Monday, 30 June 2014

Music To My Ears

Well another Glastonbury has been and gone, so it seems like quite a good idea to take a look at music over here in Bulgaria. It seems to be all round us at times. Even in this quiet little village you can often here radios being played out in gardens during the day, and occasionally into the night. We have heard a couple of different thoughts behind the purpose of playing loud music. Some have said that the vibrations deter snakes from the gardens, whereas others claim that it helps the chickens lay better eggs. If the chickens had any sense they would be wearing ear defenders, as if we can hear it clearly in our garden, it must be quite deafening right up close to the radio.

It seems that no matter where you go there is music of one form or another playing. If you go into a store there is music, if you go and sit in a cafe there is music. Thankfully one habit seems to have changed, when we first got here what was playing on the TV had no resemblance to what you were actually hearing. Quite often you will end up listening to one of the folk music channels on the TV.
Now it might not be to everyone's taste, but it is part and parcel of Bulgarian life. I have to admit that at times it does sound a bit twiddly to me, but it shouldn't be totally dismissed. You have probably heard more Bulgarian folk music than you realise, as clips are often used in films. One which immediately springs to mind is the Jason Statham film Hummingbird, if you have seen that film you will have heard a haunting Bulgarian song "Malka Moma" which was performed and co-written by Neli Andreeva. Bulgarian folk music has even made it into space, Valya Mladenova Balkanska singing "Izlel e Delyu Haydutin" is included on the Golden records which were aboard the Voyager missions launched in 1977.

Regular readers of the blog will hopefully remember me writing about various music festivals. Quite often they seem to be rock orientated, as many Bulgarians do seem to like their rock music. Some of it does seem to be early Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, but it goes right the way through to the modern stuff. Even tomorrow there will be many Bulgarians welcoming the sunrise to the strains of Uriah Heep's July Morning. I don't claim to be a rock music aficionado but I do have to say that I have been impressed by some of the groups which we have seen at these festivals, and that is without going up to Sofia and seeing some of the Internationally known bands. Even some of the local bands do some outstanding cover versions. Their enthusiasm alone makes going to these event so worthwhile, and some of them are free to attend. It does seem as though music festivals are springing up all over the place.

One form of music which I can't really get to grips with is something called Chalga. Basically it seems to be a hybrid between pop music and folk music, but it doesn't seem to be the better bits of either. The only thing which I can attribute its popularity to has to be the videos which accompany these songs.

There are often more clothes just about being worn to keep within the bounds of decency, and they don't really seem to fit in with the 'plotline' of these videos. Sometimes they might as well not bother with the clothes, as they do little to cover various silicon enhancements. Some of the characters do seem to be a bit larger than life, albeit a little bit odd, but I guess the same could have been said about an early Elton John, David Bowie or Freddie Mercury. It would appear that some of the Bulgarians are also a bit dismissive about this Chalga music, and in my opinion quite rightly claim that it doesn't have anything to do with the real Bulgaria. Maybe one day it will all click for me, but so far it just hasn't happened.

As much as I love this country a lot of the music is beyond my understanding. Having said that I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that some of the things I listen to would be considered a bit odd by your average Bulgarian. Fortunately the internet is now getting better and I can now stream UK radio. It is just something that I am familiar with, not just the music, but also the way that the DJs present it all. I do have to admit often I do take a small amount of pleasure listening to the weather reports stating that it is peeing down with rain while we are melting in the sunshine. I have finally sussed out how to pick the radio signal up in the barn. My computer is down in our lounge so the signal would have to go through loads of earth to reach all the way up there. I have now got an audio cable extension running from the cellar up into the hallway window. So when I want UK radio round the house and garden I plug one end of this cable into my computer and the other into an FM signal transmitter. So the radio in the cellar gets the signal, the radio in the kitchen gets the signal and the radio up in the barn also gets the signal. Quite possibly if Emi and Said re-tuned their radio they could also get the signal too.

While Net's laptop was being sorted out I noticed this little gadget in the computer shop. It is an MP3 FM Modulator for the car. So the next time I am faced with a long journey I don't have to search for radio stations which might play something which I would enjoy every 15 minutes. Now I can download music onto a USB flash drive or memory card, and once I have found a clear FM wavelength listen to exactly what I want to listen to. It was even suggested that I would be able to download UK radio podcasts and listen to them. It reminds me of when I was based down at Culdrose in Cornwall and used to spend weekends in Poole. My mate Soapy Watson used to record the Radio 4's play for the day, and we would listen to countless plays as we drove backwards and forwards. So now I am sorted out for music both at home and in the car, well I will be once I have finished loading up this USB flash drive, who knows maybe in time I will include some Bulgarian music, but maybe not Chalga.  


  1. A-aaa, NO, no,please, let's forget about the чалга"! I've never accepted this noise like the music
    But I really like this article and all your stuff and equipment helping you to listening a good music. I have only my phone with couples of applications to download favorite sounds :)

    1. Thank you Anna, it doesn't seem that many have anything good to say about Chalga. Although there must be a need for it as it is still about assaulting people's ears :o)

  2. Perhaps you could offer to loan your new found device to cafes and such like when you go for coffee or lunch in order to enlighten...... You could try your right said fred album.

    1. Sadly that seems to be missing from my collection, perhaps I could get a copy of yours at some point to fill that particular musical gap. :o)

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