|Croatian tamburitza tradition goes back to the mid 19th century, when orchestral tamburiza play has been introduced in the city of Osijek on the NW of Croatia. It soon became quite widespread, not only in Croatia, but in many other countries throughout the world. Tamburitza play is an essential part of Croatian music culture, recognizable throughout the globe, especially in the USA, Argentina, Chile and Australia. In Croatia, there even used to be tamburitza orchestras for blind children. Orchestras for girls and women bear witness of an early emancipation of Croatian women already in the early 1900s. On the photo see Ann Elias from the Croatian Tamburitza Orchestra in the USA between the two World wars.|
With this article, we wish Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Croatian families worldwide,
as well as to all the people of good will.
Several useful harmonic recepiesThe creation of this HTML has been motivated by the interest shown for our folk songs, that I noticed while browsing through the letters sent to the webmaster of the Croatian home page (mr. Josip Jurich). I provide my comments in English, since there are many Croats and their descendants throughout the world who do not speak Croatian any more, or only very little.
Let me start with a very nice (and simple) song Ne dirajte mi ravnicu (listen to it!), which for sure will live among the Croats for many generations.
A word of caution for the Croatian reader: the tone or chord B is used in the meaning of the American notation, which differs from the Croatian: in Croatia we would write H instead of B. Thus
the American B = the Croatian H, and
Boulder-based Croatian tamburica orchestra in Boulder, Western Australia, 1910s, see [Sutalo]
Ne dirajte mi ravnicu
My deep gratitude for the above very nice authentic photo goes to Dr. Zdenka Lechner. The photo below I obtained by Mr. Ivo Lusic from South Africa.
I shall try to describe some general principles that are useful for guitar accompaniment. Of course, all that follows applies to any other polyphonic instrument (piano, harmonica), not only guitar. I believe I have some "qualifications' after many years of amateur experience (I started to play guitar as a student). This manual (or rather a harmonic cook-book) is a gift four You, if You are a "beginner". Let me concentrate on two most important things for the guitar harmony:
without dwelling into cumbersome theoretical details. We strive to be practical oriented. Don't be scared with what follows. All this is quite easy if you have a minimum of patience.
Comments There are three interesting harmonic points in this song: back-cycling, the role of B7 and Cm.
Croatian Christmas on Strawberry Hill, Kansas City, USA
Let me add one of my favourite songs, a true jewel in both music and verses, very popular among the Croats and others in Baccka and Srijem. The harmonization below differs considerably from the usual one that we can hear on recorded materials, including also the interpretation of the famous orchestra of Janika Balazz, the uncrowned king of tamburitza (sedam tamburassa Janike Balazza). This Bogdan's song is written in ikavina dialect (for example "divojka, pisma"), typical Croatian dialect, now disappearing among the Croats in Backa (Bunjevci and Sokci), due to intensive serbization. Ikavian dialect is still very widespread also in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has a tremendous literature since the time of Marko Marulic (15th century).
Već odavno spremam svog mrkova
Dm Gm Dm G0 D0A7Dm CSee also another Bogdan's beautiful song written in the Croatian ikavian dialect: Hej, salaši.
Another jewel. Kajkavian verses by Dragutin Domjanić, music by Vlaho Paljetak (born in Dubrovnik!).
Popevke sem slagal
Vlaho Paljetak (1893-1944), born in Dubrovnik, left us beautiful verses and music in kajkavian language of the Croatian north-west.
Dragutin Domjanić (1875-1933), a very popular kajkavian poet, wrote that according to their family tradition they stem from Bosnia. He was a stipendist of the cultural society Napredak from Bosnia and Herzegovina. See his verses1, verses2, verses3.
Women in Croatian national costumes from the environs of Zagreb, Bocarski dom, Zagreb, 2006 (festival of Croatian gastronomy)
Verses: Dragutin Domjanić, music: Vlaho Paljetak
G C G
Vlaho Paljetak (1893-1944), born in Dubrovnik, on the photo and on the stamp.
The song has been rearranged by a well known conductor Emil Cosetto, on the occasion of Tito's death in 1980. It is regrettable that the message of this beautiful, innocent song has been so distorted.
Dječji tamburaški zbor Zvijezda (Children Tamburitza Orchestra Star), Boulder City, West Australia, 1936.
Source [Šutalo, p. 209].
Croatian Tamburitza Orchestra Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, 1929. Source [Šutalo, p. 204].
