Chalgarhythms: Archiving Bulgarian Identity


Chalgarhythms: Archiving Bulgarian Identity

The Bulgarian Chalga is a music genre from the Balkans which has been largely regarded as low culture with its scandalous videos and provocative lyrics. However, it is an invaluable part of Bulgarian culture and history. In the web archive, a massive collection of over 8000 songs opens up the ‘chalga universe’. Aesthetically tickling the viewer with a mix of camp neon and blinding lustre, it welcomes anybody in a party mood or on the lookout for specific piece of information. With this gesture chalga acquires a new status in Bulgarian culture: one of rich legacy with various context, history and quality.

Българската чалга музика е балкански жанр, който е считан предимно за ниска култура заради своите скандални видеоклипове и шокиращи текстове. Но чалгата остава неразделна част от българската култура и история. В този онлайн архив, огромна колекция от над 8000 песни разкрива ‘чалга вселената’. Визуално той заема кичозния неон и заслепителен блясък, за да привлече потребителя, независимо дали те са в настроние за забавление или търсят нещо специфично. По този начин чалгата придобива нов статус в българската култура: статус на наследство изградено от разнообразни контексти, история и качество.

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Chalga—The Music in Bulgarian Life

Chalga is a Bulgarian music genre, a mixture of Balkan rhythm and oriental embellishments. Being the most popular music genre in the country, it was intriguing what is it really and why the feelings towards it are so mixed. Where did it come from and where is it going?

Listening to songs and watching videos, reading academic papers on Balkan music and talking to various artists, academics and casual listeners, I noticed how well chalga represents the needs of Bulgarian society. In a humorous way, it reflects excessive wealth, enjoyment and eroticism that people crave but are ashamed to admit. Chalga ties into a much deeper problem of disturbed national identity, where it serves as a vent to release all that pressure.

Link to Thesis