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Serbia

 

Geography and Topography

Capital: Belgrade

Population: 1 154 589

Area:   99 361 km²

Language: Serbian

Religion: Orthodox Christians (85%)

Currency: Serbian Dinar

History

The arrival of the Serbs to the Balkans from the 7th to the 14th century resulted in the formation of the Serbian Empire. Serbia was conquered and occupied by the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Hapsburg Empire. The Serbian revolution in the early 19th century re-established the country as the region’s first constitutional monarchy, which subsequently expended its territory and pioneered the abolition of feudalism in the Balkans. The former Hapsburg sovereign territory of Vojvodjna united with Serbia in 1918. The National Assembly of Serbia declared independence in 2006 and in February 2008, the parliament of UNMIK which governs Kosovo, Serbia’s southern province, declared independence resulting in mixed responses from international governments.


Performing Arts

Music

Serbian music has a unique variety of traditional music with unique and distinguishing sounds. Serbian music takes its origin from medieval music using choirs and individual singers to perform religious songs dedicated to Jesus. The Medieval era in Serbia includes traditional and “music de cour” where notable Nemanjic musicians played an important role in the Serbian Royal Court.

Classical music experienced important development under the Composer Stevan Stojanović, who is often considered to be the most important figure in modern Serbian music. Stojanović served as the director of the first music school established in modern Serbia. During the 19th and 20th centuries, various groups, military as well as civil contributed to the development of the Serbian music.

Serbian traditional music involves numerous types of vocal and non-vocal tracks. Artists such as Balkanika, Balkanopolis and Dvig are groups which use instruments and vocals based on elements of traditional music. Serbia has a well-established history of epic poetry which tells the tales of the country’s history and mythology. Such epic poetry forms an integral part of Balkan and Serbian music as it forms the content of many of the lyrics of traditional folk songs. Serbian popular music such as the Izvorna Muzika may have its origins in rural practices whilst others such as the Starogradska Muzika have its roots in urban traditions.

The urbanization of the folk music is called “Muzika Novokomponovana” and is characterized by a more professional approach towards the instrumental performance of a track. Popular artists also use the influences of the pop music, oriental music and other genres which has led to the emergence of new styles such as the Turbo Folk.

The Yugoslav rock scene was well accepted and developed due to extensive media coverage which supported and promoted it. When the nation of Yugoslavia ceased to exist in 1991, its rock scene reduced significantly in popularity. In 2000, a revival of the rock scene occurred with groups such as No Smoking Orchestra. The pop music of Serbia is characterized by a presence in broadcast TV shows such as the Eurovision or the Eurosong. The Hip-hop genre appeared in the 1980s and introduced the art of B-Boying along with Hip Hop Artists such as Scratch Band Master. Serbian Hip Hop only truly reached its peak in 1997/1998, however as these years are characterized by the first wave of Serbian hip hop. Groups such as Ding Dong, Popeye, Voodoo, Sunshine or Ghetto Belgrade are the best examples from this era. In 2002, the creation of record label Bassivity contributed to the better availability of Serbian artists in record stores worldwide.

Dance

Kolo is a dance form with its root in folk traditions of certain countries in Eastern Europe. Whilst it is primarily danced in Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is also popular in Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. It is a group dance performed by dozens of people at the time, the norm being three dozen. The dance is performed in a circle and involves practically no movement above the waist. The dance is accompanied by instrumental two-beat music played by an accordion. Whilst Kolo is generally performed by both men and women, some dances feature only men whilst others feature only women. Variations of Kolo are performed at weddings and other cultural ceremonies. Dancers of Kolo wear a very specific type of shoe known as the Opanci. The shoes are traditionally made out of pig leather and must be custom made to fit the measurements of the individual dancer’s foot.

Cocek

Cocek is a genre of dance which emerged in the Balkans during the early 19th century. The genre is sometimes referred to as ‘Gypsy Brass’ in English. Cocek originated from the Ottoman military brands which were scattered across the Balkan region. These military brands resided in areas as diverse as Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia & Romania. This geographic dispersion resulted in the further subdivision of the main genre into further sub-genres. This genre of dance is especially popular amongst the Muslim Rom and Albanian populations of Southern Serbia. Amongst the international folk dance community, Cocek is danced to many differing melodies.


Interesting Facts

  • Other recognized languages spoken in Serbia (besides the national language Serbian) are Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Croatian, Rusyn and Albanian
  • Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, first settled in the 3rd century BC by the Celts, before becoming the Roman settlement of Singidunum
  • Serbia is the largest raspberry exporter in the world and accounts for 1/3 of all raspberries in the world. Approximately 95% of the world’s top quality raspberries come from Serbia

 

Serbian Community in Australia

Further information about Serbia