A collection of 63 tunes from Eastern Europe and the Balkan
Book and CD in 3 versions, written and produced by Gundula Gruen
published by Spartan Press
Introduction to the book:
I have created this book to share my favourite Gypsy and folk pieces from Eastern Europe and the Balkans with a wide audience of interested intermediate and advanced amateur musicians and professionals.
There are 3 versions of this book:
Gypsy Fiddle Collection - Gypsy Music Collection for C instruments, and for Bb Instruments
Which one should I purchase?
If you play violin/fiddle, order the 'Gypsy Fiddle Collection'. It includes suggestions for fingering and bowing; moreover, all udio files are recorded on violin with accordion accompaniment.
The 'Gypsy Music Collection for C Instruments' is practically the dame book, without the violin-specific fingering, and the audio files are led by flute, accordion and violin. This is the right book for any instrument in concert pitch, such as flute, recorder, piano, guitar, oboe, harp....
The 'Gypsy Music Collection' for Bb instruments covers all instruments in Bb tuning, such as trumpet, Bb clarinet, Soprano and tenor sax... The pieces are recorded on trumpet, clarinet and sax. For ensemble playing, it can be used in conjunction with the Fiddle or C instrument version. Ther book only contains 59 pieces, as 3 are not suitable to be played on Bb instruments.
Download an Excerpt:
What makes it stand out from other books:
The pieces are mostly from authentic sources, which I learned the traditional way by ear from native musicians. Many are not known or found in any form of notation or recording in Western Europe or the US.
The recordings aims to inspire and reflect the skill and passion of the musicians who taught me their music, however, they are trimmed to short basic versions, and do not include any arrangements of how they would be performed live in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
The book’s design is clear and animating, it is easy to follow as well as interesting and creative to look at. It includes background knowledge on the music and pieces themselves – enough to help with the interpretation and satisfy curiosity but not too much to overwhelm or make it into an encyclopaedia.
Whilst other books exist on Balkan and Gypsy music, the 'Gypsy Music Collection' series makes the effort not just to communicate the notes for reproducing a tune but more importantly, to convoy the feel and interpretation that is arguably the most important aspect of Balkan music.
‘Gypsy Music Collection’, published in 2008, is an exciting collection of the most beautiful tunes and pieces from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, I came across so far; I notated them as precisely as is possible in classical notation, including ornamentation and phrasing. However, classical notation is not really suited for this music, therefore, the recordings could be used constructively, to make for oral learning, and enable the player to imitate ornmentation and phrasing more authentically.
The idea started when I was holding regular workshops on Gypsy and Balkan music in London. The tunes were very popular with the participants. I taught by ear but had the written music for the musicians to take away afterwards. The players were so hungry for all this exciting music that seems to flow so naturally and is yet so exotic – I couldn’t teach them quickly enough in the monthly classes. So I started putting everything together in a book to give people the opportunity to study by themselves.
The pieces range from grade 2 to grade 8 level and can be performed on any instrument. Accompaniment chords are included to inspire ensemble playing. Each piece contains some special information which ranges from translation of the title to background, genre or important information on accompaniment.
I have organized the pieces into the different regions where I believe they have originated from. (Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Ex-Yugoslavia, Czech Republic…). Every chapter contains a paragraph about the music of each country and its specific stylistic elements, including tonal and rhythmical characteristics and local instruments. This is mostly based on my own experience whilst travelling and learning, however, some background research has also been done.
However, writing about style and phrasing and making a big effort to notate the music as close to the interpretation as possible, still makes it impossible to communicate the real feel and energy. The traditional way of learning is to pass on the knowledge from generation to generation by ear. To give the musician the opportunity to follow tradition combined with modern learning this book is accompanied by a CD – one can learn the notes quickly by reading, and then spend time listening to pick up the feel of the piece by ear. Even on its own, the CD sounds very inspiring and is a great portfolio of how the music changes moving from region to region in the various places covered in the book.