Drina is one of few urban groups in Yugoslavia which perform traditional Serbian songs using authentic vocal technique. It is duet and its members are Svetlana Spajic and Minja Nikolic. These two young singers also performs the songs from other Balkan areas, primarily from Bulgaria and Macedonia using vocal styles typical for these areas, but mostly their repertoire consists of traditional songs from all areas where the Serbs live or used to live (until the war events in this decade, expulsions and migrations). For their work they use exclusively field-recordings of village singing or go directly to the villages, searching for new songs and traditional manners of singing.
Drina started its work in Belgrade in 1999. but both singers have their singing experience. Svetlana Spajic started learning and singing traditional songs in 1993. and she was one of the founders of the young urban group "Moba" (Harvest Helpers). Together with traditional player, Darko Macura, she is a member of the First Traditional Balkan Ensemble which gathered in 1995. some fifteen best Balkan traditional performers from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Albania and Serbia. She sings also Bulgarian, Macedonian and Greek songs (including those from Asia Minor) and she is the only Yugoslav singer who performs Tuvan diphonic way of singing called "khoomei". Minja Nikolic is young and estimated jazz-singer and leads the female jazz vocal group The Four. Although their music taste is rather different in contemporary music, Svetlana and Minja understand each other very easily as far as their grandmothers' songs are concerned. They give concerts in the country and abroad.
The aim of Drina is to communicate mostly with young, urban audience who is emerged in contemporary culture and freed from academic and soc-realistic patterns typical for former Yugoslavia. "In our country, it is a challenge to perform such songs in urban surroundings. It is the greatest opportunity for artistic revaluation of these songs and a big chance to preserve them in future, since the living traditional culture in villages is slowly fading away. And that is exactly the tradition: live, organic re-creation from what was kept and learnt and what is delivered to the others, not some sterile, academic preservation. So, you may find us wherever life and energy beats, and it sometimes means that we have to sing in smoke-stained, dark music clubs. But they are full of young, open people and that is the audience we want." (Svetlana)
Descriptions by Svetlana Spajic
1. Avalanche in Sara Mountain, Sara mountain area, Old Serbia
2. A Falcon Drinks Water on the Vardar River, Macedonia
3. Kocan Seymens Grouped Themselves, Macedonia
4. A Thick Fog Has Fallen, Kosovo
5. Mother of God Gave Birth to Young God, the village of Vukmanovo, South-eastern Serbia
6. A Young Lamb Has Bleated Up, the village of Lasovo, the vicinity of Zajecar, Eastern Serbia
7. The Drum is Drumming in the Village, the village of Vidrovac, the vicinity of Negotin, North-eastern Serbia
8. Two Maidens Woke Up at Down, the village of Seselac, Eastern Serbia
9. White Fairy, I Am Angry with You, the village of Milatovac, mountain Homolje, Eastern Serbia
10. Oh, You Green Apple, the village of Gracanica, Kosovo
11. Ozren Mountain, Bend Your Branches To Your Hills, mountain Ozren area, Eastern Bosnia
12. The Fairies Poisoned the Drina River, "kantalica", the village Culine, area of the river Drina, Serbia side
13. When We Marry, My Sister, Who Will Take Care of Our Mother, "kantalica", love song, the village of Donja Pilica, Bosnian side of the river Drina
14. Joka Bogutovka Fell Asleep, "na glas", ("voice on voice" style) Rastosnica village, Bosnian side of the river Drina
15. Why Is the Morava River So Muddy, "kantalica", village of Donja Badanja, Serbia side of the Drina river
16. Stojna maiden digs a furrow, the village of Gracanica, Kosovo
17. Kontra, singing in a ring dance, the Kozara mountain area, Bosnian Krajina (Western Bosnia)
18. There Is No Paradise without Your Birthplace
19. Where Have You Been, My Kid, Vranje, Southern Serbia
20. Listen, Drina river, Kraina
The first four songs of this album we sing with "ground" accompanying voice. It is one of the most powerful means in the traditional singing of the Balkans. This is very famous shepherd song telling about three shepherds snowed in the mountain under the avalanche.
