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(Schott ED 12886)

Eighty Traditional Piece for Violin
by Pete Cooper

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Tunes: more information:

In order to present in a short book, as many tunes as possible from the Eastern European fiddle tradition, source notes are presented in the book in a skeletal form. Detailed notes on CD tracks (1 to 52) and individual tunes (1 to 80) are available below.

Click Track:

             1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
            16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
            31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
            46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Click Click here for notes to tune. next to title:

Click here for notes to tune. 26 Alan Bern’s Freylekhs
Click here for notes to tune. 18 Arkan
Click here for notes to tune. 24 Avram Bughici’s Freylekhs
Click here for notes to tune. 14 Bandura Waltz
Click here for notes to tune. 72 Bavno Pomashko
Click here for notes to tune. 19 Bessarabian Wedding Dance
Click here for notes to tune. 40 Csárdás from Szatmár County
Click here for notes to tune. 57 58 & 59 Dance Tunes from Bihor 1
Click here for notes to tune. 29 Der Gasn Nigunm
Click here for notes to tune. 13 Do Zbójnickiego
Click here for notes to tune. 16 Dumka
Click here for notes to tune. 41 Fast Dance
Click here for notes to tune. 52 Funeral Music
Click here for notes to tune. 60 Geamparale
Click here for notes to tune. 51 Hajnali
Click here for notes to tune. 63 Hora ca
Click here for notes to tune. 65 Hora Femeilor
Click here for notes to tune. 30 Hora from Karaptshiv
Click here for notes to tune. 62 Hora n’doua Parti
Click here for notes to tune. 15 I Ia Toe Divcha Liubliu
Click here for notes to tune. 68 Îabalka
Click here for notes to tune. 56 Învârtîta din Blaj
Click here for notes to tune. 36 37 & 38 Jewish-Hungarian Wedding Dances - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 1 Jo Ci Powidom
Click here for notes to tune. 22 Katyusha
Click here for notes to tune. 32 & 33 Khusidl 1 & 2
Click here for notes to tune. 70 Kolo
Click here for notes to tune. 76 77 & 78 Kopanitsas - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 21 Korobushka
Click here for notes to tune. 5 & 6 Krakowiak 1 & 2
Click here for notes to tune. 45 46 & 47 Lassú Csárdás - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 80 Macedonian Oro in 13
Click here for notes to tune. 79 Macedonian Oro in 7
Click here for notes to tune. 35 Menukho Vesimkho
Click here for notes to tune. 71 Misino Horo
Click here for notes to tune. 64 Mugur
Click here for notes to tune. 17 Na Wesiliu
Click here for notes to tune. 48 49 & 50 Neti’s Legényes - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 3 Oberek from Pu∏awi
Click here for notes to tune. 8 9 & 10 Polkas from Rzeszów - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 7 Polonez from Piàtkowa
Click here for notes to tune. 31 Prelude
Click here for notes to tune. 53 Ritka Magyar
Click here for notes to tune. 73 74 & 75 Ruchenitsas - 1 2 & 3
Click here for notes to tune. 20 Russian Song
Click here for notes to tune. 43 Selyemcsárdás
Click here for notes to tune. 23 Sherele
Click here for notes to tune. 67 Sîrba from Muntania
Click here for notes to tune. 66 Sîrba from Wallachia (A)
Click here for notes to tune. 54 Siempo from Szek
Click here for notes to tune. 2 Sztajer
Click here for notes to tune. 61 T¸iga?neasca?
Click here for notes to tune. 12 Tancyli Zbójnicy
Click here for notes to tune. 25 Tantz
Click here for notes to tune. 55 Törik Az Erdei Utat
Click here for notes to tune. 4 Trz´sionka
Click here for notes to tune. 69 UÏiãko Kolo
Click here for notes to tune. 42 Verbunk from Madocsa
Click here for notes to tune. 39 Verbunk from Szatmár County
Click here for notes to tune. 27-28 Yoshke Furt Avek
Click here for notes to tune. 44 Yoska
Click here for notes to tune. 34 Zemer Atik

Part 1
Tunes from Poland (1 -13), Ukraine (14- 18), Moldova (19) and Russia (20 - 22)

Track 1 Mazurkas

1 Jo Ci Powidom (‘Yo-Chi-Povidom’ - ‘I’ve Got to Tell You’) (C). Fiddle player Józef Górowski (1896-1991) from the Tarnów region, east of Kraców, south-east Poland, recorded this for Polish Radio in 1976. The tune’s title goes on to say, ‘...don’t marry a soldier.’ The mazurek (mazurka) itself originated in the 1600s in the flat Mazovia region, where Warsaw is situated. It’s a couple dance that can involve foot-stamping and heel-clicking. The accent falls on the first beat of each bar, with two beats at the close of each phrase. Source: ‘Krakowskie Tarnowskie,’ Kolekcja Muzyki Ludowej Polskiego Radia (Polish Radio Folk Collection-8) - (PRCD 157) 

2 Sztajer (‘Shty-er’) (Dm). A type of mazurka that gets its name from the mountainous Steiermark region of Austria, where Polish troops were stationed in the days of Habsburg rule, ie. before World War 1. From the Pude∏ków family band, of Siedleczko, south-east Poland. Lead fiddles are accompanied by second fiddle, clarinets (note harmony at the end of the B- and C-parts) and tympanum (a type of hammered dulcimer), with double bass playing a steady one-to-a-bar, then two beats at the cadence. Source: ‘Pologne: Instruments Populaires,’ Ocora (C600 001)

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Track 2

3 Oberek from Pu∏awi (Poo-wav-ee) C). The oberek is ‘the fastest of all types of the mazurka’, according to Czes∏aw Halski, Folk Music in Poland (Polish Cultural Foundation, London, 1992). Pu∏awi is a town near Lublin, but the tune was recorded in the USA. The dance can include  ‘holupyets’, where the male dancer leaps in the air and clicks his heels. He also ‘drops alternately to his right and left knee while whirling his partner around’, and in another figure, ‘gives great leaps, spreading his coat so that he resembles the downward plunge as of a bird of prey.’ This tune alternates between minor and major keys, and melodically, like many Polish tunes, includes several primary triads. If invited to play at a dance, be warned by Dr Halski: ‘A characteristic feature of the Oberek is its endlessness: it can last over an hour without a break.’  Source: ‘From The Tatra Mountains: Classic Polish-American Recordings from the 1920s’ (Morning Star 45007)

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Track 3

4 Trz´sionka (‘Cha-shonka’)(D-harmonic minor) ‘Shaking Dance’ from south-east Poland, from the band Sielska Kapela Weselna, ‘Na Noge’ (SKW-001). The melody of the A-part reminds me of tune 2 Sztajer. The D-part offers a palate-cleansing A major before the E-part returns to D minor.

