The Tamburitza Tradition
From the Balkans to the American Midwest
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
List of Illustrations
This book was a long time in coming, which is responsible for some of its peculiarities. My formal research for this work began in 1975 when Dr. Richard M. Dorson, my professor at the Folklore Department of Indiana University, received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct research on the urban folklore of the...
A Note on Language Usage
The terminology of the tamburitza tradition draws on words and linguistic rules from three languages. Throughout this book I use Serbian or Croatian words that are commonly used in English-language discourse about the tamburitza tradition. I have employed the terms as they are habitually used by American participants in the tradition. For...
Six young men, their faces stern with concentration, are picking out the fast and intricate melody of a folk dance on their tamburitzas, fretted stringed instruments that range in size from smaller than a mandolin to larger than a string bass. The musicians are wearing clean, pressed, pajama-like Slavonian folk costumes of coarse white...
1. The Soloistic Tambura Comes to the Balkans
As the crow flies, it is scarcely 100 kilometers from the center of Zagreb, the Croatian capital, to Šturlić, a Bosnian village. The rough terrain, rivers, and mountains make the actual journey on land a good deal longer, but even so, given this degree of geographic proximity, the cultural distance between Zagreb (a “little Vienna”) and...
2. A National Music and the Illyrian Movement
On a March evening in 1978, I attended a concert in Samobor. Samobor is a small but growing town, thirty-some kilometers west of Zagreb, nestled along a rippling stream in the beautiful foothills of the Žumberak Mountains. In the old center of the town the flavor of Austrian days still seems alive. On the ornate facades of a neat...
3. The Tamburitza Matures and Migrates to America
The accomplishments of the Illyrian movement proved to be crucial in determining the nature of the tamburitza tradition, especially in its soon-to-develop orchestral form. In Zagreb, the Illyrians developed a musical ideology still influential today, and in Osijek, South Slav patriots established the first urban tamburitza...
4. Ethnologists and the Politics of Folklore Festivals
In the later part of July each summer, the streets of Zagreb fill with hundreds of colorfully clad celebrants. Everywhere you turn on the public squares, in parks, sometimes even on streetcars, bright embroidery on stiff linen meets the eye and the rich tones of peasant song are heard. The residents of Zagreb tend to think of themselves as...
5. The Tamburitza Tradition Takes on American Ways
In Gary, Indiana, Broadway has always been the main drag. Plotted in 1905, it is a geometrically perfect straight line, aligned straight south from the steel mills; the sooty sulfurous coke plants and basic oxygen furnaces are perched on the south shore of Lake Michigan. Broadway runs under the railroad tracks, through the struggling, half-abandoned...
6. The Soloistic Tambura
With the strap of my Uher tape recorder over one shoulder and the strap of my Pentax camera over the other, I waited on the asphalt parking lot in front of my apartment building in Velika Gorica, Croatia, one early morning in spring 1978 as my colleague from the Ethnology and Folklore Institute Dr. Jerko Bezić...
7. Tamburitza Combos
In 2009, on a blustery fall day in early October, I made the two-and-a-half-hour drive from my home in Madison, Wisconsin, to the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Illinois, to attend the 2009 Tamburitza Extravaganza. In a land of urban sprawl, curving residential streets, and strip malls, the Westin Hotel in Lombard, venue of the event, towers...
8. My Little (Global) Village
At the beginning of September 2003, five young musicians from the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland areas, members of a recently formed tamburitza combo with the potent-sounding name Otrov (poison), jetted to Croatia to participate in Zlatne Žice Slavonije 2003, a festival of tamburitza music in Slavonska Požega. Although...
9. Tamburitza Orchestras
As an “uplifted” form of peasant culture, the large tamburitza orchestras are the most direct descendants of the musical ideas of Ljudevit Gaj and the Illyrian movement. When I did my field research in the 1970s, tamburitza orchestral ensembles were most numerous in Croatia while Subotica in Vojvodina and Ruma in northern...
10. Folk Dance Groups
The tamburitza is intimately associated with South Slavic folk dance. Tamburitza and dance exert a substantial mutual influence upon each other. Having replaced earlier traditional instruments like gajde and dude (types of bagpipes), dvojnice (a double fipple flute), or lijerica (a pear-shaped bowed stringed instrument) as...
The tambura, a Middle Eastern long-necked lute, was brought to the Balkan Peninsula by Ottoman invaders nearly seven hundred years ago. It was a basic chordophone, highly portable, and originally made from natural materials. This type of lute has continued to be played in something quite similar to its original form, notably...
Essay on Sources
The Tamburitza Tradition is a study of a folk music idiom that has evolved in the context of a cultural and political movement to affirm the national identity and to validate the cultural autonomy and worth of South Slavic peoples, particularly Croatians. The musical tradition is practiced in its original homeland and in Croatian and Serbian ethnic communities around the world. The tamburitza...
Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 36 b/w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Languages and Folklore of Upper Midwest
See more Books in this Series
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Tamburitza Tradition