Tag Archives: vocal harmonies

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.

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

Tokushima Children Choir

It’s unusual that I post on my channel clips from other performers but this footage from a show that I attended was one of the most fascinating musical experiences that I witnessed. This is the children’s choir of Tokushima, Japan. I love choirs and vocal harmonies and this brilliant performance really touched me. I am also posting this clip, hoping that some of my dear viewers would help me to find more music from this fantastic group. This choir came to Portugal to celebrate almost half a century of the relationship between Japan and Portugal. I learned from this show that it was also our ancestors who transmitted many of the European musical traditions to Japan for the first time. I hope that you enjoy this excerpt of the show and, especially for our Japanese friends, that you could send me more information about this beautiful musical group. Thank you!

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

Merry Christmas!

This is my Christmas video – Silent Night / Night of Silence, where I perform all instruments and vocals. Wish you a Merry Christmas!

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

Video

Le Mystére des Voix Bulgares – Сватба (Svatba) [arr. Miguel Falcão’s “BEBE”]

This idea was inspired by the magnificent music of the Bulgarian female choirs, better known as “Le Mystére des Voix Bulgares”, conceived by the great Filip Kutev. This Music is part of me since I long ago came across its 1st vinyl, released by 4AD. Only some years back I had the great priveledge of witnessing two great performances by The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir, directed by Prof. Dr. Dora Hristova. Needless to say, it was a dream come true. My little tribute’s idea is simple but not necessary successful – To recreate the choir format, such as the voices correspond to bass guitar timbres. Each of the 4 voices was attributed to one specific bass, and played twice to create the ensemble effect. Eventually each voice plays a slightly different line, usually intervals of a second, very specific of these arrangements. A tough task – to transcribe the piece by ear, adapt it to the playability of the basses, trying to mantain the dynamics of the piece, and produce it, so all the low frequences don’t colide too much and each “voice” can be heard. 10 tracks vere recorded and 2 to 6 vocal lines can be (hopefully) heard. No effects were used, to preserve each instruments own “voice”. And then producing the video. I invite you to discover this unique Music, checking my favourites section. This is only a mere recreation, done by heart and it’s galaxies away from the Real Thing. One of my favourite songs is “Svatba” (Wedding) – a Bolyar wedding celebration coming from far away. So, without further delays, I present you: the Rickenbacker 4001, the fret-ripped j-bass copy, and the Fender VI – I name it, with all due respect, the Bulgarian Electric Bass Ensemble, or simply, “BEBE”.