Music of Croatia: Wikis

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Traditional Croatian musicians play for Mrs. Laura Bush on April 7, 2008 in Zagreb.

The music of Croatia, like the divisions of the country itself, has three major influences: the Mediterranean especially present in the coastal areas, of the Balkans especially in the mountainous, continental parts, and of Central Europe in the central and northern parts of the country.

While both pop/rock and folk are rather popular in Croatia, the folk/pop combinations fare the best.

Contents

Folk music

The traditional folk music of Croatia is mostly associated with the following:

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Ganga

Ganga is a type of singing which is characterized by a lone singer singing one line of lyrics and then others joining in for what can be best described as a wail. It is a very passionate form of singing, which is one of the reasons it has been limited in popularity to small towns. Even though its a unique and autochthonous form of singing by Croats, it is very rare to hear this music on Croatian airwaves. However, several popular Croatian musicians have incorporated some ganga into their work.

Only recently has ganga begun to address political issues, frequently adopting overtly nationalistic overtones and incorporating themes from the Croatian Homeland War. Although both men and women regularly perform ganga, it is extremely unusual for them to perform songs together. In the past, it was not unusual for both Catholic and Muslim men to perform ganga together.

Klapa

The klapa music is a form of a cappella singing that first appeared in Croatia during the 1960's. The word klapa translates as "a group of people" and traces its roots to liturgical church singing. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. Main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important.

A klapa group consists of a first tenor, a second tenor, a baritone, and a bass. It is possible to double all the voices apart from the first tenor. Although klapa is a cappella music, on occasion it is possible to add a gentle guitar and a mandolin (instrument similar in appearance and sound to tamburitzas).

Klapa singing is fairly new (under 50 years), but still very much alive. Many young people from Dalmatia treasure klapa and sing it regularly when going out eating/drinking. This music has gained popularity among mainstream audiences in coastal regions of Croatia.

Tamburica

Tamburica (diminutive of tambura) music is a form of folk music that involves these and related string instruments. It became increasingly popular in the 1800s, and small bands began to form, paralleling similar developments in Russia, Italy and the Ukraine.

The main themes of tamburitza songs are the common themes of love and happy village life. Tamburitza music is primarily associated with the northern, Pannonian part of the country. It is sometimes said that the first sextet of tambura players was formed by Pajo Kolarić of Osijek in 1847.

Traditional tamburitza ensembles are still commonplace, but more professional groups have formed in the last few decades. These include Zlatni dukati and Ex Panonia, the first such groups, Zdenac, Slavonske Lole, Berde Band and the modernized rock and roll-influenced Gazde.

The style of Tambura music played most often in the United States during the latter half of the 20th Century was not significantly different than the style played at the turn of the 19th Century. Free of the influences of pop music in Jugoslavia and the nascent, independent republics, and without large quantities of immigrants bringing new methods and styles, American-style Tambura music, and to a lesser extent, Canadian-style Tambura music stayed true to its roots.

Today, the most prevalent forms of Tambura music are folk-pop combinations.

Gusle

The gusle music is played on this traditional string instrument. It is primarily rooted in epic poetry with emphasis on important historical or patriotic events. It is the traditional instrument of inland Dalmatia and of Herzegovina, the part of Bosnia and Herzegovina with predominant Serbian population.

Gusle players are known for glorifying outlaws such as hajduks or uskoks of the long gone Turkish reign or exalting the recent heroes of the Croatian War of Independence. Andrija Kačić Miošić, a famous 18th century author, had also composed verses in form of the traditional folk poetry (deseterac, ten verses). His book Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskog became Croatian folk Bible which inspired numerous gusle players ever since.

As for contemporary gusle players in Croatia, one person that particularly stands out is Mile Krajina. Krajina is a prolific folk poet and gusle player who gained cult status among some conservative groups. There are also several other prominent Croatian gusle players who often perform at various folk-festivals throughout Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Diple

Diple is a traditional woodwind musical instrument in Croatian music. Sometimes called "Mih", "mjeh", "mjesina" or only "diple", it is played from Istria, Lika, over Dalmatia Islands and Coast to Herzegovina. "Mih" is made of tanned goat or sheep skin and consists of a "dulac" or "kanela" through which the air is blown and "diple" (chanter) on which it is played. Inside the "mih" on the chanter, two single-blade reeds are situated. Unlike bagpipes, "Mih" doesn't have a "trubanj" or "bordun" (drone). Although they are very similar, the "mih" from different parts of Croatia still differ in type of chanter, in the position of holes or in some tiny details (for example ornaments).