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Track 4 Cracoviennes

5 & 6 Krakowiak (‘Crack-Ovee-a’) 1 & 2 (F/Bb & G/C). The krakowiak, or cracovienne, is a couple dance from the city of Kraków, and like the mazurka is a ‘character dance’ in classical ballet. In a folk context one of the dancers, stepping up to face the band, may yell out an improvised rhyming couplet, praising another party guest, or making a witty gibe. Traditional costume is generally worn at dances, as in other parts of eastern Europe. The first tune is from a band from Lysa Góra (clarinet, fiddle and bass) on the CD ‘Pologne: Instruments Populaires,’ Ocora (C600 001) - the second from Tadeusz Rytwinski, London.

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Track 5

7 Polonez from Piàtkowa, Dalej ch∏opcy, dalej ˝ywo  (dar-ley hwops-ay, dar-ley- zhi-vo - ‘Come on, boys, more lively’) (D). Dating from the 1600s or earlier, the polonez, or polonaise, took several forms, from a solemn wedding processional played to conduct the young couple to their bedroom, to the lively folk dance taken up by the gentry and nobility. With the decline of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth in the 1600s Sweden became militarily all-powerful in the Baltic, but the stately polonaise, armed only with the appeal of the exotic, made a more subtle conquest to become Sweden’s national folk dance, the polska. J. S. Bach composed polonaises in the 18th century, and Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) and violinist Henryk Wieniawski (1835-80) later. The simple tune here is from the Sowa family band of Piàtkowa, in the Rzeszów (Zshe-shov) region of south-east Poland. Source: ‘Songs and Music from Rzeszów Region,’ Polskie Nagrania (PNCD 049)

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Track 6

8, 9 & 10 Polkas from Rzeszów (Zshe-shov) - 1, 2 & 3 (Dm/ C, F/ C & Dm/ F). These three polkas are played separately, not as a set, by the  town band led by Józef Bosak, fiddle, with second fiddle, tympanum and three-string bass, in Budy ¸ancuckie (‘Boo-dee Wans-cook-ska’), Rzeszów  (Zshe-shov). Some chords are also added here; the band play D minor, for example, throughout the A-part of the third tune. Source: ‘Pologne: Danses,’ Arion (ARN 64188). The origin of the polka as a dance form has been disputed by Czech and Polish scholars. It is widely thought to have been invented about 1834 by a servant girl in Bohemia, near Prague. But why call it a ‘polka’, which usually denotes a ‘Polish woman’? This is explained as a corruption of ‘pulka’, Czech for ‘half’, the ‘half-step’ referring to a rapid shift in the dance from one foot to the other. Possibly, Czes∏aw Halski suggests, the polka was not of folk origin at all, but a hybrid created at Czech society balls in the 1830s in imitation of the already popular cracovienne. Like the latter, the polka is in 2/4 time, and combines song and dance elements. Whatever the case, the new dance gave rise in 1840s Paris to ‘polkamania’, and of course spread worldwide.

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Track 7
Zbójnickie (Brigands Dances)

Z’boy-nitsky-a - ‘Mountain Brigands’ Dances’) 11 Janicku Gibki  (Yanitz-ku Gib-key - ‘Bold Janicku’); 12 Tancyli Zbójnicy (Tant-silli  Z’boy-nitsky - ‘Brigands Were Dancing’) (D); 13 Do Zbójnickiego  (Doh Z’boy-nitsky-eh-go - ‘Go, Brigands!’). The music of the górale (‘Highlanders’) of the Podhale region, in the foothills of the Tatras, has much in common with that of northern Slovakia. The men sing in high, strained voices, at the same pitch as the women. A typical band line-up is lead fiddle, second fiddles, and a three-stringed cello called basy. The couple dance sequence called po góralsku includes the ozwodna and the krzesany, while ‘brigands’ dances’ are performed by the men alone. A circle of dancers carrying long sticks topped with steel axe-heads (ciupagi) leap in the air, then land in squatting positions, kicking their legs out in the Cossack manner. Related song texts celebrate Robin Hood-like figures who during the days of the Habsburg Empire preyed on travelling merchants and the Austro-Hungarian military. The first and third tunes are in the Lydian mode, with its sharpened fourth (G#). Try double-noting with open A- and D-string drones, which will sound pleasingly dissonant. Source: Kapela Góralska ‘Trebunie-Tutki’, Spiewki I Nuty (Folk CD 003)

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Track 8
Ukrainian Waltz

14 Bandura Waltz (D) This is from ‘King of the Ukrainian fiddlers,’ Pawlo Humeniuk (1884-1965). Born in Western Ukraine, he emigrated to America about 1902. He’s accompanied on his 1927 recording of this tune by two second violins, accordion and trombone; the B-part is played twice the length notated here. The bandura of the title, of which there are several kinds, is a lute with both fretted and unfretted strings. Popular among the Ukrainian Cossacks, it was played in the 1800s by wandering minstrels known as kobzars, one of whom, in the lyrics, loves a beautiful brown-eyed girl. According to Richard Spottswood, ‘Pawlo Humeniuk: a  Ukrainian Fiddler in the New World’ (Musical Traditions, 1992), Humeniuk made over two hundred and fifty recordings. One 1926 record, Ukrainske Wesilia (Ukrainian Wedding), with acquired-taste singers Ewgen Zukowsky and Nasza Roza Krasnowska, reputedly sold up to 150,000 copies, remaining in print until the 1950s. ‘Pawlo Humeniuk - King of the Ukrainian Fiddlers’ (Arhoolie CD7025)

Track 9

15 I Ia Toe Divcha Liubliu (‘I Love This Girl’) (D) From a 1925 recording of Pawlo Humeniuk, fiddle - see above - with clarinet, trombone and piano. He plays the tune AABBACC, ie with an extra single A-part between the B- and C-parts notated here. Some say the kolomyika, which ‘originated in the Hutsul region of the Carpathians’ (Richard Spottswood), was named after the town of Kolomyia (Kolomyya) in the Carpathian foothills; others that the town was named after the dance. ‘The kolomyika, popular in Western Ukraine and performed with a variety of steps (holubka, merezhka) to the accompaniment of dialogue-type songs, is reminiscent of the ancient circular dances...’ according to Source: ‘Pawlo Humeniuk - King of the Ukrainian Fiddlers’ (Arhoolie CD7025)

