Music of Southeastern Europe

The music of Southeastern Europe or Balkan music is a type of music distinct from others in Europe. This is definitely because it was influenced by traditional music of Southeastern European ethnic groups and mutual music influences of these ethnic groups. The music is characterised by complex rhythm.

The music of the Slavic countries of Southeastern Europe is significantly different from the rest of the music of Eastern Europe, which includes the Slavic states of the former USSR. The latter was much more influenced by the common eastern Slavic culture, notably by Kievan Rus and more recently the USSR.

Historical musical influences

Byzantine medieval music

Main articles: Byzantine music

Byzantine music (Greek: Βυζαντινή Μουσική) is associated with the medieval sacred chant of Christian Churches following the Constantinopolitan rite. Its modal system is based on the ancient Greek models. The development of large scale hymnographic forms begins in the fifth century with the rise of the kontakion, a long and elaborate metrical sermon, which finds its acme in the work of Romanos the Melodist (sixth century). Heirmoi in syllabic style are gathered in the Irmologion, a bulky volume which first appeared in the middle of the tenth century and contains over a thousand model troparia arranged into an octoechos (the eight-mode musical system) and the whole system of Byzantine music which is closely related to the music of ancient Greece.

Greek music

Main articles: Greek music

Greek folk music includes Demotika, Cretan and Nisiotika, Pontian, Laiko and Rebetiko. Greek music developed around the Balkans as a synthesis of elements of the music of the various areas of the Greek mainland and the Greek islands, with Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical chant, and a reference to music of Crete and Byzantine music. The music of the Aegean Islands, are known for Nisiótika songs; Greek characteristics vary widely. Crete has a well known folk dance tradition; it includes swift dances like pentozalis. Most of the Greek folk songs are accompanied by Greek musical instruments like: lira, clarinet, guitar and violin. Greek folk dances include Kalamatianos, Syrtos and Sousta.

Ottoman music

Main articles: Ottoman music

Dimitrie Cantemir was a composer of Ottoman music. Many musical instruments were introduced to the Balkans during the time of Ottoman control, but many Ottoman instruments were borrowed by the locals.

"Balkan" is a Turkish word which means sharp mountains. As this the influence of Mehter and Turkish rhythms and melodies can be seen in Balkan Music. In the 19th century in imitation of the Turkish military bands which replaced the Mehterhane formations of Janissary Turks beginning in 1828. Apparently, as in Turkey, they dethroned the ancient traditional oboe (zurna, zurla, or mizmar) and double-membraned drum ensembles.

Pre-modern Balkan music

Traditional Bulgarian music

Traditional folk instruments in Bulgarian music include various kinds of bagpipes (gaida and kaba gaida); drums (tapan); tarambuka; bells; daire; clapper; zilmasha; praportsi. Woodwind diple: zurla; kaval; duduk; dvoyanka; ocarina; accordion. String instruments: gadulka; tambura; fiddle; mandolin; guitar and gusle.

Traditional Serbian music

The medieval era in Serbia traditional music. During the Nemanjic dynasty, musicians played an important role in the royal court, and were known as sviralnici, glumci and praskavnici. Other rulers known for the musical patronage included Stefan Dušan, Stefan Lazarević, and Đurađ Branković. Medieval musical instruments included horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries and cymbals.

Derivatives and offshoots

Progressive Balkan folk

Progressive Balkan folk has seen rise in many western countries, particularly the United States. It has had its greatest success with progressive communities across the country. Younger American generations are discovering the possibilities of this genre and are bringing it to small clubs and festivals across the US.

The upbeat, dramatic tone of the music has also attracted a following in the Tribal Fusion bellydance community. Tribal Fusion does not claim to emulate traditional dances, costume or music styles strictly, but it does draw inspiration from Balkan traditions.

Balkan soul funk

Bay Area, CA band Inspector Gadje plays mainly traditional and contemporary balkan dance tunes, but because of the varied background of its musicians, elements of jazz and experimental music can be heard.

Brooklyn-based Slavic Soul Party! is a virtuoso ensemble of brass musicians that infuse traditional balkan rhythms and beats with jazz, soul, funk and the energy of dance pop.

British based band Sam and the Womp have rooted their music in the Balkan funk style to create a modern feel along with catchy and energetic rhythm.

Flamenco Balkan fusion

Another popular exploration has been between Balkan music and other styles around the Mediterran like Flamenco, Jazz and Middle-Eastern music. Vancouver based act Ivan Tucakov and Tambura Rasa explores this style and beyond.

Balkan beats

Traditional Balkan music mixed with modern, electronic beats: this genre first appeared in the Berlin underground scene in the mid-1990s. The term was coined by Berlin DJ Robert Soko, whose BalkanBeats monthly parties still continue nowadays. It then spread to the European and world scene, to become an established genre nowadays.[1]

Music per country

Notable artists



 Bosnia and Herzegovina









Musical groups elsewhere

See also


  1. Rossig, Rüdiger (11 June 2006). "Punk den Balkan". Taz. Retrieved 10 October 2013.

Further reading

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