private professional folkloric ensemble and enterprise, ‘Bulgare’, by
choreographer Hristo Dimitrov and his sister, Elena.

5. Popular music with ethnic styling.

During the 1970s an eclectic non-state-sponsored genre termed svatbarska muzika
(‘wedding music’) rose quickly to popularity. This genre, which blends narodna muzika
with other Balkan styles and pop music elements, is performed by svatbarski orkestri
(‘wedding orchestras’), bands of four to ten professional musicians, usually of minority
heritage, which developed from the svirdzhii and salon orchestras of the early 20th
century. Instrumentation varies, but often includes accordion, clarinet, electric bass
guitar, and drum kit. To this con guration electric guitar, synthesizer, trumpet, violin,
saxophone, kaval, gayda, and gadulka are added. The clarinet is generally the lead melody
instrument; accordion, saxophone, or violin also perform this function. Most bands
include a solo female singer whose vocals characteristically employ a pronounced

Wedding orchestras perform at weddings, christenings, holiday celebrations, and

farewell parties commemorating a young man’s departure for military service. Their
repertory comprises khora and svirni, and Greek, Macedonian, Serbian, Romanian, and
Turkish melodies, especially the kyuchek, a Turkish Romani solo dance in 2/4 or 9/8 with
undulations of the hips and arms. These are performed in the chalga style typical of… 30/41
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Romani musicians, frequently with Turkish nuances. The in uence of American jazz and
rock is evident in certain chord progressions, the use of electric instruments, and the
emphasis on solo improvisation, a trait also strongly linked with earlier instrumental
performance practice.

The musician credited with originating wedding music is Ivo Papasov (Ibrahim Hapasov),
a clarinettist of minority extraction who founded his band, Trakiya, in Stara Zagora in
1974. During the 1980s, when hundreds of bands emulating Trakiya formed throughout
Bulgaria, the government censured this genre harshly for three reasons. First, it evolved
and was performed outside the state-sponsored music industry. Non-professional,
privately made cassette recordings of wedding bands were duplicated and passed from
person to person in an informal, grassroots music economy. Second, many wedding
musicians were from minority groups. During the 1980s they were therefore targeted by
the Zhivkov administration’s campaign to eradicate all vestiges of Turkish culture from
Bulgarian society. Third, government authorities believed that wedding music’s
amalgamated nature threatened narodna muzika’s purity. Wedding musicians were
consequently taxed heavily and denied certain civil liberties.

In the late 1980s the government established control over wedding orchestras by
incorporating them into the state network of adjudicated festivals and competitions.
Scholars reversed their position on the value of wedding music by valorizing its links to
narodna muzika. By 1990 it had become an acceptable musical style whose in uence was
evident even in folk ensemble obrabotki.

In the late 1980s prominent members of the Bulgarian Radio’s folk ensemble, together
with composer Dimitar Penev, produced studio recordings that set traditional music to a
disco beat, a genre termed disco folk. At the same time, a few rock bands began
incorporating digitally sampled snippets of narodna muzika into pop songs or performing
rock ballads with a folk avour. Other groups produced political pop that satirized the
events and results of the 1989 political transition. Western pop musicians sampled or
otherwise utilized Bulgarian musicians or repertory in their creative work. However, the
popularity of these trends during the later 1990s and the early 2000s was signi cantly
overshadowed by wedding music, ‘Pirin folksongs’, and, especially, the mass-mediated
ethnopop genre called popfolk or chalga.

Pirin folk music, also called ‘authored Macedonian music’, originated largely among
amateur musicians who perform starogradski pesni and Macedonian urban songs in
updated pop or wedding music formats. The genre, which now features several celebrated
professional artists and participates in a growing commercial music economy, developed
in Pirin-Macedonia during the early 1990s under the in uence of ethnopop from Serbia,
Greece, and the Republic of Macedonia, and is performed and recorded at annual festivals
called Pirin fest, held in Blagoevgrad, and Pirin folk, held in Sandanski.