2. A Falcon Drinks Water on the Vardar River, Macedonia
This song gives a picture of a falcon drinking water on the Vardar river. A singer asks the falcon if it saw a hero who is dying from ten wounds. The tenth, the worst one, was done to him with the knife.
3. Kocan Seymens Grouped Themselves, Macedonia
Seymens are the members of the Turkish "police". In this song they are searching for Ilj the rebel, who gives them lots of trouble. While the Turks are trying to find him near Kriva Reka, he is sitting pleasantly in Thessaloniki in the company of a Macedonian girl.
The biggest number of Serbian songs comes from Kosovo and Metohiya. Most of them are sung solo or unison, or they are accompanied with kavals. Instead of it, we used the same accompanying voice as in the previous songs. This is one of the most frequent and most popular Kosovo songs with beautiful verses. A thick fog has fallen on the huge Kosovo flat and nothing can be seen save one tall tree. A young tailor is sitting under that tree and embroidering a vest for his darling. The shades and beauty of it are compared with the sky full of stars.
This is ritual, Christmas song and it has very old and frequent motif. The Holy Liturgy is served in Heaven in the honour of the Birth of Young God, Jesus Christ. Mother of God invites His Godfather, St. John and the saints, monks and priests sing in the Holy Liturgy. Mother of God then invites all the nature, waters and plants to stand still and listen to them. So, the waters stopped and all the trees, only the aspen tree disobeyed Mother of God, so She cursed aspen and gave it no fruit.
The next four songs chosen here represent one singing style typical for the Eastern Serbia; it is called "na bas" ("over the bass"), which means that they are sung with characteristic accompanying voice which actually imitates the sound and colour of the bagpipes. The singers from this area usually "smear" the vowels and sing nasally in order to accomplish this resemblance and full sonority. We tried here to preserve the purity of the style, that is, to imitate the bagpipe’s sound and make it as much sonorous as possible, however, without losing the clearness of the words. The intensive sonority is also the consequence of singing in natural, non-tempered scale, so the ends in non-tempered fifth or fourth are much more intensive and richer than the those in the tempered system. It also means that you do not have any fixed intonation but you adjust it in accordance with your mood.
This is a shepherd’s song, and it says about a young lamb who has bleated up about his sufferings. While its shepherd was free, unmarried lad, the lamb enjoyed freedom in the mountains, drank water from the springs and ate green grass in the meadows. Then, the shepherd got married and the lamb’s life became miserable and it lost its freedom.
This is Easter song ("Veligdenska pesma"). The drum is drumming in the village on the very day of Easter and Todora leads the round dance. The fairies blew winds and dusted Todora’s eyes. Todora prayed to God that the fairies stop the winds.
This is a harvest song about two maidens who woke up early on Sunday to finish harvesting together with their father. The lightening started across the sky and a thunder stroke two of them. One got killed and another injured. They both fell into the green grass.
This is one of the most beautiful and saddest songs from Eastern Serbia and I learnt it from the best Serbian traditional singer, Svetlana Stevich, from the village of Milatovac. A singer addresses to the white fairy and asks her to tell about the destiny of his enslaved people. The fairy answers that the people are alive, but cannot cross the huge Danube river. The singer, then, tells her to cut her hair and make from it the bridges across the Danube. The fairy replies that she visited the dungeon during the night and freed the slaves.
This is very old wedding song and it is sung solo. I found it very challenging for singing. Like many other songs from Kosovo, it is highly poetic and it is actually a complex of old images and symbols; a single, perfect scene with unknown plot or motive. Green apple grew in the centre of the village and bore a fruit: two branches with apples and the third one with falcon standing on it and watching a young lad in distress. He shoes his bay horse and curse him. It is up to you now to invent the story.
