Voices from Bulgaria

Young dancers, Pirin, Bulgaria, June 2006

If you haven’t heard the extraordinary and unique sound of the Bulgarian State Television Female Choir, take a moment and listen. This ensemble, made up of singers from villages across Bulgaria, keeps alive a distinctive style of singing which is centuries-old. What’s particularly striking are the rich, vibrant overtones of the voices. The chords ring and glow with perfect intonation and balance. Listening to this clip, it’s easy to lose yourself in the powerful, focused intensity of the sound. In a part of the world where East has traditionally met West, Middle Eastern influence can be heard in the vocal color and ornamentation.

Here is Stani Mi, Maytcho (Get Up, My Daughter), a Bulgarian folk song:

This excerpt is from Nonesuch’s 1988 recording, Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Volume 2. You can find it on iTunes and at Amazon. Listen to more excerpts from this set of recordings here. Share your thoughts on this music in the thread below. What are the qualities that make sound beautiful, expressive and moving? If you’re an instrumentalist, consider how the vibrant colors of the human voice inspire you to “sing” on your instrument.

3 thoughts on “Voices from Bulgaria”

    • I don’t agree, Arik. We know that so many great composers found inspiration in folk music- Dvorak, Mahler, Bartok and Copland to name a few. Beethoven was inspired by the popular sounds of the French Revolution. Leonard Bernstein once made the statement that there are really only two types of music, good and bad. I think he was suggesting that we should listen freely, without regard to category.

  1. I agree completely with Timothy—all music has to do with art–one may like or dislike it, but, it is art–good or bad–that’s for each individual to decide and ultimately society will decide what lives on..


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