Granny set out….

It’s a cold day in late September, 1988, and I am only going to be in the Sámokov region for another week.  I am headed up to a small monastery above the village of Govedártsi.  On the way I notice that a group of women is working in a field off to the right of the road.  It’s noontime, so they are napping under sheets of plastic (for warmth).

A noontime nap on a cold day in late September 1988

I head over to see who’s there and what I can stir up.  I spend awhile with a woman I know, who seems to be awake, and she tells me some songs.  After a half-hour or so the others begin to wake up, as it’s getting to be time to go back to work.

Background:  There’s  a woman from Govedártsi whose songs have been mentioned to me several times (no details given), but there’s never been an opportunity for me to hear them.  So now I become aware of a bit of a fuss, and see that people are trying very hard to rouse a woman who seems to be digging herself into the ground with great determination.  “Come on, get up, get up!”  One of the men even kicks at her foot to get her up, but she only digs in harder.  After a few moments I turn away to resume my conversation with the woman I’d been recording…and all of a sudden I hear more commotion behind me.  I turn around, and there’s the woman on her feet, her buddies goading her to SING!  Later I realized that the few men present had moved away and gone back to work (potato-digging that day) — you’ll see why this is important, but let’s listen to the song first:

Тръгнала йе баба
(Tragnala je baba), recorded in ‏ Govedártsi, Samokov region.

So what IS this song, that she’s singing so quietly, that causes so much giggling???  I’ll admit, it took getting back to someone I know well enough to translate the critical words for me to understand it!  Here’s what she sang (heck, I’ll give you the musical notation too!):


Not many of these came my way, but I did catch a few!  “When did you used to sing it?”  “Oh, when we got together!  Especially if there were boys present!”