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It's been way too long since I've posted anything has a way of intervening!  First there was a busy time followed by 3+ weeks in Bulgaria; then a lot of computer hassles; then — not only the end-of-year holidays, but...I have been busy making two NEW KITTIES (once feral and with traces of that left) feel at home!  Since they're not my Bulgarian research, I will only quietly put their pictures here (I may add a page for them some day soon).  Suffice to say that I've been side-tracked from this blog by eight feet and two tails...


Alino, Samokov regionBut a day or two ago I woke up to one of the joys of the internet: the director of the women's singing group in the village of Álino (Sámokov region) contacted me on Facebook.  It turns out that he is either related to or neighbor to the 8 women who sang for me there in 1985!  I hope this will give me an opportunity to get copies of my material back to the descendants of the people who sang them, and also to others who might be interested, or even singing them today.

Update: After posting this, I heard back from my new friend in Alino, Momčil Čalâkov (Момчил Чалъков).  He sent me a handful of lovely videos of the women from Alino, and told me there are many more on Youtube.  I've been watching them...but they've been put up by several different people.  The easiest way to find them seems to be to search, on Youtube, in Bulgarian: just click on one of the links below (or copy and paste the search term) into the "Search" box on Youtube:
фолклорна група село Алино

ЖПГ от с. Алино, and check them out.

Álino is less than a 20-minute drive from Samokov; it is located in the southern foothills of Plána Mountain, just two villages south of Kovačévtsi (birthplace of Kreména Stánčeva, singer extraordinaire).  I recorded there just once, on 17 April 1985, 16 songs from a group of 8 women born between 1924 and 1933.  Their songs are among those I consider not too "accessible" to people who are not into this music up to their eyeballs.  The music is two-part and sung antiphonally (by two groups), the second group repeating what the first has sung, as we expect in this region.  But sometimes it's a little hard to tell just what the melody is!  The two parts like to hang out just a note or two apart, melodically — and come into unison only at the end of each verse.  (It's such fun to sing things like this...)

Here is a dance song, sung while they were actually dancing.  The dance was a pravo horo that I saw all over the region, but the little triplets near the end of each verse are interesting, and I notice them in other songs from Alino.

Снощи ми дойдоя двои годежняци (Snóšti mi dojdója godežnjáci)

The song tells of a girl's dilemma when her mother engages her to someone she doesn't like...

And let's also listen to a lovely solo harvest melody, similar to, but in some way quite different from what I've heard in nearby villages:

Мильо ле, млада Загорко (Míljo le, mlada Zagorka)

The story is not complete, but it's all they sang for me:



Today I was amused to see this update to a news item:

Fake news, but once upon a time....

I'd been noticing this item for several days, and every time I did, I found myself thinking, "Hmmm....have they been listening to old Bulgarian songs?"  So today I want to share with you a song about Jánko and Janínko.  But first, I'd like to point out that anyone who gets involved with Bulgarian folklore will sooner or later bump into the 500 years of "Turkish slavery", when Bulgaia was ruled by Turks.  If you're dim on this important piece of history, check it out online.  The Wikipedia article on Ottoman Bulgaria is a good place to start.

So, as you can imagine, a lot of terrible, tragic things happened to individuals and to families in that time.  One that is well-represented in the Bulgarian song repertoire is exactly our "song of the day", the one about Jánko and Janínko.  I just went searching through my lists to see when and where I've recorded it; I see that I have more than 20 versions of it (and counting)—plus an additional song I recorded in Bistritsa, that may be yet another version, or it might be an offshoot that developed in a somewhat different direction.

In other words, this is a very powerful story, that village people remember.  I guess it all goes to show that "there's nothing new under the sun"! though I'd like to point out that most likely this Bulgarian song originated not in someone's fancy (like the news item), but in response to a real event.

Here is a nicely-sung version, which I see that I already gave you early last year, but I will re-post here, with its beautifuland haunting Samokovsko "harvest song melody":
Bg map-Screenshot, Dragovishtitsa

К вечерум се робье продавая (K večerum se rob'je prodavaja), recorded in Kovačévtsi, Samokov region.

You can find the text and translation for this version in my post from February 2016, "Harvest songs...Part 1".

Eléna Nikólova Božílova, Béli Ískâr 1988 (click on the picture to see it larger)

But, to give you something new this time, here is a version that I recorded three years later in Béli Ískâr, also Sámokov region, from Eléna Nikólova Božílova, born in 1931.  Elena has given me many magnificent versions of songs, and I consider this the granddaddy of this song.  It is a good example of the way a consummate singer can breathe life into a story-line.  Here are two pdf files, one with the original Bulgarian text, and one with a translation.

Now, I know that if you read the translation carefully, you're going to wonder about some peculiar, even illogical, things about the plot.  This was only the second song she gave me, and I don't think she'd yet gotten over her shock at meeting me.  You see, I had met her husband in the village square, and he took me to their home, certain that we would find her there.  But no....she was nowhere to be found.  He went out to look for her, leaving me alone in the house.  It was a warm day and I started feeling a bit drowsy, so I lay down to rest a bit, when....Elenka walked in!  She had NOT met her husband before coming home, she just walked in and found a total stranger lying down in her house! and she seemed pretty cross.  I tried to explain calmly why I was there and what had happened, and she gradually relaxed.  In the end she became quite friendly to me—you can see this in her smile here, but that took a little while.  She gave me 21 fine songs, and when I saw her again in 1994 and she told me more than 30 more!