Learning a song

This is not the post I have been planning to do “next” (that one will still take some time, because video-editing will be required),  But I just stumbled on this interesting little piece in what I’ve been working on lately as I try to complete my inventory of all my recordings to date.

Draginovo, Velingrad region, Bulgaria
Draginovo, Velingrad region, Bulgaria

It is 1994, and we are in Dragínovo (near Vélingrad), with our old friend Kéra Kičilíeva (see my very FIRST post on this blog, “Come sing for these Americans!“). This time, “we” is myself, my husband Dick, and our good friend Pat Iverson, with whom I’d been singing for some years.

I already knew this particular song, but I was looking to  understand the details of both parts better.  So I want to share with you what I recorded in 1994.  But before you jump in, let’s talk about what you’ll hear, because almost all the conversation is in Bulgarian.

First Kéra and I sing a few verses of the song, me singing the lower part.  (This was not a “proper” recording session, with a proper “beginning”: we begin not at the beginning of the song, but on the second verse, actually in mid-word.  Thank you, Dick, for realizing it would be good to record this….)  Then we stop, and I try to clarify how the drone (the lower part) should ‘move’: should it slide down gradually (as I’ve been trying to do), or should it just jump cleanly to the lower pitch?  (Evidently Kera didn’t understand my question, because she verbally preferred that it slide, but when she sings that lower part next, she makes a clean jump.)  We sing a few verses again, in the same configuration, and I try to do what I thought she asked me too (not very successfully!)

We stop again; Kera says we are singing it in the old way, not the new way.  She suggests we sing it a third time with her singing the second part, “so we can hear the way she sings the second part”.  This is actually a bit mixed up…I’m not used to singing the top part—and I screw up, so she takes over singing that, while I try to do the second part with a clear break, the way I just heard her do it.  It sort of falls apart at this point, so I suggest that when we go later to Sârnítsa, where her sister Albéna lives, Kera and Albena can sing it for me, and it will be clear.  (This does happen, I’ll put that in here too.)  There’s some interesting commentary at the end—about variations—that I won’t try to translate (the very end is in English).  But I was pleased to note that I had already developed the thought that I express at the end, about the connection between what we call “ornaments” and the (physical phonetic features of) words, and even the meaning.

Паюнче свири (Pajunče svire), learning session

Now listen to Kera and her sister Albéna singing the same song, a few hours later:

Паюнче свири (Pajunče svire), Kera and her sister Albena

Albéna Kisjóva and Kéra Kichilíeva, 2005

And finally, you can read the text (a very sad one!) and the translation here.

 

 

 

 




Happy New Year 2018! and the village of Alino…

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything here…life 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…

Batko

Kalinka

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
or

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: