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Old 03-21-2008, 12:32 AM   #1
Shawn Husk
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Default Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

I'm very interested in talking to anyone who has any experience with these instruments.

Here's an excellent youtube video of this type of piping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kli_4cXEi4

At first it seems totally random and doesn't make much sense but after a few dozen times you start to get it. It's very hypnotic and earthy sounding.

Anyway, I'm interested in chatting about these with anyone knowledgeable.

Shawn
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Old 03-21-2008, 12:59 AM   #2
Heatherbelle
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

I'm not knowledgeable, but like you, love this music. As you say the more you listen to it, the more you hear in it, the rhythms, the melodic strands, as the hypnotic effects. Do you know of the Bulgarian group Lyra? They appeared at Piping Live two years ago and had a gaida in their line up. I own one, but all the instruction manuals I've heard of are in Bulgarian. It's quite interesting though just to get some air into that enormous bag, and mess about with fingering. The air in the bag lasts forever! And there's a distinct smell of goat whenever it gets an airing!! It matches another instrument I have - Goats Toe Nails - you shake them and they also have a strong goat whiff! The You Tube videos are awesome!
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:21 AM   #3
Yuri
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Pancelticpiper is your man on these forums. He plays , and has trained in Bulgaria, so knows quite a bit about it.
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:26 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Well I didn't train in Bulgaria, but I took lessons from a Bulgarian here in California. Georgi Doichev was a guest lecturer at UCLA's ethnomusicology department for a year, and I tried to make the most of it. Unfortunately he didn't speak English and I don't speak Bulgarian! He is a fantastic player.

The gaida I studied with Georgi was the standard Bulgarian pipe, not the Rhodope Kaba Gaida, which has a somewhat different technique.
In several ways, the Bulgarian Kaba Gaida is more like a bass Macedonian gaida than it is a bass Bulgarian gaida. For one, the usual Bulgarian gaida can be stopped on the leg just like an uilleann pipe, and Bulgarians use the staccato/legato contrast in a similar way. However the bottoms of the Macedonian and Rhodope chanters are angled and cannot be stopped on the leg.

Also it seems that the ornaments used on the Kaba are more like Macedonian ornaments, but I'm not sure. I really don't know much about the technique of either. As I said, I studied and played the normal Bulgarian gaida, specifically the "Trakia" or "Thracian" style.

Anyhow you'll find that the fingerings, ornaments, music, etc are much more different on the gaida than they are, say, on the uilleann pipes, as compared to the GHB.

Here is the suite of gaidunitsi I used to own when I was playing with a Bulgarian dance band, in the pitches Bulgarians call "do, re, fa, and sol" (keynote/dronenotes respectively G, A, C, and D):

The drone has the "tinkertoy" interchangable sections in order to match the various chanters.

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Old 03-24-2008, 07:07 AM   #5
Heatherbelle
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Thank you for showing us this. Apart from anything else it looks very nice although it does look like an animal too! There was at least one really interesting article which Mike Patterson wrote in Piping Today with great photographs. I wonder whether you saw it at all? Sounds like you could write one yourself. The people I bought mine from said just keep it in the poly bag it came in, and blow it up once a week. The former I've done, the latter.................I plan to do!!
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Old 03-25-2008, 04:55 AM   #6
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

By the way, in the YouTube video that PipeSergeant linked to, the guy is playing a Pravo, possibly the easiest Bulgarian rythm for Westerners to "get".
It's just a Bulgarian jig, going 123 456, 123 456.
For no reason that I can fathom, Bulgarians write Pravos in 4/4.
All of their other rythms are written exactly as played:
Paidushko 5/8 2+3 "shortLONG"
Ruchenitsa 7/8 2+2+3 or 3+2+2 "shortshortLONG" or "LONGshortshort"
Daichovo 9/8 2+2+2+3 "shortshortshortLONG"
Kopanitsa 11/8 2+2+3+2+2 "shortshortLONGshortshort"
Buchimish 15/8 2+2+2+2+3+2+2 "shortshortshortshortLONGshortshort"

Note that a common element is each bar ending LONGshortshort.

Bulgarians count using "short" and "long", using their fingers. The "long" is always the stressed beat. So for example a Kopanitsa would be counted in 5, using all five fingers of one hand, the longest finger (the middle finger) also receiving the long beat. So: thumb index MIDDLE ring pinkie.

By the way, "tunes" per se don't traditionally exist in Bulgarian dance music. Rather, short one bar, two bar, or sometimes four bar motifs called "kolenyo" ("joints") are strung together on the fly by the piper.
It's as if a Highland piper were to learn, rather than jigs entire, fragments of dozens of jigs. Then when called upon to play jigs for dancers, would generate a string of jig motifs.

