Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Interview at Yes Music Podcast 5th anniversary

Last week I had the honour of featuring in one of Kevin Mulryne’s interviews celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Yes Music Podcast. Some topics discussed were my interest in Bulgarian Folklore Music, start of my online bass lessons project and, of course, Yes Music and Chris Squire.

YMP 5th Anniversary – Part 2 with Miguel Falcão – 246

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Bulgarian summer report 2016

A little bit late but I’d like to report another year of great musical moments in Bulgaria this summer!

I should start by mentioning my gadulka lessons, with my dear teacher, Dr. Angel Dobrev, of the Bulgarian National Radio Folklore Orchestra, who this year introduced me to new challenges in Bulgarian music. Here is a little from our lessons where we play two types of 7/8 meter. The Rachenitsa and the Dospatsko Horo.

I also attended the recording of a TV show with the group “Arta”, including top Bulgarian musicians such as Kostadin Genchev (kaval), Hristina Beleva (gadulka), Petar Milanov (in a mix of tambura with guitar that himself has constructed), Ivan Tsonkov (tapan) and Petyo Kostadinov (bagpipe).

Then I went to Plovdiv, to see Ensemble Trakia, one of my favourite Bulgarian acts, which features Stela Petrova on bass, who last year provided me a great masterclass on doublebass applied to Bulgarian folk. I was delighted to see them on soundcheck, performance and even next day at work, rehearsing.

I also got in touch with Ensemble Trakia’s soloist Darina Slavcheva Slavova, who despite her young age, is a multi awarded singer, teacher and producer. I learned Darina released her book, a research work of Thracian melodies from Bulgaria and Greece, carefully documented not only with technical details as scales, meter and ornaments but also the context in which each melody was used. Although it’s written in Bulgarian, the universal language of music makes this work appealing for foreigners who wish to learn more about Bulgarian folklore and shows how this art is so seriously handled as to be kept at the highest standards. Here is Darina in a breathtaking performance, joined by the beautiful kaval of Temelko Ivanov.

Still in the Trakia region, I attended a show by the Young Thracians orchestra (Mladi Trakiytsi) – a genre usually classified in the west as Bulgarian wedding music. Their lead singer Vania Valkova, one of the top singers in Bulgaria, kindly informed me of this show which I could not miss. The orchestra played with 3 singers, drums, bass synth (very common in wedding groups), clarinet, kaval (traditional flute), accordion and saxophone. The rhythm section was so tight playing the whole night that gave me the impression to be a single unit and the gentleman behind the kit is one of the best drummers I ever saw. I encourage you to look for other videos of this orchestra, with better quality than these, and you will certainly agree with me!

Well, this post is getting rather long, but I would just like to sincerely express my gratitude to all of those who welcomed me to Bulgaria this year. Especially for my dear hosts Nina Koleva and Tihomir Kolev and family, Stela Petrova and Radostin Rusev, Dimcho Enchev, Dimitar Arnaudov, Darina Slavcheva Slavova and all the members of Ensemble Trakia, Vania Valkova, Temelko Ivanov, Petar Milanov, Boryana Vasileva, and my dear teacher Angel Dobrev. Thank you for taking care of me and I hope to see you all soon!

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Interview at Bulgarian National Television

This morning I was interviewed by Bulgarian National Television about my interest for Bulgarian Folklore, along with my Gadulka teacher Angel Dobrev.

bntWe played a duet consisting of a study in the format Paydushko Horo, a traditional Bulgarian dance in 5/8.

You can watch the video at http://bnt.bg/part-of-show/migel-falkao-portugaletsa-t-kojto-sviri-na-ga-dulka

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!