The mid-1990s witnessed the emergence of a new popfolk music industry whose myriad
bands and (predominantly female) solo artists produce commercial songs and music
videos combining various components of Turkish, Arab, Macedonian, Greek, Serbian,
Bulgarian, and Romani musics in a pop music context. In instrumentation, repertory,
choreography, and style both the bands and their repertories are linked to wedding
music, Pirin folk music, Turkish arabesk, the ‘newly composed folk music’ of Serbia and
the Republic of Macedonia, and Serbian turbo folk. Many popfolk performers are Romani
or Turkish, but also include numerous Bulgarian Slavs. Song lyrics appear in various
Balkan languages and occasionally Arabic, and are often rendered with the vocal… 31/41
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in ections of Romani, Turkish, and wedding music. Instrumentation is variable but may
include electric bass, synthesizer, drum machine, and electric guitar. Many groups also
feature a clarinet or saxophone, played in the Romani or Turkish style. Songs abound
with Middle Eastern idioms: musicians utilize synthesizers imported from Arab
countries, which facilitate the use of makams or the timbres of Turkish or Arab
instruments; lead instruments perform taksims during instrumental breaks; percussion
patterns and bass lines incorporate common Turkish or Arab rhythmic modes, while the
performers’ choreography derives from kyuchek and Middle Eastern bellydance. Since the
late 1990s popfolk has been popularized via a CD/DVD industry whose leading companies
support dedicated satellite TV music video channels, concerts, and festivals. The genre is
paralleled by similar trends throughout the Balkan region and has come to dominate the
indigenous music-making of the country’s heritage.



Bratya [Brothers] D. Miladinovi and K. Miladinovi: Balgarski narodni pesni [Bulgarian

folksongs], ed. M. Arnaudov (So a, 1861/R, 3/1942)

V. Stoin, ed.: Narodni pesni ot Timok do Vita [Folksongs from the Timok River to the River
Vit] (So a, 1928)

D. Khristov: Chansons populaires des bulgares macédoniens (So a, 1931)

V. Stoin, ed.: Narodni pesni ot sredna severna Balgariya [Folksongs from central northern
Bulgaria] (So a, 1931)

V. Stoin, ed.: Narodni pesni ot iztochna i zapadna Trakiya [Bulgarian folksongs from
eastern and western Thrace] (So a, 1939)

V. Primovski: Rodopski narodni pesni [Rhodope folksongs] (So a, 1940)

V. Stoin and I. Kachulev, eds.: Balgarski savremenni narodni pesni [Contemporary

Bulgarian folksongs] (So a, 1958)

N. Kaufman, ed.: Pesni na balgarskoto rabotnichesko dvizhenie 1891–1944 [Songs of the

Bulgarian workers’ movement 1891–1944] (So a, 1959)

V. Stoin: Narodni pesni ot zapadnite pokraynini [Folksongs from the western border
regions], ed. R. Katsarova (So a, 1959)

N. Kaufman, ed.: Balgarski gradski pesni [Bulgarian urban songs] (So a, 1968)

N. Kaufman and T. Todorov, eds.: Narodni pesni ot yugozapadna Balgariya, vol.1

[Folksongs from south-western Bulgaria], Pirinski kray [The Pirin region] (So a, 1968)

N. Kaufman and T. Todorov, eds.: Narodni pesni ot rodopskiya kray [Folksongs from the
Rhodope region] (So a, 1970)

E. and V. Stoin, eds.: Narodni pesni ot Samokov i Samokovsko [Folksongs from Samokov
and the Samokov region] (So a, 1975)… 32/41
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A. Ilieva: Narodni tantsi ot Srednogorieto [Folkdances from the region of the Sredno Gora
mountain range] (So a, 1978)

N. Kaufman, ed.: Narodni pesni na balgarite ot Yukraynska i Moldavska SSR [Folksongs of

the Bulgarians from the Ukrainian and Moldovian Soviet Socialist Republics] (So a,

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laments in Bulgaria] (So a, 1988) [incl. Russ. and Eng. summaries]

Books and articles

GEWM, vol.8 (T. Rice)

