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Bulgaria

Geography & Topography

Capital: Sofia

Population: 7,476,000

Area: 110,994 square km

Language: Bulgarian

Religion: Orthodox Christianity (76%), Do not identify with a religion (11.8%), Islam (10%), Roman Catholicism (0.8%), Protestantism (1.1%), Other Beliefs (0.2%), 11.8% (do not identify with a religion)

Ethnic Groups: Bulgarian (84.8%), Turk (8.8%), Roma (4.9%) & Others (1.5%)

Currency: Lev

 

History

Bulgaria is a country in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the North, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the West, Greece & Turkey to the South and the Black Sea to the East. It is the 14th largest country in all of Europe and its strategic location at the crossroads of various ancient civilizations has resulted in the nation playing a prominent role in European history. Prehistoric cultures have been present on Bulgarian land since the Neolithic period and Bulgaria has been inhabited by various ancient civilizations such as the Thracians, Greeks & Romans at different points throughout the ages. Most of the nation’s modern commercial and cultural activities take place in the capital, Sofia. The economy, at present, predominantly rests upon heavy industry, power engineering, agriculture and natural resources. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, Council of Europe & the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Bulgaria has also occupied a seat on the United Nations Security Council for three years.

Performing Arts

Music

Bulgarian music is an all-encompassing term referring to all types of music traditionally associated with the nation such as classical, folk and popular music. Bulgarian music falls under the broader genre of Balkan music which includes music of most of Southeastern Europe and has a uniquely distinctive style. Bulgarian singers are known to sing an “open throated” manner which gives their voice a distinctive edge and allows their voices to carry across long distances easily. Bulgarian music involves a wide variety  of different instruments. Bulgarian instruments are variations of some traditional Asian instruments such as the Saz or the Kemence. Instruments commonly used in Bulgarian music are discussed below:

Gaida: The Macedonian bagpipe shares similar characteristics to other bagpipes found in Balkan countries. The bagpipe has been used by the Macedonians since ancient times. It has a single chanter pipe and one drone pipe. Just like a clarinet reed, its reeds are single. The gaida can be played unaccompanied but it is usually played together with percussion instruments.

Kaval: A very old folk flute from the Balkans. It is an end-blown flute with eight finger holes. A tone is created by blowing across the sharpened edge of the mouthpiece.When played, the kaval is held with both hands at an angle of approximately 45° from the body, with the four fingers of the one hand covering the lower holes; the upper three holes and the thumbhole are covered with the other hand. The mouth covers ~¾ of the end. Change of the breath air pressure also changes the pitch.


Davul: The davul is a large double-headed drum that is played with a stick. Variations of the instrument exist in many countries around the world, thus the name for what is essentially the same, if not very similar, instrument changes depending on which part of the world you are in. Some other names for the Davul include Tupan, Tapan, Toba, Tabl, Tof or Daouli. Davuls have a deep bass sound and a thin treble sound due to the manner in which they are constructed. Davuls feature heavily in Bulgarian folk dances and songs are irreplaceable at various village festivities, weddings and religious celebrations

Dance

Paidushka Horo. This folk dance, originating from Macedonia is done to a 5-beat meter divided into quick and slow units. Like many other Balkan folk dances, the specific choreography and style differs according to the specific region or village. It originated as being a dance exclusively performed by men, but in recent times it is acceptable for the dance to include both male and female performers. It a form of line dance where dancers hold hands and move to the right in a series of four lift-steps.

 

 

Daychovo Horo. This Bulgarian folk dance is unique due to two main reasons. Firstly, it is a circle dance and secondly it has a leader when most circle dances do not have one. The dance has relatively basic choreography which involves lifting the right knee to the first beat followed by three steps performed on the spot. The pattern is repeated alternating which knee is lifted.

 Some Interesting Facts:

  • Bulgarian rose-oil originating from the Kazanlak region is a component of French and other world-famous perfumes
  • John Vincent Atanassoff, the inventor of the first electronic computer, is of Bulgarian origin
  • One of the oldest trees on record is located in the village of Granit in the vicinity of Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. It is estimated that the tree is approximately 1,650 years old

Bulgarian Community in Australia

More information about the Bulgarian Community