TAMBURICA, the Instrument
A tamburica (tahm-boor-EET-sah) “little tambur” is one name for a musical instrument of the tanbur family (see https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/tanbur-family-of-instruments/ ). Over time it has evolved to become the Croatian and north Serbian national instrument, and expanded into a whole family of related instruments that combine to become tamburica orchestras.
TAMBURICA, the Orchestra
Quoting Wikipedia: “Pajo Kolarić (1821–1876) was an early Croatian composer for tamburitza. Kolari formed the first amateur tamburitza orchestra in Osijek in 1847… The variety of tamburica shapes known today were developed in Croatia and Serbia by a number of indigenous contributors near the end of the 19th century.“
- The oval shaped ‘Prim’ or ‘Bisernica’ is the smallest of the five and plays the melody and harmony in the highest octaves.
- The tenor guitar shaped ‘Brac’ or ‘Basprim’ is the next largest and plays the melody and harmony in the mid range octaves.
- The Guitar shaped ‘Celo’ is approximatly the size of a folk guitar and plays counter melody in the lower octaves, much like a cello in a symphony.
- The ‘Bugarija’ or ‘Kontra’ is simlar in size and shape of the celo and plays only chords for counter rythm.
- The double bass shaped ‘Bas’ plays the bass part of the rythm in the lowest octaves. Like the other instuments in the tamburitza family, the Bas is fretted, has wire strings, and is played with a pick.
An excellent source of tamburitza music in the USA is Festival Records, still run (since 1949) by John Filcich. http://www.mermaidsofvenice.com/festival/tamburitza.html. From the website: “The tamburitza family of plucked-string instruments comes from the Pannonian region of Southeast Europe, flourishing today among Serbs, Croats, and fellow enthusiasts. Basic components of a tamburitza orchestra are the bisernica (1 double string, 3 single) or prim (2 double strings, 2 single), brac (2 double strings, 2 single), bugarija (1 double string, 3 single), čelović (2 double strings, 2 single), and bas or berda (bass fiddle with 4 strings).
TAMBURICA – Beyond Pannonia
The tamburica orchestra has become a global phenomenon, like ukulele orchestras.