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Track 10
Dumka & Kolomyika

16 Dumka (Am), 17 Na Wesiliu, Pry Weczeri (‘At the Wedding Dinner’) (Am). Humeniuk employs the slow melody of a dumka (epic ballad) as a prelude to the kolomyika, playing without vibrato but with a sweet, even tone, using expressive position shifts in bars 1 and 3 to slide from one note to another. (‘A duma was a ballad sung by wandering minstrels, dealing with contemporary and historical events, usually the military exploits of the cossacks,’ according to The A- and B-parts of the kolomyika ‘At the Wedding Dinner’ are in A harmonic minor, while the D# in the C-part adds a Lydian touch to the ending. In the D-part use the same fingering up in 3rd position on the E-string as down on the G-string in 1st. ‘Pawlo Humeniuk - King of the Ukrainian Fiddlers’ (Arhoolie CD7025)

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Track 11

18 Arkan (Gm/ G) This tune and the next share some melodic features with klezmer tunes. The A- and B-parts of Arkan both begin in the klezmer mode called misheberakh (see tune 26 Alan Bern’s Freylekhs) before changing to G major, and G-Lydian, respectively. The title of the dance, by the way, is not related to the 1990s Balkan war criminal of the same name, but apparently means ‘noose’.  From Tadeusz Rytwinski, and also recorded by the band Huculska - Kapela Romana Kum∏yka, ‘Czeremosz,’ Towarzystwo Karpackie  (TKCD 002).

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Track 12
Bessarabian Wedding Dance

19 Bessarabian Wedding Dance (Cm/ G) Ceded by the Ottoman empire to Russia after 1812, historic Bessarabia (now ‘Moldova’) is bounded by the rivers Prut to the west and Dniester to the east. It was the eastern half of the former Principality of Moldavia, whose western half (now ‘Moldavia’) joined Wallachia, and later Transylvania, to form present-day Romania. Fiddle-player Vladimir Asriev, born in nearby Odessa, popularised this tune in London in the 1980s. As with Arkan, there’s a strong hint of the misheberakh mode (of C, in this case) in the opening phrase. 

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Track 13
Russian Song

20 Russian Song (Gm) This section concludes with three Russian song airs. I learned this first one from pianist Thom Osborn, whose mother sang it as a girl in Georgia. The gist of the sorrowful lyrics is, ‘My heart moans like the wind.’

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Track 14 Korobushka

21 Korobushka (‘The Peddler's Box’) (Gm). 19th century Russian poet Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov wrote the text, printed in the magazine Sovremennik in 1861, and it became a popular song, later also used for a dance taken by Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to America in the early 20th century. It was also one of the three tunes featured in the Game Boy version of the video game Tetris...  

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Track 15

22 Katyusha (Am/A) The A-major third part is optional. If you prefer the two-part version (minor key throughout), go from the 2nd time bar of the B-part (playing A, then E on the D-string) back to the A-part. ‘The apples and pear trees were in blossom,’ begins this patriotic Russian song, known in much of eastern Europe and probably composed in 1938 by Matvei Blanter, with lyrics by Mikhail Isakovsky. Katyusha (a tender diminutive of ‘Katya’) sings to her distant lover, a  Soviet soldier guarding the homeland. The song gave its name to a generation of Red Army rocket launchers during World War 2, and remains popular with football supporters of Spartak Moscow. There’s a recording (without the C-part) by singer G. Vinogradov on ‘Echoes of a Red Empire,’ Jasmine Records JASMCD 2576 (2001)

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Part 2
Tunes from Klezmer tradition

Track 16

23 Sherele
(D-freygish - also, as a cantorial mode, called Ahava Raba (‘Great Love’) after the words of the prayer for which it’s used. Note that the Bb becomes natural when it occurs below the D.) This tune was recorded as Mazel Tov (‘Good Luck’) by Romanian-born fiddler and pianist Abe Schwartz (1881-1963), who emigrated to America from Bucharest in 1899 and became a successful band leader. I learned it from London fiddler Richard Leskin as ‘Sherele’ - perhaps a diminutive of ‘sher’, a type of Jewish square-dance. The back-up rhythm  (3 + 3 + 2 semiquavers) played here on second violin in the A- and C-parts, can also be used to accompany a freylekhs (see below), usually together with a 2/4 oom-pah, as in the B-part. 

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Track 17
Avram Bughici’s Freylekhs

24 Avram Bughici’s Freylekhs  (D-freygish). A frehlekhs (‘fray-licks’) is, literally, ‘a happy tune’. The leader of a klezmer kapelye (band) traditionally played fiddle, but the clarinet displaced it in the early days of sound recording. Bughici was, according to the band Budowitz, ‘Romania’s last great klezmer violinist’, recorded in the 1970s by Itzik Schwartz, director of the Yiddish Theatre of Iasi (or Jassy), Romania, near the Moldova border. Bughici played only the A- and B-parts of this tune. The C- and D-parts, from a recording by clarinet-player Harry Kandel’s Orchestra (Dus Zekele Geld - ‘the Sack of Gold’), were added by the band to create a composite piece, also known (informally) as ‘Merlin’s Frehlekhs’ after its Welsh-born clarinet virtuoso Merlin Shepherd. Budowitz, ‘Wedding without a Bride,’ 82759-2,

Present-day fiddle players, in the absence of a large body of old fiddle recordings, have learned to imitate the laughing and crying inflections of the klezmer clarinet. One important characteristic is the krechts, described by Bob Cohen of Di Naye Kapelye as, ‘a sort of weeping or hiccoughing combination of backwards slide and flick of the little finger high above the base note, while the bow does,  well, something - which aptly imitates Jewish liturgical singing style.’  I make my own, not altogether successful, attempt at using krechts in the D-part of this tune. ‘The use of krekhts is almost unique to east  European Jewish fiddle styles,’ Cohen continues, ‘-the only other style where one seems to find it is Turkish music ... Today, violinists such as Michael Alpert of Brave Old World, Alicia  Svigals of the Klezmatics, and Steven Greenman of Khevrisa are probably the  best recorded sources to hear the classical Jewish violin sound in all its  glory.’ ( - a website I highly recommend).

