Tag Archives: double-bass

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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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Basso3 – double-bass trio

For over a year I’m teaming up with fellow bass players Alvaro Rosso and José Miguel Pereira in a double-bass trio format – Basso3 (facebook page)

Since around 2009 I have started to experiment with other musicians from the improvisation field, in particular participating on the MIA encounters and more recently at the MEIA festival in Aveiro. It was precisely on the opening edition of this event that the concert now registered in the shape of an album took place, in a brilliant effort by the Pássaro Vago label.

The album is on free streaming but the CD may also be purchased at Pássaro Vago’s bancamp page.

I hope these new sounds will capture your imagination!

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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.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Last month, the collective “P.R.E.C” presented a live soundtrack performance for the film “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The music was totally improvised. If you are interested in these forms of sonic expression, you can access the recorded performance by downloading the file or listening in streaming.

Personally, I find this kind of music very rewarding to perform. There are no predefined rules whatsoever and all we can count on is the sensibility and communication of each musician. It doesn’t always necessarily work well, or does it correspond to our expectations or desires – like life itself – It’s many times a mirror of each one’s personality or state of mind, in this case, stimulated by the suggestions of a moving picture. That’s the challenge that I find interesting.

Paulo Chagas – flute, saxophone
Fernando Simões – trombone
Paulo Duarte – electric guitar
Fernando Guiomar – acoustic guitar
Miguel Falcão – double-bass

MIA 2013

In the last month of may, I attended for the fourth time the improvised music encounter MIA 2013.

This was again a very rewarding experience, having the opportunity to be close and to play with a different kind of musicians with various musical backgrounds but united to explore and discuss improvisation and music.

MIA 2012

Last June, I had the honour of participating on the Improvised Music Festival MIA, in Atouguia da Baleia. This was the 3rd edition.

For those who are interested to know more about this festival, I leave here some links:

http://mia-festival.blogspot.pt/

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Poetry and Musical Improvisation

“A Cena do Ódio” (The Scene of Hatred), written by Almada Negreiros, gave birth to a meeting between improvised music and declamation, in the beautiful city of Peniche.
The text was divided in several sections which provided some guidelines for improvisation. It was a great pleasure for me to be part of this project – PREC (Projecto Ressonante Experimental Criativo)- which stands for (something like) Creative Experimental Resonant Project.

This concert also served as a promotion of the upcoming MIA 2011 (improvised music encounters) in the nearby village of Atouguia da Baleia, a festival that I had the honour of participating in its first edition, last year, having then posted some videos from it here and here.

Thank you to all these wonderful friend-musicians who invited me for this performance:

Paulo Ramos: declamation
Paulo Chagas: flute, oboe and alto sax
Fernando Simões: trombone
Paulo Duarte: guitar
João Pedro Viegas: clarinet and bass clarinet

Excerpt from the show:

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More from MIA 2010

Two more sessions where I played at the MIA 2010 festival of free improvisation music.

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MIA 2010 – Free improvising session

Over the last weekend I had the privilege to attend the first edition of the free improvisation encounter at the town of Atouguia da Baleia – MIA 2010.
The format of this festival consisted in making a draw of trios and quartets among all musicians which would improvise together. It was my first experience with this sort of events and I really enjoyed it. A different way of expression, a musical conversation where you learn to listen to others. This clip is the very first session and my name was on that first lot. On I went…

I believe this is the second session that I played. Experimenting with some unusual bow technique :))

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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