10 Nov 2015

Pop song in Bulgaria between the world wars: continuity and tradition

01 April, 2015 – 01 April, 2017

Author: Asst. Prof. Mihail Lukanov, PhD, Music Department

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of intensive development of music culture in Bulgaria, including in the area of pop music genres. Such new media as gramophone and wireless exerted special influence on the instrumental tradition of the villages and the cities, which began to adapt to the fast-changing conditions of making and distribution of music. On the other hand, the vinyl records industry changed also the prevalent domestic landscape towards adoption of stylistics that ushered in Bulgarian popular songs in their own right in the late 1920s. The same general process led to the emergence of the so-called salon orchestras and soon after that, by the late 1930s, Bulgarian jazz took its first steps.
The study seeks to analyse the complex relation of the dynamisms underlying these significant changes and to give a comprehensive historical picture of popular music in this country, especially as regards the forming of the melodiousness of urban pop music and of instrumental music from the late 1920s until the mid-1940s.
More concretely, the focus is on the stylistic influences that have had a significant effect on the formation of new genre trends. Another area of research interest is dealing with certain centres of popular music culture (restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, circuses), especially when the latter were closely related to the establishment of trendy music practices. Tracing out the nascent genre differentiation in the field of the popular music culture rethought in the light of the socio-cultural processes that have inspired the emergence of relatively independent stylistic orientations is among the most significant tasks.
Treated from various perspectives and by different researchers, this period has not been studied with a view to these processes particularly in the context of Bulgarian popular music. The expectations of a scientific contribution are based on the condition that the work aims to search for overall systematisations in this subject area, relating to the cultural legacy of the recent past.
Unquestionably, the study rests on a theoretical foundation, laid by the publications of musicologists, folk researchers and ethnomusicologists, who have explored various aspects of Bulgarian music and culture of the age, such as Gencho Gaitandjiev, Rosemary Statelova, Claire Levy, Rumiana Karakostova, Elisaveta Vulchinova-Chendova, Nikolai Kaufman, Dimitrina Kaufman, Ventsislav Dimov, Lozanka Peicheva, Natalia Rashkova, etc. The work on the subject involves extensive use of an interdisciplinary approach with regard to methods in the fields of music historiography, cultural theory of music and musical analysis.
I believe that the research problematics of the proposed project are adequate to the actual trends in the study of popular music and the priorities of Music Department. The expected result is a historical-theoretical monographic study.