Read, Write, Run, Roam

Playlist Petak (Friday): Balkan Brass


Image source: http://www.guca.rs

Regular readers know that I’m a fan of the classic Balkan tune Đurđevdan (and the accompanying dancing/glass throwing that goes along with it). I’m also a fan of Balkan brass, also called trubači. Its unique staccato brass beat is heard at festivals, weddings, and occasionally in the streets. Serbian friends will roll their eyes and say, “ugh, it’s so LOUD,” but then they’re the first people dancing when the roving band comes by. Even if you don’t like the music, you have to dance to it, because (1) it’s infectious and (2) you can’t talk over the noise, so you might as well have a good time.

Americans might want to get ready for these Balkan brass beats. According to the Guardian, “gypsy music” has been gaining international recognition over the past 10 years. They note that the sound originates from  Turkish military bands but has morphed over the centuries to become the aggressively celebratory music it is today. 

Muz and I will be celebrating the unique Balkan sound at the Guca trumpet festival this July. It’s a wreck of a music festival, from what we’ve heard: brass bands playing from 10am to 6am, drinking and dancing in the streets, and people driven wild by the music (and copious amounts of beer). We’ve been warned that it’s crazy, that our clothes will get ruined, and that we’ll be deaf afterwards. When we wondered out loud if we should skip it, everyone said, “Oh no, you must go. Once.”

It’s hard to pick one brass song to highlight, but I ultimately had to choose this one because of the beat and the name: Kalishnikov, by Goran Bregovic. The complicated trumpet tune has so many short notes, it sounds like a machine gun firing. I used to play the trumpet, and this tune is hard, y’all. I can’t endorse the red and blue dancers, but you can’t deny the beat.

Readers, what brass tunes get YOU ready for the weekend?

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3 responses

  1. Aunt Lo

    I would be the first one dancing in the street…how could you not! I love it!

    May 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm

  2. VP

    Goran Bregović’s band is quite famous (and the later albums can rightly be classified as “world music”), but if you’d like to hear something different, I recommend Sandy Lopicic Orkestra (check it out on YouTube). It’s not the typical stuff you’ll hear in Serbia, but you can hear that live and this is some professionally produced music. About half of their stuff is original, while the rest are covers of traditional Macedonian/Serbian songs (impress your Serb friends by knowing some of these!). All-in-all, a very nice band suitable for a larger audience.

    As for Guča, well… I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

  3. Thanks for the tip. I will check them out. I am a little nervous about Guca since people keep saying “REALLY?” when I tell them that we’re going, but I figure it’s something I cannot miss.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

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