Other folk traditions

The folk music of Zagorje, an area north of Zagreb, is known for small orchestras consisting of Violins, Cimbule, Tamburice and Harmonike. The Tamburitza is the national Croatian instrument. It is the Croatian national string instrument. Although there is a rich pool of folk songs in this region, traditions are not being cherished and most zagorian folk music available is performed by amateur groups. This is also reflected in the quality of the music which is mostly reduced to happy up beat songs.

The folk music of Međimurje, a small but distinct region in northernmost Croatia, with its melancholic and soothing tunes became the most popular form of folk to be used in the modern ethno pop-rock songs. Beside Cimbule and Violins, there is also a tradition of Brass orchestras which used to play an important role in cultural everyday life. On one hand, they were the foundation of every regional celebration or wedding but on the other hand they were also known for playing at funerals or funeral feasts.

In Istria and Kvarner, native instruments like sopila, curla and diple make a distinctive regional sound. It is partially diatonic in nature following the unique Istrian scale.

Events

The Slavonian town Požega hosts a known folk music festival, Zlatne žice Slavonije (Golden strings of Slavonia), which has prompted musicians to compose new songs with far-reaching influences, recently including American bluegrass.

The towns of Vinkovci and Đakovo, also in Slavonia, host yearly folklore festivals (Vinkovačke jeseni and Đakovački vezovi) where folk music is also listened to as part of the tradition.

The town of Slavonski Brod holds an annual festival called Brodfest, where many of the great tamburica bands come together to play.

The Dubrovnik Summer Festival puts on dramatic music and ballet. It was founded in 1950.

The Osor Musical Evenings was founded in 1976. It is a beautiful place and very old. It takes place in July and August. It plays classical Croatian masters.

Musical Evenings in Donat. It's in the summer in Zadar. It was founded in 1961. It plays old music.

Popular music

Pop

The pop music of Croatia generally resembles the canzone music of Italy, while including elements of the native traditional music. Croatian record companies produce a lot of material each year, if only to populate the numerous music festivals. Of special note is the Split festival which usually produces the best summer hits.

Seasoned pop singers in Croatia include: Meri Cetinić, Mišo Kovač, Ivo Robić, Vice Vukov, Milan Bačić, Arsen Dedić, Zdenka Vučković, Darko Domjan, Tereza Kesovija, Gabi Novak, Ivica Šerfezi, Oliver Dragojević, Tomislav Ivčić, Doris Dragović, Radojka Sverko, Maja Blagdan, and many others. Also the groups Magazin and Grupa 777 have had sustained careers.

In more recent times, younger performers such as Severina, Gibonni, Marko Perković/Thompson, Toni Cetinski, Divas, E.N.I., Lvky, Danijela and many others have captured the attention of the pop audience. Each of them has successfully blended various influences into their distinct music style. For example, Thompson's songs include traditional epic themes from the Dinaric regions; Severina threads between canzone and a folk sound.

Croatian pop music is fairly often listened to in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro due to the union of Yugoslavia that existed until the 1990s. Conversely, Bosnian singers like Dino Merlin and Serbian Đorđe Balašević have an audience in Croatia, as well as some others. More recently the Turbo folk of the neighbouring Balkan countries has been popular amongst some sections of Croatian youth; nevertheless, frowned upon by the establishment and despised by majority of music critics and social commentators. There is still a strong resentment to Turbo folk and is never broadcast on radio and TV, as its presence usually trigers a strong negative reaction from the general public.

Croatia is a regular contestant on the Eurovision Song Contest. Back in Yugoslavia, Croatian pop group Riva won the contest in 1989. Some of the other Croatians who performed on the ESC include Danijel Popović, Put, Boris Novković and Claudia Beni.

Rock

There are several rather popular and long-lasting mainstream rock acts like Parni Valjak, Prljavo Kazalište, Crvena Jabuka, Atomsko Sklonište etc. They originated in the 1970s and 1980s, and for the better part of their career resorted to a more mellow, mainstream pop-rock sound. Of some note is also the Sarajevo school of pop rock which influenced many of these bands, and which also included singers like Željko Bebek who later worked in Croatia.

However, Croatian New Wave (Novi Val) movement, which exploded in 1979/80 and lasted throughout the eighties, is considered by many to be the high watermark of Croatian rock music, both in terms of quality and commercial success. The most influential and popular bands of Novi val were Azra, Haustor, Film, even early Prljavo Kazalište. Other notable acts were Animatori, Buldožer, Paraf, Patrola etc.

