Music of Serbia

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Serbs and Serbia has a variety of traditional music, which is part of the wider Balkan tradition, with its own distinctive sound and characteristics.

History[edit]

A Herzegovinian sings to the gusle (drawing from 1823). Serbian epic poems were often sung to the accompaniment of this traditional bowed string instrument.

The documented musical history of the Serbs can be traced back to the medieval era. Church music was performed throughout Serbia by choirs or individual singers. The songs performed at the time were derived from the Osmoglasnik, a collection of religious songs dedicated to Jesus. These songs were repeated over the course of eight weeks in a cyclical fashion. Composers from this era include nun Jefimija, monks Kir Stefan the Serb, Isaiah the Serb, Joachim Domestikos of Serbia, and Nikola the Serb. Together, they belong to the new musical tradition called Serbo-Byzantine school.

Aside from church music, the medieval era in Serbia included traditional music, about which little is known, and court music. During the rule of the Nemanjić dynasty musicians played an important role in the royal court, and were known as sviralnici, glumci and praskavnici. The rulers known for the musical patronage included Stefan Dušan and Đurađ Branković.

With the fall of Serbia under the Ottoman rule came instruments that would further cause Serbian music to flourish.

Medieval musical instruments included horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals. Traditional folk instruments include the gajde, kaval, dajre, diple, tamburitza, gusle, tapan (davul), sargija, ćemane (kemenche), zurla (zurna), and frula among others.

Classical music[edit]

Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac

Composer and musicologist Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac is considered one of the most important founders of modern Serbian music.[1] Born in 1856, Mokranjac taught music, collected Serbian traditional songs and did the first scholarly research on Serbian music. He was also the director of the first Serbian School of Music and one of the founders of the Union of Singing Societies. His most famous works are the Song Wreaths.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries numerous bands, both military and civilian, contributed to the development of music culture in Belgrade and other Serbian cities and towns. Prior to Mokranjac's era, Serbia's representatives of the romantic period were world-renowned violinist Dragomir Krancevic (1847–1929), pianist Sidonija Ilic, Pianist and composer Jovanka Stojkovic and opera singer Sofija Sedmakov who achieved success performing in opera houses of Germany in the 1890s. For example, the promenade concert tradition was first established by The Serbian Prince Band founded in 1831, and its first conductor was Joseph Shlezinger, who composed music for the band based on traditional Serbian songs. This was a period when the first choiral societies, then mostly sung in German and Italian language, were being organized. Later, the first Serbian language works for choirs were written by Kornelije Stanković.

The Serbian composers Petar Konjović, Stevan Hristić and Miloje Milojević, all born in the 1880s, were the most eminent composers of their generation. They maintained the national expression and modernized the romanticism into the direction of impressionism.

The best-known composers born around 1910 studied in Europe, mostly in Prague. Ljubica Marić, Stanojlo Rajicić, Milan Ristić took influence from Schoenberg, Hindemith and Haba, rejecting the "conservative" work of prior Serbian composers, seeing it as outdated and the wish for national expression was outside their interest.[2]

Other famous classical Serbian composers include Isidor Bajić, Stanislav Binički, and Josif Marinković.

Traditional music[edit]

Serbian gusle

Traditional Serbian music include various kinds of bagpipes, flutes, horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals such as:

Kruševac monument to the soldiers of the Battle of Kosovo, depicting Filip Višnjić, a blind guslar.

The genre encompasses both vocal and instrumental. Balkanika, Balkanopolis, Dvig, Slobodan Trkulja, Belo Platno, Teodulija, Kulin Ban are known Serbian musical groups that use traditional Balkan musical instruments and perform traditional songs and songs based on traditional music elements.

Epic poetry[edit]

Main article: Serbian epic poetry

Sung epic poetry has been an integral part of Serbian and Balkan music for centuries. In the highlands of Serbia and Montenegro these long poems are typically accompanied on a one-string fiddle called the gusle, and concern themselves with themes from history and mythology.