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Track 18
Tantz, Tantz Yidelekh

25 Tantz, Tantz Yidelekh (Tanz Tanz Yidd-ler - ‘Dance, Dance, Jews’)  (A-freygish). Also known as Ma Yofus (‘How Beautiful’), and Reb Dovidls Nign (‘Rabbi David’s Tune’), this most iconic - or, in an unsympathetic context, stereotypical - of Jewish tunes has been played by everyone from Abe Schwartz (see note to tune 23 Sherele), to whom it is sometimes attributed, and Pawlo Humeniuk in the 1920s, to Kraków-based group Kroke (as ‘Reb Dovidls Nign) in 1996.Like the ‘Irish Washerwoman’, it’s a great tune that gets over-played - because it’s a great tune. It ends on the B-part. I used to play it with a false ending, then, during the ensuing applause, launch slowly into the C-part again and blaze through the whole tune once more, the audience clapping along... But I’m more tasteful now. Kroke, ‘Eden,’ Oriente Musik (RIEN CD09)

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Track 19
‘Alan Bern’s Freylekhs’

26 ‘Alan Bern’s Freylekhs’  (D-misheberakh - from the Hebrew Mi Sheberakh - ‘He Who Blesses’). This mode seems to occur less frequently than ‘freygish’ in purely klezmer repertoire , but does appear to have influenced some Ukrainian (eg. tune 18 Arkan) and Serbian (eg. tune 68 Îabalka) tunes. Alan Bern is the accordion player with Brave Old World, who played this freylekhs in a medley called  ‘Besarabye’. Brave Old World, ‘Beyond the Pale’ (Pinorrekk CD 5013)

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Track 20
Yoshke Furt Avek

27-28 Yoshke Furt Avek (‘Yoshke is going away’) (D-freygish) Two tunes, slow and fast, with a common title, learned from an early-20th century recording of accordion-player Max Yenkovitz (‘Yikhes: 1907-39,’Topic Records); also recorded, as ‘Big Train’, by Brave Old World, ‘Beyond the Pale’ (Pinorrekk CD 5013)

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Track 21
Slow Horas

29 Der Gasn Nigun (‘The Street Tune’), 30 Hora from Karaptshiv. The Romanian-derived hora, with its rhythmic emphasis on beats 1 and 3, can be used as processional music at traditional Jewish weddings. Harry Kandel’s Orchestra recorded Der Gasn Nigun in 1923, but the versions of both tunes here are from violinist Leon Schwartz (1901-1990). Born in Karapchiv, Ukrainian Bukovina (present-day Ukraine-Romania border), he emigrated in 1921 to the United States. For the klezmer revival of the 1970s, Schwartz was a living connection to pre-Holocaust Europe, and a documentary recording of his music - Leon Schwartz, ‘Like in a Different World’ (Global Village C109) - was made by Michael Alpert in the 1980s. Schwartz plays these two horas separately, not (as here) as a set. He recalls hearing the first one performed by musicians from Snyatin, East Galicia.

Alicia Svigals, fiddle player with the Klezmatics, told Fiddler Magazine in the late 1990s how, ‘In the '70s most fiddlers who tried to play klezmer didn't have a concept for it, so would play in a schmaltzy gypsy style. In the old recordings you can hear that the fiddle is really imitating the old cantorial style of singing. It's a mystery until you unlock the key to exactly what to do with the violin to make those strange, sobbing sounds. I studied old recordings and worked with Leon Schwartz to figure it all out... He wasn't able to explain what he was doing though. He would play and I would watch. There were a couple of other fiddlers who had figured it out, too, like Michael Alpert, then of Kapelye, now of Brave Old World.’

Leon Schwartz’s brother Baruch was also a fiddler. Bob Cohen of Di Naye Kapelye observes that, ‘Leon, who  had taken classical violin lessons after growing up as a folk fiddler in the  Bukovina, classified his style to Michael Alpert as "mer kinstlich" (more  artsy) compared to his brother’s style ("mer tsigaynish" - more  gypsy).’

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Track 22
Prelude and Khusidlekh

31 Prelude (Forshpil), 32 & 33 Khusidl (‘hoo-siddle’ - plural khusidlekh, ‘hoo-siddler’) 1 & 2 (D-freygish). The khusidl is the Hasidic equivalent of a freylekhs. The introductory section, based on Leon Schwartz’s playing though not an exact transcription, resembles a doina, a piece improvised by a soloist over sustained chords. (There’s an excellent collection of pieces of this kind in ‘Kale Bazetsans and Doinas’ by Cookie Segelstein and Joshua Horowitz, 2004, the Kale Bazetsn being ‘the ritual portion of the Ashkenaz Jewish wedding in which the bride is seated (bazetsn), veiled (badekn), sung to (bazingn) and brought to tears (beveynen).’) According to Michael Alpert, the khusidlekh that follow here were ‘cornerstones of Leon’s old-time Jewish dance repertoire.’ Double-bass plays two-to-a-bar on the beat, with second fiddle chording on the off-beats. Leon Schwartz, ‘Like in a Different World’ (Global Village C109)

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Track 23
Zemer Atik

34 Zemer Atik (Hebrew: Od nashuva el nigun atik - ‘Again we turn to the ancient melody’) (G-freygish; rhythm Terkisch.) Originally a nigun (plural nigunim), a wordless song sung at table as a form of prayer by Hasidic Jews - in this case, possibly a ‘wedding nigun’ from the Lubavitch Hasidim. Choreographed in 1955 by Rivka Sturman, it became a popular dance tune in Israel, and is also known as ‘Nigun Atik’.

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Track 2
4 Zmire

35 Menukho Vesimkho (‘Repose and Joy’) (F). This is a zmire melody (plural zmires), a religious song to a text of the Torah that can also be played faster, as here, for dancing. Leon Schwartz remarked that zmires were performed during meals on the Sabbath (Friday evening and Saturday) to provide a break between courses. Leon Schwartz, ‘Like in a Different World’ (Global Village C109)

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Track 2
5 Jewish-Hungarian Wedding Dances

36, 37 & 38 Jewish-Hungarian Wedding Dances - 1, 2, & 3 (F/ Dm/ D-mishberakh). Hungarian band Muzsikás play these (as ‘Khosid Wedding Dances’) on Muzsikás, ‘Máramaros: The Lost Jewish Music Of Transylvania,’ Hannibal Records (HNCD 1373). The band worked with Gypsy cymbalom-player Toni Árpád and fiddler Gheorghe Covaci, who played in Jewish bands before the Second World War, to reconstruct the old Jewish-Hungarian music of Transylvania. About 5000 Jewish families lived in Máramaros county before the Holocaust, but not a single Jewish musician survived.

