top of page


The kaval of Teodosii Spasov is one of the symbols of our country, and the

magnetic voice of Valya Balkanska has conquered even the depths of the


"The hero lies, and in heaven

the sun stops burning angrily;

reaper sings somewhere in the field,

and the blood flows even harder! ”

Hristo Botev, "Hadji Dimitar"

Bulgarian folk music is the business card of Bulgaria not only in front of the world, but even in the vast cosmos. If the kaval of the virtuoso Teodosii Spasov has become over the years one of the most melodic symbols of our country in front of the planet, then Valya Balkanska has become an ambassador of the Earth itself in the depths of space. "Deliu Haidutin has come out" has been echoing in her magnetic voice for almost four decades aboard the American Voyager spacecraft.

Магията на българската народна музика

The rich diversity of Bulgarian folk music is the result of the diverse tribes, which have flowed over the centuries into the unified channel of the all-Bulgarian culture: Thracian, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian. In its essence, Bulgarian folk music is a branch of the folk music of Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians and is especially born with the musical folklore of the South Slavs, having a number of specific features and a kind of tools.

The Thracians used guitars, lyres, flutes, bagpipes, drums and bells. There is hardly an intelligent man anywhere in the world who has not heard of the legendary Orpheus. Musicians are depicted in the frescoes of the Thracian tomb around Kazanlak (IV century BC), a musician is also seen in the Panagyurishte treasure (IV century BC) (Krastev, 1970, 6 et seq.) . Xenophon left information about the singing of the Thracians and a description of instruments and customs accompanied by music.

The Byzantine chronicler Theophylact Simokata testified that at the end of the 6th century he saw three captured Slavs in the court of the Emperor Maurice, who wore lyres instead of weapons. On the same occasion, the historian Theophanes says that the instruments of the three were guitars. According to the Serbian Slavologist V. Jagic, the Byzantines understood the Slavic harp under the name lyre and guitar.

Other information and monuments about the musical instruments used in feudal Bulgaria have come down to us: a statuette of a musician playing a three-sided lute (VIII - IX century), a plate with a girl playing a single-pipe whistle (IX century), a bone whistle found in mound near Panagyurishte (XII century), fresco of a drummer in the rock church near the village of Ivanovo, Ruse region (XIV century); drummer from the Hrelov Tower in the Rila Monastery (14th century).

Магията на българската народна музика

The musical phenomenon in the period XIII - XIV century is John Kukuzel Angeloglasny. He was rebuked for the "barbarisms" in the music, which were in fact the melodies and motifs of the Bulgarian folk song, combined with the style of the church chants. Stefan Gerlach (16th century) reports that Bulgarian horsemen came to Constantinople to enter the sultan's service, with bagpipes and games. Hieromonk Spiridon talks about rituals and songs performed on Christmas Eve, New Year, fortune-telling in rings and drought (XVIII century).

Bulgaria is divided into several folklore areas, differing in the nature of the songs, instruments and melodies. They usually coincide with the ranges of dialect groups. Several melodic dialects are outlined: Northern Bulgarian, Dobrudzha, Thracian, Shopski, Rhodope, Pirin, Srednogorski, without strictly defining the boundaries of their geographical distribution (Kaufman, 1970, 61 et seq.).

The North Bulgarian folklore region is the most difficult to describe due to the migratory movements to the Balkans and then from the Balkans to the north, the arrival of the Thracians, the presence of ancient ethnographic groups such as traps, herzoi in Razgrad, Targovishte and Ruse, Earls in the Middle Danube Plain, Shopski region in Northwestern Bulgaria, Torlak region in Belogradchik region, Sart region in Provadia region. In this folklore area are found uncharacteristic of the other pentatonic songs, ancient groups of wedding songs, harvest songs with original shouts and more. some features.

The migration also influenced the Dobrudzha folklore area. Here they met two styles - Thracian and Balkan. But there is also something typical of Dobrudzha - these are the instrumental melodies of reed, kaval, jura bagpipe, the famous Dobrudzha melodies hands, assemblages, handkerchief.

The Thracian folklore region is characterized by unanimous singing and richly ornamented slow songs, respectively slow people. The kaval is an irreplaceable companion of the Thracian peasant, followed by a bagpipe and less often a reed.

The Shopska (northwestern Bulgarian) folklore area has its own specific features. The humorous, witty and resourceful shop has created music that suits him. It is not as rich in emotions as the Rhodope song, but it touches with ingenuity and ingenuity. The two-part songs cover all genres here. The reed, the two-part tsafara and the drum are typical musical instruments. Until the end of the 19th century, the one-stringed harp (an ancient Slavic instrument) was also found here.

Магията на българската народна музика

In the Rhodope folklore region the folk song is best preserved. It sounds relentless, as in the past, everywhere in our country. The folk song here is closely connected with life and people. Nestled in the vast pine forests, the girls, gathered in a mezzanine, sit (create) songs in which they describe various events in life. Open throat singing, typical of most folklore areas, in the Rhodopes gives way to semi-closed, gentle tone formation. The lyrics here are short, 10-25 verses, and more can be heard only in epic songs. There are also Sedenkar, harvest songs and gurbet songs. Among the musical instruments typical of this folklore area are the kaba bagpipe, tambourine and kaval.

Магията на българската народна музика

The Pirin folklore area is characterized by its two-part style. The most popular are the harvest, sedenkar and round dance songs. The Thracian ornamented slow songs, found in the Rhodopes and Northern Bulgaria, are missing here. In musical instruments, the zurna speaks of Turkish influence. Musical instruments are in three main groups: wind, string and percussion. The wind instruments include: the kaval, the whistle, also referred to as the tsafara, duduk, dvoyanka, bagpipe, zurna and ocarina. String instruments include: a bow instrument, also referred to as a reed, also called a kemane, a kopanka or violin, and a trumpet instrument, also referred to as a tambourine, or bailama, bulgaria and saz. Percussion are: the drum, the tarabuka, the tambourine.

Author: Stefan Bonev

Sources: Hr. Vakarelski, "Ethnography of Bulgaria"

Biliana Popova, "Peculiarities in the development of the craft MUSICAL


247 views0 comments


bottom of page