Croatian Tamburitza Orchestra Boulder, Western Australia, 1910. Source [Šutalo, p. 204].
Verses and music: Vlaho Paljetak
It is interesting and little known that in Japan there exist two recordings of Vlaho Paljetak's well known song Marijana - in the Japanese language, and the song was very popular in that country!
We invite you to listen to Vlaho Paljetak's tune O, MARIJANA, sung by Seiji Tanaka in Japanese and Croatian, recorded in 1976:
By the courtesy of Dr. Drago Stambuk, Croatian ambassador in Tokyo.
I had opportunity to listen them on two records issued in Japan, when I visited Mr. Mario Kinel in his apartment in Zagreb (Mr. Kinel was a well known pop-music composer and translator; he even translated Vu plavem trnaci into Italian and German). Of course, out of Japanese verses I understood only - Marijana.
O Marijana (see bottom on the right), issued in Japan in1976, sung by Seiji Tanaka, Japanese pop singer born in 1947.
Marijana is also very popular in Czechia. It was included in both Croatian original and Czech translation into the book "Sveove Evergreeny" (World's Evergreens), published in Prague in 2000 (Petr Jansky - MUSIC CHEB). Except in Czech and Japanese, Marijana has been translated and sung in Italian, German, Russian, and Romanian.
In addition to this, I learned that a famous american actor Harry Dean Stanton ("Texas Paris Texas") sang the whole Marijana in superb Croatian to Mr Nenad Bach (personal information by Mr Nenad Bach).
I know it would be a fatal mistake not to provide an example for the people from Dalmatia (they are quite sensitive). Here is a nice back-cycling:
C#7 -> F#m -> B7 -> E
Try to harmonize the rest of this exceptional song yourself.
S ponistre se vidi Šolta
text: Zdenko Runjić
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Hrvatsko pjevačko tamburaško društvo "Zvonimir", Babina Greda, 1909. (Croatian singing and tamburitza society "Zvonimir", from Babina Greda, 1909). Source Mihael Ferić: Hrvatski tamburaški brevijar / The Croatian Tambura Breviary, Šokadija, Zagreb, 2011., fascinating book with 1300 photos on 500 pp. Two girls are sitting by the Croatian Coat of Arms.
Please, go to the next page below.
Uzalud vam trud svirači
S onu stranu Plive
Traditional song of Bosnian Croats
Another song by Zvonko Bogdan written in the sweet Croatian ikavian dialect.
PIVAJTE PISME BUNJEVAČKE!
A E E7 A
The melody of the song Fijaker stari, for which Zvonko Bogdan wrote verses, is known in Croatia for very long, at least from the beginning of 20th century. Indeed, Bogdan has taken the melody of an old Croatian song Zrtva ljubavi, known at least from the beginning of the 20th century. I owe this information to Dunja Knebl, well known interpreter of old, forgotten Croatian songs, in particular from Međimurje.
Those wishing to learn more about the history of Bačka Croats (Bunjevci and Šokci) may consult the following books written by Ante Sekulich (born in Backa):
Kolo igra, tamburica svira
verses by N. Kujundžić, music by S. Mukić
D A DOne of the greatest tamburitza players among Backa Croats was Pere Tumbas - Hajo (Bunjevac, dika Bacckih Hrvata iz bile Subotice).
Marko Vukasović, Stojdraga, Žumberak
Kapela sv. Ane is near the town of Samobor.
Sidi Mara na kamen studencu
Traditional Croatian song from Srijem
Em Am B7vincu = vinac (vijenac) = here has the meaning of prayer-book (molitvenik)
It is little known that this very old and popular Croatian song was originally sung in IKAVIAN dialect. Here we present its version from the city of Subotica, as the Bunjevci Croats used to sing until mid 20th century. I learned this from older people from Subotica, whose grandparents sang it like this.
It seems that "Sidi Mara..." is therigin for the melody of ALOHA OE (Farewell to Thee), famous Hawaiian song and the national anthem of Hawaii. Its words were written by Her Majesty Queen Liliuokalani around 1877. Possible Croatian origin for the melody of ALOHA OE is indicated in an article written by John Berger in HAWAII MAGAZINE, August 1996, p. 41. Very close relation between the melody of "Sidi Mara..." and ALOHA OE has been indicated by Branimir Vidmar, Timmins, Ontario, Canada, 1978. Vidmar also indicated that the melody is close to American gospel "How Great Thou Art," composed by K. Hine. It is also worth noting that "Sidi Mara..." has Austro-German version called Die TrĂ¤ne, and the English version is The Tear (this can also be seen from Vidmar's sheet music). As stated in Ripley's Believe it or not, Hawaiian music is the creation of a German bandmaster captain Henry Berger (1844-1929), invited to Hawaii by King Kamehameha V in 1872. Berger composed the first Hawaiian songs which "he adapted from German folk tunes." He composed 72 famous Hawaiian songs, including ALOHA OE and the Hawaiian national song. We can be pretty sure that the "German tune" adapted to Hawaiian ALOHA OE was in fact Croatian song "Sidi Mara...", which Berger obviously knew as "Die TrĂ¤ne."
