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Singing and Sailing in Croatia, 2019

Jennifer Richardson - Friday, November 22, 2019

Did you know there is strong tradition of singing in Croatia?

Well there is and it's a cappella and called Klapa, it's an integral part of life in Croatia, it reminds me of the Pacific Islands and as I was to find out the harmonies are very similar.

As Wikipedia states: The word klapa translates as "a group of friends" and traces its roots to littoral church singing. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. Main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important. In 2012 klapa was inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

I suggest you slip on your headphones. I filmed this song in the middle of the Diocletian Palace in Split, Croatia on my phone in amongst a crowd but the acoustics in this ancient space are incredible and the harmonies and emotion of this song are sublime. 

Back in 2017 on our first Singing and Sailing trip in Croatia with Stuart Davis we were fortunate to hear a wonderful local 'Klapa' group that really stood out. Apart from singing these gorgeous romantic Dalmatian songs about the life on the islands, this group sang songs from the hinterland that were completely different and recognisably Balkan music as I knew it with nasal sounds. But what really struck me that night was how some songs were so familiar and sounded like the sounds of pacific islander music... I closed my eyes and listened, although the words were Croatian, the sounds transported me to Samoa. That got me chatting with their lead singer and director Mario Markovina.

Mario impressed me greatly with his velvety rich baritone voice and chatting to him I found he has extensive knowledge of music as an ethnomusicologist. Soon after meeting him I was to discover that he is well known and is highly respected amongst many 'klapa groups along the Dalmatian Coast and a true 'maestro', above all, he is a delightful and charming person. It was an obvious choice to invite Mario to teach us some Croatian songs for our Singing and Sailing in 2019. 

Mario had never taught in english and I had never worked with a 'blind' director, so to begin we were both a little curious and anxious, thankfully it fell away quickly and the group all fell in love with him and the music.

In our first session with Mario he had instructed us not to look at the music scores or words and learn by ear... you can see how well that went and can listen to the results (below). Enjoy!

 

 

If you are interested in listening and learning some Klapa singing through a tutorial with Mario contact us. We will have that available.