BFMNM – How to Choose an Instrument

In this article, I will try to give you basic report and explanation about the instruments, which are often used in Bulgarian folk music (BFM). This can be useful for those of you who doesn’t know much about this matter until now or who are just about to step in to it. Especially for those of you, who are interested of the platform BFMNM. This article will be quite useful and it’s going to help you to make the right choice of certain instrument that you are going to use for practicing BFM on.

You can choose between traditional Bulgarian folk instrument and modern /non-folkloric/ instrument. You should know that if you choose folk instrument – this platform is not intended for initial training of playing on certain instrument. In that case, you should make your own research for more information, lessons or text materials. Anyway, if you are interested to join to your collection some authentic old instrument and to try to play on it /because they are quite interesting and has a different sound/, you may ask for advice how to get some. Some of you may have that kind of instrument already and may be you are taking part of some private lessons, workshops or seminars. In that case, the platform BFMNM could be quite useful for your personal growth. You can use it in the periods between the meetings with your mentor, especially when you need note materials.

In case if you’re already playing on certain instrument, which is typical for classic music – you can start to learn how to perform BFM on it, as you use BFMNM and the two main sections that this platform offers – the online course “BgEthnoLab” and “Sheets”. If that is your decision you should also have in mind a few things that we’re going to talk about in point 2 of this article.

Let us take a look at the two main aspects.

  1. Most common traditional instruments in BFM

I am talking about “most common” traditional instruments, because practicing on some other, not so popular and rarely used (without to underestimate their qualities) may cause some troubles not only to the students, but also to the authors of the platform. It is hard to find that kind of instruments, because nobody produces them nowadays. Furthermore, it will be hard to give you examples and demonstration on that kind of old ancient authentic instruments.

If you want to start playing some different, exotic and interesting instrument – you better choose one of these: kaval (flute); gaida (bagpipe); gadulka (rebec); tamboura (mandolin). They are most often used and it is not so difficult for everyone who has some interest to find and buy his own instrument. Then you can start training and practicing. These instruments are not so popular around the world and they are attractive with their unique shape and exotic, impressive sound. More information about each one of them will be periodically publish on this site.

The authors of the platform may recommend Bulgarian masters, who are still preparing these type of instruments and you can buy some, but it is important to know that we suggest to find a personal teacher, who will lead you in their correct use. In BFMNM we are not teaching in practicing of a certain instrument. If you get some experience, then the sections “BgEthnoLab” and “Sheets” may be quite useful by giving you access to working materials and valuable advices about some specific, distinctive characteristics of that Folk art. You should have in mind that the note materials and the selection of the pieces, included in the online course, are based on the repertoire of performers, who are playing on non-folkloric instruments. In that case, you may find that a certain key is not suitable for your traditional folk instrument and it will be necessary to transpose the melody in other key. Some of these folk instruments may have a quite short ambitus so you should have to change the octave groups. In addition, some of the ornaments you may find difficult for performing of a certain instrument, because originally this music is composed for other kind of instrument with other technical capabilities. If you are playing on some blowing instrument and you are learning a piece that’s composed for other type of instrument you may have some problems with the points for taking breath. In this case, some changes in the note text must be done, but to reach stylish interpretation we suggest you to use the advices of your personal mentor. Other possibility is to take part in workshops, which we are going to organize in the future. There you will have the opportunity for a personal contact with popular performers of BFM and to practice together.

  1. Other instruments in BFM

Some other instruments are stepping in to BFM practice and bit by bit, they are validating a new style of performing. They are typical for the classic music in Western Europe and most common are: clarinet, accordion, violin, trumpet and saxophone. The sound is well known and because of the technical characteristics, they have irrefutable advantage. That kind of instruments are adapted for easier and precise performing in tempered system, which is not always required in BFM. When we use ornaments and sometimes even in the main scales we have some un-tempered degrees, but we will talk about it more in the inline course.

Except the classic instruments, in the last two decades in BFM we have other stable practice – playing on keyboard. With its abilities for reproducing different sounds and timbre variety it is preferred in different genres. In BFM is often used. The keyboard has equally well partnership with folk and modern instruments. It’s been used for an accompaniment, as well as for a solo performing. Considering this, we cannot ignore it from the whole picture and it will be used in many of the exercises, and also in examples for different techniques. I should warn you that teaching how to play BFM on keyboard is not our basic goal and that service is going to be offered in case the students are personally interested and ask for it.

After we talked about different instruments – traditional, classic and electric, I think it’s good to know how BFM sounds on them. I am giving you some examples and suggest you to follow the links:

Here I mentioned just a few performers, but there are many other musicians with brilliant interpretation, who deserves your attention. More information about them will be periodically post on this website.

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