Tag Archives: България

Video

Ensemble “Trakia” 40th anniversary concert with Stela Petrova on bass

Last Sunday I had the privilege of attending a session with Stela Petrova, bassist at the Ensemble “Trakia”. Later, on that unforgettable day, I watched Ensemble “Trakia” on their 40th anniversary concert, at the Ancient roman Theatre, in the historical city of Plovdiv. I carefully chose my place at the first row to watch Stela playing up close. The ensemble is composed by dancers, a choir and an orchestra, where Stela plays the double bass, the only non-traditional instrument in the group. Stela’s role is exclusively to provide orchestral support and probably the only element which will never take a solo spot in any presentation, yet Stela provides the bottom end during the whole performance which totally drives the whole show, essential for the rhythm section, and consequently setting the pace for the extraordinary dancers to perform intricate choreographies, defining harmony for the choir and orchestra, and allowing soloists to shine.

Hopefully, the footage I have gathered will show, despite of the audio quality of my recording, the often disregarded role of the double-bass in a Bulgarian folk ensemble, which is in reality vital. Stela also told me that many of the songs, by the great composer Stefan Mutafchiev, do not have bass scores originally, so Stela actually composed many basslines, for Stefan Mutafchiev gave the freedom for the bass player to develop them. Stela also has shown me different versions of songs, where she was playing different basslines of the same song, such as “Oi, Shope, Shope” which closes the first part of the footage.

The second part ends with the great finale, where many of the 4ooo attendants join the ensemble to dance onstage, bringing the celebration to a spectacular apotheosis.

Although I opted to film mostly Stela and his orchestra mates, the show is much more a dance and vocal show for the majority of the audience, so I add below and excerpt from the show, as broadcasted live by the Bulgarian National Television and I encourage you to look for more audience recordings of this and other shows of Ensemble “Trakia” to complement your perspective of the beautiful show of colour and movement provided by one of the most relevant artistic institutions of Bulgaria.

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Video

Bulgarian Bass session with Stela Petrova

A session in Bulgarian Music with bass star Stela Petrova. During this two-hour session, Stela taught me how to play 3 songs. One, in a very tricky (for me) form of 9/8, from her band Diva Reka, is named “Happy Nine” and composed by one of the great kaval (Bulgarian flute) players of Bulgaria, band mate Kostadin Genchev. Two others, in 7/8, from the highly prestiged Ensemble Trakia, by great Bulgarian Composer Stefan Mutafchiev. Later, Stela would kindly demonstrate on video excerpts of “Happy Nine” and “Oi, Shope, Shope”. Hoping one day I will make my own versions of these and more wonderful Bulgarian Music.

Here’s Stela with Diva Reka playing “Vesela Devyatka” (Happy Nine)

As for  “Oi, Shope, Shope”, Stela pointed out that the actual meter is 13/16, but it’s simplified to 7/8 for music sheet, meaning that the actual duration of the first and last beats are not exactly equal, as in 7/8 (2+2+1+2).

Here’s the Trakia Ensemble orchestra and choir, performing “Oi, Shope, Shope”, joined by the “Cosmic Voices” choir.

Video

Bulgarian Folk Music session with Angel Dobrev and Petar Milanov

Dear Friends, I am again now in Bulgaria, for a second year of learning more about the wonderful Bulgarian traditional music. Last year I started to learn Gadulka, the Bulgarian fiddle, with Professor Angel Dobrev, Gadulka extraordinaire of the Folk Orchestra of Bulgarian National Radio and Gadulka luthier, who made my own gadulka.

The gadulka standard tuning is A E A , but besides the 3 main strings there are 11 resonant strings with the chromatic scale (except A, maybe because there’s already two As) which makes the gadulka sound so unique.

On this very special session, I had the immense pleasure of playing with one of my favourite musicians – Petar Milanov, guitarrist of the National Ensemble Filip Kutev Ensemble.