Serbian folk music[edit]

Folk[edit]

Main article: Serbian folk music

Today the Serbian folk music is both rural (izvorna muzika) and urban (starogradska muzika) and includes a two-beat dance called kolo, which is a circle dance with almost no movement above the waist, accompanied by instrumental music made most often with an accordion, but also with other instruments: frula (traditional kind of a recorder), tamburica, or accordion. The Kolos usually last for about 5–13 minutes. Modern accordionists include Mirko Kodić and Ljubiša Pavković. Some kolos are similar to the Hungarian csárdás in that they are slow at the onset and gradually increase their speed until reaching a climax towards the end.

Famous performers of Serbian folk music are Predrag Gojković Cune, Predrag Živković Tozovac, Lepa Lukić, Vasilija Radojčić, Šaban Bajramović, Staniša Stošić and others. Yugoslav singer, actress and writer, Olivera Katarina, has performed music of various genres, varying from Serbian traditional to pop music, and in numerous languages. She held 72 consecutive concerts in Paris Olympia.

Novokomponovana[edit]

Lepa Brena was the most successful singer of Yugoslavia

A local genre titled novokomponovana (newly composed) is a result of the urbanisation of folk music.[3] In early times, it had a professional approach to performance, used accordion and clarinet and typically included love songs or other simple lyrics (though there had been royalist and anti-Communist lyrical themes persisting underground). Many of the genre's best-known performers have included Silvana Armenulić, Toma Zdravković, Lepa Lukić, Šaban Šaulić, Miroslav Ilić, Zorica Brunclik and others.

The absolute record in sales of this kind of music still held by Lepa Brena. She has sold around 40 million of records and held concerts all over Balkan, which makes her the most successful Serbian singer ever. Next to that, due to her enormous popularity, Brena is considered the symbol of former Yugoslavia, of Yugoslavian unity and power, and after the break of federation, of so-called yugo-nostalgia.

Balkan brass[edit]

Main article: Balkan Brass Band
Goran Bregović performing live with his orchestra

Brass bands, known as "trubači" (трубачи, the trumpeters) are extremely popular, especially in Central and Southern Serbia where Balkan Brass Band originated. The music has its tradition from the First Serbian Uprising. The trumpet was used as a military instrument to wake and gather soldiers and announce battles, the trumpet took on the role of entertainment during downtime, as soldiers used it to transpose popular folk songs. When the war ended and the soldiers returned to the rural life, the music entered civilian life and eventually became a music style, accompanying births, baptisms, weddings, slavas, farewell parties for those joining military service, state and church festivals, harvesting, reaping, and funerals. In 1831 the first official military band was formed by Prince Miloš Obrenović. Roma пеопле have adopted the tradition and enhanced the music, and today most of the best performers are Roma.

The best known Serbian Brass musicians are Fejat Sejdić, and Boban Marković and are also the biggest names in the world of modern brass band bandleaders. Guča trumpet festival is one of the most popular and biggest music festivals in Serbia[4] is a 5-day annual festival with 300 000 visitors.

Čoček[edit]

Main article: Čoček

Čoček is a musical genre and belly dance that emerged in the Balkans during the early 19th century. Čoček originated from Ottoman military bands, which at that time were scattered across the region, mostly throughout Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and Romania. That led to the eventual segmentation and wide range of ethnic sub-styles in čoček. The Serbian čoček is more popular in south Serbia and differs slightly to Bulgarian čoček, which has more oriental sound.

Popular music[edit]

Pop[edit]

Main article: Serbian pop
Zdravko Čolić in 2007

Pioneers of pop music in Serbia are condsidered to be performes before and during the Second World War among which the most prominent are Vojin Popović and Darko Kraljić. In the end of 50s on the music scene appear Lola Novaković, Dušan Jakšić, Nada Knežević and Đorđe Marjanović. 60s brought new group of popular singers such as Miki Jevremović, Ljiljana Petrović, Radmila Karaklajić, Leo Martin, Sedmorica mladih and others.

