Tamburitza! Hot String Band Music From The Balkans To America: 1910-1950|
Second CD in the series of 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. Fast-paced instrumental with bobbing and weaving melody plucked on steel strings.
3. Another instrumental piece, somewhat slower, with changing tempo
4. Slow, 1-2, 1-2, older men singing in a reminiscing tone. Strings take background to vocals
*5. Two “dueling” strings make for an animated, upbeat instrumental piece with quaint, Eastern-European feel.
7. Pleasant, harmonious plucking precedes all-male trio with older-sounding voices. Mid-tempo
9. Bass keeps a steady 2/4 in the background as steel strings keep the melody and old men reminisce, perhaps holding each other’s shoulders and swaying in ouzo-induced revelry.
10. Pleasant ebb and flow of the strings’ simple melody takes center stage in this piece.
*11. Almost sounds like mariachi—the exception being that these men are speaking Greek. Strumming becomes more distinctly Hispanic.
*12. Complex, engaging melody meanders through the Greek countryside, with accompanying “Eepah!”s. Fast, but relaxing piece.
13. Bow instruments present staggered, break-filled array, with dual tenor male vocal harmonizing
*15. Bouncy piece shows the expressive power of string music, its ability to evoke a feeling through layered melody. Higher bow instruments accentuate lower dulcimer-like ones, and behind it all is a wandering guitar.
16. Four-part male harmony sings repetitive string of short words in rapid succession. Onomatopoeia?
18. Male vocalist sing a part, pause for a time, and resume, in unending cycle. Plucking strings take foreground over very-present bass.
*20. Instrumental, perplexing arrangement of a somewhat dark melody. Primarily plucked, but guitar in background provides strumming accompaniment. Mid-tempo.
21. Light, pleasing melody fit for a bike ride and a picnic in the hills of Czechoslovakia circa 1985. Instrumental piece with predictable but nevertheless enjoyable steel-string plucked melody.
23. Slow, 4/2 piece with old-timey feel. Plucking predominates, perhaps by as many as three instruments at a given time.
*24. Very typical of the genre, beginning slow and speeding up to feverish pitch. High-pitched and enthusiastic bow with plucking in background. Nice way to end the set.