Of course, the pipe music was originally played solo.

In the 1950's when the big Bulgarian radio orchestras were created, consisting of a variety of folk instruments (all traditionally played solo), arrangers had to create fixed compositions, fixed "tunes" in the GHB sense, out of the vast store of traditional kolenyos.

I'm talking the normal "Lowland" Bulgarian pipe music. In the Rhopope mountains, the kaba gaidas are played in large ensembles of ten to thirty pipers (no drums). I don't know how old or traditional this group approach is. But obviously the pipers had to agree on fixed "tunes" in order to play together.

The cool thing about the gaida chanter (called gaidunitsa) is that it's chromatic (in the old days partially, nowadays sometimes fully) without any keys. This is due to the amazing "mormorka" or "fleahole" which is actually a tube which extends into the chanter bore, and is operated by the upper index finger.

So, a chanter in "re" (Bulgarian "Lowland" chanters are reckoned by their lowest note, not their keynote, which is the three-finger note) plays mostly in the key of A, and has an A drone.
The fingering of the A scales is thus:
A: x xxx ooxo
A#/Bb: x oxx ooxo
B: x xxo ooxo
C natural: x oxo ooxo
C#: x xox ooxo
D: x oox ooxo
E: o xxx ooxo

So, A#/Bb is simply A raised a semitone by the mormorka. C natural is B likewise raised. D is C# likewise raised.

And you can get either a sharp or flat leading tone G:
G: x xxx xoxo
G#: x oxx xoxo

Now I've given ooxo as the "default" lower hand position, but gaida players use a variety of fingerings according to context. When playing stacatto they hold all the lower-hand fingers down for example, or just have the pinkie raised so as to use low E as a "drone note". So our A tonic could be fingered:
x xxx ooxo
x xxx oxxo
x xxx oxxx
according to context.
The lower notes on the gaidunitsa are:
F#: x xxx xxoo
E: x xxx xxxo
D: x xxx xxxx (on normal "lowland" gaidas, it's this note, the 'seven finger note', by which the key of the chanter is called.)

Note the confusing difference in nomenclature between the normal Bulgarian gaidas (which I'm calling "Lowland") and the Rhodope mountain kaba gaidas.
A normal Bulgarian gaida in "re" has a chanter keynote of A, and drone note of A. This is the larger common size, the sort used in "Bitov" ensembles, considered to be the "orchestral gaida". The standard solo gaida is in "sol" and has a chanter keynote of D and drone note of D. This type is usually played as a duo with a drummer.
But wait- the Kaba Gaidas are called by their actual chanter keynote/ drone note! The standard Kaba Gaida key is E.
They also make Kaba Gaidas in D, which would be an octave deeper than the standard solo gaida called "sol" or G (but which has a chanter keynote/drone note of D).
Confused yet?

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Old 03-25-2008, 07:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

I've owned and played one of these also for about 5 years now;

however, unlike Panceltic; my motivation is solely for fun: It's just such an unrestrictive, enjoyable pipe; (a good cheap thrill) but to tackle the whole authentic tradition is indeed a challenge.

One major by-product, for me, of playing the Kaba Gaida, is to be able to pipe in all those wonderful compound meters.

If you buy one, make certain the blowpipe valve is really in tip-top condition; and keep the bag flea-free at all costs.
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:36 AM   #8
Heatherbelle
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper

Confused yet?
Yes! But that's ok, because all the information you have helpfully posted here is a fabulous resource for us to come back to again and again. When I was trying to find a tutor book, it really seemed to be the case that there wasn't one in English. Why don't you consider writing one??
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:43 AM   #9
Heatherbelle
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Rutan
and keep the bag flea-free at all costs.
Oh Charlie please don't tell me you can get fleas in the bag!!Important question - how do I know if they're in there? Some people in my band blew it up about six weeks ago - could they have aspirated fleas? Since I've not fed them since I bought it a year and a half ago, will they have died out? And finally since I don't have fleas personally, would they have to have been in there when I got it or can they 'develop'?? I feel itchy until I get your reply.
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Old 03-27-2008, 01:59 PM   #10
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: Bulgarian Kaba Gaida

Panceltic, thank you for your posts!

Heather, there are some videos available in English and in English subtitled.

Here is a book and VCD combo http://bulgariana.com/product_info.php?c...2af4151f9d927cb

And here is a new DVD for learning to play the gaida: http://bulgariana.com/product_info.php?c...2af4151f9d927cb


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