Bulgarian Folk Music (part 2)

By Darina

Oct 19

This is the second part of our article about Bulgarian Folk Music, written by the professional Bulgarian music therapist Darina Titkova. To see the the first part click here.

Many Bulgarian classical composers imbed the spirit of the traditional Bulgarian music into their vocal and instrumental pieces using folk melodies and rhythms from our traditional heritage. From the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule until today, numerous opera and symphonic compositions have been created in Bulgaria as well as a multitude of solo instrumental and vocal pieces. One of the most emblematic and beloved classical work is “Vardar Rhapsody”, named after the Bulgarian river with the same name – Vardar (Вардар)- and composed by the famous Bulgarian composer Pancho Vladigerov

Traditional Bulgarian music is loved all over the world. It is often present in movie scores and in the video game industry. For example, the Bulgarian song “Malka moma” (Малка мома) is included in the British hit movie Hummingbird (2013).

The song is written and performed by the Bulgarian singer of traditional songs Neli Andreeva, in collaboration with the composer Georgi Genov. It got over 1 million views on youtube in the first year and became so popular it soon drew the attention of the Japanese national TV. The television crew made a 2-hour documentary about Neli Andreeva, Georgi Genov and the song. According to them, “Malka moma” had become a very popular song in Japan.

This is not the first time Japan demonstrates interest in traditional Bulgarian music. In fact, Bulgarian choirs are often welcomed in Japan performing traditional folk repertoire. Several documentaries have been shot about the Bulgarian traditional music through the years. One of the most famous Bulgarian traditional choirs, the Cosmic voices of Bulgaria, has even performed in the Japanese composer Yoko Kanno’s debut studio album Song to Fly (1998). The song is called “Atomic bird”, author of the lyrics is Gabriela Robin. This piece is really interesting because it contains no original Bulgarian melody or even a single word in Bulgarian. The lyrics are made of random syllables with no meaning. Still it resonates with the spirit of Bulgarian traditions and captures the feeling of traditional Bulgarian music.

It seems that the Japanese are really fond of Bulgarian music which actually sounds similar to their own vocal traditions. Another Japanese composer, Kenji Kawai, who scored the famous science fiction anime Ghost in the Shell in 1995, made a beautiful mixture of an ancient Japanese wedding song and a Bulgarian harmony in his opening theme “Making of a Cyborg”. Although Japanese folk singers perform this stunning piece, their voices carry the Bulgarian traditions.

There’s some news for the video game fans too. Another famous Bulgarian choir ensemble, “The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices” has recorded pieces for the soundtrack of the survival horror video game Alone in the dark in 2008.

Actually, iTunes offers the whole album of 22 tracks featuring the Bulgarian female choir.

A Bulgarian song is also included in the album of the Norwegian composer Thomas J. Bergersen. The name of the song is “Rada” and the album is called “Illusions”, released in 2011.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little concert of Bulgarian music (and its influence around the world). I will be happy to see your comments below. And last, just for fun, here’s a humorous song about young Bulgarian girl who doesn’t have an appropriate formal clothes to wear on the festive horo-dance.