For further reading about Bulgarian music and keyboard playing:
Bach, Carl Phillip Emmanuel; Mitchell, William J (translator). 1949. Essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. This fundamental work serves as a model for clear, rational exposition of musical technique. Most valuable to the student of Bulgarian accordion are the sections on mechanical technique and fingering. Section on the Baroque practices of figured bass and continuo accompaniment are best left for classical students.
Fink, Seymour. 1992. Mastering piano technique : a guide for students, teachers, and performers. Amadeus Press, Portland Or. This book describes an approach to classical piano technique grounded in anatomy and mechanics. While many of the techniques are quite piano specific, others are helpful for keyboardists in general, and accordionists in particular. Most valuable is the precise use of anatomical terminology and mechanical principles in service of a musical end.
Kirilov, Kalin Stanchev. 2007. Harmony in Bulgarian Music. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oregon, Eugene. This is a brilliant analysis and synthesis of Bulgarian harmony, covering both instrumental and vocal styles. The emphasis is on modern usage (i.e. "Wedding music" since 1990), so fans of older Bulgarian harmonic style may need to pick and choose topics. Not to be read lightly, it requires the reader be very familiar with harmonic terminology of the Western church modes. This dissertation is also a nice jab in the ribs to that school of Ethnomusicology that values cultural anthopology over musical analysis.
Kremenliev, Boris A. 1952. Bulgarian-Macedonian Folk Music. University of California Press, Berkely and Los Angeles. Chapters on history, meter, melody, structure (i.e. form), song "types" (e.g. wedding, ritual, humorous) and instruments. The main focus is song. Instrumental discussion is somewhat out of date (e.g. gadulkas lack sympathetics, harmony is non-existent). Sections on meter and melody, illustrated with numerous melodies, are potentially useful to the musician.
Levy, Mark. 1985. The Bagpipe in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria.Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. "The" work on the Rhodope gaida. Discusses history, instrument making, performance contexts, tune classification, the traditional learning process, how traditional players evaluate their playing, playing technique and ornamentation. Includes over 100 transcriptions of songs and gaida tunes, some bare outlines, some with exquisitely detailed ornamentation (available on EMDB in Book ML00). The chapter on playing technique, which describes the various ornaments and their relative frequencies, is most useful to the musician. The fundamental musician's task of moving from the general idea of a tune to a fully ornamented setting remains mysterious however, and discussion of it is perhaps hampered by the dispassionate, academic voice required of Ph.D. dissertations.
Rice, Timothy. 2004. Music in Bulgaria - Experiencing music, Expressing Culture. Oxford University Press. New York and Oxford. This is a short college-level ethnomusicology text. It contains excellent coverage of Bulgarian musical history and its intersection with politics, especially in the Communist era and later. It also seeks to entice the student with charming travelogues, some illustrative notation and Music-101 type listening exercises (a CD is included). However, utility to musicians is notably absent from its declared goals (p. xi). Further, Rice maintains a strict dichotomy between "Bulgarian" understandings of Bulgarian music and (mere) "American" understandings of it (p. 79). Had I not had many years of establishing common understandings with Bulgarian musicians I've worked with to disprove it, I would find this thesis quite discouraging.
Copyright 2015 Erik Butterworth. All rights reserved.