Of the dozen songs thrown at me in my individual lessons so far, one particularly strikes my gong – Гюро Добър Юнак (Gyuro Dobwr Yunak) from Trakiya region, as arranged by Stoyan Paurov.
Our protagonist lays in a prison tower, a hawk chick in hand. He breaks his own fingers to pieces to feed the bird, he gathers his own tears to water it, to raise it to be able to fly, on his behalf, to get news of his family… the grown bird does fly, but brings back only word of overgrown yards, empty houses and a single dead tree.
This epic piece is travelling me. The ornaments, designed to flip and tumble from steady arching phrases, are like running your fingertips through the longing of calm water, and watching the light break up, flash and ripple out into eternity…
I thought it fitting to sing you some of it in the bathroom of a friend’s atelier, located on the 15th floor of a soviet style block in the Sofia suburbs… a tower indeed. A tower where you will hear the water pipes grinding against the weight of time, as I croon in this language that is not mine, but that teaches me so much about making sound!
Though scored, the timing of this piece is completely elastic, dictated by the story itself – a breathable rather than beatable meter, meticulously coached by my vocal tutor Svetla Stanilova, and lovely piano accompanist, Maria Akrabova.
For me as a vocalist and as a person, this song is like a supreme challenge to be powerful yet tender, broken yet whole, active yet still, ahead yet present, vast yet concise… A piece I believe I will be working with for years! I sang it for the class, accompanied by Maria, for our end of semester sharing on Wednesday:
And for the vocal geeks:
Something I am finding particularly interesting is learning how to apply the right impulse and pressure of a particular ornament onto different vowels (depending on the lyric). For example the “ko” from sokolovo that you hear in these recordings, is a particularly loving sound (round yet contained), to apply this pattern to. Later in the song (there are two more cycles), a “te” from da te dwrja, risks splaying and hardening, and requires particular attention to keeping the tongue active, yet lower jaw relaxed and throat open, thus allowing the ornament to percuss freely in the larynx…
My favorite pattern looks like this on the page:
Listen to this, and more, on my sound-cloud below… (ps – that luminous bird you see just appeared in my motion photo experiments… What happens when you dance and click? Sometimes magic!!)