In 70s and 80s pop music began to lose its popularity due to the growing interest in rock music. Despite that musicians who managed to make significant careers include: Zdravko Čolić, Boba Stefanović, Maja Odžaklievska, Zana and others.

Marija Šerifović won Eurosong in 2007.

In the turbulent year of 90s pop music has fallen into the shadows of Eurodance which produced groups like Tap 011, Dee Monk, Moby Dick.

Pop music incerease it's popularity in 00s with the appearance of musicians such as Željko Joksimović, Vlado Georgiev, Saša Kovačević, Aleksandra Kovač, Ana Stanić, Aleksandra Radović, Marija Šerifović, Jelena Tomašević, Emina Jahović, and others.

Marija Šerifović won the first place at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, and Serbia was the host of the 2008 contest. Željko Joksimović took the second place at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Lane moje. In 2012 he came third with the song Nije ljubav stvar.

Rock[edit]

Main article: Serbian rock
Ekatarina Velika in 1986.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was a part, was not an Eastern Bloc country, but a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and as such, was far more open to western influences compared to the other socialist states. The western-influenced pop and rock music was socially accepted, the Yugoslav rock scene was well developed and covered in the media, which included numerous magazines, radio and TV shows. Paralleling the breakup of Yugoslavia due to civil war, its rock scene also ceased to exist. During the 1990s the popularity of rock music declined in Serbia, and although several major mainstream acts managed to sustain their popularity, an underground and independent music scene developed. The 2000s saw the revival of the mainstream scene.

The most notable Serbian rock acts include Bajaga i Instruktori, Đorđe Balašević, Disciplina Kičme, Ekatarina Velika, Električni Orgazam, Galija, Idoli, Korni Grupa, Laboratorija Zvuka, Partibrejkers, Pekinška Patka, Piloti, Rambo Amadeus, Riblja Čorba, Smak, Šarlo Akrobata, YU Grupa, Van Gogh, and others.

Jazz[edit]

Šaban Bajramović

Jazz in Serbia appears in 1920s when Markus Blam formed first jazz orchestra Studentski Micky Jazz. Jazz music was played mostly in salons and clubs, but it is also known that jazz orchestras toured in spas over the Serbia. This style of music has been present on the radio as well as in a specialized magazines. Radio Belgrade started to work in 1929, every night after 22:30h Radio Jazz Orchestra played popular songs. First jazz society in Serbia was set up in 1953, but to the development of jazz the most contributed hosting famous musicians, among whom was Louis Armstrong in 1959 and 1960. First Serbian musicians to rise to international fame were Mladen Guteša who worked for famous musicians such as Lee Konitz, Benny Goodman and others and Duško Gojković. These two enetered The 1956 Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz of Leonard Feather. Another prominent names of Serbian jazz include Bora Roković who composed jazz suite The Human Piano, Mihailo Živanović, Branislav Kovačev, Branko Pejaković, Milan Lulić, Boris Jojić, Jovan Miković and others.[5] Among the most popular singers of jazz and blues in Serbia was Šaban Bajramović known as King of Romani music. Magazine Time inculded him on the list of top 10 blues singers in the world.[6]

Hip-hop[edit]

Main article: Serbian hip hop

Serbian hip hop emerged in the early 1980s, with the birth of b-boy crews. The first Serbian Hip Hop record release was the Degout EP by The Master Scratch Band, which was released by Jugoton in 1984. But the Hip Hop Scene in Serbia was not open and popularized until the Demo of the Badvajzer (Budweiser) crew who became extremely popular in 1987.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, bands such as Green Kool Posse, Who Is The Best and Robin Hood came into being all together starting the first Hip Hop scene in Serbia and former Yugoslavia.

The music spread slowly until 1995, until Da li imaš pravo? by Gru was released, marking the beginning of the first wave of Serbian hip hop, which reached its peak in 1997-98, when many new groups started to break out from the underground: Ding Dong, Voodoo Popeye, Straight Jackin, Sunshine, Bad Copy, Belgrade Ghetto, CYA, 187.

