This is one of those tunes that won’t let go of you. I first played it at a welcome home party for a friend who had been touring the Balkans. He had brought it back in his bag of musical tricks.
We started playing it and the session stayed on the tune for a good 10 minutes. And we kept coming back to it again and again that night. Its a bit of a technical challenge for longer necked instruments such as the tenor banjo or bouzouki in 5ths. This can be overcome by transposing to Eminor. But the tune doesn’t sould or feel as good as it does in D minor.
…traditionally danced in a 5 1/2-sided barn.
If you’re wanting more of this - - -
For a nice collection, I recommend:
"The Balkan Folkdance Music Gig Book"
by Maimon Miller - a fine fiddler, musician and person
Available also from Andy’s Front Hall:
Also found on…
Heritage des Celtes - Dan Ar Braz.
Bagad Kemper do a fantastic live version of this tune, along with Jean Michel Veillon on flute.
Are you sure? The name of the tune was my creation, its comes without any specific title in the obscure 1970s Bulgarian folk music book we found it in. I’d love to hear any recording of it.
The Bagad Kemper version is fantastic.
I picked it up from there.
I also happened to find it on an album by the Italian musician Daniele Sepe. On this album, called "Spiritus Mundi", he claims to have composed it, which I find improbable. I rather think he picked it up from Bagad Kemper, since his version is closer to theirs than to the version you posted here. Or maybe Bagad Kemper picked it up from Daniele Sepe.
I’m glad you said you have a source from the 1970s, so that rules out by 99% that Daniele Sepe composed the tune, since he was born in 1960.
More details on the source
Musician friend, and fiddle player, Henry Gardner, spent some time travelling through Bulgaria and parts Balkan. This was in the late 1970s, maybe 1979. I think he was doing an ‘Andy Irvine’. Tried to busk outside Bucharest Zoo, but had some hassles with secret police. Andy doesn’t mention that in his song Baneasa’s Green Glade! During Henry’s travels he collected various musical bits and pices from the State stores. Many recordings, and a few tune books. Oneof the books was a collection of Bulgarian modern orchestra type tunes. Goodness knows hopw long it had been on the shelves. All tunes were credited to Emil Kolev, famed as arranger of many of those Balkantone LPs from the 70s. It may be traditional, but I suspect its too complex to be traditional. Probably composed by Kolev or someone else in one of his orchestras. Certainly pre 1980, and possibly quite a bit earlier than that.
There are quite a few good tunes in that book. I have treasured my photocopes for 35 years!
Just to set the record straight… Daniele Sepe never claimed to have composed the tune. In the mentioned record (Spiritus Mundi), the previous tune even introduces the Kopanitsa by defining it a traditional Bulgarian dance, and so it is described in the record’s booklet. His name in brackets simply aknowledges his arrangement of the tune (required by Italian laws about author’s rights)
Tune travels in circles
I have just realised that bagad kemper is a pipe band.. and a possible explanation appears. In the late 80s I played in a band with a pipe player by the name of Mark Saul. He is a far better musician than i have ever been, despite playing highland pipes. I taught him this kopanitsa. He rewrote it for the bagpipes and their particular instrumental shortcomings… ie range. I think it appeared in Mark’s first book of pipe tunes. That book seems to have become popular in piping circles because of Mark’s connection (unofficial member) with the Victorian Police Pipe Band. On winning the world piping championship sometime in the 1990s, the band performed an encore of a bulgarian style piece in 7/16 written by Mark. Needless to say, this ‘radical’ innovation got a bit of attention, and Mark’s books (Antipodes Collection Volume 1" started selling. Possibly a copy fell into the hands of Bagad Kemper. And then again, maybe not.
Some years later I discovered that the 7/16 encore was called Neil Barr’s Bulagrised Bouzouki, a reference to my cheap and nasty electric bouzouki. Then I found a web site or two referring to the tune and claiming it was named after a famous Australian bouzouki player. Thankfully that embarrassing and wildly innaccurate web site has since died. And I still haven’t learnt the tune. I have had my three minutes of fame.
I dashed off an email to the bagpipe director of Bagad Kemper to see if he could shed some light on the matter. Their website mentions that they will be playing at Celtic Connections this month. Who knows; they may play Neill’s Bulgarised Bouzouki!
If you are at Celtic Connections, I have a vague memory that it might be on Mark Saul’s schedule as well. (Its a festival I take no interest in as its far far away from Australia). Marks web site only shows last year’s gigs. His music is interesting. You can take that in the chinese sense or otherwise. His cd Myxolodian is quite outstanding in its originality and musicianship. But I think I am a generation too old to truly enjoy the fusion of techno and celtic. I was impressed by the track that featured 5 string banjo and bagpipes! All he needs to complete the perfect set up is a piano accordian and one of those irish drum thingys…..
I’ll be interested to hear how Bagad Kemper came across the tune. I don’t monitor these comments that regularly. But I will make a point of watching for the next few weeks. You must watch these comments like a hawk!
How would you count the rhythm in this tune? I haven’t yet figured 11/8 out…
JosephofCK, 12, 12, 123, 12 ,12 . Stress the first 1 and at a guess the last 4 would be slightly lower volume