In the late 1980s, the region of Istria became home to a kind of called Ča-val, which often used the Čakavian dialect and elements of traditional Istra-Kvarner music.

The New Wave scene has collapsed by the end of the eighties, to be replaced by the newcomers like Daleka Obala, Majke and Laufer. While Daleka Obala sported a pop-rock sound influenced by Novi val, Croatian pop and even Dalmatian folk, Majke were a back-to-basics, garage-rock act stylistically influenced by bands like the Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, as well as their Serbian counterparts Partibrejkers. Laufer, led by Damir Urban (who later went on to form Urban & 4), were an early nineties alternative rock band taking their cue from the grunge movement.

Let 3 and KUD Idijoti are also prominent rock acts, popular both for their music and their interesting, often controversial, performances and stunts.

Beginning in the late 1980s, folk-rock groups also sprouted across Croatia. The first is said to be Vještice, who combined Međimurje folk music with rock and set the stage for artists like Legen, Lidija Bajuk and Dunja Knebl. At the same time on the other side of Croatia, in Istria, a band called Gustafi started playing their own strange amalgamate of rock and Istrian folk, but it took them more than a decade to reach the nationwide audience.

The Split metal band Osmi Putnik has also been a success in Croatia and still are today and are also popular in other ex-yugoslav republics

The Sisak surf rock band The Bambi Molesters has in the past years gained sizeable international fame and are often touted as one of the best surf-rock acts in the world today.

Alternative Rock/Metal band Father (band) have had success with their first album inspirita in countries like the UK, and have toured with bands like Korn, Anthrax and Apocalyptica

Dance

Dance music in Croatia was an offspring of the local pop music and more Western influences. It developed during the late 1980s and early 1990s, picking up on the trends such as euro disco and eurodance. It also spawned a wave of electronic music artists, mostly house, techno and trance.

The singer Vanna rose to prominence through the dance trio E.T., and the music of Vesna Pisarović has a fair bit of dance beat.

Although E.T. still operates, they've changed singers several times and lost in popularity. The band Colonia is perhaps the only one that rode the dance wave of the '90s and today is one of the most popular performers in Croatia.

Rap

The 1990s were marked by the emergence of Croatian rap music. The Ugly Leaders released the first ever Croatian Hip-Hop album, and gained a strong following in and around Rijeka. In 1991, the Croatian Liberation Front released two widely popular protest singles. The first rap band to gain widespread and lasting acclaim was The Beat Fleet (TBF) from Split, whose members took inspiration from harsh economic and social condititions of war-torn Dalmatia, not that different from American inner cities. Their act was followed by multitude of artists and groups in Zagreb, taking inspiration from American gangsta rap. The Zagreb rappers Bolesna Braća (also called Sick Rhyme Sayazz) and Tram 11 became particularly popular, and to an extent also the duo Nered & Stoka.

The Croatian rap gained much from the fact Edo Maajka signed on to a label in Zagreb. Recently a rapper known as Shorty gained a lot of popularity by having songs with strong regional flavour of his native Vinkovci. The Zagreb band Elemental also burst into the scene featuring one of the few Croatian female rappers.

Other

The tendency to combine different elements also has a long presence in more classical music: the opera Ero s onoga svijeta, written by Jakov Gotovac in the 1930s, blended the traditional music of the Dinaric peoples into a scholarly form and achieved great success.

Classical

Classical musicians and compositions by Croatian composers are generally not well known worldwide despite having produced an interesting contribution over many centuries. Influences of style were often taken from neighbouring influences.

Some of the most renowned Croatian composers are Ivan Zajc, Vatroslav Lisinski, Franjo Dugan, Fortunat Pintarić, Luka Sorkočević, Antun Sorkočević, Ivan Mane Jarnović, Anđelko Klobučar, Boris Papandopulo, Ivo Malec, Stanko Horvat, Stjepan Šulek, Branimir Sakač, Igor Kuljerić, Ivo Josipović, Željko Brkanović, Berislav Šipuš, Ivan Božičević, Frano Parac, Marko Ruždjak, Branimir Krstić, Dubravko Detoni and Srđan Dedić.

Croatian society of composers (Hrvatsko drustvo skladatelja - HDS) is the main organization promoting modern classical music in Croatia.

See also

References

  • Burton, Kim. "Toe Tapping Tamburicas". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 46-48. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

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