undefinedMagic Violin

Explore instrumental tunes from the Danube regions of Serbia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, all featuring traces of Ottoman influences. The tunes will be arranged and practiced, so participants can take away a ready-made band arrangement.


Resident: £349 Non-Resident: £256 (25% off for under 27s) Code: 23/233

Booking for Members opens at 11am on Monday 12 December 2022. 

Non-Member and online booking opens at 11am on Monday 9 January 2023. 

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

What is the course about?

This year’s repertoire features a number of instrumental pieces from regions along the Danube. This includes Serbia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. I’m always attracted by music which has some unusual sounds, and in those central and Eastern European regions this is almost always caused by modes, rhythm patterns or ornamentation that reach back to Ottoman times.

As in previous years, we will learn the tunes primarily by ear. However, sheet music for all pieces will be distributed to assist our musical memory and to make notes. The course is suitable for both musicians who read music and the ones who prefer to learn by ear. It is also suitable for a variety of playing levels from intermediate to advanced, as the tunes without ornamentation are often fairly straight forward, and only when adding ornamentation, they become real virtuoso performance pieces.

Beside the tunes, we will study chords, ornamentation, and harmony lines. In later sessions, we will put together all parts into performance arrangements, which shall be recorded and distributed amongst the group, so you can take away a ready-made arrangement for their band back home. When part of a piece, we may dip into improvisation, if there is interest.

This course is suitable for any pitched instrument including guitars, mandolins, ouds, bowed and plugged strings and wind instruments from any tradition. If your instrument is unusual, please provide your notation needs and possibly the range of your instrument beforehand. The level is intermediate to advanced. No previous experience in this style is necessary.

The course fee includes entry to the tutor concert with Tatcho Trio on the Friday evening.

Tutor website: www.magicviolin.co.uk

What will we cover?

We will learn tunes from Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and possibly Hungary. Usually, I chose a couple of easy tunes to start, and to relax in-between, and we work on some harder ones consistently throughout the weekend. After learning the tune we will practice accompaniment chords and patterns, and study the ornaments – beware, some ornaments will not settle during the weekend, and will need a few more weeks of consistent practice to sink into muscle memory.

When arranging the pieces, we will work together, so whilst e stay in traditional boundaries, your ideas can be included.

We will also touch on the music theory behind modes and rhythms, and practice technical exercises to improve coordination, speed and finger flexibility.

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

By the end of this course, you should be able to play a number of Balkan tunes with accompaniments confidently. You will know the suitable ornamentation and phrasing, however, to play them in performance speed may need some more of your own practice. For all pieces will have developed a band arrangement, which you can take back and perform with your own band.

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. No previous knowledge of Balkan music is necessary; however, the course is still suitable for people who have previously played Balkan style, as each new piece offers a new challenge.

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

There will be no specific preparation for this course. Most initial teaching is by ear, however, you will receive the sheet music during the course. Ornamentation is not notated, as classical signs only fit in some cases – we shall add them together.

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.”