Let’s go to the Western countries now! We have chosen songs of two types from these areas, the so-called songs "na glas" (it could be translated as: "voice on voice") and the songs called "kantalica"- this second type is specific for the Drina area river, as well as for some other Western areas. The main characteristic of both types is singing in the seconds intervals. To accomplish this, a singer have to be very concentrated in order to "split" these very close intervals and to find a proper colour. Songs of type "na glas" can sometimes be heard in a distance of several kilometres. "Kantalica" songs have more text than the first type, and though they might sound simple, in the beginning, we found them very tricky for singing, because of two parallel melodies in the intervals of seconds, especially if you do not practice it with fixed intonation, which is one of our main principle. I was born on the river Drina, so, it is not strange that I am very fond of such "kantalica" songs.
This is wedding song, sung in a so-called "wedding voice" on the guests’ way to or from the bride’s house.
The fairies have poisoned the Drina river, and a singer is afraid that her darling might drink a poisoned water.
Though it might sound simple, we found this song one of the most tricky one. Sometimes I like to say that such songs have one melody – but with distortion!
Joka Bogutovka feel asleep and Jovo Bogutovo woke her up. That is the whole text of this song, however, I believe that it says a lot about the dreams. Such intensive songs usually have a quiet "signal" of the leading voice for the start of each phrase.
This is a song from my grandmother’s village, Donja Badanja. The song has very dramatic text about two sisters, Olivera and Todora. Todora drowned in the Morava river and sent a word to her sister, Olivera, from the river bottom: "My dear sister, go home and tell our mother that I got married; a cold water-stone is my groom, the send is wedding guests, the willows are my sisters-in law.." Lot of songs in my village must have this "shaking" accompanying voice and the singers who do it properly are very estimated in this area. Minya comes from the Eastern Serbia – this is why she is good, I believe, at imitating bagpipes- but she is also skilful in "shaking voice".
One more solo song from Kosovo. It expresses our wish for eternal life and beauty. Stoyna maiden has planted a basil and fallen asleep. Basil will fade, but she will never fade away.
People in Kraina countries do not accompany the ring dance with music. Instead, they sing, and in some areas they dance so–called, "deaf ring dance", with a very strong rhythm and strict commands, but without any instruments or singing. This is the way of singing called kontra, characteristic for the area of Kozara mountain (actually two groups of singers sing in antiphonal way, but here, we made a "normal" song of it).
I learnt it from my husband’s relatives when I was dancing with them.
The Serbs from Western Kraina countries are most probably the best keepers of their traditional customs and songs. Even nowadays, they create new songs in their old, traditional way. The people of Kraina are the loudest of all Serbian singers. It is interesting that men from Kraina sing more than women, which is not characteristic for other Serbian areas. This song is well known among people from Krajina and if you want to break the heart of a "Krajisnik" (man from Krajina) just sing this song which reminds him of his birthplace, old mother who is "far away", old customs, relatives, their life before the expulsion from Kraina committed by the Croats in 1995.
This solo song is a dialogue between a kid and its shepherd. The kid confesses its sad life and at the end, the singer imitates kid’s crying using onomatopoeia. I sing my version according to the singing of young singer Maja Ivanovic from Vranje.
The singer begs the river Drina not to be a border to the Serbs, but to connect them. The song was created during this war decade and has several variations. Thus, we, Duet Drina, created our own version which actually combines the traditional melody and special way of singing in Kraina called "ojkanje" or "orzanje".
"But he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever:
But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting". (John: 4,14.)
Having been escorted from Antioch to Rome, before he would cross Serbia, St. Ignatius Theophoros ("God Bearer"), urging the Church not to prevent him to stand before lions, had discovered us in that moment a true being of this water which was promised to the Samaritan Photini:" I have crucified my Eros for union with Christ and there is a spring that purls in me: Back to Father!"
Christ – purling and melody, "perfect Icon" that springs up from all-creative Silence of "perfect Father".
Christ’s name engraved on the heart was all that left from St. Ignatius in Colosseum; Serbian blood with which the same kingdom waters its imagined limes, purls in "Drina" with the same voice.
Hieromonk Jovan (Culibrk)
Holy Monday, in the year of the Lord 2000.
// Projekat Rastko / Muzika //
[ Promena pisma | Pretraga | Mapa projekta | Kontakt | Pomoć ]