Grove5 (R. Katsarova)

Grove6 (S. Petrov and N. Kaufman)

V. Stoin: Balgarskata narodna muzika: metrika i ritmika [Bulgarian folk music: metre and
rhythm] (So a, 1927)

S. Dzhudzhev: Rhythme et mesure dans la musique populaire bulgare (Paris, 1931)

K. Obreshkov: Das bulgarische Volkslied (Berne, 1937)

B. Bartók: ‘Az úgynevezett bolgàr ritmus’, Eneskzó, vol.5 (1938), 537

A. Motsev: Ritam i takt v balgarskata narodna muzika [Rhythm and metre in Bulgarian folk
music] (So a, 1949)

R. Katsarova: ‘Tri pokoleniya narodni pevitsi’ [Three generations of female folksingers],

IIM, vol.32 (1960), 77–89

A. Motsev: Ornamenti v balgarskata narodna muzika [Ornaments in Bulgarian folk music]

(So a, 1961)

R. Katsarova-Kukudova: ‘Phénomènes polyphoniques dans la musique populaire

bulgare’, SMH, vol.3 (1962), 161–72

N. Kaufman: ‘Pesnite na balgarite mokhamedani’ [Songs of the Bulgarian Muslims], IIM,

vol.13 (1969), 248–66

S. Dzhudzhev: Balgarska narodna muzika: uchebnik za balgarskata darzhavna konservatoriya

[Bulgarian folk music: a textbook for the Bulgarian state conservatory] (So a, 1970–75,

T. Rice: Music of a Rhodope Village in Bulgaria (thesis, U. of Washington, 1971)

M. Todorov: Balgarski narodni muzikalni instrumenti: organogra ya [Bulgarian folk

musical instruments: an organology] (So a, 1973)

S. Abrasheva: Balgarski naroden dvuglas [Bulgarian folk diaphony] (So a, 1974) [incl. Eng.

T. Todorov: Savremenni problemi v izuchavaneto na balgarskoto muzikalno narodno

tvorchestvo [Contemporary problems in the study of Bulgarian folk musical creativity]
(So a, 1974)

A.I. Ilieva: Bulgarian Dance Folklore (Pittsburgh, 1976)… 33/41
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R. Katsarova-Kukudova and K. Djenev: Bulgarian Folk Dances (Cambridge, MA, 1976)

N. Kaufman: Balgarskata svatbena pesen [Bulgarian wedding song] (So a, 1976) [incl. Eng.

W.W. Kolar: The Folk Arts of Bulgaria (Pittsburgh, 1976)

M. Todorov: Balgarska narodna muzika: uchebnik za srednite muzikalni uchilishta [Bulgarian

folk music: textbook for the secondary music schools] (So a, 5/1976)

T. Rice: Polyphony in Bulgarian Folk Music (diss., U. of Washington, 1977)

I. Kachulev: Bulgarian Folk Musical Instruments (Pittsburgh, 1978) [incl. cass.]

V. Krastev: Bulgarian Music (So a, 1978)

T. Todorov: Savremennost i narodna pesen [Contemporaneity and folksong] (So a, 1978)

B. Krader: ‘Vasil Stoin, Bulgarian Folk Song Collector’, YIFMC, vol.12 (1980), 27–42

G.F. Messner: Die Schwebungsdiaphonie in Bistrica: Untersuchungen der mehrstimmigen

Liedgormen eines mittelwestbulgarischen Dorfes (Tutzing, 1980)

T. Rice: ‘Aspects of Bulgarian Musical Thought’, YIFMC, vol.12 (1980), 43–66

E. Stoin: Balgarski epicheski pesni [Bulgarian epic songs] (So a, 1980)

B. Krader: ‘Raina D. Katsarova: A Birthday Appreciation and List of Publications’, EthM,

vol.25 (1981), 287–94

E. Stoin: Muzikalno-folklorni dialekti v Balgariya [Musical-folkloristic dialects in Bulgaria]

(So a, 1981)