I was given the role of playing the main melody, a Daychovo Horo – a dance in 9/8 meter, while Angel and Petar provided harmony, which was totally improvised over the melody. We recorded two takes, meaning two completely different arrangements.

I believe that you will like the richness of Bulgarian Folk Music, and hopefully this will catch your interest to discover more of it. There is a lot to choose from, from melody, harmony, to time signatures and the virtuosity of the players, singers and choirs. Not forgetting the uniqueness of the Bulgarian instruments such as the Tambura, Kaval, Gaida and, of course, Gadulka.

I think in general Bulgarian folk has many elements that can attract Yesfans!

Video

20th International Folk Festival Plovdiv 2014

Here’s some more footage from last summer in Bulgaria last summer. This time we are in the Trakia region, city of Plovdiv, where the 20th International Folklore Festival took place. The afternoon was very hot and this was the last day of the festival. There were folk groups from Bulgaria and also from other countries. The second video is the evening show, in the Roman amphitheatre  in the historical centre of Plovdiv.

The stars of both shows were the home formation, the Trakia Ensemble. Established in 1974 by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, this is one of the most highly reputed Folk formations of the country in traditional music and choreography. Musically, its orchestra and choir have been directed by distinguished composers/conductors such as Stefan Mutafchiev, Lyuben Dosev and Dimitar Hristov, among many others.

If you do recognize the groups of artists or the songs here performed, please write me so I can add this information to the video annotations.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the images!

Video

Pirin Sings

Continuing to present my video recordings from Bulgaria last summer, we travel to the southeast, to the Pirin mountains. The festival “Pirin Sings” was one of the highlights from my stay in Bulgaria. You will see the atmosphere of this festival: performances, rehearsals and surroundings – all in a beautiful scenery of Predel, Razlog. The main purpose of this festival is to preserve the authenticity of the artistic traditions of this region of Bulgaria.

If you do recognize the groups of artists or the songs here performed, please write me so I can add this information to the video annotations.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the images!

Video

1st International Festival for Bulgarian Immigrants – Stara Zagora

Some videos that I made during this summer’s visit to Bulgaria. This is a festival organized for Bulgarian folk groups living abroad. It was a hot day in Malka Vereya, next to Stara Zagora and the different groups and artists performed all day long. As you can see, the public constantly joined the show for the dances. If you are familiar with Bulgarian folklore and you know some information about the songs and artists here shown, please let me know so I can add the information here.

Video

Practice Versus Perfect

This is an original song I made over the last weeks that I would like to share with you. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for sticking around! Miguel

The idea started while trying to make another (yet unfinished) song. I thought it was getting too complicated and took on some accidental playing on my guitar. I found the riff ok and thought it could be the base for something simpler where I could work out an arrangement with all instruments, as to prepare myself for finishing the first song.
Anyway ideas started flowing and it ended up a bit more extended than I initially wanted. The basslines (intro and pre and post solo) were made up a bit after, while I was having fun experimenting with a demo of the Ampeg SVX plugin.

Then the drums – I wanted to find something that would make it sound simple (in spite of having to deal with some odd meter – a blend of 7/8 with 4/4) – and anyway, something I would be able to play by myself. Then the middle sections came about while I was inspired to write some lyrics.

The choral section is a four-part harmony (2 tracks for each voice) that starts – intentionally – very “Bulgarian” and ends up a bit more CS&N (that’s a nice combination :) as to make a passage to the acoustic guitar section and the main poem that I wrote with my dad’s old Ramirez – still sounds incredible. Some more arrangements were made by then, especially the double-bass parts.

Finally the second harmony part, probably the most difficult bit, because my idea was to link to the finale that was already made. Again a four-part harmony but a different one, that finally melts with the kind of repetitions towards the end. The bass solo was the last thing to be thought of.

Well that’s part of my memory description for this song. Most important is that it’s ready now and I can present it to you!
Thanks for watching!

Miguel

Video

Koprivshtica 2010

(i) “Koprivshtica sings!” . I would like to share with you some of my wonderful experience at the Koprivshtica festival in Bulgaria.

