undefinedMagic Violin

The huge variety of ethnicities based in the Balkans, as well as its rambling history, has inspired a fantastically unique sound. During this course we will explore these influences, learning tunes that exhibit the diverse tonalities and styles that are found in Balkan music. For pitched instruments of intermediate/advanced level.


Resident: £320 Non-Resident: £232 (25% off for under 27s) Code: 22/220

Booking for Members opens at 11am on Monday 18 October 2021.

Non-Member and online booking opens at 11am on Monday 15 November 2021.

For details on how to become a Member to take advantage of early booking, see here

What is the course about?

This course is about music from the Balkans, on the crossroads from East to West, from Europe to Asia and the borders to Northern Africa. Influences from Slavic and Ottoman roots, from Romany Gypsy and Vlach minorities as well as from Central European folk styles all left their toll in Balkan music. A special focus will be on tunes that change tonality and features within the same piece, as these are particularly fascinating pieces to play.

One will find straight-forward major and minor keys as well as Gregorian modes and fragments of Ottoman makams. Ornamentation and accompaniment chords and rhythms that are found in these songs will also reflect these influences.

The basic teaching is by ear, but sheet music is available. The theory of the musical elements as well as some scale practice will prepare ears and fingers to understand and find the right notes and understand the transformations.

The main focus will be on exploring melodies, harmony lines and ornamentation. Additionally, chord changes and accompaniment rhythms will be explored, as it is often the connection of both that gives the pieces their unique character.

We shall learn music which combines Eastern and Western elements in melodic and/or rhythmic structure; all will be well-suited to be played by Western classical and folk instruments, and by musicians who have no prior knowledge of that style.

Tutor website: www.magicviolin.co.uk

What will we cover?

We will learn pieces from the Balkans and the surrounding areas. Some will be in straight 2/4, ¾ or 4/4 time signature and in major and minor keys, others in unusual meters such as 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 11/16, and in modal tonalities.

The initial learning is by ear, but sheet music will be given out to assist the learning. As well as the tune, we will focus on harmonisation, ornamentation and phrasing. Later in the process, we will explore chords and accompaniments.

What will we accomplish? By the end of this course you will be able to…

Participants will have studied a variety of pieces in new time signatures, modes and tonalities. By the end of the course you will be able to perform a number of pieces from the Balkans and beyond. You will also have a new knowledge of music theory, modes and chords. Advanced musicians will be able to confidently introduce the pieces learnt into their own band’s repertoire, understanding the tunes, accompaniments and rhythm patterns. Less experienced musicians will have the foundation to work on the pieces in their own time and eventually reach confidence.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The level is from intermediate to advanced. You need to know your way around your instrument at a lower intermediate level. The course is suitable for mixed-level learning, as the basic tunes and rhythms are often fairly easy, however, ornamentation and phrasing are challenging for any level.

No previous knowledge of Balkan music is necessary, however, if you have experience in any way, we will built on it. The teaching is both by ear as well as by using sheet music, though experience in neither is required.

How will the course be taught, and will any preparation be required?

All initial teaching is in a group by ear. We will often start by singing/humming the basic tune, as this eliminates any technical limitations and delivers a confident knowledge of the tune. This basis will help those with less experiences to master the tune, and those that are more advanced to feel confident indulging into ornamentations and accompaniments.

Will music be provided in advance of the course?

Sheet music and other teaching materials are provided by the tutors during the course. There are no advance preparations required.

Is there anything I need to bring?

Bring your instrument(s) in good working order. A recording device is valuable as the sheet music does not necessarily replicate the precise phrasing, ornamentation or style – western notation does not cater for the taught styles.

What previous participants said about this course…

“Great varied programme. Very challenging for me! But encouraging.”

“Tuition was excellent with attention to personal needs.”

“I am just DELIGHTED that I have overcome my fear of learning by ear instead of notation. I loved playing through the music we learned and finding I could remember most of it.”