R. Katsarova: ‘Bulgarian Funeral Laments’, International Folklore Review, vol.2 (1982),


K. Roth and J. Roth: ‘Zum Problem des Bänkelsangs in Bulgarien’, Aspekte des
europäischen Nänkelsangs und weitere Probleme der heutigen Liedforschung, ed. S. Top and
E. Tielemans, vol.1 (Brussels, 1982), 60–73

K. and J. Roth: ‘Naj-nova pesnopojka s narodni pesni…’: Populare Liederbücher und

Liederheftchen in Bulgarien’, Jb für Volksliedforschung, vols.27–28 (1982–3), 242–57

V. Atanasov: Die bulgarischen Volksmusikinstrumente: eine Systematik in Wort, Bild und Ton
(Munich, 1983) [incl. cassette]

B. Kremenliev: ‘Mnogoglasie: a Compositional Concept in Rural Bulgaria’, Selected Reports

in Ethnomusicology, vol.4 (1983), 181–203

C. Silverman: ‘The Politics of Folklore in Bulgaria’, Anthropological Quarterly, vol.56

(1983), 55–61

M. Levy: The Bagpipe in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria (diss., UCLA, 1985)

K. and J. Roth: ‘A Bulgarian Professional Folk Singer and His Songs’, Narrative Folk Song:
New Directions: Essays in Appreciation of W. Edson Richmond, ed. C. Edwards and K. Manley
(Boulder, CO, 1985), 339–61

J. Sugarman: Singing in the Rhodope Region of Bulgaria: An Inquiry into the Determinants of
Musical Practice (thesis, UCLA, 1985)… 34/41
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I. Manolov: Traditsionnata instrumentalna muzika ot yugozapadna Balgariya [Traditional

instrumental music from south-western Bulgaria] (So a, 1987)

S. Zakharieva: Svirachat vav folklornata kultura [The traditional instrumentalist in folk

culture] (So a, 1987) [incl. Russ. and Eng. summaries]

V. Atanasov: ‘Children’s Musical Instruments and Musical Playthings in Bulgaria’, World

of Music, vol.29/3 (1988), 68–85 [incl. Fr. and Ger. summaries]

T. Rice: ‘Understanding Three-Part Singing in Bulgaria: The Interplay of Theory and

Experience’, Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, vol.7 (1988), 43–57

T. Balakov: Maystori na narodnata muzika [Masters of folk music] (So a, 1988–92)

N. Kaufman: ‘Nyakoi predshestvenitsa na savremennite orkestri na narodna muzika’

[Some precursors of contemporary orchestras for folk music], Muzikalni khorizonti,
vols.12–13 (1989), 220–28

C. Silverman: ‘Reconstructing Folklore: Media and Cultural Policy in Eastern Europe’,

Communication, vol.9 (1989), 141–60

D. Kaufman: ‘Ot vazrozhdenskata chalgiya kam savremennite svatbarski orkestri’ [From

the chalgiya of the Vazrazhdane to contemporary wedding orchestras], Balgarski folklor,
vol.16/3 (1990), 23–32

D.A. Buchanan: The Bulgarian Folk Orchestra: Cultural Performance, Symbol and the
Construction of National Identity in Socialist Bulgaria (diss., U. of Texas, Austin, 1991)

V. Kurkela: ‘Deregulation of Popular Music in the European Post-Communist Countries:

Business, Identity and Cultural Collage’,World of Music, vol.35/3 (1993), 80–106

R. Statlova: Obarnatata piramida: aspekti na populyarnata muzika [The overturned

pyramid: aspects of popular music] (So a, 1993)

T. Rice: ‘May it ll your soul’: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (Chicago, 1994) [incl. CD]

D.A. Buchanan: ‘Metaphors of Power, Metaphors of Truth: The Politics of Music

Professionalism in Bulgarian Folk Orchestras’, EthM, vol.39 (1995), 381–416

D. Kaufman: ‘Savremennite svatbarski orkestri kato “disidentski” formatsii’

[Contemporary wedding orchestras as ‘dissident’ formations], Balgarski folklor, vol.21/6
(1995), 49–57

