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Unique and Beautiful Music

I have a great admiration for Bulgarian women's choirs. Granted, their sound is a somewhat acquired taste: They sing with a different, more nasal vocal technique than one hears in western classical music, and they use a different intonation and tuning system. From a purely technical standpoint, they routinely do things easily that western singers would generally find daunting: constant mixed meter, voices moving in consecutive seconds, amazingly elaborate ornamentation and rhythm.

But listen for awhile...and there's something in this music that hits you where you live. The Bulgarian women's folk music tradition grew out of the songs women sang while working in the fields, picking roses and rosehips (Bulgaria is the world's leading producer of rose water).

Bulgaria in ancient times was Thrace -- the home of the mythic Orpheus, whose music, it was said, could make stones weep. Their sounds echo the days when music was considered a means to shape character, to cause changes in the physical world, to cure -- or cause -- disease. Music had an almost occult power.

If you listen to this too long, be sure you have a hanky close by. You will likely shed a tear.

Here is the Bulgarian Women's National Radio Chorus on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson after their recording "Le Mystere de Voix Bulgares" won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Album. Aside from the two superb pieces they sing first (note the studio audience's reaction to them!), there's a surprise for Americans at the end of their appearance on the Carson show.

And here is a live performance in 2017 from KEXP in Seattle. Enjoy!

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Capacci Daniele
Capacci Daniele
May 11, 2023

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