In 2002 the Bassivity label was formed, which made Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian hip hop widely available in record stores. Their first release, V.I.P. - Ekipa Stigla, was one of the two albums which marked the beginning of the second wave of Serbian hip hop. The other was BSSST...Tišinčina by the Belgrade group Beogradski sindikat. In 2003 Marčelo's debut album De Facto, also released on the Bassivity label, came out to both public and critical acclaim, and he was branded as the voice of a new generation.

Turbo-folk and Pop-folk[edit]

Main article: Turbo-folk

Turbo-folk (a term coined by rock musician Rambo Amadeus) music emerged during the Yugoslav wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Turbo-folk used Serbian folk music and "novokomponovana" as the basis, and added influences from rock, pop and electronic dance music. The last decade of 20th century witnessed birth and decay of various turbo-folk singers in Serbia such as Dragana Mirković, Mira Škorić, Željko Šašić, Ceca, Vesna Zmijanac, Nedeljko Bajić Baja, Jelena Karleuša, Seka Aleksić...

Indira Radić, the first famous singer of pop-folk

In the 2000s turbo-folk featured even more pop music elements, abandoning traditional influences of ethno or oriental motives of folk. With new changes, there comes the evolution of new genres, such as electronic. New music and its performers were labeled as pop-folk (performers). First in line was Indira Radić who in 2003 has recorded a duet with Alen Islamović, once member of famous Yugoslav rock band Bijelo dugme. A strange duo turbo-folk and rock star welcomed the birth of another kind of music, with less accordion and buzuki and more of guitar, drums and bass.

Among the biggest starts of turbo folk and later pop-folk is considered to be controversial singer Ceca, who has started her musical career in 1988 with teen hit song Cvetak zanovetak. She has recorded 15 albums with many of the songs became hits. She successfully held concerts on Belgrade's biggest stadium, popular Markana and on Ušće with more than 150.000 spectactors.

Other popular of new genre or who successfully switched from turbo-folk include Aca Lukas, Saša Matić, Viki Miljković, Tanja Savić, Miligram...

House and Electronic music[edit]

In 2010, Serbian DJ Marko Milićević most known as Gramophonedzie released his debut single "Why Don't You" which entered the UK Singles Chart on 7 March 2010 at number 12.[7]

Festivals[edit]

Exit festival logo

Exit is an award-winning summer music festival which is held at the Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad. It was officially proclaimed as the 'Best Major European festival' at the EU Festival Awards, which were held in Groningen in January 2014. The EU Festival Award is considered one of the most prestigious festival awards in the world, and for the 2014 ceremony 620,000 people voted, choosing between 360 festivals from 34 countries.

In the town of Guča, near the city of Čačak is an annually held brass band festival called Guča trumpet festival in the Dragačevo region of western Serbia with 600.000 visitors per year. Other popular festivals include Belgrade Beer Fest, Gitarijada, Nišville jazz festival...

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stevan Mokranjac, composer". Serbian Music. Serbian Unity Congress. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22. Even though many say that the stimulus Mokranjac gave to Serbian music was more important than his compositions, many musicians who sing or listen to his works state that the true Mokranjac is exemplified in the Song Wreaths. ... From the moment they were composed, Mokranjac's Song Wreaths played an important role in singing societies. 
  2. ^ Serbian and Greek Art Music: A Patch to Western Music History, p. 81, at Google Books
  3. ^ Warrander, Gail (2011). Kosovo. Bradt Guides. p. 41. ISBN 9781841623313. 
  4. ^ http://gucasabor.com/en/history.html
  5. ^ Počeci džeza u Jugoslaviji
  6. ^ "Nišvil": Džindžer Bejkeru uručena nagrada "Šaban Bajramović"
  7. ^ http://acharts.us/song/53826
  • Burton, Kim. "Balkan Beats". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 273–276. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

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