N. Kaufman: ‘Evreite i balkanskata gradska pesen’ [The Jews and the Balkan urban song],
Balgarski folklor, vol.21/5 (1995), 9–41

R. Statelova: Prezhivyano v Balgariya: rok, pop, folk, 1990–1994 [Surviving in Bulgaria:

rock, pop, folk, 1990–1994] (So a, 1995)

M. Forsyth: Slushaj, shterko, i dobre zapomni…: pesnite i zhivota na Linka Gekov Gergova ot
selo Bistritsa, So isko/Listen, Daughter, and Remember Well…: The Songs and Life of Linka
Gekova Gergova from the Village of Bistritsa, So a (So a, 1996)

M. Slobin, ed.: Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe (Durham,
NC, 1996)

D.A. Buchanan: ‘Review Essay: Bulgaria’s Magical Mystère Tour: Postmodernism, World
Music Marketing and Political Transition in Eastern Europe’, EthM, vol.41 (1997), 131–57… 35/41
2019/8/6 Bulgaria | Grove Music

V. Kurkela: ‘Music Media in the Eastern Balkans: Privatised, Deregulated, and Neo-
Traditional’, Cultural Policy, vol.3/2 (1997), 177–205

T. Kirov: Evolyutsiya na gadulkata i gadulkovoto izpalnitelstvo v Balgariya [Evolution of the

gadulka and gadulka performance practice in Bulgaria] (Plovdiv, 1999)

L. Peycheva: Dushata plache – pesen izliza: Romskite muzikanti v Balgariya i tyakhnata

muzika [The soul cries – a song emerges: Romani musicians in Bulgaria and their music]
(So a, 1999) [incl. Eng. summary]

K. Peters: ‘Representations of Macedonia in Contemporary Ethnopop Songs from

Southwest Bulgaria’, Balkanistica, vol.13 (2000), 131–63

T. Rice: ‘Béla Bartók and Bulgarian Rhythm’, Bartók Perspectives: Man, Composer, and
Ethnomusicologist, ed. E. Antokoletz and others (New York, 2000), 196–210

E. Valchinova-Chendova: Gradskata traditsionna instrumentalna praktika i orkestrovata

kultura v Balgariya (sredata na XIX–kraya na XX vek) [Urban traditional instrumental
practice and orchestral culture in Bulgaria (from the mid-19th to the end of the 20th
century)] (So a, 2000) [incl. Eng. summary]

V. Dimov: Etnopopbumat [The ethnopop boom] (So a, 2001)

V. Fol and R. Neykova: Ogan i muzika [Fire and music] (So a, 2000) [incl. Eng. summary]

T. Rice: ‘Re ections on Music and Meaning: Metaphor, Signi cation, and Control in the
Bulgarian Case’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, vol.10 (2001), 19–38

V. Atanasov, trans. M. Forsyth: The Bulgarian Gaida (Bagpipe) (2002) [CD-ROM incl.
monograph and audio exx.]

D.A. Buchanan: ‘Soccer, Ethno-Pop, and National Consciousness in Post-State-Socialist

Bulgaria, 1994–1996’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, vol.11 (2002), 1–27

K. Peters: Macedonian Folk Song in a Bulgarian Urban Context: Songs and Singing in
Blagoevgrad, Southwest Bulgaria (diss., U. of Wisconsin, Madison, 2002)

L. Peycheva and V. Dimov: Zurnadzhiyskata traditsiya v yugozapadna Balgariya: Praktika na

Romski muzikanti/The zurna tradition in southwest Bulgaria: Romany musicians in practice
(So a, 2002)

T. Rice: ‘Bulgaria or Chalgaria: The Attenuation of Bulgarian Nationalism in a Mass-

Mediated Popular Music’, YBTM, vol.34 (2002), 25–46

N. Kaufman: Balgarski narodni pesni na polski trud [Bulgarian folksongs of eld labour]
(So a, 2003) [incl. Eng. summary]

K. Peters: ‘Meter as a Marker of Ethnonational Identity? Metric Controversy, Folk Song

Variants, and the Representation of Balkan Cultural Identities’, Balgarsko muzikoznanie,
vol.27/4 (2003), 56–73