With the few pictures and video clips I was able to record, I hope you will taste a bit of the atmosphere of this unique event, celebrated only every 5 years, and to enjoy the music, dances and colours…

(ii) One of the highlights of this segment is an off-stage performance by a choir that was leaving after their act on the regular program (see part one). As they were leaving, they heard the song that was at the moment being sung at the nearby stage and they naturally sang along, just as naturally as anyone breathes – this is their life, after all.

The last section is the evening at the centre of the village, with the Horo dances, at one of the restaurants.

(iii) The program was arranged so that on each stage would perform groups from each folkloric zone of Bulgaria. I can’t remember all right now, so any of you Bulgarian friends watching this… I would like to add some information on the comments… thank you! :)

(iv) Two more ensembles in Koprivshtica, including the famous “Ku-ku”

(v) This section focuses on the Horo dances and I try to figure out some of the odd-time signatures used. The images become a bit dark but the music never has been so spectacular!

(vi) Last bits recorded at Koprivshtica 2010. Hope you like it!

Pilence sings on “Voxbulgarica”

My latest clip appears on Voxbulgarica – this site, beautifully re-designed, is a must-see for those interested in Bulgarian Music, including sheet music and recordings on their catalog, covering many styles of Bulgarian Music.
I am delighted with the mention of my work on such a prestigious website. Thank you very much, Voxbulgarica – Много благодаря!

Video

Le Mystére des Voix Bulgares – Пиленце пее (Pilence Pee) [arr. Miguel Falcão’s “BEBE”]

Pilence Pee (Пиленце пее) is my latest musical adventure. This song features a traditional Bulgarian choir arrangement, adapted by me to an ensemble of bass instruments.

Sometimes an idea is just an idea… the idea of making this arrangement has been haunting me for the last 8 months and for 8 whole months I worked on it. This is the second effort of my BEBE, following the test experience of “Svatba”. My dear channel viewers sent me an incredible loving feedback by then, including some very own native Bulgarian friends. I thank you all for your encouragement and I really hope that this time it will please you too.

Having in mind, once again, that the Bulgarian female choir voices *are* irreplaceable, I tried again to absorb the inspiration of those wondrous sounds and, somehow, to speak my soul through my playing.

The original BEBE concept had to be extended. To achieve the expression of the sustained pairs of voices, I used effects on some basses, namely, the Malekko b:assmaster (second appearence after “Amazing Grace“) and a Sansamp TRI O.D.. My BEBE (Bulgarian Electric Bass Ensemble) had a very special non “electric” guest – one of my doublebasses had an important contribution for the final texture of the sound. BEBE’s veteran members Rickenbacker 4001CS and Fender VI also welcomed the Zon Sonus 8-string and the Warwick Thumb Bass.

The notes were taken all by ear and, later, checked with the help of a friend of mine. Then many changes were (as in Svatba) made, as to adapt the song to my own taste and style of playing, hopefully without spoiling it too much. On the outro I did take some more freedom, harmonically, and in general drifted away from the original Krassimir Kiurktchiiski’s arrangement.

Pilence Pee (sounds like “Pilentse Peh”) is a Bulgarian folk song and it means something like “Little bird sings”. I just know a little Bulgarian and I searched for the meaning of this song, with the generous contribution of some friends. For 20 years, since I heard this song released on the album by 4AD, I sang it without understanding a word, just sounds. But, having understood the lyrics this year, I honestly had the sensation that I already had got the message. The message is beautifully composed and yet extremely tragic. And if there is a sign of hope for the years to come, the beauty of the Bulgarian Music that blossomed from its people, in spite of five centuries of slavery couldn’t be a better example. Love now – because it may be too late and you will regret it. Hear what the little bird speaks.

Voice order
high (main):Rickenbacker 4001CS + b:assmaster
high (pedal):Warwick ThumBass + TRI-O.D.
mid (main & pedal):Fender VI and doublebass
low (main):Rickenbacker 4001CS + b:assmaster
low (pedal): Zon Sonus 8