(UPDATE: Of course, this event did not happen on March 21 in 2021, thanks to Covid-19. When we are able to hold another Balkan Music Night, we will probably use this song.)
Every year for the past 35 years, we have a Balkan music and dance extravaganza in Boston called Balkan Music Night (coming up this year on March 21). And every year, starting in 1988, we do at least one, usually two dances accompanied by our own singing. For us, this practice grew out of a set of Bulgarian singing classes led by Erica Zissman (one of the songs we learned was appropriate for this, and as we got familiar with it, we said, "We should DO this somewhere!" Erica, being on the committee that produces this event, suggested Balkan Music Night.
But in Bulgaria (and other countries nearby, I'm sure), it was a time-honored tradition. When the village gathered to have some fun and do some dancing in the village square on Sunday or on a holiday, no one could wait for the local instrument players to arrive to start the dancing, so two groups of young ladies (the eligible ones....) would start singing, and the dancing would start! One group was at the head of the line, another group at the "tail"—that group repeated the same words the first group had sung. Then the first group sang the next verse and the second group repeated it, and so on until the song finished. At that point they could go seamlessly into another song.... I need to remind you that this dancing in the village square was an important social occasion. The eligible girls could show their stuff, young people could get a little chat in even though in public. This happened every Sunday and every holiday!
In order to make this happen in Boston, we need a small core group of people who can lead the singing. Since we don't have a tradition in which you absorb these songs as you're growing up, and we don't have Erica to give singing classes anymore, I have taken over making sure there are enough people who know the song, to make this happen. So I am co-opting a blog post to put up the music and the words here, for people to practice. The words will be in the program booklet, and we will invite other people to join in singing as they get familiar with the song. (In this, we stray from the village custom. We do NOT insist that the singers be only a few people—we want everyone to sing!)
It happens that I've already done a post on this particular song, which you might like to read: "So what IS that rhythm???"—but I will repeat the recordings and the text here, so you don't have to go to yet another page to find them.
Един Димитър на майкя (Edin Dimitâr na majkja) (see text below)
This is the version I first recorded, when they were not dancing as they sang. Later I returned and asked them about what dance they did to it, and they replied by singing it while dancing:
Един Димитър на майкя (Edin Dimitâr na majkja), sung while actually dancing
The words (first a large-type, easy-to-read version, then one with the music transcription, and the text in Bulgarian, in transliteration, and in translation:
3 thoughts on “Horo na pesen?”
This is great Martha!!! What a lovely history of Balkan Night.....HNP!!!
How awesome to see you post!! Carry on, with love!!
Well, I won't be coming to Boston just for Balkan Night, but I'm delighted to get this story and song and its accompanying details. Thank you, Martha!