The tunes are Khusidlekh (singular: Khusidl) or wedding dance-tunes, the first one played more slowly than the two which follow. Fiddles play over a two-to-a-bar drum-beat and a relentless four-to-a-bar on zongura - likea guitar in open D-tuning. My chord suggestions are just that. At Jewish weddings, according to Gheorghe Covaci, the bridegroom was personally in charge of the musicians. Far from receiving an advance payment for their performance, the musicians traditionally paid a deposit to the bridegroom before the wedding, to ensure that they’d show up for the gig. ‘I earned as much as I played,’ Covaci explained. ‘There was a certain fee for each song. At the wedding we used to count the songs by marking them on a chalkboard.’

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Part 3
Tunes from Hungary

Track 2
6 Verbunk
39 Verbunk from Szatmár County (‘Recruiting Dance’) (C). NB. Hungarian words are accented on the first syllable. The verbunk, or verbunkos, is a spectacular men’s dance used from around 1715 to recruit young men into the Habsburg army. Played by Gypsy musicians, and combining Hungarian, Turkish, Viennese, Italian and other elements, the verbunk gave its name to an entire genre linked to Hungarian nationalist aspirations. Like another dance in the same genre, the csárdás (‘char-dash’), it comprises two sections, a slow Lassú (‘losh-oo’) and a fast Friss (‘frish’ - literally ‘fresh’) part. The first part of this tune is often played, as here, entirely on the G-string.

Szatmár was a historic county of the pre-1918 Kingdom of Hungary, but now straddles the Hungary-Romania border. Under the post-WW1 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost two-thirds of its former territory to neighbouring states, including Transylvania which was ceded to Romania. Before the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, contact between  Hungarian traditional village musicians in Romania and musicologists from Budapest was limited and dangerous.

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Track 2
7 Csárdás & Fast Dance Tune

40 Csárdás from Szatmár County (Am), 41 Fast Dance Tune (Am). The csárdás (‘char-dash’)is a couple dance that emerged in the early 1800s, its name derived from csárda (‘inn’). Like the verbunk, the dance starts slow (lassú - ‘losh-oo’) and ends fast (friss -‘frish’). The same tune is commonly used  for the slow and fast sections, but ‘it is also possible,’ according to Pávai István, ‘to add a different fast melody after the slow section.’ Other tempo variations are called ritka csárdás, sûrû csárdás and szökõs csárdás. I learned the csárdás here from fiddler András János, who recorded it on: Együttes Jánosi (Jánosi Ensemble) ‘Original Folk Tunes in Bartók’s Music’, Hungaraton (SLPX 18103); the second tune (also from Szatmár) from Stephen Faux. Both are played on Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, ‘Wedding Songs and Dances’, Hungaraton (MK10890).

Walter Starkie, writing in the 1930s, describes the dancing of a csárdás: -
‘The music dashed on in fierce rhythmic intensity until suddenly the csárdás commenced. There is something solemn and terrible about this dance, for it sweeps down on a concourse of people like some fierce storm scattering everything to the winds.

‘The people rose hurriedly from the tables and rushed into the open space; each man seized his partner and hurried her along. Every face was tense with emotion and I hardly recognised Anna; she was as wild as a maenad, and without a word she rose from her seat beside me and ran to meet a young man who beckoned to her from a neighbouring table. They joined the frenzied throng. Every man placed his hands lightly on the shoulders of every woman and she rested her hands upon his shoulders. The men worked their legs faster and faster; the women moved their shoulders as though goaded by witches; the air resounded with shouts and in the background the tinkling of the fiddles in furious speed and the groaning, inexorable double bass drove us into the never-ending maze of rhythm...I saw Anna the Gypsy girl swaying like a bacchante; she was dressed in a blue and yellow muslin frock which gave her a curious snake-like appearance; her pale face was flushed and her whole body seemed to quiver as though she was possessed by a demon...On and on surged the frantic dance and the Gypsies did not slacken their furious fiddling and the dancers swayed as though they were dervishes. Until at last the band snapped a rough chord.


The dancers sank back in exhaustion.

The Primas immediately began to play a slow lament to bring the people back to normal life and lull the Dionysian god to sleep...’
           - Walter Starkie, ‘Raggle-Taggle’, John Murray, 1933 (pp 20-22)

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Track 2
8 Verbunk & Csárdás

42 Verbunk from Madocsa (‘Ma-do-cha’) (G), 43 Selyemcsárdás (‘Shay-em char-dash- ‘Silk Csárdás’) (Gm). The village of Madocsa, 120 kilometres south of Budapest, is in the wine-producing region of Sárköz. These tunes were recorded as a set in 1990 by the band Méta, with fiddle player Beáta Salamon. Méta, ‘Szabad Madár,’ Hungaraton (MK 18167). Beáta Salamon is also the editor/author of a superb 2004 collection of Hungarian tunes, sourced by region, with bowing and ornamentation notated, and with detailed notes (in Hungarian): ‘Magyar népzenei dallamgyüjtemény - Hegedütanításhoz’, published by Hagyományok Háza, Budapest (

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Track 2
9 Yoska

44 Yoska (Em) Learned from Joe Townsend, this is a tune in the ‘Magyar Nóta’ café-style, and is often played (along with popular Western standards) by urban Gypsy restaurant bands.

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Track 30
Lassú Csárdás

45, 46 & 47 Lassú Csárdás - 1, 2 &  3 (‘lo-shu chard-ash’) (Dm/ A/ C). Versions of tunes (of Romanian origin, I now realise) collected by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and used in his Rhapsody No. 2 (1928) for violin and piano/ orchestra. I learned them from Együttes Jánosi (Jánosi Ensemble) ‘Original Folk Tunes in Bartók’s Music’, Hungaraton (SLPX 18103), where András Jánosi’s lead fiddle is backed by kontra (three-stringed viola), cymbalom and double bass. Bartók recorded the first tune here in Transylvania in 1914, ‘performed on the violin by Iuon Lup and Ila Cacula... in the village of Idicel (in Maros county)’, according to the sleeve notes (track 15) to Muzsikás, who recorded the first tune here on ‘The Bartók Album’, Hannibal Records HNCD 1439
            In 1904, while staying in the Slovakian countryside, Bartók  first overheard a ‘genuine peasant’ folk song, Piros alma (‘Red Apple’), sung by Lidi Dósa, a Székely Hungarian woman from Transylvania. This encounter, and the encouragement of Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967), led him to make a series of field trips to collect Hungarian, and other, folk music before World War 1. Using an Edison cylinder-recording machine, he began in Békés County in 1906, and made his first collecting trip to Transylvania in 1907. Altogether he collected - and notated in his delightful, meticulous script - some 10,000 tunes from Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian, Turkish and north African traditions. Most of the village fiddlers he recorded in Transylvania would have been Roma.
            ‘ "When I was doing my military service," recalls a Romanian interviewed by Isabel Fonseca, "it was always the Gypsies who were pulled out for the worst jobs...Like most people I had never really met Gypsies before the military service.  Mostly they were warm and funny, many fantastic musicians."
            ‘Tibor lit up, suddenly remembering a Rom metalworker who had been attached to the army.  "He would say, ‘When I am working the iron, I am dancing - a czardas, or a German march.  Copper is more of a French drill.’  And when two people were needed to handle a big job - a cauldron, say - it was a waltz.  And he would tap the rhythm on metal: you needed a beat to work to.  It wasn’t just the metal, but the object as well; a horseshoe was always a czardas" - that hysterically jaunty, quintessentially Hungarian rhythm.’
- Isabel Fonseca, ‘Bury Me Standing,’ Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1996, p.162

