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Bosnian Sevdah/ Sevdalinki

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maugein96

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Anybody know where I can get sheet music and any further info for this style? I was recently in Bosnia and discovered Sevdah music. The accordionists tend to play mainly in a back up role, but there are some haunting melodies when they take the lead.

I've always liked Balkan music, and even once considered getting a 6 row Balkan Star accordion. However, such an instrument proved impossible to source here in the UK some 30 years ago, and I was also unable to work out the tunes by ear, due to the subtle chord changes in and out of minor keys. There was no internet in those days and those of us who chose to play "foreign" music had to go it alone. I never started playing accordion until I turned 30, which I now realise was too late to make anything of it, but I can play some tunes to an acceptable standard, With the passage of time I'll not be buying a Balkan Star, as a change to PA or B from C griff would take me too long at my age, but if anybody can advise me on any aspect of the music then I'd be very interested.

The tuning of the instruments also defeats me, but I'm sure somebody on this forum might play one. From what I've seen the Bosnians tend to play PA whereas the Serbians use the 6 row. (Why 6 rows?)
 

Sarah

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I have some books with Balkan music for accordion. I sent you a private message.
 

Sarah

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maugein96

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The book that Cat and Glenn have mentioned has won me over by the photo of Mostar on the cover. It was in Mostar that I first heard sevdah music and I had to ask a Bosnian lady in the shop where I heard it what it was. I wouldn't say I was hooked on it, as the songs can be pretty mournful, but I was delighted to hear the accordion playing those haunting oriental type melodies, presumably whilst the singers dried their eyes! I heard one or two accordion instrumentals in the style and that had more appeal to me. However, I have no idea who the players were or the tunes they played. I do tend to prefer up tempo stuff.

Reckon the book will be my next buy, and should help to get me started.

I've done a bit of reading and web browsing, and discovered that the vast majority of the sevdah tunes are not written down, but learned from other musicians in the folk tradition.

The 6 row button chromatic accordions used for this type of music are B system, but the buttons are set into a flat playing surface like a diatonic, and are not stepped like the usual CBAs. The technique requires the thumb to be raised off the side of the keyboard so that the player can reach into the 6th row, although most of the playing is done with three fingers. If I had experience of playing B system I might just be able to work out why that 6th row is there.
 

cat

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I have great affinity for the music and special fondness for the melancholy quality--in fact, what brings me to the PA, as I'm unable to obtain many of the "blue" notes on my diatonic boxes. I started on PA in earnest when I couldn't manage to arrange Gnossienne no 3 for button box. :roll:

I also play oud and fiddle and enjoy playing the melodies on these.
 
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maugein96

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I know what you mean about those melodies. I first heard Turkish saz being played in Istanbul about 40 years ago and I always promised myself that I would buy one. I actually bought two or three of them but after I heard Hasan Genc playing I realised I would never achieve that standard in my lifetime, or anything like it. I can play guitar very fast with a jazz style plectrum, but I reckon you'd have had to be playing saz from an early age to get the feel for the quarter notes and drones played with the thumb over the fretboard etc. You also have to leap up and down the fretboard with an accuracy that I do not seem to to be able to acquire. The speed is there but the accuracy is not.

I've spent a lifetime trying out instruments from all over the globe, and amongst many others I also had a go at Greek tetrachordo (8 string) bouzouki. It was easier than the saz, but those darn subtle oriental scales eluded me. I ended up selling it as it became yet another fad and ended up hanging on the wall. However these days you can watch and learn on You Tube, and my sister lives in Crete, so I might be tempted to have a look when I'm next over there in October. Accordion seems to be popular in the north of Greece, particularly Macedonia. I've seen references to Greek accordion on the forum so I'll maybe see what I can find. The accordion is also sometimes used in the bluesy rembetika style music of Salonika and Athens, although I've never really listened much to what the players were doing. The amplified bouzoukis and singers usually tend to relegate the accordion to much the same position as a rhythm guitarist in a traditional pop band.

As I approach retirement I hope I can finally brush up on my accordion and guitar skills and maybe resign myself to just appreciating all those other instruments I've tried to play over the years. Scottish accordion music has never appealed to me with all those big chords at the beginning and end of every tune and musette tuning that needs the windows taped up in case the vibration smashes them. There are many talented Scottish accordion players, but the style just doesn't suit me at all.

In the mid 1950s up until I was aged 6, our family lived with my grandfather, who always tuned his big wireless set to Radio Lyon and listened to French accordion music. That sound stuck with me and I still prefer it over most other music. The modern French players have almost changed it out of all recognition, and the old musette style will shortly disappear for ever. I'm not worried as the only regret I have is not being old enough to remember it in its heyday.
 
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maugein96

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The book Eastern European Folk Tunes for Accordion by Merima Kljuco arrived today, and has been well worth the wait.

I could play quite a lot of passages in Balkan music by ear, but could never work out those subtle chord changes from major to minor keys half way through a bar. I also had a problem with the chord progressions.

This book has solved that and has opened up a new opportunity for me to get to grips with this music that I've been wanting to play for so many years. Mind you, I would be lost without the CD. Merima kindly "holds back" on the speed a bit so that our Western ears can get used to the alien tempos and oriental scales.

Thanks to all of you who recommended the book, it has been a real find.
 
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JustinP

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Sarah post_id=18393 time=1407346964 user_id=137 said:
I have some books with Balkan music for accordion. I sent you a private message.

Ive been requested to play Bosian Sevdah music at the coffeehouse I weekly perform at in Washington DC. Would you be willing to share?
 
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