ulgaria is a European country situated in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula / South-Eastern Europe/. The state was founded in the end of VIIth century and included three main groups of tribes - thrako-iliri (the oldest one), proto-Bulgarians and Slavs, who came from Northwest. Gradually folk music that carries the characteristics of these three groups was formed. This is the reason for the variety of folk songs and instrumental melodies.
Every region in Bulgaria has its own folk music. These are the folk music regions - Thrace, Pirin, Shopluk, Rhodopies and North Bulgaria. Even today village people sing olden folk songs about the peasant’s labour; ritual songs - for wedding, carols, Eastern songs, old Lazar’s songs and many others. Bulgarians use to play the ancient folk instruments - strings: rebec, pandore; wind: kaval, wooden pipe, shepherd’s pipe; percussions - drums and others.
It is particularly typical for Bulgarian music having a tremendous fund of songs and instrumental melodies constructed in asymmetric measures - from 5/16 till 8/16 in hundreds of varieties and combinations. Bulgarian musicians are the first who find these measures and present them into the theory of the world music in the beginning of XXth century. Bella Bartok, the famous Hungarian musicologist and composer, called them "Bulgarian measures" in 1929.

"Gadulka-Player", Ivan Milev,
1924, water-colour, 52X64,
National Art Gallery
Bulgarians are born and die with music. Special songs are sung when a child is born; at wedding - a number of songs for different moments of the ceremony, that lasts for several days; and when he dies - they weep him over with special funeral laments till the 40th day of his death.
Dance-songs and instrumental music are particularly rich in asymmetric measures. Melodies accompanying dances are full with dynamics and strength. Bulgarians play dances at every time - they start dancing in the afternoon and continue till midnight or sometimes even till next morning. In the field, at harvest time, women use to sing wondrous songs, connected with hard labour. Beautiful rich ornamented melody floats over the field and delights the harvesters. When sitting at the table, men prove themselves, singing epic, historic, novels songs, accompanied by rebec. Such a song sometimes lasts for 3 or 4 hours like Omyr’s "Iliad" or "Odyssey". In the biggest part of the country songs are constructed in one voice but in South -Western part they are in two voices. This kind of singing carries an old -time sound, there is heavenly beauty in shapr sound combinations that bring us in Orpheus’ times...
For everyone who wants to feel the strength of Bulgarian music and songs, to delights the folk dances of these ancient people, it is enough to visit National folk fair in the old Koprivshtitza town. 20 000 folk players, dancers, singers show their arts there, retell legends, show folk traditions and rituals from the whole country. Three days and three nights the fields around are sounded by old en Bulgarian music. The audience - several hundred thousands people - enjoy playing, dancing, singing together with performers, who carry the folk costumes from Trace, Pirin, Rhodopies, North Bulgaria and all other regions

opulation around Bulgarian capital Sofia in a wide perimeter - the whole Central Western Bulgaria - carries proudly its name - "shops". They are famous with their sense of humour, with their rough temper, skepticism and suspiciousness as well as with their unique folk music, song and dance. It looks like out of spite their music is also completely different from those ones in closer or remote folk regions. Bulgarian nation was formed in the second half of VIIth century by three main groups of tribes - thrako-iliri (the oldest one), proto-Buulgarians and Slavs who came from Northwest. They formed the new Bulgarian people it looks as if the "shops" didn’t agree that as well and they remained as some "forth" group...

"Harvester from Shishkovtsi Village",
Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master,
75X65, National Art Gallery
Women’s shops’ songs are incredibly poetic and full of lyrics. They are absolutely contrast with the rough shops’ character, with strong "dissonant" two-parts singing that singers perform their old ritual, labour, dance, tragic and joyful folk songs with. Women use to sing their two-part songs in two groups - the first group begins, the second one finishes and they continue in that way until the whole text is over. One singer in the group sings the first part - she "leads", another two or three or more sing the second part they " trail". The second part "fights" constantly the first one - it always seeks for the sharp interval "second" for receiving more intensive sound.
Men do not sing in two voices. They sing one-part melodies, famous old Bulgarian epic songs about stories from the history of people, about legend heroes - fighters against five hundred Turkish yoke - Krali Marko, Momchil the leader etc.These songs have very large texts - 400 -500 verses and usually their performance lasts for several hours. They sing these songs at the table when listeners have the time and the mood to listen. Usually these epic songs are accompanied by rebec.
Shops’ folk dances also don’t have an equivalent. These are the most brisk, temperament and dizzy dances that could be seen in the whole Balkan Peninsula.

