Music of Serbia
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Music of Serbia has a variety of traditional music, which is part of the wider Balkan tradition, with its own distinctive sound and characteristics.
Music of the Middle Ages
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Church music was performed throughout medieval Serbia by choirs or individual singers. The songs performed at the time were derived from the Octoechos (Osmoglasnik), a collection of religious songs dedicated to Jesus. Composers from this era include nun Jefimija, monks Kir Stefan the Serb, Isaiah the Serb, and Nikola the Serb, who together belong to the "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 Nemanjić dynasty era musicians played an important role at the royal court, and were known as sviralnici, glumci and praskavnici. The rulers known for the musical patronage included Emperor Stefan Dušan and Despot Đurađ Branković. 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.
Sung Serbian 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.
After the Ottoman conquest of Serbia, music was enriched with oriental influences. From Habsburg rule, Serbia was enriched by Western music.
Composer and musicologist Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac is considered one of the most important founders of modern Serbian music. 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 music school and one of the founders of the Union of Singing Societies. His most famous works are the Song Wreaths, also known as Garlands.
During the 19th and 20th 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 Stojković 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 choral 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.
Serbian folk music
The ethno genre encompasses both vocal and non-vocal (instrumental) music. Instruments include bagpipes, flutes, horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals such as: Frula (woodwind), Diple (dvojanka, woodwind), Gajde (bagpipe), Zurna (woodwind), Duduk (woodwind), Tambura (lute), Tamburitza (lute), Gusle (lute), Kaval (šupeljka, lute), Davul (tapan, goč, drum), Bouzouki (šargija, lute), Tarambuke (drum). 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.
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, Miroslav Ilić, Lepa Lukić, Vasilija Radojčić, Šaban Bajramović, Staniša Stošić, Toma Zdravković 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.
During the 70s Serbian folk music started to use elements from oriental music, distancing from the original sound, style that is titled novokomponovana muzika (newly composed music). Soon many neo-folk singers emerged: Šaban Šaulić, Jašar Ahmedovski, Kemal Malovčić, Mitar Mirić, Nada Topčagić, Šeki Turković, Ipče Ahmedovski, Ljuba Aličić, Zorica Brunclik, Marinko Rokvić and others. Serbian folk scene was not homogeneous nor uniform. On one hand, following Western models, Vesna Zmijanac was creating a star-image, being sex-symbol, fashionista and gay icon as well. On the other hand, singers like Vera Matović, for example, have created folk subgenre, sort of rural folk, singing about works in field, domestic animals and themes from Serbian village. Louis was combining Serbian folk music with jazz. Their albums were sponsored and songs were broadcast on the Radio Television of Serbia, which led to domination of this genre.
Turbo-folk and pop-folk
Pop-folk, colloquially known as turbo-folk (a term coined by rock musician Rambo Amadeus), music emerged in the 80s as a result of urbanisation of Serbian folk music, and reached its peak as the 90s subculture during the Yugoslav wars, the breakup of Yugoslavia and regime of Slobodan Milošević. It contains Serbian folk music as the basis with added influences from rock, pop and electronic dance music. The songs are also under the influence of Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian folk music. Combination that was referred to as distasteful and grotesque, but at the same time very popular with the people. Most of the tracks involve themes of love, mainly adultery and sex, then materialism, alcohol and vice. Some of the most popular Serbian performers belong to this genre, such as Lepa Brena, Dragana Mirković, Ceca, Aca Lukas, Indira Radić, Jelena Karleuša, Saša Matić, Seka Aleksić, Đani and Milica Pavlović.
Brass bands, known as "trubači" (трубачи, the trumpeters) are extremely popular, especially in Central and Southern Serbia where Balkan Brass Band originated. The trumpet was initially used as a military instrument to wake and gather soldiers and announce battles during First Serbian Uprising in the 19. century, but later 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 special occasions such as slavas, baptisms, harvests, births and funerals. In 1831 the first official military band was formed by Prince Miloš Obrenović. Roma people have also 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 is a five-day annual festival with 300 000 visitors.
Pioneers of pop music in Serbia are considered to have performed before and during the Second World War, however the most prominent are Vojin Popović and Darko Kraljić. At the end of the 1950s Lola Novaković, Dušan Jakšić, and Đorđe Marjanović appeared on the music scene, in the 1960s Miki Jevremović, Ljiljana Petrović, Radmila Karaklajić, Leo Martin, Sedmorica Mladih and others. In the 1970s and 1980s 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, one of the biggest performers in the former Yugoslavia, Maja Odžaklievska, Aska, Bebi Dol, Zana and others. In the 1990s Serbian pop musicians like Tap 011, K2, Dee Monk, Moby Dick were heavily under the influence of Eurodance.
In the 21st century, pop music increased its popularity with Serbia opening to the western world. Some of the most eminent performers include Vlado Georgiev, Aleksandra Radović, Emina Jahović, Jelena Karleuša, Jelena Tomašević, Nataša Bekvalac, Ana Nikolić, Saša Kovačević and Sara Jo. Željko Joksimović took second place at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest and third at the 2012. Currently, the only Serbian Eurovision winner is Marija Šerifović, as she won it in 2007 with the song Molitva.
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, Kerber, Korni Grupa, Laboratorija Zvuka, Partibrejkers, Pekinška Patka, Piloti, Pop Mašina, Rambo Amadeus, Riblja Čorba, Smak, Šarlo Akrobata, YU Grupa, Van Gogh, and others.
Jazz in Serbia appears in the 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 specialized magazines. Radio Belgrade started to work in 1929, every night after 22:30 h 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. The 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 entered The 1956 Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz of Leonard Feather. Other 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. Among the most popular singers of jazz and blues in Serbia was Šaban Bajramović known as King of Romani music. The magazine Time included him on the list of top 10 blues singers in the world. In 2015 artist Marko Louis recorded album, Shine on me” on English for global market. Vladan Mijatovic (Jazz pianist) is the young ambassador of the Serbian Jazz music in America.
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. Trappers like Surreal and Fox also came to prominence in 2010s. Two of the most popular female performers of this period are Mimi Mercedez, who kept her street-style vibe influenced by 90s subculture, and Sajsi MC with her alternative style and political mixed with sexual themes.
At the beginning of the century came a new generation of more commercial performers influenced by world pop-rap, EDM and trap scene. Some of the best genre-defining artists are Elitni Odredi, Cvija, Rasta and Coby. By switching to more pop sound, working as producers, expending their brands and collaborating with popular Serbian singers these performers achieved mainstream attention. Although being criticised for the shallowness of their music, sending a bad message to younger generations and using auto tune no one can disprove the popularity of this style.
Exit is an award-winning summer music festival which is held at the Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, officially proclaimed as the "Best Major European Festival" at the EU Festival Awards. Other festivals include Belgrade Beer Fest in Belgrade, Gitarijada in Zaječar, Nišville in Niš and Guča Trumpet Festival in Guča.
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 Rock festivals Belgrade Beer Fest and Gitarijada, and Jazz festival Nišville.
- "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.
- Serbian and Greek Art Music: A Patch to Western Music History, p. 81, at Google Books
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-02. Retrieved 2011-06-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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