Page 136 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
asset in the collective and individual memory of the Thracian refugees, who left their birthplaces
in the turbulent times of the Balkan Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century; it is passed
on to the next generations and finds contemporary forms of legitimising the specific communal
musical identity.
As a step in the research on the migrant community of Thracian Bulgarians, I paid attention
to the repertoire of songs of the first generation of “carriers” from before the resettlement. For the
period 1926—1931, the folk culture of songs of the refugees from Eastern and Western Thrace
was documented in different villages and town, by then in the confines of the Bulgarian state, and
published in Vasil Stoin’s well known Thracian collection (Stoin 1939) backed up by the Thracian
Institute of Research. The note sheets there reconstruct the former repertoire of village songs
taken out of their spatial setting but alive and well in the awareness of its bearers. (Resounding
evidence of the songs’ temporal durability is my fieldwork recording from Ivaylovgrad dating back
to 1989: a song with its note sheet included in the collection but also passed on in the family of a
singer, whose origins go back to Eastern Thrace.)
The texts of songs in Stoin’s collection are a rich source of information about what has been
carried over in the memory of people with some knowledge of music. Along with the narratives
typical of Bulgarian folklore and the lasting knowledge about musical skills and their function in
culture, there are traces of the varied ethnic map of Thrace up to the early twentieth century: the
songsmention that it does not become aTurk to tend topigs or toplay thebagpipe, that the
zurna
is
a Turkish instrument and therefore when a maiden was Turkicised, “nine drums were being beaten
and nine
zurnas
were playing to drown her voice.” A curious fact is a song mentioning
zurna
and
drum players, who have Bulgarian names and who are the accompaniment of a
horo
(circle dance)
at a fair. To have Christian Bulgarians playing the
zurna
is quite unusual and could be interpreted
as an extraordinary case of being influenced by the local Muslim culture, after the Roma musicians
have brought and established the tradition of playing that instrument. The texts of songs hint at
the musical communication with Turks, even if in the context of an understanding of religious
and ethnic alienation. One of the texts suggests that there were villages of mixed population,
Bulgarian and Turkish: a mother wouldn’t allow her daughter go to “the lower neighbourhood,”
lest “Anatolian Turks”playing the
bulgariya
(Bulgarian tambura, plucked string instrument) and the
kemencha
(bowed string instrument) should trick her and Turkicise her. Another song narrative
reveals that Bulgarian musicians were invited to sing at a Turkish wedding: reality, which found its
way into a song.
With all its conservatism and the tendency to preserve itself culturally, the practice of
live music, especially the instrumental music, shows the existing cultural contacts between
Bulgarian and Turkish musicians, especially in the urban context. In the early 1980s, the fieldwork
research of folklore in the south-eastern Bulgarian regions close to the border brought me to
folk instrumentalists, bagpipers born in the Edirne district, who knew some Turkish melodies
from that region. In the fieldwork research on the project, discussions with Turkish musicians and
connoisseurs of music in Edirne brought about the recognition of some of those old recordings of
Turkish melodies played on the bagpipe by Bulgarian folk musicians, refugees fromThrace. One of
themwas discerned as an improvisation on amelody froma song that used to be sung at the table,