The Society of Folk Dance Historians
Other Berace documents
posting from Bob Liebman
At 7:34 PM -0400 9/8/98, Steven Finney wrote:
I recently asked Tim Rice if he knew of any published attempts of quantifications of actual performed rhythms in Balkan music, and he didn't know of any.
(Bob replies:) Many years ago, I tried to gather all recordings of Berance like meters (12 or 13 or even 17 (levendikos))- from records, my field recordings, those of others (Mark Levy, Larry Weiner, etc.) I have a notebook indicating a total of 114 such recordings. I even transcribed the melodies of many of them - I was interested in which melodies, if any, were particularly associated with specific dances (or dance names). Since I am not particularly talented as a musician, I did this by playing tunes at 1/2 or 1/4 speed. (I can't recall what I used as a reference for pitch - without help, I could easily hear a 1/2 note rise as a 1/2 note drop.) In any case, I also did some stopwatch timing of the major beats for several measures in each.
For example, using four (successive?) measures from a performance of Bajrace (Zensko Bajrace) by the group of Aegean women (Kostur area) living in Skopje at the 1st? Bitola Ilindenski Denovi Festival in 1972?, I have average readings of
2.4 1.7 1.95 2.45 1.8
a total of 10.3 (I'm not sure of units or whether this is 1/2 speed or 1/4 speed, but it doesn't matter.)
Taking four measures from the same group at Ohrid, I have:
2.3 1.45 1.75 2.4 1.8
(a total of 9.7)
(I can't tell whether they were playing the piece faster, or my sample is from a later point in the performance, which clearly does speed up.)
Adjusting these to a first beat of 3 (my arbitrary decision), we have:
Bitola performance: 3 2.13 2.44 3.06 2.81
(a total of 13.44)
Ohrid performance: 3 1.89 2.28 3.12 2.34
(a total of 12.63)
All of the faster beats are played faster in the latter one.
In comparison, consider the averages for 8 measures from Gornoselsko Oro (Pece's Kucano music):
3.15 1.85 2.4 2.8 2.4
(total of 12.6)
or adjusted: 3 1.76 2.28 2.66 2.28
Very different is Pece's gajde playing of Zensko Pusteno (on record)
1.2 .7 1.0 .8 1.2
(I used different speed?)
or adjusted: 3 1.75 2.5 2 3
How's that for a display of obsessive-compulsive behavior.