TouMilou Music logo



The ensemble Čalgija was formed in 1969 in Utrecht, Netherlands, by ethnomusicologist Wouter Swets. Its object was to perform folk music from the Balkans and Anatolia in a way characteristic of the authentic living expression of this music by professional musicians of these countries themselves. After 1980 Turkish traditional art music was added to the repertoire. Čalgija wants to contribute to a development in the musical folklore of the mentioned vast but culturally coherent area in such a way that a feeling for tradition and an enrichment of the rendering by means of contemporary experimental elaborating of historical stylistic models go hand in hand. The repertoire on the album bears witness to that. Reconstructions of performances as they might have sounded long ago [3, 9, 19] are thus heard alongside new arrangements of some well-known dance tunes [12, 18, 20] based on comparative research of different musical sources. Just like the local ensembles, Čalgija sometimes adds its own ritornelli [3, 10], extra melodic phrases [4, 5, 17] or improvisational sections [12] to the given performed songs and tunes. This is naturally always done in the traditional style of the region [4, 10, 12] or musical culture [3]. In some of its arrangements Čalgija creates more complete or traditional versions of dance tunes by combining the finest elaborated phrases and variations selected from different musical sources [15, 17, 20] or/and by changing the order and pitch of some phrases [4, 8]. Furthermore shown is how four related but strongly individual tunes—belonging to different folkdances from different areas—developed from shared melodic material [1, 10, 18, 20].

The twenty pieces on the album represent three local modes—two mainly pentatonic ones [10 and 16, 18] and one heptatonic [20]—alongside eleven more generally used mostly folkloristic versions of classical Turkish makams (all other tracks). On the Balkans—especially in urban and professional performances—the intervals of these Turkish modes are nowadays ‘modernized’ where needed, i.e. adapted to equal temperament, which latter enables western harmonization. In its renderings, Čalgija accepts this actual situation [4, 6, 8, 12]. However in the interpretation of a folkdance suite from Armenia, where this modernization took place as well but did not take firm root until now, Čalgija restored the traditional intervals from a westernized example [17].

It is one of the principal aims of Čalgija to give in concerts and recordings as well as possible a survey of the extremely rich metrical variety in the folk music of the Balkans and Anatolia. We find twenty-seven different metrical patterns in the twenty tracks on the present album, some of which are generally known [2, 3, 8, 11, 15, 17], other ones only used regionally (all other tracks). Among the later are patterns which until now were not yet discovered, analysed and/or recognized by ethnomusicologists in the respective areas [1, 5, 6, 10, 18, 19, 20]. In addition three metrically corrected renderings of tunes from corrupted sources or transcriptions [11, 14, 17] can be heard. In another three pieces one hears examples of the fascinating technique of metrical shortening, characteristic for certain regions [12, 18, 20].

The way in which Čalgija makes the instrumentations of its folk music pieces could be characterized best as neo-Ottoman. During the Ottoman period, the ruling elite used to take the best elements of all existing cultures in the vast Turkish empire and adapted these in order to enrich its own gradually more cosmopolitan culture. In its basically traditional instrumentations, Čalgija sometimes introduces new unusual combinations of instruments such as a modern clarinet together with a Bulgarian bagpipe in two East Anatolian folk dances [2, 15]; a Persian santur (dulcimer) and a Turkish kanun (zither) together with traditional Macedonian instruments in a Macedonian folkdance [8]; a synthesizer replacing the Greek santouri (dulcimer), because it is able to produce the traditional intervals of the scale [1] and fits in well [6, 10, 20]; a tar from Azerbaijan and East Anatolia together with a Turkish-tuned accordion in a Turkish folksong from the Balkans [5]. All these combinations however give only an enrichment of the traditional sound and the local atmosphere is maintained strictly.

During the twenty-two years of its existence, Čalgija got more and more aware of the fact that the Balkan-Anatolian folk music in essence is mainly a melodic and metrical-rhythmical expression. So the ensemble gradually moved away from western harmonization, which tends to stereotype or even blur the modal and melodic shape of that folk music and which therefore is used modestly only in some recordings [1, 4, 6, 10, 16, 18]. Since the new Balkan countries liberated themselves from 300 to 500 years of Ottoman Turkish occupation, progress in these countries meant westernization, not only economically, politically and socially, but musically as well. So occidental harmonization was overestimated and imported quickly all over the Balkans, whereas pre-Turkish stylistic features common to the folk music of the Balkan-Anatolian peoples—also adopted by the later arriving Turks— were easily condemned as “un-national” and thrown away as “barbaric Turkish”.

The persistence of ideas like this bears witness to the very limited knowledge that Balkan and Turkish ethnomusicologists—specialized in the music of their own nations—usually have of the musical folklore of each others countries. In fact all peoples living in the Balkan-Anatolian area have influenced each other at a time, thus steadily creating a multitude of subtle variations within a coherent musical entirety. Moreover at first the Byzantine empire and later the Ottoman sultanate functioned, musically as well, for 1500 years as unifying factors. Consequently one does not get a good idea of what for example the real folk music of Greece is, if one does not know the folk music of its neighbouring countries. In its concerts and recordings, as on the present album, Čalgija wants to further a better understanding of the richly coloured unity that the folk music of the Balkans and Anatolia represents. For it is this unity that has a real world-wide musical importance, while the too biased nationalized music of each of the Balkan-Anatolian countries apart tends to get attention from mainly exotic and tourist-minded freaks.



Used modes in alphabetical order and transposed to tonic D.

  • Acem-Kürdî / B  A  B  C  D  C  B  A  G  A  G  F  E  D
  • Beyâtî / G  F  G  A  B  C  D  C  B  A  G  F  E-  D
  • Gerdâniye / C  B-  C  D  C  D  F  E-  D  C  B♭  A  G  (C  B-  A♭²  G)  F  E-  D
  • Gül’izâr / C  A  B-  C  D  C  B A  G  (C  B-)  A♭²  G  F  E-  D
  • Hicâz / (B-  C)  D  E♭²  F♯  G  A  B-  C  D  C  B♭ G  F   E♭²  D
  • Hüseynî / D  (F  G)  A  B-  C  B-  D  C  B♭  A  G  F  E-  D
  • Karcığar / D  E-  F  G  A♭²  B-  C  D  E  D  C  B-  AG  A  G  F  E-  D
  • Kürdîli Hicâzkâr / D  E♭  F  G  F  E D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D
  • Myxolydian / D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D  C  B  A  G  F  E  D
  • Nihâvend / D  E  F  G  A  B♭  C♯  D  C  B♭  A  G  F  E  D
  • Pentatonic “la” / D  F  G  A  C  D  C  A  G  F  D
  • Pentatonic “sol” / D  E  G  A  B  D  B  A  G  E  D
  • Sabâ / D  E-  F  G2  A  B♭  C  D♭²  C  B  A  G♭²  F  E-  D
  • Tâhir / C  B-  C  D  C  B♭ G  F  E-  D
  • Uzzâl / D  E♭²  F♯ A  B-  C  D  C  B♭  A  G  F  E♭²  D

Underlining of a letter indicates that the respective note functions as dominant in the mode. The – sign lowers the note by 24 to 48 cents (100 cents is a half tone equally tempered). If this involves the upper note of an augmented second, e.g. B- A♭², the lowering is 24 cents. Flat (♭) lowers by 114 cents. Sharp () raises by 90 cents. ♭² lowers by 90 cents. Notes without flats or sharps constitute the Pythagorean scale consisting of major seconds of 204 cents (C D, D E, F G, G A, A B) and minor seconds of 90 cents (E F, B C). In the traditional Balkan-Anatolian folk music the mentioned exact theoretical intervals of the modes are usually not observed precisely.