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Track 31

48, 49 & 50, ‘Neti’s Legényes’ - 1,  2, & 3 (F/ Dm/ Dm). The legenyes (‘leg-in-yesh’ - accent on first syllable) is a solo dance for men. According to Muzsikás (notes to ‘The Bartók Album’), ‘The integration of music and dance is perhaps at its most perfect in these "lad’s’ dances" and... the dancing has to fit strictly to the accompanying music. A good dancer has to have a repertoire of 50 to 70 complicated motifs and "figures", but each performance has a different structure.’

Sándor (‘Neti’) Fodor (1922-2004) from the Kalotaszeg region of western Transylvania, my source for these tunes, was the grand old man of Transylvanian fiddle, an acknowledged master who, like Tommy Jarrell (1886-1975) in North Carolina, became an inspirational figure for an entire generation of younger musicians. Having played ‘in almost every village of Kalotaszeg,’ wrote László Kelemen, ‘his music was influenced by each of them and formed his unique individual style; he rarely played the same tune twice the same way. The mixing and the collective effects of Hungarian, Rumanian and Gypsy folk music resulted in such a mature, balanced way of playing and ornamentation that Neti can be considered to play the classical style of Transylvanian instrumental folk music.’            

Fodor Sándor (‘Neti’), ‘Kalotaszegi Népzene - Hungarian Folk Music from Transylvania,’ Hungaraton (MK18122). There’s also a version on Muzsikás, ‘Blues For Transylvania’, Hannibal (HNBC 1350)

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Track 32

51 Hajnali (‘Hoy-nal-ee’ - ‘Dawn Song’) (Gm). Again, from Sándor (‘Neti’) Fodor, Hungarian Folk Music from Transylvania, Hungaraton (MK18122) The hajnali is a slow, often deeply mournful type of tune played as dawn is breaking at the end of a night’s dancing. The first translation I saw of hajnali was ‘morning tune’, and I wondered  if ‘mourning tune’ had not been intended. But no, the hajnali is played in that part of the late night celebrations when, Ágnes Kory informs me (quoting a Hungarian literary example), ‘it is still too dark to play football but it is fine for the dance.’

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Track 33
Funeral Music

52 Funeral Music, or Halottkísérö (‘halot-kish-ay-rerr’),from Mezöség (Cm). Learned from the Jánosi Ensemble, ‘Original Folk Tunes in Bartók’s Music,’ Hungaraton (SLPX 18103). The emotional intensity of this piece recalls Walter Starkie’s account of the funeral of a Gypsy fiddler: ‘At the graveside everyone stood round the grave and within the circle stood the son of the dead man. As the men lowered the coffin into the grave he played the last lament over his father. He was a slight young man, sallow-complexioned and with tousled black hair. So possessed was he by his sorrow that as he played...he swayed his body, and I saw the tears trickle down his violin. At one moment, in the paroxysm of sorrow which seemed to pass all bounds as he found expression in his music, I thought he was going to cast himself, fiddle and all, into the open grave.’  Walter Starkie, ‘Raggle-Taggle’ (John Murray 1933), p. 141.

Despite their musical importance, prejudice against Roma is widespread. ‘In the Eastern Bloc countries the Gypsies have also been disowned,’ writes Isabel Fonseca. ‘It has often been convenient for governments to understate the numbers of unwanted people living in their terrirories; in this way, even for regimes ready to honour the "victims of fascism" - and in Hungary and Czechoslovakia reparations to Jews were made eagerly and early - ludicrously low figures for Gypsies made it politically possible to ignore their legitimate claims. At the same time, the culture of Gypsies - particularly the contribution of Gypsy musicians in Hungary - has been a prominent feature of the country’s folkloric identity.’
- Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1996, p. 275

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Track 34
Ritka Magyar

53 Ritka Magyar (‘Rit-ka Mad-yor’ - ‘Slow Hungarian Dance’) from Bonchida, Mezöség (D/ Dm). The Magyar exists in two forms, Sırı(‘shoo-roo’ - ‘fast’, literally ‘dense’) and ritka (‘slow’, literally ‘rare’), and can also be called ‘lassú legényes’, ‘magyar tánc’, ‘magyarul ritkán’ etc. (I love the concept of ‘dense’ to describe a fast piece, the notes coming ‘thick and fast’, as though a spaceship were travelling through an asteroid belt.) Note the attractive alternation of D major and D minor in the A- and B-parts. The minims in the second fiddle part - standing in for a droney, bowed double-bass - should be played with a firm attack, and with pulse-bowing to accentuate the off-beat. Source: ‘Hungarian Folk Music from Northern Mezöség, Vol. 1,’ Hungaraton (LPX 18107)

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Track 35
Siri Tempo

54  Sırı Tempo from Szek (‘shoo-roo...Sayk’) (D) András Jánosi taught this Siri(‘shoo-roo’ - ‘fast’) tune on a ‘Fiddles On Fire’ tour in England, 1991. At a workshop in Darlington, in the north-east of England, András put his fiddle down on a chair while he demonstrated the dance, then at the end sat down on it - ouch! - cracking the neck. Fortunately, an emergency repair to his violin was possible before that evening’s concert, in which he was joined by bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan, Irish fiddler Paddy Glackin and others in this splendid tune.

