Singing and Culture: Bulgarian Vocal Technique

Sometimes I come across a voice that is just so unusual for cultural reasons that I double-take, and want to learn more. This is because often beautiful music and innovative creativity comes from the act of combining disparate influences - ones that are familiar to us, and ones that prick up our ears. I had one such moment recently when revisiting this stellar track from experimental world-music band, Arifa. They recently collaborated with vocalists from Bulgaria, China and Iran, and this was the result:

Although both women have striking voices, I felt the first woman's voice to be particularly compelling. Something about the way she used a slightly nasal (or "focused") tone to give herself an oboe-like precision, combined with faster runs and semitone melismas… well I found it to be truly beautiful. On a quest for the origins of this traditional vocal style, I found some other interesting videos of Bulgarian singers...
 

There is truly so much to be learned from listening to the voices of cultures other than our own. What a beautiful and moving song, with such incredible voices.