Very beautiful and original type of songs among Bunjevci Croats in Bačka are the so called groktalice. They are very emotional, sung slowly in a trembling voice, without any instrumental accompaniment.
Here is a well known children's verse from Subotica, as older people still remember:
Eci, peci, pec,
Note "pripelica" instead of "vjeverica"!
Veliko je more
Traditional Croatian song
U dubini njemu
Po njem bijela lađa
Na žalu su djeca,
I learned this song from my mother Katica Žubrinić b. Suntešić, and she learned it in 1942 from her school-teacher Štefica Rubin in Sveti Križ Začretje.
ZAPIVAJ PISMU RIBARU STARI!
Ribar plete mrižu svoju
Traditional Croatian song
D G D
Dobro jutro moj svečaru (Rođendanska)
Traditional from Podravina
D G DMany thanks to Mr. Robert Los for permission to use the above photo.
One can hear very often the following variant instead the third stanza (you can add it as the fourth stanza if you want):
3' Mnogo ljeta sretan bio,
Beautiful song about Zagreb in the kajkavian language.
Za nikaj na svetu ja menjal te nebi
Unofficial anthem of Zagreb, by Drago Brahm
G B7 C G
D Em A D
Interesting harmonic passages can be obtained in some of our folk songs using + (or aug) chords, for example in ``Poleg jene velke gore' or ``Kraj kapele sv. Ane'.
... in their ruined church on the left. Reproduced from [Pokupsko], many thanks to Mr. Božidar Škrinjarić for permission. On the right is the renovated church (2007), with three shattered bells in front of it, destroyed during the Greater Serbian agression in 1991.
I hope that with these few musical examples I managed to convince You in the usefulness of back-cycling and parallel chords. You will hear them very often on recorded materials on the radio and elsewhere (just listen carefully). I assure you that Croatian folk provides an amazing amount of examples for many interesting harmonic mechanisms! If you don't believe, look at:
More details can be found in my booklet ``Gitara za radoznalce' (some libraries in Zagreb possess it). For those interested I must say that at this moment it is not available.
Remark In the literature you will see the song ``Oj, jesenske duge noći' sometimes attributed to Branko Radičević, which is wrong (this error appears in my booklet as well!) - the author is Ivan Trnski, a Croatian poet.
A final remark (with best intentions): The Institute of Folklore in Zagreb possesses an extremely valuable collection of more than 2000 folk songs collected mostly among the Croats in Baccka and Srijem by dr. Josip Andrić (1894-1967). Unfortunately, they are still unpublished. Maybe this remark will be a necessary impetus to make this invaluable collection accessible to the wider audience, especially to those youngsters playing tamburitza. Our national instrument is an object of the study on the Academy of Music in Zagreb, similarly as done by other nations having their own national instruments.
The most beautiful book I know, devoted to the thorough treatment of Croatian folk songs in Croatia as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, comprising excellent photos of various dances and national costumes, is
dr. Vinko Žganec: Hrvatske narodne pjesme (Croatian folk songs)
published by Seljačka sloga, Zagreb 1951, with the parallel text in English. I saw it (to my greatest surprise) for the first time in May 1995. I suspect it was simply removed from our libraries in the fifties, for the reasons we can easily guess. Vinko Žganec collected more than 25,000 songs, among them 15,000 from his native Međimurje.
I would recommend the reader an excellent book by Mr. Leopold, with a short history of tamburitza and accompanied with many Croatian folk songs, as well as some other references:
Tamburica links in Austria:
Tamburitza music in the USA:
For further information (sheet music, collections etc.) please contact:
We would like to provide several addresses for those wishing to buy top quality tambura instruments (bisernica, prim, brač, bas prim, bugarija, čelo, bas):
Branimir Kvartuč: Đakovački vezovi (Đakovo Embroidery)