Music, Serbia, Music

Epic-Songs on a Single String

A Collection of Balkan Gusle Tapes

Daniil Borisov's exclusive mix of gusle tape recordings

In the system of organology (the science of musical instruments and their classifications), the gusle holds a special place among other “chordophones.” The gusle, as well as a few other instruments like the Vietnamese dan bau or the Punjabi tumbi, has just one string. The player places the instrument vertically between their knees, bowing the gusle while pressing the fingers against a floating string made of 30 horse hairs, never pressing down onto the neck. This gives the instrument a unique and harmonic sound, and when coupled with quick ornaments, swerving chromatic lines, and percussive bowing, the gusle mirrors the melodic lines of the bard. Equally unique is the instrument's headstock, carved in a wide variety of shapes, featuring specific ethnic and national motifs.

Played throughout the Southern Balkans, but most popular in Serbia, the instrument accompanies a variety of epic-poetry sung by a single musician. In Serbia, these centuries-old songs are centered around the era of Ottoman occupation and the struggle for liberation. In an exclusive mix for EastEast, the tape collector Daniil Borisov has compiled an epic mix of gusle epics,  featuring multiple examples that have never before been digitized. 

All tags
,  Music
Daniil Borisov
Music collector based in Belgrade, Serbia. Part of the SHIT HAPPENS music community.