A guide to the correct pronunciation of the Serbo-Croat, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Greek, Turkish and Azerbaijani words appearing in the text of this album.

a—‘a’ as in German ‘was’
ă—‘u’ as in ‘turn’
c—‘ts’ as in ‘itself’ (Serbo-Croat, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Albanian)
c—‘j’ as in ‘joy’ (Turkish)
č—‘ch’ as in ‘church’
ç—‘ch’ as in ‘church’
dh—‘th’ as in ‘the’
e—‘e’ as in ‘let’
ë—‘e’ as in French ‘le’
ə—‘a’ as in ‘fat’
g—‘g’ as in ‘go’
gk—‘ng’ as in ‘angry’ (Greek)
h—‘ch’ as in Scottish ‘loch’
i—‘i’ as in French ‘pipe’
ı—‘e’ as in French ‘le’
j—‘y’ as in ‘year’
mp—‘mb’ as in ‘amber’ (Greek)
nt—‘nd’ as in ‘under’ (Greek)

o—‘o’ as in ‘hot’
ö—‘ö’ as in German ‘Hölle’
ou—‘oo’ as in ‘poor’
r—‘r’ as in ‘right’ (Albanian)
r—‘r’ as in German ‘Recht’ (other languages)
s—‘s’ as in ‘safe’
š—‘sh’ as in ‘sheep’
ş—‘sh’ as in ‘sheep’
sh—‘sh’ as in ‘sheep’ (Albanian)
th—‘th’ as in ‘thing’
u—‘u’ as in ‘push’
ü—‘u’ as in French ‘tu’
v—‘w’ as in German ‘was’
y—‘y’ as in ‘year’
y—‘i’ as in French ‘pipe’ (between two consonants in Greek words)
z—‘z’ as in ‘zeal’
ž—‘g’ as in French ‘genre’

Unforgotten header

Postcriptum—a reflection on the track notes

(Excerpt from: Unforgotten, Pan Records – PAN 2056 / TouMilou #4, 2020)

“One of the things that struck me when I first read [the below notes], at around the age of 22, is that Swets was very critical of his peers: first of certain Greek musicologists to whom he refers as poorly trained and xenophobic (Aide mor’ milia), then of a Serbian one who delivered a poor analysis of a poorly performed Macedonian song (‘Dali znaeš pomniš li’), of Turkish ones for their inability to analyse songs from Balkan Turks correctly (‘Köşküm var’), as well as of just about every ensemble from which he used source material. I decided to discard such comments [in the liner notes of Unforgotten] for two reasons. First, they concern either largely forgotten scientific disputes among musicologists that have passed away since, or recordings that will have been forgotten if they were as bad as Swets considered them to be—and if not, maintain a relevance to people I do not want to judge or offend. But more importantly, I prefer to let music speak for itself. I think that the works of Wouter Swets stand on their own, there is no need to highlight their value by rejecting the work of others.

Beyond the idiosyncrasy, there is a more fundamental aspect to Swets’ criticism that deserves attention without being tainted by scientific pettiness. Why did the analysis of the music from the Balkans, Anatolia and peripheral regions result in such controversy? One problem that clearly shines through Swets’ notes is displacement. A Macedonian song in a Turkish form. Songs of stateless Vlachs. A dance danced in Greece, Albania and Macedonia whose title refers, in each language, to a town that is now Albanian but used to be inhabited by all of these people. Bulgarian songs originating in Macedonia. Turkish songs originating outside present-day Turkey. Armenian songs aspiring to be non-oriental for obvious reasons. Songs that bear witness of a joint past that people have chosen to forget.

Wouter Swets was harsh on colleagues who clearly had difficulties in incorporating an uneasy past in their analyses at that time, let alone reconciling themselves to it. In doing so, Swets was—quite authentically—a Dutch Calvinist, adhering to a straightforwardness and directness that is quite incompatible with Eastern values and manners. The reproduction of Swets’ notes on does not imply endorsement of his views on musicologists and albums referred to.

Michiel van der Meulen
Bunnik, July 2022

Track notes

 [1] Aide mor’ milia

A Vlachian sygkathistos dance from West Thessaly, Greece | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Tjarko ten Have (santur), Wouter Swets (synthesizer), Frank Leenhouts (laouto), Jan van Eekeren (tăpan) | Meter: 29/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+2+4)+(3+2+2+3+2); 7/8 (3+2+2) in the instrumental conclusion (00:19) | Mode: a folkloristic form of the Turkish makam Uzzâl | Song contents: “Oh, you apple tree; oh, you rose-bush! You’ve given my heart pain and anguish. I don’t want you to exert or torment yourself. I want you to eat and drink and make yourself beautiful.”

The Vlachs are an ethnic group who speak Rumanian and live in some high mountain ranges of the Balkans; in Greece more specially in the Pindus Mountains on the border of Thessaly and Epirus. Most of the Yugoslav-Macedonian Beranče, the Albanian Beratçe, the Epirotic Berati, and the Vlachian sygkathistos dances are based on the same, often essentially pentatonic, melody but the metrical pattern is modified from region to region, performance to performance, or even within one rendering.  Nowadays, one hears the sygkathistos mostly in 8/4 meter (2+3+3), but it also appears in more complicated meters; see my article “Shifting processes between the metrical patterns of folkdance songs and tunes in the Balkans and Asia Minor”, in: Harmonie en Perspektief, Festschrift for Prof. Dr. H.E. Reeser (Deventer, 1988).

In 1985 and 1988 I have delivered papers on this subject at congresses in Delphi and at a symposium in Athens. In the following disputes with Greek ethnomusicologists, led by their nestor Simon Karas, I got the feeling that they are still not ready to accept the existence of complicated metrical patterns such as in this recording and those in tracks 10, 16, 18, and 20. There are four reasons for this: (1) In their opinion these patterns don’t correspond with the verse (prosodic) meters of Greek Antiquity and thus cannot give evidence of the fact that from that time they lived on in modern Greek folk music. (As if it would be a shame to accept that the creation of new metrical patterns or their adoption from elsewhere did not stop in Greece after that glorious period!) (2) The recognition of such metrical patterns might include the necessity of recognizing influences of ethnic minorities living in Greece. (3) Most of the Greek musicologists—compared to their well-trained Bulgarian colleagues—apparently have no sufficient training to correctly analyse more complicated metrical patterns, especially patterns that they haven’t met before. (There are, for instance, a lot of Macedonian folkdances with complicated metrical patterns—to be heard on the Greek album series released by the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation and the Lyceum Club of Greek Women—which have been analysed wrongly by Fivos Anoyanakis and Lefteris Dhrandhakis as having a much simpler 5/8 or 7/8 meter. Bulgarian musicologists would never have made blunders like this.) (4) They possibly don’t like it that a non-Greek like me discovers these “new” complicated metrical patterns in Greece. [PS: see the above reflection on these notes]

By all means: with regard to the first point it has to be emphasized that prosodic (verse) meter and musical meter are neither identical nor exclude each other. In Turkish Ottoman poetry, for example, the verse lines show fixed prosodic types. There are many prosodic types, which the Turks all adopted from classical Arab poetry. Each type consists of a fixed number of selected prosodic meters in a fixed order. Each meter consists of 2 to 5 long and short syllables in a fixed order. When in Turkish traditional art music a poem was set to music it was the prosodic type of its verse lines that determined out of which musical meters the composer had to make his choice. Each prosodic type can be set in one or more musical meters and, vice versa, each musical meter can be used for one or more prosodic types. Thus, many combinations are possible, but limitations do exist: a prosodic type cannot be set in every musical meter. In principle, however, it can get a musically ametrical setting.