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Track 36
Marching Song
55 Törik Az Erdei Utat (‘The Road in the Forest’), Marching Song. The 7/8 version is how I first learned the tune from Steven Faux, who picked it up around 1986 in Jászberény. The second, from a 1988 album by Kalamajka, with Szekely Levente, violin (though the band’s fiddler now is Béla Halmos), is notated here in common time, but it almost feels as if the first half of each bar is played fractionally faster than the second - as in the Romanian învârtîta that begins the next section. Rhythmic tension of this kind is not uncommon in Transylvanian music. (The first word of the title, as printed on the Kalamajka cassette sleeve, is ‘Tötik’ - a misprint?) Kalamajka, ‘Bonchidától Bonchidáig,’ Hungaraton (MK18135)

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Part 4
Tunes from Romania

Track 37

56 Învârtîta din Blaj (C/ Am). Here an irregular rhythm is superimposed on an asymmetric rhythm. On top of the underlying 7 rhythm  (3 + 2 + 2)  are two groups of four ‘quavers’ or their eqivalent played in a dotted, ‘swing’ rhythm. The first group is fractionally shortened to occupy the duration of only three quavers, while the second four are given their full time value. The effect is an alternate hurrying and relaxation of the beat. From the town of Blaj in the Alba region of Transylvania, ‘Învârtita din Blaj’ is actually the title of a folk dance choreography by Teodor Vasilescu. ‘The real title of the tune,’ says Nick Green, ‘is Învârtita miresii din Ra˘ha˘u.’ Its rhythm, he adds, ‘is found in central, south and west Transylvania, excluding Bihor, Arad, Maramures, Oas and north-eastern Bistrita-Nasaud county.’ Source: Tarina (ST-EPE 02559)

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Track 38
Dance Tunes from Bihor

57, 58 & 59 Dance Tunes from Bihor 1, 2 & 3. I found the first tune on a cut-price CD with no performer credits, just the title Joc (‘dance’), ‘Air Mail Music: Romania,’ Productions Sunset France (SA141009). The others are from the collection of Robert Garfias, made in the 1970s and now available in mp3 format on his website, as Doua joucuri din Bihor (‘Two dances from Bihor’): ‘Under the socialist system in place at that time,’ he writes, ‘if a person could pass an examination to show that he was a competent folk musician, he or she would be hired into the local House of Culture orchestra... Most of these ensembles had excellent musicians, most or at least many of them, being Roma, or Gypsies.’

‘...Nicolae, who is no darker than many Romanians, has a painful early memory of other boys squawking Ga! at him, Ga! Ciora!  Ciora is the Romanian for "crow" - the black nuisance - and ga is the sound the crow makes. ("Ciora, Ciora," goes the schoolyard taunt, "mata zboara tactu, cinta la vioara": "Your mother flies, your father plays the violin.") - Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1996, p. 279 

Musicians in Bihor, Transylvania, still play the Stroh Violin. According to Liz Mellish and Nick Green, compilers of a 1997 ‘Balkan dance music book’ (, ‘the Stroh violin, invented in England by Augustus Stroh, was used in the recording industry from the late 19th century until the introduction of electronic amplification. A standard violin was not powerful enough to record on the wax cylinders whereas the Stroh violin uses a mica resonator and a horn to amplify the sound much like the gramophones of that time. These live on with the Romanians of Bihor who still make them in the villages...The D, A, E strings the same as a standard violin, but the G sting (lowest pitch on a standard violin) is replaced by a thinner string just for the mechanical stability of the instrument. The musicians only use three upper strings.’

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Track 39

60 Geamparale (G). This type of traditional wedding dance in ‘7’ (2 + 2 + 3) rhythm, is associated particularly with the historic Dobruja region (Dobrogea in Romanian) of south-east Romania and north-east Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast. London fiddler Joe Townsend taught me thislively example.

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Track 40

61 T¸iga˘neasca˘ (C) - Gypsy Dance Tune. A fast and fiery tune from the playing of Manole Ion of the Taraf de Haïdouks. Taraf de Haïdouks, ‘Honourable Brigands, Magic Horses and Evil Eye’, Crammed Discs (CRAW 13). The fingering of the B-part is unusual, and quite challenging.

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Track 41
Fast Horas

62 Hora n’doua Parti (‘Hoh-rah-n Do-ah Pah-tsee’ - ‘hora in two directions’) (C), 63 Hora ca la Caval (Am). Two tunes popular in International Folk Dance circles. The second is also commonly referred to as Hora de la Risipit¸i (‘Hoh-rah day lah rie-she-Peet-see’), the name of a dance from Oltenia (south-west Romania) for which it is often used. Recorded by Joe Townsend Band, Cat Horse and Tree (CHAT 101)

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Track 42
Romanian Slow Horas

64 Mugur, Mugurel - song, ‘Little Buds’ (Dm); 65 Hora Femeilor (‘Fem-e-Ee-lor - ‘Women’s Hora’) (Dm). I have followed the example of Liz Mellish and Nick Green (‘Balkan dance music book’) in writing out the tunes in 5/4, rather than 3/4, so that they do not just degenerate into waltzes. The first was used as the theme tune for a 1987 BBC TV series, ‘Fortunes of War’, based on novels by Olivia Manning. The second is associated with a dance choreographed by Teodor Vasilescu. ‘There are many slow hora in near 5/8 time in southern Romania,’ says Nick Green, ‘mostly girls’ dances and dances of the "nobles".’ Hearing this one played in Romania by a Gypsy band, he noticed that, ‘the melody was close to 5/8 and the bass was nearer to 6/8, a sort of very Romanian tension.’ My first source for both tunes was: Dunav Balkan Group, ‘Jubilee Album’ (London, 1989)

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Track 43

66 Sîrba from Wallachia (A), 67 Sîrba from Muntania (A). Wallachia is the southern-most of the three provinces (with Transylvania in the north and Moldavia in the east) that make up present-day Romania. Tunes for the  sîrba, a circle dance, tend to be played very fast. Joe Townsend learned the first one from Costica˘, a member of Taraf de Haïdouks. The second, also recorded by the Joe Townsend Band, Cat Horse and Tree (CHAT 101), is from the collection of A. L. Lloyd. Muntania is a district of Wallachia. As cymbalom-player Chris van Dam pointed out to me, the scale on which this tune is based consists of the four notes of an A7 chord (A, C#, E and G-natural) along with the four notes a semitone below them (G#, C-natural, D# and F#). It requires some unusual finger positions.

