Rhythms – Unusual, non-Bulgarian

A random collection of unusual rhythms. Remember, traditional Balkan musicians didn’t count this way – they felt the beats intuitively, maybe thought to themselves quicks and slows, but didn’t assign numerical values.  We westerners, who were raised with math-based musical notation, and are unused to irregular rhythms – this counting stuff is for our benefit.

First, let’s go to Armenia, where a fairly common rhythm is 10/8, counted 123,12,12,123, or slow, quick, quick, slow.  Here’s 2 melodies, first Ooska Gookas, or Hooshig Mooshig.

And our old friend Mom Bar

Next, Macedonia.  11/8, traditionally counted 123,12,12,12,12.

However, some contemporary groups are accenting in a more interesting way: 123,123,1,12,12,

Finally, Rajasthan, home of the Roma (Gypsies). 14/8, counted 123,12,12,123,12,12,


2 thoughts on “Rhythms – Unusual, non-Bulgarian

Add yours

  1. Thanks, Jutta, for your constructive comments.

    The Rajasthani is indeed 14/8 – a typo on my part. It could be simplified to 7/8, but I prefer, for the purpose of understanding the beat, having every “1” beat as an accented beat.

    You are also correct about my first example of Uči me majko. I first heard this song on a recording by Balkan Damar, where it is accented as I indicated. When creating this post, I wanted a more traditional example so people would recognize it as a traditional song, but I was in a hurry and didn’t listen to it carefully enough to hear the different accents. I have revised accordingly.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me improve my post!


  2. Hi, thank you for those nice rhythms!
    But I’d suggest counting two of them differently:
    The Macedonian 11/8 in this case rather counts as 123 12 12 12 12,
    the Rajastani 13/8 should be 14/8, as your counting indicates, or, more simply, a 7/8: 123 12 12.
    Best, Jutta


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