The musical-literary practice described here must be old and might even have been adopted by the Turks from the medieval Arabs whose music is virtually unknown to us. At least it raises questions about the way in which ancient Greek prosody was set to music, especially because our knowledge about the ancient Greek folk and art musical practice is minimal, which will most probably remain so in the future. In this respect the musical treatment of prosody in Greek Byzantine ecclesiastical hymns does not give us a sufficient handhold to know how during Antiquity the prosody of Greek folkdancing songs was set to music.

Depending on the requirements of the musical meters used in these songs, the duration of the long syllables in their prosodies may have been stretched in the same way as still happens in Turkish traditional art music. If, on the other hand, the differentiation between long and short syllables did not play a decisive role in the ancient Greek folksongs, then at least in those songs many new musical meters could have been created, less hindered as they were by prosodical rules. Anyhow our 29/16 meter most probably has been invented later, maybe even a relatively short time ago by the Vlachs or Tosk-Albanians. Its undoubted presence in contemporary Greek folk music is merely a matter of professional, historically and nationally unprejudiced analysis. From the metrical pattern—that is, (3+2+2)+(2+2+2+4)+(3+2+2+3+2)—it can be seen that each bar consists of a seven-beat, a ten-beat, and a twelve-beat group. The distribution of the syllables of the sung verse lines follows this subdivision consequently: both the seven-beat and the ten-beat group include two syllables, whereas the number of syllables of the concluding twelve-beat group varies from one to four according to the length of the verse line. Within each group there are different possibilities concerning the duration of the syllables. E.g. in the seven-beat group one can hear 6+1, 3+4, and 5+2 beats. Apparently the singer feels free to change the duration of syllables within a group when these are identically repeated later. For instance, the four syllables “lo na tros na” in the verse line “thelo na tros na pinis” (I want you to eat and drink) first get the duration of (3+4)+(4+6) and when repeated the duration of (6+1)+(9+1) beats. Čalgija’s rendering of the Vlachian sygkathistos is based on a field recording to be found on the Greek album SDNM 120 (side B, track 4), which I transcribed. The instrumentation is Čalgija’s but its base is traditional. Moreover the too high intonation of the singer in the field recording has been corrected in Čalgija’s performance.

[2] Güvercin

A folkdance from Elazıg, East Anatolia, Turkey | Musicians: Tjarko ten Have (Bulgarian gaida in D), Roel Sluis (kaval), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Naim Avcı (tar), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Wouter Swets (kanun), Jan van Eekeren (darbuka) | Meter: 9/16 (2+3+2+2) | Mode: a folkloristic form of the makams Beyâtî and Hüseynî.

In this dance a Bulgarian bagpipe is used along with Turkish instruments. Bagpipes can also be found in Turkey, especially in the northeastern area on the Black Sea, but provided it is adapted by the player the Bulgarian type is more suitable for the authentic rendering of the Turkish folk music in general, mainly because it is more advanced in build. Down the centuries, the folk music of the world constantly altered and developed as did the used instruments. The point was and is to include new elements harmoniously in the old. Even the Western clarinet was integrated in Turkish folk music, and therefore—in Čalgija’s opinion—the same could be done with a type of bagpipe which originates in the nearer and culturally more related Bulgaria. To achieve the lowered B and F sharp in the scale of this dance tune, the respective holes on the chanter are partly covered by tape or wax.

[3] Dali znaeš pomniš li

A folksong from West Vardar-Macedonia, Yugoslavia* | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Monique Lansdorp (violin), Wouter Swets (accordion), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Frank Leenhouts (laouto) | Meter: 5/4 (2+3) | Mode: a folkloristic form of the Turkish makam Kürdîli Hicâzkâr | Arrangement: Wouter Swets | Song contents: “Do you remember when we were young? We sat in the rose-garden under a rose-bush. The rose-bush dripped onto us both. We caught the drops and rubbed our faces with them.”

Lazaropole, where this song comes from, is one of the West Macedonian mountain villages where the Macedonians managed to survive after the Albanians took over the valleys. Since the local sheepbreeding was not sufficient for survival, young men left shortly after their wedding to earn money abroad. They often stayed away for years and while living in foreign countries learned new and strange melodies. They put their own Macedonian words to these melodies and brought them back home. Such songs didn’t really fit into the musical idiom of their village and their authentic renderings didn’t go down well with the native villagers. As a consequence the latter’s performances changed or even degenerated gradually.

The song performed here bears strong influences from the Turkish urban classical song style of Istanbul. In his book Jugoslovenski Muzicki Folklor II, Makedonija (Beograd, 1953), the Serbian ethnomusicologist Miodrag A. Vasiljeviç transcribed this song (No. 393) from a version he recorded on tape. In my opinion its melody, as sung by the informant, is much corrupted because of the above-mentioned circumstances. During the Ottoman period, Turkish government officials, landowners, and commanders of garrison living in the Macedonian towns had their own type of musical life, which followed to some extent the mode of Istanbul, the capital of the Turkish empire. My arrangement of this song is, in fact, an attempt to reconstruct what might have been lost during years of village practice. Anyhow, the song has regained an undamaged and complete form. Possibly it sounded like this in the Ottoman Macedonian towns. As an imitation of commercialized urban vocal practice, the last bars of the song as transcribed by Vasiljeviç were performed one octave higher to create a calculated final effect. I restored this in order to avoid the thus corrupted modal course of the makam. The instrumental ritornello I composed myself in the same makam (mode) as that of the song, i.e. Kürdîli Hicâzkâr.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[4] Krivo horo

A folkdance from West Thrace, Central Bulgaria* | Musicians: Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Monique Lansdorp (violin), Roel Sluis (kaval), Wouter Swets (accordion), Frank Leenhouts (tambura), Tjarko ten Have (tăpan) | Meter: 22/16 (2+2+2+3+2+2) + (2+3+2+2) | Mode: elementary folkloristic forms of the Turkish makams Hüseynî, Hicâz, and Karcığar in equal temperament | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

This piece starts and finishes with an instrumental version of a Thracian folksong “Djado si Djalba Deleše”. The two phrases prior to the recurrence of the opening melody at the end of the piece (02:24–02:47) I myself composed in Thracian style to achieve a subtle transition to the two concluding phrases. Furthermore, my arrangement consists merely in changing the sequence and pitch of some phrases in order to avoid artificial and westernized modulations as present in the recording of this dance on the album Balkanton VNA 10216 (side A, track 5) from which I transcribed the tune. Thus, its atmosphere becomes more natural and traditional.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[5] Dağlar, dağlar

A folksong from the Turks on the Balkans | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Naim Avcı (tar), Wouter Swets (microtonal accordion), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 15/4 (4+3) + (4+4) | Mode: makam Uzzâl | Arrangement: Wouter Swets | Song contents: “Oh mountains, lonely mountains (in my heart)! Your face laughs, my love, but your heart cries. The blood seethes in my veins. Let me be, you with your velvet arms. I have put my clothes on a rock. What is written must be. Let me be, you with your velvet arms.”

