The music of Bulgaria is part of the Balkans tradition, which expands across South Eastern Europe and is very distinct in its sound.
Bulgarian music uses a vast range of different instruments, and some of the folk instruments are versions of traditional Asian instruments, for example the “Saz” (Bulgarian Tambura).
Modern instruments are used in the more modern dance music, which is a mix up of the traditional village music.
The folk instruments that Bulgarian bands use most commonly are:
The Gaida (which is a Goat skin bagpipe), there are two versions of the Gaida, The Thracian, which is tuned in a D or A note, and the Rhodopi, which is larger and has a deeper tuning, in a F note.
The Kaval (which is an end blown flute)
The Gadulka (which is a bowed string instrument); this is played vertically and has melody and sympathetic strings.
The Tupan (which is a large frame drum), this is worn over the shoulder and hit on one side with a beater, and with a thin stick on the other side.
The Tambura (which is a long necked metal strung lute), this is played as a Rhythmic accompany or as a melodic solo.
The Tarabuka (which is an hourglass shaped drum).
An orchestra in a Bulgarian mehana, with, from left to right, musicians playing the tapan, accordion, kaval and gadulka.
Other modern and frequently used instruments in Bulgarian Weddings include:
Folk music is the regional style of popular music and it is very distinct in sound. It is unique for it´s asymmetrical rhythms. The musical time frame is not split into even beats like most music, but into long and short parts.
Folk music is an important part of Bulgarian holidays like Christmas, New Years Day, Midsummer, The feast of St. Lazarus and the Strandzha regions Nestinarstvo rites. In this ceremony the villagers dance on hot coal for the feast of Saints Kohstantin and Elena on the 21st May. In 1965 the ministry of culture created the Koprivshitsa National Music Festival and this has become an important part of the Bulgarian music scene, it is held once ever five years and consists of Bulgarian music, singing and dancing. The latest event was in August 2010.
Bulgarian folk group Svetlina.
Singing is a large part of Bulgarian music and it has always been a tradition for Men and Women. Bulgarian singers focus their voices to give a distinctive “edge” and to carry over long distance, this has lead to the labeling of Bulgarian vocals to be “open-throated”.
Women often sing at work parties, a notable example song is the Sedenka, which was attended by younger men and women looking for a partner. Young women also have a great range of songs they sing in the fields, and young women who were eligible to be married, play a great part in the singing and dancing in the Village square, this is also a great social event.
The most important state supported Orchestra is the Sofia based state ensemble for folk songs and dances, which was led by Philip Koutev, who has become one of the most influential musicians of Bulgaria.
In 1951, Koutev founded the group “Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir”, also known as “Le Mystere des voix Bulgares”, who became famous world wide and brought great attention and international success to Bulgarian traditional music. They have topped world music charts with their many recordings. This choir, and others gained popularity because of their unique rhythms, harmony and polyphony.
Church singing is also a popular tradition in Bulgaria and is more than a thousand years old, it can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. Yoan Kukuzel is one of the earliest known musical figures, he was a Composer, Singer and musical reformer, and was known as the “Angel-Voiced” for his singing abilities.
There are two types of traditional church singing in Bulgarian Orthodox churches, the Eastern monodic (one voice) singing and Choral (polyphonic) singing. Orthodox music is still very much alive in Bulgaria, it is still performed in church services as worship, and at concerts arranged by secular choirs and soloists.
Here is a list of Popular Bulgarian Musicians across all genres of music:
Elitsa Todorova (Eurovision Song Contest 5th)
Mary Boys Band
Stoyan Yankulov (Eurovision Song Contest 5th)
Rock and Metal:
Bai Vute – actual name Georgy Vutov
Barabi Blues Band
Brothers In Blood
FSB(formatsia studio balkanton)
The Revenge Project
Not Broken In Spirit
Poduene Blues Band
Voice of Glass
Zayo Bayo Gives Me The Creeps
Root Souljah – roots reggae pioneers in Bulgaria
Samity – Dub Master
Horata na Izgreva (The Sunrise People)
Rumaneca & Enchev
Simeon Venkov – Moni
Veselin Veselinov – Eko
Bulgarka Junior Quartet
Georgi Yanev and Orpheus Orchestra
Ivo Papasov and His Wedding Band
Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra
Ari Leschnikoff – actual name Asparuh Leschnikoff
Yoan Kukuzel Choir
Sofia Boys´ Choir
Sofia Orthodox Choir
Sofia Priest Choir
St. Alexandar Nevsky Cathedral Choir
“Madrigal” Chamber Choir
opera singer Boris Hristov
opera singer Nikola Ghuzelev
Deep Zone Project