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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!"

6 thoughts on “Granny set out….

  1. Cindy

    OK! Well, it may be good (or not) to know if this song's words translated into English would have the same meanings as we have. If so, I am at a bit of a loss!

    1. Martha

      Well....I did my best to give an idiomatic translation (without being too crude)! I didn't mean "prick" as in "stuck by a needle"..... By the way, over the years we've learned a couple of things about that word "hui" (2 syllables here, pronounced more like"hooey"). It does NOT work in Serbian - a neighboring and closely-related language - as we found out when we sang it once at Balkan Camp, and the Serbs didn't get it!

      On the other hand, there's a Turkish dance, I think from the Black Sea area, that was done by a Boston-area dance ensemble, in which the women call out in high-pitched voices, "Hooey, Hooey, Hooey" - and when our Bulgarian friends heard this, they jumped in shock, that they were using this dirty word in public!!!

      And there's more stories....maybe another time I'll post about the Bistritsa Babi's travels in France, and a resounding joke they made....think about how "Oui, madame!" sounds!!!

      1. Ceil Wirth

        Interesting, odd thing: When the song began it was bumpy & "bubbly" - tape wobbling or whatever. As I listened I clicked on the down-arrow in the box marked Categories to see what was there and immediately the song smoothed out as it finished. I wondered if it was a fluke or what so I started the song again and it began the same as before, but I clicked right away on that arrow in the Categories box and the song smoothened out right away and was clear as a bell.

        This might be helpful for someone else who is experiencing the wobbly tape phenomenon. Ceil Wirth

      2. Martha

        Ceil, Thanks for letting me know, but I don't understand this at all, and probably can't recreate it myself. It's a "normal" mp3 file, a bit faint especially at the beginning, but otherwise, dunno! Check it again please - it might just be that she's barely singing at the beginning, and she DOES put some ornaments in there, clearly deliberately! Does it happen on other songs I've posted? (If you want to write more on this please let's do it by email.)

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