No Strings Attached

Kochani Orkestar:
Naat Veliov - truba and direction
Vinko Stefanov - accordion
Erol Asimov - saxophone, clarinet
Ismail Ismailov - drum (tapan), darabuka
Violeta Filipova - voice
Orhan Veliov - tuba
Mendu Saliev - bariton
Dalkran Asmetov - bariton
Sadedin Durmisov - bariton
Estan Amedov - golem

  • Solo Tapan - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Srpshko Oro - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Romski Chochek - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Tarabuka Solo - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Kerta Mangae Dae - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Trepaza - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Nejatov Chochek - Composed by Naat Veliov
  • Nic can Bagna - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Ciganski Chochek - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov
  • Bulgarska Oro - Trad. Arr. by Naat Veliov

  • A certain genius particular to Gypsy musicians and the Rom people has allowed them to adopt and transform the indigenous music of the regions they traverse, thus facilitating the integration and evolution of musical styles and songs specific to various cultures and ethnic groups.
    Destined to their role as professional musicians as a secondary result of their social status, the Rom people have often been the exclusive source of traditional music, as well as faithful mirror to the culture of the country they inhabit, across the ages. But at the same time, thanks to their travels, they have developed the capacity to mix a multitude of sources and transform them into a style that is uniquely their own. Contrary to the preconceived notion that Gypsies are gifted with a capacity for imitation, they have always forged a music with their own very distinct character, even though they have continually been forced to deal with the necessity of adapting to local demand. With the Rom people, playing music has always been synonymous with creating it.
    This observation is particularly relevant when it comes to Naat Veliov, trumpet player and leader (kapelnik in the Rom language) of his brass band, the Kochani Orkestra, which, with his lead, presents extremely original arrangements.
    In the Balkans region, brass band orchestras have a particularly Rom style. From western Serbia to Macedonia these orchestras demonstrate remarkable creativity in their transformation of the original, static style of traditional brass bands. These brass bands were created in the 19th century in imitation of the Turkish military bands which replaced the Mehterhane formations of Janissary Turks beginning in 1828. Apparently, as in Turkey, they dethroned the ancient traditional oboe (zurna, zurla, or mizmar) and double-membraned drum ensembles. Today these ensembles that had formerly been imported from Turkey and played by the Roms, are dying out, in part because of modernity, but also because of the growing Macedonian and Serbian nationalism.
    In Kochani, a city in the Republic of Macedonia, the Rom brass band music is called Romska Orientalna Muzika. Naat Veliov's band is made up of a trumpet (trompeta), a cornet (kornet), and a saxophone (saksafon), which alternates with a clarinette (klarinet), 3 baritones, a tuba, and accordion (armonika), and a large drum (tapan), which itself alternates with a darabuka.
    From Albania to Turkey, Greece to Bulgaria, the Balkans region represents a multitude of forms of expression with extremely diverse ethnic origins. Nevertheless, a certain musical tendency which reflects the ancient Ottoman occupation remains at the heart of this complex rural and pastoral mosaic. The Oriental aspect of Balkan music seems to be maintained particularly by the Gypsys who moved out from Turkey starting immediately after the Ottoman occupation in the 14th century. There is also the factor of the Gypsy's own Oriental heritage in their Indian roots which plays an important role in their musical style.
    In Macedonia, all of the Roms are Muslims. They play for the Gadjes - the non-Gypsy people - as much as they play for themselves. They have absorbed and incorporated a multitude of styles which they juggle endlessly. Within their brass bands they have preserved the ancient Oriental notion of melody and content that evolved from the circular, continous breathing technique of oboe players.
    Slow introductions and improvisations without rhythm are called taksim in Turkish or trepaza in Macedonian. They are considered to be evocations of a grand meal, where one savours all of the different delicacies.
    The romantic themes also have several different names and associations. In Turkish they are called gazel, which stems from ghazal in Arabic, where the notion of a woman's beauty was compared to the gazelle of the desert. In Macedonian and Serbian the words are sevdak and sevdalinka, which have their roots in the Turkish sevda, which means passion or love. The extremely embellished and Oriental Sevdasin the urban context have conserved the second rise of Oriental music. The styles are constantly mixing, whether they be Turska (Turkish), Romska (Rom), Bulgarska (Bulgarian), Romanska (Romanian), or Srpska (Serbian). Above and beyond regional influences, the Oriental inspiration of the Roms can be traced back to their otiginal roots, and often melodies imported from Indian cinema are completely integrated into the Rom repertory.
    Most of the instruments base their rhythm on those of traditional dances. The name Chochek indicates the oriental gypsy dance for women, while Horo indicates the collective circular dance of men. Here again, the rhythmic patterns were gleaned with a taste for ancient and modern inspiration included the Rumba.
    Going even farther in this tradition, the leader of the Kochani Orkestra has succeeded in integrating original pieces into the traditional repertory of the band. They have introduced a certain modernity while avoiding the trap of a "Jazzification" of their Balkan music, which through its Rom musitians remains resolutely Oriental.

    page maintained by
    Dusko Koncaliev