Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Quote & Music of the day -- 2/8/05

"All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships." -- George Bernard Shaw

Ear Candy:
Bulgarian Wedding Music

Let me start off by stating what Bulgarian Wedding Music is not:

It is not just a collection of sappy songs you'd hear at a wedding.
It is not a traditional art form that has remained unchanged for generations.
It is not your grandparents' wedding music.

Bulgarian Wedding Music is a genre that is relatively new, despite the fact that it is influenced by traditional Balkan music. It is the result of some creative and daring musicians who yearned to modernize the music of their culture by incorporating elements of different musical categories in order to create a lively and liberating concoction that would attract younger ears.

Since this music was developed in the late '70s and the '80s, it was the subject of political oppression, as the communists in charge were only interested in preserving traditional musical forms and sought to harass and arrest musicians engaging in dissident art. Jazz and rock music were also prohibited, making this new Bulgarian style even more objectionable to the authorities since jazz and rock elements existed in the music of people like Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov. To learn more about what these musicians faced, here is an interview with Yuri Yunakov.

I first came across this form of music a few months ago when I downloaded some live recordings that were broadcast on European radio stations back in the early '90s. The music was of Ivo Papasov's Bulgarian Wedding Band, and the description that accompanied the download intriqued me, since it mentioned the fusion of traditional Balkan and gypsy music with elements of jazz, funk and rock, along with a little bit of Arabic music (unfortunately, the download is no longer available). Another genre that comes to mind is klezmer, although it has a far more diversified sound, and also contains some wild and unique time signatures that you won't find in klezmer, or practically any other type of music. The odd time signatures really stand out, making Bulgarian wedding music extremely upbeat and racy, sort of like gypsy jazz fusion on speed. It's not surprising to me that another legendary creative mind, Frank Zappa (who's work was often bootlegged and smuggled into Communist countries, much to the delight of dissident musical buffs), had this to say about the music of Ivo Papasov:
"Ivo's album of wedding music played first thing in the morning, provides thorough and long lasting attitude adjustment for the busy executive."

In case any of you daring souls out there wish to sample some of this music, here is a link to a page on CDBaby.com for an album titled "Thracian Rhapsody; The New Wedding Music Of Bulgaria Vol. 1". If you do Amazon searches for Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov, you can also hear samples of the albums they have available.


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