Bulgarian Musical Instruments


Kaval  is  one of  the favorite  and  widespread musical   instruments in Bulgaria and  part of the  national  culture.
Kaval can be used for both solo and as part of a folk orchestra or other contemporary groups. 
The Kaval sounds very soft and warm and has a rich tone and timbre. It belongs to a group of wooden wind musical instruments. Made mostly of plum tree, cherry tree, dogwood and boxwood.
The device of the pipe is very simple – a cylindrical wooden tube. There are three parts which mentor one another.
Top part (the one that is placed in the mouth) has no openings and the end is slightly rounded and serves as a mouthpiece where actually injected air jet, which produces flutes.
The middle part has eight holes – seven in the front and one at the rear. By clogging and unclogging of these holes are played different tones.
The third part has four differently arranged holes in playing not clog. They serve to enhance the sound of the instrument. 


Gaida is a favorite instrument close to the life and the spirits of the Bulgarians.
It’s composed from the following parts: gaidunitsa, ruchilo, duhalo, glavini and meh.
Gaidunitsa is the most important part of the gaida and is a kind a pipe with eight holes for the fingers, seven of them which are on the front side and the eight hole is on the back side of the pipe. The tone possibilities of the gaida are poorer then these of the caval.
There are two types of Bulgarian Gaidas: Djura and Kaba.
The Djura Gaida has a smaller size and sounds high and sharp.
The Kaba Gaida is typical for the Rhodope Mountain Region and sounds low and soft.


The duduk’s nozzle has a bill form. It’s different from the little kaval and the tsafara with its construction and way of reproducing the sound.
It’s used mostly in west Bulgaria (rarely in other regions) usually in two extents – big and small duduk. It’s made from ash-tree, cornet tree, sycamore or cherry tree.

Svirka (tsafara)

The shepherd’s gaida called tsafara too, is a one-tubed, wooden, cylindrical tube long from 25 to 30 cm with six holes for fingers on it. The technical and the tone possibilities of the shepherd’s gaida are limited. The nozzle (naustnik) and the way of blowing are the same with the way of playing on a kaval.


It is a double pipe (gaida), which has a form of a rectangular prism or which is more rarely is composed form two parallel cylindrical tubes. It has a length from 30 to 40 cm. All of the two tubes begin with a bill formed nozzle in which the tone is produced with an ordinary blowing.
When playing on a duduk the two tubes are temporary blown.


Tapan is the pulsate instrument which is widely used in Bulgarian music.
It has a cylindrical wooden body stretched skins (membranes).The skins are fastened with hoops.
Hoops are tied with ropes that stretch or supply skins to get a different sound from the instrument.The membranes of the drum are beaten with batons called kayak (thicker) and stick.


Gadoulka is one of the most famous stringed instruments.
Her body looks like a pear cut.Made from whole piece of wood(cherry, acacia, pear, maple and others) that is gnawing.There are three main strings and eleven runner.To make strings in the past has used animal intestines were entangled by a rope.


The tamboura is a wooden stringed instrument.
Made of maple, walnut, acacia, cherry.Corps of tambura is digging of whole tree, so in some parts of Bulgaria call it “kopanka”.The sound of the tamboura is obtained by pulling strings with plate – feather.In the past it was a piece of cherry bark.Tambura is often used as solo instrument.

Local Composers

Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov (13 March 1899 – 8 September 1978) – Bulgarian composer, pedagogue and pianist

Vladigerov composed in 1950 his great symphony, the “Jewish Poem”, Opus 47. This symphony received in 1952 the highest honor given by the Bulgarian Government to an artist, the Dimitrov Prize. His most performed and emblematic work is unquestionably Vardar Rhapsody, also known as Bulgarian Rhapsody.

Official website: https://vladigerov.org/ YouTube links:
1. Jewish poem, Opus 47 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hRKZIEQkwk
2. Piano Concerto No.1 in A-minor, Op.6 (1918) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C8LWSeLe5o
3. Vardar Rhapsody – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWmvipV2Sjc

Lubomir Pipkov (6 September, 1904 – 9 May, 1974) – composer, pedagogue, public figure

He belongs to the second generation of Bulgarian composers. He was among the founding members of the Contemporary Music Society (1933), the predecessor of the Union of Bulgarian Composers. His impressive versatility as a composer, literary man and poet, journalist and public figure, pedagogue and socially involved artist with progressive ideas made his name as one of the leading personalities in the music culture and the intellectual elite in Bulgaria in the period 1930s-1970s.
YouTube links:
1. Nani mi nani Damyancho – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BLuzIgBCZ4
2. “Symphony No.1” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMuIZcMzRfE&t=313s
3. Opera Momchil – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wta4PZupOFA

Filip Kutev (13 June, 1903 – 27 November, 1982) – Bulgarian composer, arranger and founder

Filip Kutev together with his wife Maria Kuteva, in 1951, founded Bulgaria’s first professional, state supported ensemble, the State Ensemble for Folk Song and Dance, also known as the Filip Kutev Ensemble. With his ensemble he pioneered a style of arranging folk songs by fusing folk elements with western classical forms and harmonies, and established a new Bulgarian choral tradition.
His choir was one of four who appeared on the album Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume Two, which won a Grammy Award in 1989.YouTube links:
1. Dimyaninka – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt3c2EABGK8
2. Lale li si zjumbjul li si – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXyjlpQxens
3. Polegnala e Todora – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MUJaZj2fbI

Parashkev Hadjiev (27 April 1912 – 1992) – Bulgarian composer

He was the son of conductor Todor Hadjiev, an early champion of Bulgarian opera. His versatile creative, pedagogic and social work won him recognition as one of the leading figures that shaped the Bulgarian professional music and music culture in the second half of the 20th century. In 1959, he wrote his masterpiece Lud Gidia (the Madcap). Lud Gidia captivated the audience with its melodic freshness, originality, exuberance, and great vocal and choral parts.
YouTube links:
1. Lud Gidia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C1oOGKy_KU&t=448s
2. Violin Sonata No.3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7CECMFe44w
3. Operetta Aika – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3osageMFv0

Nikolay Kaufman (September 23, 1925) – Bulgarian musicologist, folklorist and composer

Kaufman’s compositions include over a thousand arrangements of Bulgarian, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish folk songs, his own songs composed in a Bulgarian folk style and piano pieces. Some of the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir’s recordings were based on Kaufman’s arrangements of Bulgarian folk songs, including some in the choir’s Grammy Award-winning album Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Vol. II. Kaufman’s work as a musicologist covers the recording of over 40,000 Bulgarian folk songs and tunes, the result of his theoretical and field studies.

YouTube links:
1. Jewish songs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLeb4p_ne1w
2. Kalugerine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8ptpS_oOTE
3. “Tsurne Trunke Kapeioo” (Black Berries Dripping) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VSOXo5-7yc



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