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Part 5
Tunes from the Balkans - Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia

Track 44

68 Îabalka (Serbian) (D)  The Dunav Balkan Group, a London band founded in 1964, and my source for this tune, introduced me to Balkan music. Two bars of D major are followed in the A-part by two bars of what feels like a klezmer mode. Dunav Balkan Group, Folk Music from the Balkans (1981)

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Track 45 UÏiãko Kolo

69 UÏiãko Kolo (D/ A). Composed by legendary accordionist Milija Spasojevic, considered in his day one of Yugoslavia’s greatest. He was, says fellow accordionist Nick Bratkovich, ‘a master of discovering new and exciting sounds. I remember listening to him and getting goose bumps every time he got to the key change.’ The kolo is a circle dance. Dunav Balkan Group, Folk Music from the Balkans (1981)

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Track 46
70 Kolo (Am/B) from fiddler Joe Townsend. The kolo is popular not only in Serbia but right across former Yugoslavia. According to (‘Web Portal to Croatian Culture), for example, ‘Throughout a large part of Croatia right up until World War II, and in some places as late as the 1950s, the kolo had been the centre of village social life. The kolo as a dance and as a social gathering was the main place at which young women and men could get to know each other, express mutual liking, make pledges of brotherhood and sisterhood, and also provided an opportunity for mockery and social criticism. Through the singing of jocular verses during the performance of the kolo, everyone was able to express his or her feelings, to approach anyone present, to disclose misbehaviour, to mock a male or female opponent, and to criticise recent events in the village. By singing, movement, and gestures one could express what was proscribed in ordinary speech.’

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Track 47 Misino Horo

71 Misino Horo (Bm) (Serbian/Bulgarian border?) This I got from Birmingham-based band The Kitchen Girls. The rhythm is mostly 3-2-2 (‘Oranges-Grape-Fruit’), but watch out for the change of rhythm in the B-part, an alternation of 2-2-3 and 3-2-2 (‘Grape-Fruit-Oranges, Oranges-Grape-Fruit’). The top line (in cue-type) is a non-trad harmony I have added.

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Track 48
Bavno Pomashko

72 Bavno Pomashko (Macédoine - Macedonian dance). Stuart Hall transcribed this slow tune from the impassioned and expressive clarinet playing of Nikola Parov, ‘Nikola and Friends - Traditional Music From the Balkans,’ Quintana/Harmonia Mundi (QUI903007)

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Track 49

73, 74 & 75 Ruchenitsas - 1, 2 & 3 (A/ B/ A) The ruchenitsa (or ‘rachenitsa’) is a ‘hand-kerchief’ dance, in the rhythm, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3. I taped these in the 1980s from Welsh fiddler Kate Gaynor, then living in Swansea, who got them in Bulgaria while assisting a researcher in making field recording. Unfamiliar as I then was with asymmetric rhythms, it was several years before I tried learning theses tunes myself. After a night with fiddle and tape-recorder, making sense of them, I had disturbed dreams, as if the architecture of my brain were being re-arranged... Be that as it may, the A-part of the first tune is played four times. The tonality and structure of the second tune are almost identical to the first - just raised one step in pitch from A to B. On the opening phrase of the B-part the trick is to use open E- and A-strings, keeping the 3rd finger down for the D# until the start of the next bar. The third tune is structured differently, and has just the one part. I included all three tunes in my 1990 tape and book ‘All Around The World’ (Dragonfly Music), and they do still occasionally surface in sessions in England. 

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Track 50

76, 77 & 78 Kopanitsas-1, 2 & 3 (D/ A/ D). ‘Little digging (dance),’ referring to the scooping movement made with a spade or a hoe, is the literal translation of the Bulgarian kopanitsa, according to Richard Unciano, quoted on  A mnemonic for the 2 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 2 rhythm is ‘eight-een-pints-of-lag-er.’ Or, like Unciano, ‘count from 1 to 5 with a quick hiccup on number 3.’ Kopanitsas are danced mainly in western Bulgaria, and mainly by men, though sometimes also by women, and a belt-hold is used (ie you hook a finger or two around your neighbour’s belt). I usually play the first and third tunes three times each, the middle one just twice. But are they three separate tunes, or different parts of one longer one?

I learned the tunes as a set from Essex mandolin-player Geoff Coombs who, if memory serves, said he learned it from the unlikely source of the Vale Of Atholl Pipe Band. It has also been recorded by the English-Scottish border band Horseplay on their 2006 album ‘Roughshod’ ( So what is this Scottish/ piping connection?

Bouzouki-player Neil Barr of Bendigo, Australia, kindly unveils the mystery. He writes (January 2008): ‘Thought you might be interested in the history of that lovely Kopanitsa in your fiddle book. It’s a good example of the folk process in modern form. A tune like this survives.’ He explains that Australian fiddler and nuclear physicist Henry Gardner came across it in a book of Bulgarian dance tunes compiled by Emil Kolev, that Henry found in a state store while hitch-hiking round Bulgaria and Rumania in the late 1970s. Back in Australia c. 1979 it became part of the repertoire of ‘the very unserious group "Tito's Leg"’, with whom Neil Barr played bouzouki. Neil in turn passed it on at a Xmas party to a young Australian Highland Piper, Mark Saul. In the 1990s Mark became the arranger for the Victoria Police Pipe Band, and provided the material they played when they won the world piping Championship in Edinburgh in 1998. ‘Bulgarised Bouzouki’, as the Kopanitsa was referred to, was one of the Bulgarian tunes they performed ‘as part of the encore parade around the Edinburgh stadium’, thus ‘opening the pipe world to compound rthymns... and the Kopenitsa became part of the standard progressive repertoire.’ Neil mentions ‘Clan Sutherland Band in particular... My guess is that it is was also picked up by the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, so to Geoff Coombs, to you. And now you are spreading it far and wide.’ He adds, ‘I haven't been able to find out much about Emil Kolev other than on the record covers of a couple of records I have from the 70s. I imagine he wrote the tune, or substantially reworked it, as none of the collected bulgarian music seems to be as complex as the stuff churned out by the State orchestras. Maybe he is still with us, and if so, I hope he would be pleased to know the tune has survived and flourished.’ Thanks, Neil.

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Track 52
Macedonian Oro in 13

80 Macedonian Oro in 13 (D). This is a challenging tune that I learned in the late 1980s from London-based fiddle-player Chris Haigh (who can’t remember where he got it from). I’ve added chords and a (non-traditional) second fiddle part. After the D major of the first three parts, the B minor of the fourth, then B major of parts five and six, build a sense of mounting tension. Then, in a strange twist, the main chord of the final part, which feels as if it has moved to some utterly remote harmonic extreme, is in fact D major - back where we started. The tune ends with the A-part. Cello-player Richard Bolton and I recorded this on our first album ‘Turning Point’ (Big Chain BC 101).

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