Traditional Bulgarian music

Typical small groupings of Bulgarian instruments for the major regions are:

  • Pirin – Two zurna and tapan, or tamburas and tarabulka
  • Shop and Thrace – gadulka, gaida, kaval
  • Rhodope – kaba gaida
  • Dobrudzha – button accordion, gaida, gadulka

Clarinet, saxophone, accordion, bass and violin have been added since the 1950s, but are played in a style true to traditional instruments. Shop and northern style has a crisp, sharp sound in contrast with the Thracian style of smooth melodies with many trills, or the heavier music from Dobrudzha. Modern arrangements use ‘disco’ and ‘rock’ backing to the traditional melody, however the most popular that is also now used for ‘traditional’ dancing is the ‘urban’ developed further using jazz harmonies with electronic and traditional instruments playing in Bulgarian style.

Following the two world wars, Bulgarians returning from military service have taken to playing the dance melodies in brass bands. These are particularly popular in the north.

Published on 14th June 2018