Skip to content

3 girls, Loreena McKennitt, Sevdah and Bjelo Dugme – Talk about a strange mix!

November 12, 2006

We have three daughters, the hubby and I.  We have decided that one must become an engineer to take over the family business and this position hubby has decided will be filled by the oldest of the three.  The second daughter has been designated dentist and much to my husbands disdain, she was telling me yesterday that she has to get better at art if she is going to be an interior designer (a secret love of my own – I wanted to be an interior architect – score one for me, god knows none of them look like me, it’s a good thing I gave birth to them).  He hasn’t decided what the youngest will become.  Although at Friday’s parent teacher conferences, her pre-kindergarten Quran teacher informed me that “Mashhhhhhhhalllllllllllllaaaaaaaaah, little A is sooooooooooooooooooooooo (at this point I have a beaming smile waiting to be told how smart she is) ……

pritttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! (pretty). 

All three are gorgeous.  They all have either green or blue eyes taking the blue from my husband along with his gorgeous long lashes and the green are from me.  One daughter has a gold stripe on one of her blue eyes (they call it a freckle), it’s absolutely amazing. 

The thing about the youngest one is that it freaks me out how much people stare at her and how many people find that they have to stop me to tell me how beautiful she is.  It gives me this really bad feeling, like something bad could happen.  I’m hoping to actually just jinx this negative feeling by talking about it.  It’s not just the way she looks, it is her actual character, her personality.  Once a day there is a story to tell on how she had us on the floor laughing or how she’s figured out how to wrap someone around her finger.  “She’s unbelievable” that’s been the motto for this one by everyone.

Okay, so anyway, I didn’t even mean to go there.  Last night while my husband was browsing the robotics/electronics section for our oldest daughter, the engineer, I was going through the CD section looking for a CD called The Prayer Cycle.  I love music, I love almost all music (all but country).  This particular CD features both Alanis Moriset and Ofra Haza, I love both artists, and I just discovered that someone named Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan is also in this CD.  Lucky me has to order it, I didn’t find it last night.  There are nine movements within the CD that are breathtaking, I will order it today.

I did run accross another CD, on that I had, but it got eaten by a CD player.  Last night I picked up Loreena MckKennitt’s “the book of secrets”.  It is an amazing, hauntingly beautiful celtic and historically inspired work of art. Visit here to learn more.  PBS will be airing her September Alhambra concert in early 2007 – “Nights from the Alhambra”.

Today while listening to her CD I was once again reminded that one of her songs is earily similar to a Bosnian sevdahlinka.  I am not sure which song and have to get my mother over here to listen to her song to tell me that I’m not crazy and which song it is that it reminds me of.  When I figure it all out, I will post the two songs (I have to figure out how to post audio to my blog as well).

Still, the song really had me thinking about Bosnian sevdahlinke.  The word sevdahlinka stems from the word “sevdah”.  Sevdah is a Turkish word which means “passion” or “lovesickness”.  Here is a description from wikipedia:

In musical sense, sevdalinka is charactericized by a slow or moderate tempo and rich harmony, leaving a melancholic feeling with the listener. Sevdalinka songs are very elaborate, emotionally charged and are traditionally sung with passion and fervor. The singer will often impose the rhythm and tempo of the song, both of which can vary throughout the song. It is usually sung with a single male vocal, although female vocals are not uncommon. Usually, it is played by a small orchestra containing accordion (the most prominent), violin, nylon-string guitars and/or other string instruments (occasionally), flute or clarinet (occasionally), upright bass, snare drum, although in the past traditional instruments such as the saz were used as well. In between the verses, an accordion or violin solo can almost always be heard. Its lyrics are ballads, usually devoted to falling in love or to unfortunate love — the origin of the name is a Turkish word sevda meaning “passion” or “lovesickness”.

Now, I don’t care if you are an Iron Maiden long haired metal head or the Nine Inch Nails mosh pit chick, if you are Bosnian, this is the music that will be played at your wedding.  Not only will it be played at your wedding, but you will know every word and you will be up there doing a slow kolo, or possibly a shoto.  Besides that, you have a secret love for Himzo Polovina’s “Jutros prođoh kroz čaršiju (I passed through the town this morning)” and please do not bother denying it, we all know it is true.

In other Samaha music news – I missed the bijelo dugme concert.  I will never get over not going to that concert.  I always swore that if bjelo dugme  (I wanted to use that picture but thought maybe it was too graphic for some of you – oh, that’s also a warning) ever came out here that I would go, but I didn’t (crying and throwing temper tantrum over here).  bjelo dugme is a rock band of the former Yugoslavia.  I’m not sure where they fall these days, Serbia or Bosnia or Croatia.  Doesn’t matter, they were awesome.  Some of their music was featured in the “Time of the Gypsies” movie that won international awards.  See it if you can.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2006 3:19 am

    Is Bosnian music very similar to Turkish and Arabic music? Or are the instruments different?

    Lol about your husband deciding the occupations of his daughters. We are two brothers in our family and when my younger brother wanted to be another Computer Enginner (like me) my dad was like ‘no we already have one in the family. You should be something else’.