The folksongs of the Turks who have established themselves on the Balkans since the Ottoman occupation of the fifteenth century are different from those of the Anatolian Turks. The former are more influenced by the traditional Turkish art music. The instrumental introduction and interludes of Dağlar are nowadays played in 4/4 meter, e.g. on albums: Alpha 5018 side A track 4 and Aras (a Turkish label) LP 21011 side A track 3. In my arrangement I have given them the same meter as the song, i.e. 15/4, which implies the addition of an extra melodical phrase to the instrumental interlude (00:37–00:42).

In a performance by the Janissary band of the Turkish Republican Army, conducted by Kudsi Erguner, recorded on the album Ethnic B 6738 track 5 (07:51–09:56), the proceeding was just the other way around: apparently in order to give the song a marching time, its 15/4 meter was adapted to the 4/4 meter of the ritornello by prolonging the three beat sections of the 15/4 metrical pattern to four beats. Thus 15/4 becomes 16/4 (4+4+4+4), which enables a subdivision in four 4/4 bars. However this is not according to the way in which versions of this song are usually performed in Turkey and Macedonia. With the proper duration of its melody tones kept intact, the song has been transcribed mistakenly in 2/4 meter in the Turkish Radio and Television collection of Turkish folk music (TRT-THMR No. 2076B), which results in an illogical syncopation and phrasing.

Addition of independent instrumental introductions and interludes (ritornelli) alternating the sung couplets, constitutes a relatively late development in Balkan-Anatolian folk music. In more traditional renderings the instrumental repetition of the entire sung melody or—more frequently—of its last part takes over the function of ritornello as can be heard in a Macedonian version of the Turkish song described here: “Gorušice Crno Oko” (Radio Televizija Beograd RTB EP 12750 side B track 2) and furthermore in tracks 1, 7, 11 and 13 of the present album.

[6] Potamia

A folkdance from West Thessaly, Greece | Musicians: Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Wouter Swets (synthesizer), Tjarko ten Have (santur), Frank Leenhouts (laouto), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 12/16 (2+3)+(3+2+2) | Mode: a characteristic mixture of folkloristic makams.

Nowadays, the 12/16 meter in Thessaly is often simplified to  7/8 (1+2)+(2+1+1). However, on the Greek album SDNM 121 (side A, track 3), from which recording Čalgija’s interpretation was derived, one hears a correct rendering of the 12/16 meter.

[7] Derde derman

A folksong from Erzincan, East Anatolia, Turkey | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Naim Avcı (vocals, cura saz), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Wouter Swets (kanun), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Mode: a folkloristic form of the makams Beyâtî and Hüseynî | Meter: 10/8 (3+3+2+2) | Song contents: “I was a nightingale and I was crying because I wanted to see my rose, but the thorns prevented me from seeing her alive. Wide-eyed I was looking forward to seeing your lovely face. It is not one’s age but one’s insight that matters. Now I know she has achieved full growth. Posterity was not my fate. It is clear for those who have experienced it. I sought help for my grief but grief itself was my help. I sought a path for my love but it was my love that directed me.”

This form of metrical pattern almost exclusively occurs in the province of Erzincan. Here and in the province of Sivas one can find the greatest variety of metrical patterns in Turkish folk music. In this song the accompaniment of the melody in parallel fifths and fourths is played both on the saz and the kanun.

[8] Razložko kalajdžijsko horo

A tinkers dance from Razlog, Pirin-Macedonia, Southwest Bulgaria* | Musicians: Tjarko ten Have (Macedonian gajda in B), Roel Sluis (kaval), Monique Lansdorp (gadulka), Jan Hofmeijer (santur), Wouter Swets (kanun), Frank Leenhouts (tambura), Roelof Rosendal (darbuka) | Meter: 5/8 (2+3) | Mode: mainly a westernized form of the makam Hüseynî | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

In the nineteenth century those who practised a trade in the Macedonian towns, such as tinkers, formed guilds. These guilds had their own dances incorporating characteristic movements from their particular trade. It was in the Macedonian towns—then predominantly inhabited by Turks—that the so-called Čalgija ensembles came upon the scene. These ensembles used mainly Turkish instruments, such as the ud, kanun, santur, and darbuka, in addition to the Western clarinet and violin. They had a mixed Balkan-Turkish repertoire. The similarity in mentality, used instruments, and repertoire gave the Dutch ensemble Čalgija its name. The word Čalgija is a Macedonian version of the Turkish word çalgı, which means instrumental group or instrument. The Macedonian Čalgija ensembles of old were involved in the amalgamation of cultures. The combination of Bulgarian and Turkish instruments in this particular dance should be seen in this light, but can also be explained in the same way as has been done concerning the use of the Bulgarian bagpipe in Turkish folk music (see track 2 on the present album).

My arrangement comprises firstly of rearranging and combining the musical phrases figuring in various sources of this dance tune, and secondly of adapting one musical phrase (01:35–01:49) to the six-bar structure of most other phrases in order to facilitate the dance. On the North Macedonian gajda (bagpipe) one hears the normal chanter together with a drone-pipe in F sharp. This unusual combination has been invented by Čalgija.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[9] Të kam dashtë dhe të du

A folksong from Shkodër, North Albania | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Roel Sluis (kaval), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Naim Avcı (cura saz), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Frank Leenhouts (divan sazı), Wouter Swets (kanun), Jan van Eekeren (darbuka) | Meter: 9/4 (2+2+2+3) | Mode: makam Gerdâniye | Reconstruction: Wouter Swets | Song contents: “A young lad, deeply in love, is asking himself—now bitterly, then desperately—why his favourite is rejecting his love. Is he not good enough for her? Does she hate him? What is the matter with her, she with the eyebrows like a half moon?”

I learned this song both from a performer on Radio Tirana and from an Albanian collection of folksongs Këngë Popullore Shqiptare (Tirana, 1959) page 138. In both cases it is in 2/4 meter, which on the whole is not suited to the melody structure and makes the words take an illogical syncopated course. I found the solution by casting the song into 9/4 meter; adjusting the introduction; replacing the interludes between phrases 1, 2, and 3 and between phrases 4 and 5 by short instrumental interjections; and adding such interjections between phrases 3 and 4 and between phrases 5 and 6. The song then gets a logical profiled phrasing, which meets—by the timing and placing of the words—a distribution of syllables and accents corresponding with the pattern of the musical meter. This pattern forms the basis for the well-known Turkish folkdance “zeybek”, which has a comprehensive repertoire of instrumental tunes and songs and is performed mainly in West Anatolia and on the eastern islands in the Aegean Sea. But the zeybek is also known among Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Greeks, and Gypsies living in Macedonia.

Shkodër, where this song comes from, used to be an important Ottoman stronghold and garrison town and still has a “kale” (Turkish fortress). Although the Turkish influence gradually diminished since Albania became independent in 1913, a lot of Albanian urban folksongs of Shkodër still have an unmistakably Turkish flavour. I suspect that the feeling for the less common 9/4 meter gradually was lost so that songs from before 1913 in this meter got a musically wrong interpretation. The last phrase of the instrumental introduction and of the interludes as found in the notation and partly in the radio performance are without any doubt in 2/4 meter. Their melodic shape hardly allows changing into 9/4 meter in a natural and satisfying way. Furthermore, that same introductory phrase and interludes are also used in other urban folksongs in 2/4 meter and don’t show a direct and special relationship to the here performed folksong from Shkodër. In my opinion, they probably have been added after 1913 when its metrical basis gradually became unclear, and contributed (by means of their own meter) to the wrong contemporary rendering of the song in 2/4 meter. Because of all this, the mentioned instrumental sections have been omitted in the rendering by Čalgija. The radio performance as well as the notation of the song, which were the starting point of my arrangement, both demonstrate intervals according to occidental equal temperament. In Čalgija’s rendering, the original intervals of makam Gerdâniye, such as they still always sound in many traditionally performed rural North Albanian folksongs, have been restored.

[10] To aidhoni

A Vlachian sygkathistos folkdance from West Thessaly, Greece* | Musicians: Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Roel Sluis (sopranino recorder), Wouter Swets (synthesizer), Tjarko ten Have (santur), Frank Leenhouts (laouto), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 21/16 (2+3)+(3+2+2)+(2+3+2+2) | Mode: predominantly pentatonic “la” | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

This metrical pattern is also not yet analysed or recognized by the Greek ethnomusicologists. West Thessaly belongs partly to the pentatonic musical zone of which South Albania and Epirus constitute the centre. My arrangement comprises of the addition of a ritornello which I composed in order to create a contrasting effect. By doing so I follow my colleague musicians on the Balkans. This rendering is based on a field recording on the aforementioned Greek album SDNM 120 (side A, track 6).
* The album Unforgotten (2020) features an earlier recording of this piece.

[11] Turnalar

A folksong from Amasya, North Anatolia, Turkey | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals, kaval), Naim Avcı (vocals, cura saz), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Wouter Swets (kanun), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 7/8 (3+2+2) | Mode: a folkloristic form of makam Tâhir | Song contents: “Flocks of cranes fly over. Where is your home? Where are you going to? I am writing a love-letter. Take it to my love. If you don’t make it, then come back, oh feathered crane.”

The oral tradition of folk music brings with it the existence of many versions of every song or tune geographically alongside or temporally after each other. These versions may differ from each other in melody, mode, meter, rhythm, words, way of performance, etc. In its constant changing the song takes a path which reflects, so to speak, its development to full growth from time to time and from place to place, but may show also its decline: the less talented singers also play a role in the way a song is handed down. It remains a matter of taste what is beautiful and in good style or not. But every member of the folk community has a right to follow his own taste and it cannot be avoided that he will sing his own version of a song, because he doesn’t know such a thing as the “correct” version of it.

However, the respect for and the musical influence of the person he learned it from will ring through in his version—be it consciously or unconsciously. As soon as the new version starts to be sung in the folk community it will also be polished due to everyone’s personal additions and because of the communal general feeling of style. It is typical in Turkish folk music for songs to have versions where the meter is maintained as well as versions where the dominating meter is suddenly and shortly interrupted by a different meter, especially at the beginning or at the end of melodic phrases. These interruptions sometimes sound inventive and beautiful, but often they are disturbing and suggest the musician’s lack of metrical experience and misinterpretation of anacruses.

The song, Turnalar, performed here by Čalgija in 7/4 meter is often heard in 8/4 meter.  One gets this last meter by adding a rest of 1/4 or a quaver at the beginning of every bar (only the third bar gets music on the first beat). The musical pattern of 7/4 meter (2+1)+(2+2) then becomes 8/4 meter (1+2+1)+(2+2). For its performance Čalgija has taken as a starting point the notation of this song in the collection of the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT–THMR No. 1079). According to the undoubtedly correct notation in the TRT collection this song is in 7/8 meter and the third bar in 10/8 meter (because of the slow tempo of performance, I would prefer to speak here of 7/4 and 10/4 meters) and so it must have been rendered by the singer/instrumentalist and recorded on the TRT tape, but it doesn’t sound convincing to our ears. By leaving out one rest and halving another, the 10/8 bar can be brought back to a 7/8 bar with an anacrusis (00:39–00:44). This is the way Čalgija plays it and thus a new version has been born in which an illogical stagnation in the course of the melody is eliminated and in which the corresponding second and third phrase have the equal length of four bars (2+4+4).

[12] Ispaiče

A folkdance from Petrič, Pirin-Macedonia, Bulgaria, brought there from Kumanovo, Vardar-Macedonia, Southeast Yugoslavia* | Musicians: Tjarko ten Have (Macedonian gajda in B), Roel Sluis (kaval), Wouter Swets (accordion), Jan Hofmeijer (santur), Frank Leenhouts (tambura), Roelof Rosendal (tăpan) | Meter: from 14/16 (4+2+3+2+3) via 13/16 (3+2+3+2+3) and 12/16 (3+2+2+2+3) to 11/16 (3+2+2+2+2) | Mode: predominantly a folkloristic form of the makam Hicâz and in the concluding section a folkloristic form of the makam Karcığar | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

In Macedonia a number of dances—mainly men’s dances—are characterized by the fact that they begin slowly and gradually build up to a speedy conclusion. There are two possible ways to achieve this acceleration: (a) the meter of the slow beginning is maintained until the fast conclusion, and (b) the meter of the beginning, which seems to have been bred from an ametrical chaos, changes by gradually diminishing the number of time units of the metrical pattern—which in itself gives an accelerating effect and is used alongside the actual fastening of tempo by shortening the duration of the above-mentioned time units—only to be stabilized at the fast conclusion. Because of the fact that the technique of metrical shortening is a matter of oral tradition, which includes at least partly unconscious proceedings, local folk musicians using this technique cannot explain what they are actually doing in symbols connected with occidental musical notation. Therefore professional analysis by experienced ethnomusicologists in this case is indispensable.

For the arrangement of Ispaiče for Čalgija I had several notations and recordings at my disposal—in 14/16 meter, in 13/16 meter and in 11/16 meter. Only in a recording by myself from 1964 there is acceleration. Because in Macedonia, the same dance is sometimes accelerated and sometimes not and because accelerating by diminishing the number of time units is characteristic for dances beginning in 14/16 or 13/16 meter, I thought it justified to apply a shrinking from 14/16 to 11/16 meter in Čalgija’s rendering. In West European folkdance practice, attempts are made to edit existing dance-music recordings to adapt the music to a new choreography. Unfortunately, this is often done in an inexpert and musically unjustified way. In the arrangement of Ispaiče I have maintained a strict four-bar phrasing—even in my improvised solo (taksim) in the middle—to make it easier to dance to. The structure of the entire musical arrangement is as follows: (I) 14/16 ABCC´ (4×4 bars). (II) 13/16 repeating ABCC´ (4×4 bars) (00:52). (III) Taksim in 13/16 (4×4 bars) (01:40). (IV) 13/16 in a faster tempo repeating ABCC´ (4×4 bars) (02:28). (V) 13/16 D (4 bars) (03:08), 12/16 and 11/16 repeating D (2×2 bars) (03:18 and 03:23). (VI) 11/16 in a gradually faster tempo EFEF (2x(4+8) bars) (03:27). The gajda (bagpipe) is used here in the same way as in track 8.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[13] Acem kızı

A folksong from Kırşehir, Central Anatolia, Turkey* | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals),  Wouter Swets (kanun), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Frank Leenhouts (divan sazı), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Roelof Rosendal (darbuka, def) | Meter: 15/8 (2+3+3)+(2+2+3) | Mode: a folkloristic form of the makam Acem-Kürdî | Song contents: “Swinging his hips he ascends to Hanova and says, stay there, Persian girl, and laugh for there is a young man who loves you!”

The characteristic meter of this beautiful song appears mostly in the provinces of Sivas and Adana.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[14] Naz bar

A folkdance from Armenia, USSR* | Musicians: Roel Sluis (sopranino recorder), Tjarko ten Have (kaval), Wouter Swets (accordion), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Naim Avcı (tar), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 10/16 | Mode: Şüştər; in the middle part Bayatı-Şiraz.

In this recording one can hear two melodies composed in urban folkstyle by the Armenian A. Alexandrian for the traditional dance naz bar (a flirtation dance) which, in Čalgija’s rendering, are combined into one in ABA form. In the past—more than is the case now—the Armenian folk music belonged stylistically to the same family as the folk music of East Anatolia, Azerbaijan, and West Iran; regions where the Armenians themselves have lived or still live.

Traumatized as the Armenians were by the holocaust they suffered in 1915, when the Turks slaughtered about two million of them, the surviving Armenians tried to find a new occidental, non-oriental, and especially non-Turkish identity in which there wasn’t much room for recognizing the above-mentioned musical relationship. In addition, the annexation of part of Armenia by the Soviet Union brought with it a strong Russian—and thus indirectly West European—influence as a result of the so-called creation of a “new” Soviet people.

The traditional intonation of intervals in Armenian folk music was adapted and squeezed into the Western framework of equal temperament to enable harmonization which, of course, was frequently used on theatre stages. More complicated local musical meters were simplified to similar ones that were common in Russian and occidental music. Sometimes this happened by error. For example, although the 6/8 meter is very common in Transcaucasian dances, there are also cases in which the 10/16 meter (3+2+2+3) was simplified to the 6/8 meter (2+1+1+2). The unstable, possibly even purposely agogic rendering of the 6/8 meter on the recordings of both naz bar melodies of Alexandrian suggests an influence of the 10/16 meter used before instead of 6/8. Evidence of this give two recordings of the traditional tune to which the naz bar is danced. The first is a rendering by an Armenian ensemble led by Ara Bartevian (album Vogue CLVLX 526, side A, track 6: Danse du charme) in 6/8 meter. The second is a very commercialized version by an ensemble of Armenian emigrants in the USA led by Hachig Kazarian (Monitor MFS 452, side B, track 4a: Naz bar) in 10/16 meter.

It is worth remarking that the 10/16 meter apparently has survived the American commercialism, but not the Russian ideology. Reason enough for Čalgija to perform Alexandrian’s naz bar in 10/16 meter. I would like to add that in the whole area stretching from East Turkey, via Transcaucasia, Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan into Pakistan and India, there are dances that exist in unaffected shape in both 6/8 and 10/16 meters alongside each other. Dances in 10/16 meter that are played in a fast tempo are often wrongly transcribed in 6/8 by inexperienced musicologists. This doesn’t help the survival of this already by occidental civilization threatened meter.

The Transcaucasian modes Şüştər and Bayatı-Şiraz are much resembling the Turkish makams Uzzâl and Nihâvend. The makams from the Turkish, Transcaucasian, Iranian, and East Arabic areas are related. Sometimes even the same makam may have different names depending on the region. The greatest variety and refinement, however, is to be found in the Turkish makam system so that analysis of modes according to this system, especially if it concerns the music of areas which used to belong to the Ottoman Empire, is the most logical and effective.
* The album Unforgotten (2020) features an earlier recording of this piece.

[15] Baş bar

A folkdance from Erzurum, East Anatolia, Turkey* | Musicians: Tjarko ten Have (Bulgarian gaida in D), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Wouter Swets (tăpan) | Meter: 9/8 (2+2+2+3) | Mode: folkloristic forms of mainly the makams Hüseynî and Gül’izâr | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

I had seven different traditional renderings of this dance at my disposal. This arrangement is a combination of the most complete and best variations out of those seven recorded versions, which I transcribed. The subdivision of the last three beats of each bar into 1+2 is characteristic of this dance.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[16] Alexandra

A Greek folkdance song from North Epirus, South Albania* | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Monique Lansdorp (violin), Tjarko ten Have (kaval), Wouter Swets (accordion), Frank Leenhouts (laouto), Roelof Rosendal (def) | Meter: 18/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+2) | Mode: predominantly pentatonic “sol” | Song contents: “Why are you standing there crying, Alexandra, why do you look so ill? Is it because of the damp west wind or because of the cold? It is not the wind and it is not the cold, but the thoughts of you toiling in some faraway land. It drives me crazy to think that you are the one who is reproaching me for it!”

South Albania, called North Epirus by the Greeks, harbours a Greek minority. It was only after World War II that a part of this minority fled to Greek South Epirus, while most of the Albanian minority resident in South Epirus left for Albania. Therefore, it is not surprising that—after centuries of a mixed society—the folk music of South Albania and Greek Epirus are strongly related.

Now, the folkdance Alexandria is usually played in 5/4 meter in South Epirus (e.g. on SDNM 111 side B track 3), but I have at my disposal a recording from North Epirus, i.e. South Albania, in 18/16 meter. Čalgija has used the latter in its rendering of the dance. On the face of it there seems to be a big difference between 5/4 and 18/16 meters, but if one compares the patterns of both and considers the 5/4 meter as subdivided in 20/16, the difference appears to be slight: expressed in 20/16 time units the metrical pattern of 5/4 becomes (4+2+2)+(4+4+2+2); the 18/16 pattern (3+2+2)+(4+3+2+2) shows only a minor but aesthetically meaningful deviation from it.

In order to fit the non-pentatonic instrumental ritornello to the pentatonic song I have changed it in such a way that its mode shows the combination of two pentatonic scales: f-g-a-c-d and g-a-c-d-e. This is also the case in the rich ornamentation of the song melody as performed on the accompanying instruments. Such pentatonic scale combinations often appear in Epirus.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[17] Suite of Armenian dance tunes, Armenia, USSR

Musicians: Roel Sluis (kaval), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Naim Avcı (cura saz), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Wouter Swets (kanun), Jan van Eekeren (darbuka) | Meter: 9/8 (2+2+2+3) | Mode: Şur (Şahnaz-Hicaz) comparable to the Turkish makams Hüseynî and Gül’izâr.

The pattern of the meter is the same as in track 15. In contrast to the recording on the album Folkways FP 6806 (side B, track 3) on which Čalgija’s rendering is mainly based, all melodic phrases are here repeated without exception. Since phrases 7 and 8 together form a unity, the combination is repeated. On the Folkways album the suite ends with phrases 9 and 10, which together form the well-known folkdance Tamzara. In Čalgija’s rendering another three phrases follow representing an East Anatolian version of Tamzara (02:43–03:23) after which, to conclude the suite, phrases 9 and 10 can be heard again. (Many of the Armenians who survived the holocaust used to live in East Anatolia.) Another  difference between the two above-mentioned renderings is that on the Folkways album equal temperament is used, while Čalgija uses traditional Armenian intervals which are also common in Azerbaijan, Iran, and East Anatolia. These intervals are obtained here by lowering in the scale of E the major second F sharp and the major sixth C sharp by about a quarter tone.

In the Folkways rendering by an Armenian ensemble led by A. Merangulian an anacrusis is not recognized which results in the omission of a rest of two beats, creating an isolated bar of 7/8 (2+2+3) at the beginning of phrase 5, compensated at the end of phrase 8 by an another isolated bar of 11/8 (2+2+2+3+2). This tells us that both Armenian musicologists and musicians wrongly analysed phrases 5–8 and that, consequently, these are performed in 9/8 meter with the unusual (2+2+3+2) pattern. In Čalgija’s rendering, however, a strict 9/8 meter with a (2+2+2+3) pattern is maintained throughout the whole piece, including phrases 5, 6, 7 and 8 (01:11–02:22) as is required for dancing. The mistake by the Merangulian ensemble can only be made up for by choreography on stage which of course has nothing to do with folklore. Moreover, it is clear that Merangulian’s metrical interpretation is incorrect because his (2+2+3+2) subdivision goes right against the melodic line instead of conforming with it. The reason for the mistake is probably that the transcriptions which Merangulian used for the suite were erroneous as far as concerns the mentioned phrases.

[18] Beratçe (Greek: Berati; Macedonian: Beranče), South Albania.

Musicians: Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Tjarko ten Have (kaval), Wouter Swets (accordion), Monique Lansdorp (violin), Roelof Rosendal (def) | Meter: 31/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+3)+(3+2+2+3+2) via 30/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+2)+(3+2+2+3+2) at 01:22 to 29/16 (3+2+2)+(2+2+3+2+2)+(3+2+2+2+2) at 02:40 | Mode: predominantly pentatonic “sol”.

The Macedonians and Albanians living in Macedonia usually play this dance*—named after the South Albanian city of Berat—in 18/16 (4+3+4)+(4+3), 17/16 (4+3+3)+(4+3), 16/16 (4+2+3)+(4+3) and 12/16 meter (3+2+2+3+2). Maybe because of resemblance of its name the Macedonian dance Bajrace, performed with banners—the Turkish word bayrak (Macedonian: bajrak) means banner—uses the tune and metrical patterns of the Macedonian Beranče. However, in the Vlachian border areas of Thessaly and Epirus in Greece, to different versions of the same melody the so-called sygkathistos is danced in 8/4 meter or in more complicated meters such as 27/16, 28/16, and 29/16. This last meter we have already met in track 1 of the present album (see also my article mentioned in the explanation of track 1).

Nowadays, in South Epirus, Greece, the Berati is mostly played in 8/4 meter. In older recordings, which are presumably influenced by the South Albanian style of performance, one can hear 31/16, 30/16, and 29/16—sometimes even sequentially. This is more or less so in a recording on Folkways FE 4467 (side A, track 1), which definitely begins in 31/16 meter. The differences between the meters are subtle but nevertheless characteristic, for example between 8/4 = 32/16 (4+2+2)+(4+4+2+2)+(4+2+2+4) and 29/16 (3+2+2)+(4+3+2+2)+(3+2+2+4). The 8/4 meter of the Berati dance in fact is a combination of the 5/4 meter of the Epirotic dance Zaghorisios—in South Albania sometimes played in 18/16 meter (e.g. track 16) or 9/8 meter—and the 3/4 meter of the Greek Tsamikos—danced in Macedonia and South Albania as Camce and Çamçe in 12/16 meter (3+2+2+3+2) or in 11/16 meter (3+2+2+2+2). My ability to analyse these very complicated metrical patterns correctly is the result of thirty years experience acquired during field recording trips to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey and of the transcription at home of my record, tape, and cassette collection of folk music from all over the world. Being an ethnomusicologist I always strove to use my scientific research to benefit folk music practice in general.

The pentatonic “sol” mode misses the third and seventh in its scale. Consequently, when harmonizing with triads a melody in this mode, one can choose a major as well as a minor triad as tonic chord. While in South Epirus, Greece, the major triad dominates, one can usually hear the minor triad in North Epirus, South Albania. In its rendering, Čalgija follows the North Albanian example not only in choosing the minor triad but also in the use of the accordion and the lyric mood of the performance which shows much heterophony. The tune of the dance Beratçe has three phrases. On the recording these are first played in 31/16, the first repetition of the whole tune sounds in 30/16, and the second repetition in 29/16 meter. As usual, the conclusion is a short Poghonisios—the pre-eminently Epirotic folkdance—in 4/4 meter, which gives a real “made in Epirus” feeling just as it is experienced there: at the start of the Poghonisios one can see a jolt of happiness go through the dancers.
* A remastered version of this track features on the album Unforgotten (2020).

[19] Köşküm var

A Turkish folksong from the Turks on the Balkans* | Musicians: Roel Sluis (vocals), Naim Avcı (vocals, cura saz), Tjarko ten Have (bağlama), Wouter Swets (kanun), Frank Leenhouts (oud), Jan Hofmeijer (g-clarinet), Jan van Eekeren (def) | Meter: 11/4 (3+4+4) | Mode: a classical form of makam Hüseynî | Arrangement: Wouter Swets | Song contents: “I have a house by the sea. My tears constantly flow. Everything begins with longing for love. A heart does exist, oh, look around you. Come and tell me (if it’s not true)!”

The version of this folksong that can nowadays be heard in Turkey has been noted—up to this time—in 2/4 meter or in illogically changing meters as may be seen, for example, in the Turkish Radio and Television collection of Turkish folk music (TRT-THMR No. 2076D). However, if one listens carefully to the placing of the text, it is actually in 11/4 meter (e.g. on the Turkish album Melodi KP33-120 side B track 2c). The eight syllables of each verse are—with the exception of the condensed word setting at the beginning and the exclamations “aman, aman” at the end—distributed over two 11/4 bars in the following way: (1+2+4+4)+(1+2+4+4); thus comprising of twice four syllables. The one-beat syllables sometimes change place with the two-beat syllables in which case the pattern becomes (2+1+4+4).

This song belongs to the category of Rumeli türküleri, i.e. Balkan-Turkish, folksongs representing a musical style very different from that of the Anatolian, i.e. Asiatic-Turkish, folksongs. These songs were brought by Turkish immigrants from the Balkans to Asiatic-Turkey, and therefore easily misinterpreted by Anatolian ethnomusicologists, especially as concerns their musical structure. Seen in this light, my arrangement represents an attempt of melodic, metrical, and prosodic restoration. The instrumental ritornello in 2/4 meter has most probably been added when the song itself was already misinterpreted in 2/4. Therefore, I also adapted the ritornello to 11/4 meter (00:00–00:31).

In the first bar of the song I have replaced the instrumental opening motif (01:03–01:07) by a vocal paraphrase (00:31–00:35), so that the beginning of the song becomes a little longer and just about takes up the whole first bar for the sake of the above-mentioned consistent placing of the text. Further, I have replaced the beginning of the third bar by a motif (00:47–00:52) derived from a version noted in Volume 12, page 12, of the series Halk Türküleri (folksongs) published by the Conservatory of Istanbul in 1929. The melody of the song in the fifth (01:07–01:09) and seventh (01:20–01:28) bar of this rendering is the one that is played nowadays in Turkey, but there it is also played in the first and third bar, including the instrumental opening motif (01:03–01:07).

My variations of the melody in the first and third bar cover a more complete outline of the mode of the song, makam Hüseynî. This makam uses the fifth degree of the scale as dominant. While descending to the tonic often a stop is made at the third degree. In the seventh bar this moment is made use of for a short modulation to makam Sabâ, which uses the third degree of the scale as dominant. This beautiful Balkan-Turkish folksong bears witness to a strong influence of the Turkish traditional art music.
* The album Unforgotten (2020) features an earlier recording of this piece.

[20] Posednica

A folkdance from West Aegean-Macedonia, North Greece | Musicians: Tjarko ten Have (Bulgarian gaida in A), Jan Hofmeijer (c-clarinet), Roel Sluis (kaval), Wouter Swets (synthesizer), Frank Leenhouts (tambura), Jan van Eekeren (tăpan) | Meter: from 22/16 (2+3+3+5)+(4+2+3) via 21/16 (2+3+3+5)+(3+2+3) at 00:37; 20/16 (2+3+3+4)+(3+2+3) at 00:55; 19/16 (2+3+3+3)+(3+2+3) at 01:29; 18/16 (2+2+3+3)+(3+2+3) at 02:27; 17/16 (2+2+2+3)+(3+2+3) at 02:35 and 16/16 (2+2+2+3)+(3+2+2) at 02:42 to 15/16 (2+2+2+2)+(3+2+2) at 02:48 | Mode: mixolydian | Arrangement: Wouter Swets.

The name of this dance is Macedonian because in the provinces of Pella and Imathia around the cities of Edhessa and Naoussa, where the dance is popular, the Macedonian language, a Slav language, is still spoken in the villages. Before Greece conquered these regions, in 1912, the mentioned cities had the Macedonian names Voden and Negus respectively. The name Posednica means two things: dance of landowners or dance with sitting or squatting movements. Its translation into Greek, Kathistos, refers only to the squatting. In 1964 I saw this dance being performed in the village of Misimeri near Edhessa. It was performed with squatting movements in a proud and confident way beginning slowly and gradually accelerating. It is very well imaginable that the owner’s pride of his “possession”, the land on which he “sits” (session) is the foundation for this squatting. The movements of this dance seem to suggest that there is more than just a melodic relation to the Sygkathistos Vlahikos from Epirus and Thessaly, which in turn is a melodic variation of the Berati, Beratçe, and Beranče.

My arrangement is based on a recording on the Yugoslavian album Jugoton LSY61801. I preferred this recording to various other sources because of both the traditional quality of the melodic material and its clearly audible affinity to Berati, Beratçe and Beranče. Čalgija’s rendering begins with showing the four—each separately repeated—phrases of this material (respectively at 00:00″, 00:18, 00:37 and 00:55). Then these four phrases as a whole are repeated twice. After that, one can hear different versions figuring in other recordings, especially in my own recording of 1964 (03:37). Phrase A of the phrases played at the beginning is a variation of phrase 1 of Beratçe (track 18 above, 00:00); phrases B and D are variations of phrases 3 and 2 (respectively at 00:55 and 00:28); phrase C is newly added. By comparing these variations the pentatonic basis of the mixolydian mode of the Posednica is easier to understand.

There also exists a melodic affinity between the Posednica and the Sygkathistos Vlahikos “Aide mor’ milia” (track 1 of the present album), although this is less audible because of the transposition of the melody to makam Uzzâl. (By far the most versions of the Sygkathistos Vlahikos are simply pentatonic.) The first two bars of the instrumental introduction of track 1 (00:00) constitute a variation of Phrase A of Posednica, whereas the following three instrumental bars (00:07) as well as the second sung phrase (00:27) are an extension of it. Phrase B of the Posednica corresponds with the first sung phrase (00:19); the third and fourth phrases of track 1 together (00:50) form an extension of phrase D of Posednica. Finally, the Posednica is also related—although less clearly—to the Sygkathistos Vlahikos “To aidhoni” (track 10 of the present album). See my above-mentioned article.

Not all of the available recordings of Posednica have a considerable accelerating of tempo; and even when this is the case the 15/16 meter is maintained from the beginning. I have no musical example for the shortening from 22/16 to 15/16 meter, which one hears in Čalgija’s rendering. However, there are two good arguments in favour of its traditional acceptability. Firstly, dances popular in the same region are performed with and without a tempo acceleration. When the latter is the case, they either maintain the same meter or show various ways of shortening it. The many different versions of the dance Kale Maria offer a good example of this. When and how exactly the meter of a Macedonian dance is shortened differs from time to time and mainly depends on the spontaneous interaction between musicians and dancers where both may take the initiative. Secondly, there exists a beautiful recording of the musically related dance Beranče (Malisorata), performed by the legendary Albanian trio Majovci from Debar, West Vardar-Macedonia, Yugoslavia, which shows a metrical shortening from 22/16 to 18/16 meter in an ingenious and subtle way on the Yugoslav album, Radio Televizija Beograd (RTB) LP 1360 (side B, track 4).

The following survey shows where and when metrical shortening is used in Čalgija’s rendering: 22/16 in phrases A and B; 21/16 in phrase C; 20/16 in phrase D; 19/16 in the first repetition of phrases A, B, C, and first part of phrase D; 18/16 in the second part of phrase D; 17/16 in the repetition of the first part of phrase D, 16/16 in the repetition of the second part of phrase D; 15/16 in the second repetition of phrases A, B, C, D, and their variations following. During the metrical shortening the tempo of the time unit or beat is more or less maintained because the shortening itself already creates an accelerating effect. The shortening process sometimes seems to stop, but then suddenly starts again until the next stagnation. This gives the impression of plateaus connected by slopes: the plateaus are the meters 22/16, 19/16, and 15/16.  The gradual acceleration of the beat takes place only after the 15/16 meter has been reached, leading to a whirling climax. I haven’t added a single note to the version performed by Čalgija. Everything is based on already existing variations which have been combined and rearranged here and there in the fast conclusion.

Wouter Swets, ethnomusicologist

© 1991 Paradox & Parallax

Other releases by Čalgija

Contact us / Neem contact met ons op