The Bulgarian folk song „Излел е Дельо хайдутин” in Space (Voyager Golden Record)
I was very excited when I had a chance to attend the concert of the great Bulgarian folk singer Valya Balkanska who visited Toronto in March 2011. She performed at the Macedono-Bulgarian Easthern Orthodox church "St. St. Cyril and Methody" (237 Sackville str.) for Bulgaria's national day (below is a picture from the concert). The song "Izlel je Delyo Hajdutin" („Излел е Дельо хайдутин”) in her famous performance was included in the Voyager Golden Record, a diverse compilation of Earth music launched in Space in 1977.
Her singing was accompanied by gajda player Petar Yanev. Gaida (гайда - bagpipe made of sheepskin or goatskin) is a traditional musical instrument in Bulgaria, as well as many cultures in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East (the Scottish pagpipe being the most wel known in the Western world). When you add a female voice to the gaida - the result is powerful!
Listen to the Bulgarian song "Izlel je Delyo Hajdutin" from the Central Rhodope mountains, sung most famously by Valya Balkanska (Валя Балканска) and included in the Voyager Golden Record. The hero in the song, Delyo, was a Bulgarian rebel leader from the mountains in the late 1700s when the region was under the Ottoman empire. You can catch a glimpse of the majestic Rhodope mountains in the video for that song below.
The gaida in the performance is "kaba gaida" (каба гайда) - it is a bigger bagpipe and has a lower-pitched somewhat "haunting" unique sound. It comes from the Rhodope mountains in Southern Bulgaria at the border with Greece. The Rhodopes are considered to be the birthplace of the ancient poet and musician Orpheus from the Greek mythology.
Rhodopean songs are slow, sensual, the traditional female voices carrying over the vast distances of the mountain. Here is the same song "Izlel je Delyo Hajdutin" as it was performed beautifully again by a young woman named Nevena. She was the winner of the first season of the "Bulgarian Music Idol" edition in 2007.
The local mountain people ("rodopchani") like to say that the kaba gajda speaks from the soul of the mountains. Every four years at the end of August the green meadows of Rozhen (an area in the Rhodope montains) come alive with folk singing, dancing, gajda performances and thousands of people gathering during the Rozhen National Folk Fair (Rozhenski Sabor). More than a century ago, when Rozhenski Sabor (Роженски събор) was first held in 1898, the border between the newly independent Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire ran through the same area, and Bulgarians from neighbouring villages on both sides of the border would come together to connect through their songs and gajdi.
I attended the Rozhen folk fair in 2000 - we camped for two nights under the summer stars. Our hearts were deeply touched by the beauty of those mountains, its open-hearted people and their music born by hard times and rich spiritual life in the ethnically diverse Rhodopes. The next gathering at the Роженски събор will be this coming summer of 2011. So if you find yourself near those lands, look for the Rozhen meadows. The sound of gajdi will show you the way...
Here is an archival recording from the 1969 gathering at Rozhen folk fair - you can hear the famous "100 kaba gajdi" orchestra, in which the best gajda men from the entire region gather every time for the folk fair to play together in a performance that has become the symbol of Rozhen.
There are books and recordings of Bulgarian folk music at the "Performing Arts Centre" of the Toronto Reference Library, 5th floor. Toronto Reference Library also has a collection of books in Bulgarian language at the "Languages Centre", 5th floor. Some of the books can be browsed and borrowed and some are to be used at the library.
This is our second blog post, part of a series on the Voyager Golder Record that was launched into Space in 1977 onboard of the Voyager spacecraft. The astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan headed a team who selected images and sounds portraying the diverse life and culture on Earth, and here is the complete Voyager music list. Carl Sagan wrote the book "Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record" about the Voyager project.
The first musician we featured in this blog series was Blind Willie Johnson.
More posts are coming!