T. Rice: ‘Time, Place and Metaphor in Musical Experience and Ethnography’, EthM, vol.47
(2003), 151–79

T. Rice: Music in Bulgaria: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (New York, 2004) [incl.

C. Silverman: ‘“Move over Madonna”: Gender, Representation, and the “Mystery” of

Bulgarian Voices’, Over the Wall/After the Fall: Post-Communist Cultures through an East–… 36/41
2019/8/6 Bulgaria | Grove Music

West Gaze, ed. S. Forrester, M. J. Zaborowska, and E. Gapova (Bloomington, IN, 2004),

C. Levy: Dialogichnata muzika: Blusat, popularnata kultura, mitovete na modernostta

[Dialogical music: the blues, popular culture, myths of modernity] (So a, 2005) [incl.
Eng. summary]

R. Statelova: The Seven Sins of Chalga: Toward and Anthropology of Ethnopop Music, ed. A.
Rodel (So a, 2005)

D.A. Buchanan: ‘Bartók’s Bulgaria: Folk Music Collection and Balkan Social History’,
International Journal of Musicology, vol.9 (2006), 55–91

D.A. Buchanan: Performing Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition

(Chicago, 2006) [incl. CD-ROM]

D.A. Buchanan and S. Folse: ‘How to Spin a Good Horo: Melody, Mode, and Musicianship
in the Composition of Bulgaria Dance Tunes’, Analytical Studies in World Music, ed. M.
Tenzer (New York, 2006), 58–91 [incl. CD]

D.A. Buchanan, ed.: Balkan Popular Culture and the Ottoman Ecumene: Music, Image, and
Regional Political Discourse (Lanham, MD, 2007) [incl. VCD-ROM]

M.B. LeGonidec: Le beau berger et sa ûte de miel: les instruments de musique pastoraux dans
les chants traditionnels bulgares (diss., U. de Paris X, 2007)

C. Levy: Etnodzhazat: Lokalni proektsii v globalnoto selo [Ethnojazz: local projections in the
global village] (So a, 2007) [incl. Engl. summary, CD]

L. Peycheva: Mezhdu seloto i vselenata: Starata folklorna muzika ot Balgariya v novite

vremena [Between the village and the universe: the old folkloric music of Bulgaria in new
times] (So a, 2008) [incl. Eng. summary]

D.A. Buchanan: ‘Sonic Nostalgia: Music, Memory, and Mythography in Bulgaria, 1989–
2005’, Post-communist Nostalgia, ed. M. Todorova and Z. Gille (Oxford, Berghahn Books,
2010), 129–54

Bulgaria, coll. A.L. Lloyd, rec. 1954, Col. KL 5378 (n.d.)

Bulgaria: Musical Atlas, EMI Odeon 64 1653891 (1983) [incl. notes by B. Mauguin]

Balkana: the Music of Bulgaria, Hannibal Records HNBL 1335 (1987)

Le mystère des voix Bulgares, perf. Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal
Choir, Elek. 9 79165-2 (1987) [incl. notes by I. Marshall]

Le mystère des voix Bulgares, vol.2, perf. Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female
Vocal Choir, Elek. 9 79201-2 (1988)

A Harvest, a Shepherd, a Bride: Village Music of Bulgaria: In the Shadow of the Mountain:
Bulgarian Folk Music, rec. 1968, Elek. 9 79195-2 [incl. notes by M. Koenig and V. Atanasov]

Bulgarian Polyphony, vol.1, perf. Filip Kutev Ensemble, JVC VID-25001 (1989)

Bulgarian Polyphony, vol.2, perf. Filip Kutev Ensemble, JVC VID-25002 (1989)… 37/41
2019/8/6 Bulgaria | Grove Music

Music of Bulgaria: Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic: Original 1955 Recording, Elek. 9
72011-1 (1989) [incl. notes by J. Hunter]