"Village Horo from Samokov
Region", Nikola Obrazopisov,
1892, oil, 68X88,
National Art Gallery
They start in slow tempo. Little by little the tempo grows up and soon it reaches the maximum of rapidity and frequency of steps. Dancers cry out "Hold on, Earth, shop is treading on you" ... and it seems as if they fly out.
If one wants to understand the music accompanying these primary dances he would be not only well-trained theoretic musician but a mathematician as well because these are asymmetric measures from 5/16, 7/16, 11/16, 13/16 till 1/16 - incredible treasure and music wit! The shops around Sofia sing an old song of theirs that says - "There is nothing high but Vitosha". Vitosha is the mountain of Sofia and the Shops around. That is their "humble" self-evaluation - there is no more clever, better, more beautiful and talented people but them.

The folk music of Western Bulgaria includes the whole theme diversity of Bulgarian folk songs. This is the area situated between the Balkan and the Pirin Mountains, reaching Yugoslavia in the west and bordering on the Thracian folklore area in the east.
As regards to their desposition, temper, dialect and to a large extent customs the Shope people, who inhabit the area, differ considerably from the Thracians. Their musical folklore diverges from the folklore of the other neighbouring areas too. The hot-tempered, facetious and resourceful Shope people have created a folk music, which corresponds to these qualities. Particularly specific for the area is the two-part style of singing with the unique parallel second.
As if singers attempt to obtain second even when they could avoid them - the second, which is the lower voice follows the basic melody, which is of a narrow tone range. The two-part Shope songs have a interesting sounding, somehow sharp and even piercing. These songs embody almost all genres - old working-bees, table songs and especially the harvest songs which could be one or two-part. The one-part songs are more varied, often with high exclamations in the end of the melody. The frugality in the two-part style seems to be compensated in the other type of songs - the recitative ones. They are one-part, unrestricted, starting with a richly embellished exclamation, to get the listener ready, followed by descending of the tone. The song usually finishes with exclamations similar to those at the beginning. In this stereotyped melody hundreds of old-time heroic and historical songs are sung, called by the people "Krali Marco's" or "matchmaking" songs. Most of the two-part songs are the local harvest solo songs, which are performed antiphonally with overtapping. Now you will hear the song "Oi, Shope, Shope"
The local two-part songs are performed solely by women, who sing loudly and openly. It is very specific for the one-part songs, as well as for the two-part harvest songs to be performed in a typical "feverish" manner, which is attained by abrupt changes of the tone. Here we can find old-time monorhythmic horo songs in 2/4 beat. In the Shope folklore area the irregular beats are used in songs of different kind. The further east we move towards Pazardjik, Ihtiman and the Sredna Gora region, the greater their variety becomes. The interesting 10/16 beat, a modification of the 11/16 beat, is present in an old local horo danced here. There is also found the oriental combination 7/16 + 11/16 in the traditional Shope horos "Sedi Donka na Djukenche" and "Jova's" song.
A distinguish feature of the Shope dances is the movement known under the name natrisane (quivering of the body upwards of the waist and especially of the shoulders) as well as the sharpness, with which they are performed. The basic movements are small and concentrated in the legs, while the actual movements are high, wide and with the other parts of the body taking part in them. The Shope people dance highly, lively, as if they don't touch the ground. Men's dances often are accompanied by vigorous exclamations "ha-a-a", "i-i-i" or by growling or speaking, which emphasize some difficult dance combination. Wide spread are the chain horos and the horos with the arm hold na lesa. The Shope dances are based on the greatest variety of complex rhythms: "Small-stepped Men's Horo" in 2/4 beat, "Chetvorno" in 7/16 beat, "Jove" in 7/16 + 11/16 beat, "Lile, Lile" in 9/16 beat, "Dilmano, Dilbero" in 8/16 beat and others.
Very popular instruments in the Shope folklore area are the wooden pipe, rebec, bagpipe and shepherd's pipe. The two-part instruments are predominant, which accompany two-part as well as one-part and horo songs

01. Sofia
02. North folklore district
03. Dobrudja
04. Thracian folklore district
05. Pirin
06. Rhodopes