Tamburitza! Hot String Band Music From The Balkans To America: 1910-1950|
Staccato string band music from the first half of the 20th century in the Balkans region. Very cheerful, almost ecstatically so. Gives a good indication of historical traditions of the Balkan region. Everything from fast, rousing dance pieces to slow, deliberate chanting set to music. Complex string interplay weaves with multi-part male and female harmony. Somewhat repetitive at times, and many of the tracks are very similar. Overall sound quality is poor, but these are recordings remastered from the first half of the 20th century, so this is to be expected. Nonetheless, makes for authentic feel. Overall an excellent CD, if a little repetitive, but very representative and peculiarly engaging. The following tracks I found to be of note:
1. Sets the tone for the piece. Male vocals serenade confidently over cheery, up-tempo wire strings, backup vocals provided by team of two more men. Continuous plucking.
2. More string plucking. Slightly lower pitch, slower but still rather fast tempo. Main vocalist has eccentric singing voice, unclear whether male/female, male backup singers. Bow string instruments similar to fiddles combine with the plucked instrument of track 1.
*5. Very fast tempo, multiple plucked strings, simple bassline encourages foot tapping. No vocals, just continuous strings, for a very feel-good piece.
10. At least three male vocals, one of them harmonizing, sing tune that comes and ebbs in waves.
12. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, slow dancing piece with ballad-like feel.
*14. Change of pace—single string instrument in background, operatic singing. A must listen!
15. Three instruments this time, pleasant melody sung by younger male voice.
*18. Complex string interplay highlights three part male vocal melody of bass, baritone, and tenor. Slow and deliberate, but no less complicated tune.
*19. Instrumental piece, gives the feel of whirling chaos, breaking way to ordered cacophony. Violin-like bow instrument interspersed with plucking.
*20. Almost Arabian-sounding horn with bow accompaniment, older male choir accompanies slow-paced, deliberate, quasi-psychedelic rambling.
*21. The plucking returns, for a complex instrumental melody fitting for a royal procession.
22. Bow strings accentuate a slow dancing piece, two-part melody with very low and very high parts.
23. Instrumental—very typical of the genre, with fast-paced, rousing, cheerful, and complex melody. Tempo speeds slightly throughout song.
*24. Tambourine makes its appearance, (Tamburitza!), and female singer makes some impressive vocal leaps. Very full voice over simple 1-2 background, very rousing.
-Professor Barnaby J. Finkerton