Ivo Papasov and His Bulgarian Wedding Band: Orpheus Ascending, Hannibal Records HNCD
1346 (1989) [incl. notes by J. Boyd]

Le mystère des voix Bulgares, vol.3, perf. Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female
Vocal Choir and others, Fon. 846 626-4 (1990) [incl. notes by M. Cellier]

‘Two girls started to sing…’: Bulgarian Village Singing, Rounder Records CD 1055 (1990)

Ivo Papasov and His Orchestra: Balkanology, Hannibal Records HNCD 1363 (1991) [incl.
notes by C. Silverman]

Vocal Traditions of Bulgaria: Bulgarian Village Traditional Song from the Archives of Radio
So a, Saydisc Records CD-SDL 396 (1992)

Folk Music of Bulgaria, Topic Records TSCD905 (1994) [incl. notes by A.L. Lloyd]

Song of the Crooked Dance: Early Bulgarian Traditional Music (1927–42), Yazoo Records
7016 (1998) [incl. notes by L. Brody]

Bulgarie: Musique de tradition pastorale/Bulgaria: Music of the Shepherd’s Tradition, VDE

CD-1148 (2004) [incl. notes by M.B. Le Gonidec]

See also


Stara Zagora

USA, §II, 1(iii)(d): Traditional music: European American: Bulgarian & Macedonian

Russian and Slavonic church music, §5: Bulgarian church music





Piron, Alexis

Manolov, Emanuil

Arnaoudov, Georgi

Atanasov, Georgi

Atanasov, Nikola

Badinski, Nikolai

Balyozov, Rumen

Bukoreshtliyev, Angel

Dimitrov, Georgi

Dragostinov, Stefan

Dzhurov, Plamen… 38/41
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Eliezer, Bentzion

Goleminov, Marin

Hadjiapostolou, Nikolaos

Hadjiev, Parashkev

Ikonomov, Boyan Georgiyev

Ikonomov, Stefan

Iliev, Konstantin

Kandov, Aleksandar

Karastoyanov, Asen

Kazandzhiev, Vasil

Khristoskov, Petar

Khristov, Dimitar

Khristov, Dobri

Klinkova, Zhivka

Krasteva, Neva

Kutev, Philip

Kyurkchiyski, Krasimir

Levi, Jul

Marinov, Ivan

Minchev, Georgi

Nenov, Dimitar

Nikolov, Lazar

Petkov, Dimitar

Petrova, Mara

Pipkov, Lyubomir

Pipkov, Panayot

Pironkov, Simeon

Popov, Todor

Poturlyan, Artin

Raichev, Aleksandar

Remenkov, Stefan

Sagayev, Dimitar

Silyanovsky, Trifon

Spasov, Bozhidar

Spasov, Ivan

Staynov, Petko… 39/41
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Stoyanov, Pencho

Stoyanov, Veselin

Stupel, Petar

Tabakov, Emil

Tanev, Aleksandar

Tapkov, Dimitar

Tarmakov, Russi

Taskov, Krasimir

Tekeliyev, Aleksandar

Tsenova, Yuliya

Tsvetanov, Tsvetan

Tutev, Georgi

Vladigerov, Aleksandar

Vladigerov, Pancho

Yosifov, Aleksandar

Zaimov, Velislav

Copyright, §VI: Czech Republic

Ethnomusicology, §II, 3(i): History to 1945: Bulgaria

Kachulev, Ivan

Kaufman, Nikolai

Motsev, Alexander

Stoin, Vasil

Stoin, Yelena

‘Gypsy’ music, §7: New developments.


Musicology, §III, 8(ii): National traditions of musicology: The USA: Since 1980

National anthems: Burkina Faso


Radio, §III, 2(i): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania

Brashovanov, Stoyan

Brashovanova, Lada

Dzhudzhev, Stoyan

Kamburov, Ivan

Katsarova, Rayna

Krastev, Venelin

Petrov, Stoyan… 40/41
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Toncheva, Yelena

More on this topic

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