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May 14, 2009 by · 1 comment

Gologan is a Bulgarian group that performs a unique mix of ethno-rock poetry. The group was founded in 2004, when poets Ivan Hristov (kaval, vocals) and Petar Tchouhov (electric guitar) began playing experimental art rock; they eventually began to add ethno elements as well. They were later joined by Angela Rodel (vocals and tambura), a doctoral student in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was in Bulgaria conducting dissertation field research on Bulgarian vocal music. Fellow writer Emanuil A. Vidinski (percussion) also joined the group; in 2006, Ivan Vulev (bass) and Grisha Manikatov (drums) came on board, thus completing Gologan’s current line-up.

In addition to using modern instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, and drum set, Gologan also uses traditional Bulgarian folk instruments such as kaval (wooden end-blown flute), tambura (long-necked plucked lute), dvoyanka (wooden fipple flute with two chambers), and tarambuka (hand drum). Their aim in mixing these ancient and modern sounds is not simply to provoke listeners by the juxtaposition of these traditional instruments in an atypical sonic environment, but to create a true synthesis between methods of sounds production from different historical eras.

Angela Rodel

Petar Tchouhov

The musicians attempt to give a specific local sound to cosmopolitan rock culture, while at the same time attempting to renew the local musical tradition. As synthetic artists, they do not limit their self expression to the confines of a single artistic form, but rather strive to present a holistic artistic description of the world through a combination of music and poetry.

Although the members of Gologan are first and foremost poets, the goal of the Gologan experiment is to go beyond the borders of poetry and to enter the territory of music. To this end, the group uses both original as well as folkloric texts, some of which are even based in urban folklore. Some of Gologan’s song texts are even in English; in this way, the group attempts demonstrates that it is not confined to a single folkloric or poetic tradition. Unfortunately, the contemporary media has increasingly marginalized poetry and has pushed the reader aside, a situation that has forced poets to look for new ways to present their poetry to the public and to find new paths to reach the public. One of Gologan’s goals is to revitalize syncretic narrative forms that existed in previous historical eras.

Grisha Manikatov

Ivan Vulev

The group’s performances have primarily been connected with different types of literary performances, which have proven to be the most effective means of presenting new literary works. Gologan has already had a series of performances at the Red House, the Sofia City gallery, the Ivan Vazov House Museum, and the National Theater, among others. In September of 2005, the group took part in the prestigious Apollonia Art Festival in Sozopol, Bulgaria, performing as part of a reading by authors Todora Radeva and Emanuil A. Vidinski, as well as playing for an event introducing the September issue of the literary magazine “altera.”

In March of 2006, Gologan had their first performances outside of the borders of Bulgaria, playing for the Bulgarian communities in Budapest (Hungary) and Bratislava (Slovakia) as part of festivities surrounding the Bulgarian national holiday on March 3. Also in spring of 2006, Gologan opened the 25th Annual Spring Festival of Books at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. In 2007 Gologan played for the Bulgarian community in Linz (Austria). They also participated in the international festivals “Ars poetica” in Bratislava (Slovakia) and “Bitola Open City” (Republic of Macedonia)

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