  2. November 13, 2006 4:29 am

    I think the music is pretty unique. The instruments are different, the harmonica is pretty prevalent.

    Well, I think we are in for a shock as the oldest keeps talking about being a veterinarian. Maybe we just have them mixed up. Interior design isn’t too far off from architecture, which is a type of engineer at least she’d have the CAD part down.

    As far as a vet goes for the older one, that’s not too far off of being a dentist. Cat’s teeth, human teeth – what’s the difference? Hee hee. I’m sure we’ll get it all straight by the time they get to college.

  3. November 13, 2006 6:52 am

    Yeah, Raihana has to be a doctor or something lucrative: we have both decided we’ll be penniless academics, so our children have to pay our mortgage.

    Back in the day, at the Islamic University (Islamabad), my South African friend had a tape left by a Bosnian (then Yugoslav) student Nasiha. It was beautiful Bosnian Sufi music. I still miss it and wish I could find it. I couldn’t understand most of it but it was still haunting.

  4. November 13, 2006 8:05 am

    Lovely post! It made me smile. You write so well, mashallah, weaving unrelated threads into unique tapestry words. I love music!

  5. November 13, 2006 8:28 am

    Us fathers do have dreams for our children. Luckily most of them have minds of their own 🙂

    Iron Maiden Rules! But I do like Eastern European music for its energy and unusual instrumentation. I also like the bagpipes – does this make me perverted? If so, why am I a fan of Rita McNeil?

  6. November 13, 2006 11:43 am

    I just noticed the similarity between Suroor’s avatar and my own – – –

  7. November 13, 2006 4:25 pm

    Koonj – I think you may have been listening to what we call Illahije i Kaside. Bosnian heritage is rich in Sufi traditions. If I am correct, during a period of the Ottoman empire, Sufism was banned from the empire except in Bosnia where Sufism was not only protected but preserved and a Sufi school was established at the time.

    We Bosnians are a bit rebellious, we gave the Turks hell during their reign, but somehow (maybe due to our mass conversion at the mountain) Turks had a soft spot for us and let us get away with it.

    Anyway – Illahije are sort of like poems that are recited (god forbid you say sung, even though it sounds like it). I used to do Illahije at Mevluds (a program of various Illahije) there is one about Amina (the prophet Muhamed’s mother) and the prophet’s birth that brings any childbearing woman to tears, it just chokes you up. I was able to as a young girl do it without crying, and as it was long, often we split it into myself and another woman or 2. I always wanted to be first as if I would watch them perform it and watch their tears flowing like waterfalls from their eyes, I would be too emotional myself.

    I will see if I can find some for you to post on my blog. I thought that maybe they were an aquired taste, but maybe not.

    Suroor, thank you. I had so many things that I wanted to write about yesterday and they were all in a way tied together, except the part about little A which just kind of came as I wrote.

    archie – mothers have dreams for their children as well.

    What are the Iron Maiden rules, I don’t know those. ~closing eyes~ didn’t read anything about pipes so can’t comment.

    ~opening eyes~ I don’t think I know who Rita McNeil is.

    I also noticed the similarity of the two images, but Suroors has a sense of tranquility to it, where yours scares me a little. LOL, so similar, yet couldn’t be more different – but I noticed before you mentioned it.

  8. saqi namah permalink
    November 13, 2006 8:33 pm

    I sometimes wonder why isn’t the music from the Balkan more famous. There should be greater exchange of these genres before everyone starts to sound like everyone else!

  9. November 13, 2006 10:29 pm

    saqi – tommorow’s scheduled post: Bosnian rap along with a Bosnians gone crazy at Soccer match video. Interesting combo.

    Ran accross it as I was looking for those Illahije for Koonj.

    I’ll post some sevdalinke in the future as well, but this rap video just knocked me out of my chair today.

  10. November 14, 2006 12:33 am

    Please also check out my blog at where I am posting my impressions and experiences of leading ‘London Sevdah’ ensemble here in London in UK.

    Let me know what your thoughts are about that project. I will soon be publishing a separate web site which will feature extensive information about Sevdah and related traditions from Bosnia.

  11. November 15, 2006 1:58 am

    Rita McNeil is a Canadian folk singer – In my opinion, better than Loreena McKennett. My avatar is a detail from Munch’s “Scream”, a painting of man’s primal scream at the universe, or civilisation or whatever – perfect for a curmudgeon whose ancestral musical instrument is the bagpipes 🙂

  12. Sazeeb (Bangladesh) permalink
    July 31, 2008 1:56 pm

    I liked this article very much. Cause I am a singer and this article is all about music and culture of a region. This is to inform you all that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a very famous artist in the Indian subcontinent. As the name is not very well known to the writer, I guess their trend of music is different from that of ours. I always like diversity. As a Muslim, I’d like to visit the bosnian land someday. This article provided some flavour of the culture of that land. I’m very interested to know more.


  1. Sevdalinka « Samaha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: