Been taking a break, because I broke my left elbow 2 weeks ago — typing with one hand while coddling the other elbow makes even thinking hard!
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).
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!"
A Success, and tomorrow (I hope) a Song!
Amazingly enough, there is very little material that I have lost through an accident in the recording process. Out of over 200 cassettes, only 3 or 4 times when I accidentally recorded over something, forgot to turn on the microphone, etc. The minidiscs were always harder for me — I somehow never "understood" those recordings. Dick would copy the recordings to the computer, but I didn't take care to monitor the names he gave the files, or really verify what we had (and we'd gotten sloppy about identifying things, too).
In this case, I knew that we had recorded at least two discs in the village of Drúževo, north of Sofia, near Milánovo. But I could only ever find one file. Yesterday I was looking through yet another hard drive with backup Bulgarian material on it, and I noticed a folder named "Saved minidiscs" — I remembered the name. One was about Drúževo but had a mysterious phrase "Martha announce" in the file name. That sounded odd. The two files were very nearly the same length, but I opened both so I could compare them. Took me a little while to feel 100% sure, but it turned out to be the long-missing file! I am so excited to have it back! The woman I had recorded on that day and the next had given me some traditional songs, and some that she herself had composed. Finally I can see what I really heard there!
I was going to make a start on a new song post, but it got too late (2am), so I have to put that off for a day or two in order to do it justice. It's a promise!
Work-in-Progress: Identifying Bistritsa recordings
A blog is supposed to be a place where you can write to help yourself think things through, so here goes. (When I can take the time to figure out how to do it, I could keep such things in a section accessible through the menu, e.g., "Martha's working notes" — but trying to do that right now would take time from my primary task, so you'll have to put up with "a useless interruption"!)
In trying to make life simpler, I think I made it more complicated for myself! Here's why:
In 1990 I have no less than THREE sets of recordings:
• August, when I was in Bulgaria for a short time to arrange for the visit of the Bistritsa Babi to the US;
• October when the Babi were in the US; and
• 1990-91 when I went back to Bulgaria for about 6 weeks.
On that winter trip, I went to Bulgaria specifically to work intensively with baba Linka, who was from the village of Bistritsa. I kept my recordings of ALL of our sessions (made in Sofia, where she was living with her daughter) on a set of 15 cassette tapes that I labelled "Linka". So far, so good.
BUT. On that 1990-91 trip I also recorded a number of times in the village of Bistritsa itself — people other than Linka. I also recorded in several other villages: Plana, Govedartsi, and Madžare. All of THAT material (both Bistritsa and not-Bistritsa) went on a set of five "not-Linka" tapes. I have been identifying those tapes (clumsily!) as "not-Linka" material. And now, I have to figure out how to identify them ALL as Bistritsa tapes, while still preserving a distinction! (Why ever? Well....first, because it's just easier to have all the Linka material in one place, not interspersed with the other material. There is so much of that, and relatively so little of "everything else" — I'm not trying to create a travelogue of "Martha's minute-by-minute journey through Bulgaria in the winter of 1990-91" — I am focusing on the material, how to find what you need in it easily.)
How about, to distinguish the two tapes from 1990-91 numbered 3:
• "1990-91 Bistr-L 3b" (Linka tape #3b, specifically side B)
• "1990-91 Bistr-xL 3b Danče's nameday" (not-Linka tape #3, sp. side B)
This might work. I will still keep them in separate folders: 1990-91 Linka, and 1990-91 not-Linka.
Thanks for listening — now back to work! There are a few "real" posts simmering…
Eureka! (Or whatever the word is.) I think I've solved it. Writing this did really help, but sitting down with old files names in one (text) column and new files names in a second column was what really worked: I could change them as much as I liked until I was satisfied with the result. At this point, if I wanted to, I could even mix together the Linka and the xLinka material, because the file names would keep it nicely sorted out. I'd take a screenshot for you, but I can imagine anything much less interesting!