,,Sonic Icons is the name I have given to these series of composer's songs, inspired by our folklore, because my attitude to the musical sources is similar to the Bulgarian's attitude to the images of the saints, painted in the Orthodox churches. When one stands facing them, he is teeming with a feeling of reverence, but this has nothing to do with the fanatic fetishization, which would deprive the religion of its most valuable role: to inspire confidence and to fill one with faith and hope, thanks to which the life has its continuation. Li­kewise, my connection with the sacred things of our folk culture is also full of respect, but devoid of any idolatry. In the song examples, which I have selected, I have found that store which stimulates the compo­ser's creative work. And this is one of the ways for the tradition to retain its vitality through renovation."


Shinka is a woman's name from the Rhodopes.

It is an antiquated one and one runs across it on very rare occasions. For unknown reasons and in spite of its euphony, it has disappeared from the list of Bulgarian names. But it is not difficult for us to visualize the wo­men with such a name. Because they are predecessors of today's women from the Rhodopes - that full of wonders mountain, the atmosphere of which is being compared with the time that has stopped to run. Abo­ve all, owing to the grandeur of the nature. In the Rhodopes, the Mighty Artist has been laying His colours with nerve and has achieved a superintensity of the colour. The sky has been coloured with the most inten­se blue colour of the palette, and the pine-trees - with the most bright green colour. The researchers main­tain that there are, in this piece of land, the greatest number of sunny days during the year. The tops of the trees are spearheaded toward the unusually bright stars. It may be that this is the reason for which the wo­man, dressed up in her garb, looks like a fir-tree. Each one of the elements spotlights her dignified figure, her slenderness and her womanliness. The kerchief is tightened up, the bosom - a deep one, the sleeves and the skirts - cut out in the form of a trapezium. It was not for nothing that the originality of the woman's co­at and skirt from the Rhodope region was most highly appraised at the World Exhibition in Paris in the ye­ar 1933 and is part of the treasures of the human kind, kept at the Musée du Louvre.

The woman of the Rhodopes is lithe in body, the head is usually lifted upwards like of a being who, even when going downhill, continues to be contact with the peaks. The words here are being spread by the winds and are reflected many times in the echo. The woman of the Rhodopes continues today to live on milk and honey, which keeps her spirit young. Her face is a broad one, with clearly outlined cheekbones. If we delve into the antropological birthmarks and in­to the not so easy way of life, we shall to some extent find the explanation for the strength of the voice, for the deep, guttural singing. It is a sui generis mirror of the nature. It resembles a scooping from the chasms and a launching toward the peaks. It is similar to a mighty extraction from the depths of the soul and sen­ding a message to other worlds.

It is precisely in the Rhodopes, thanks to the song, that one can feel the connection between the "lower" and the "upper" land. The song of Shinka and of her great-grandchildren is today something like a mediator betwe­en the darkness and the light, between the prose and the praise, between the simplicity and the grandeur.

"Shinka" is the name of a song. It was created by Stefan Dragostinov. Its roots are in the folklore tradition of the Rhodopes with the characteristic pentatonic, with the peculiar septima stroke, achieved by means of a slide. What takes out "Shinka" from its natural medium and makes of it an author's work are the marks of the contemporary compositional thinking, the plastic playing with the aleatorics, the open-worked effects, achieved with the instruments of the "new simplicity", the economy of the means of expression, turned into an effect. The dramaturgical construction of this song is similar to the construction of a temple. At its base is a melody of fifteen measures, which is being accumulated, the melodic straws are being heaped up as if, being built from a chaos, is the perfect construction of a nest. The song lies down on the stability of the bour­don, one stanza is being thrice transmitted as if the echo, the concreteness of the words, is being dissolved into the metaphorics of the sound.

"Shinka" is a tender impression, framed into a controversial imaginary sphere: streams are pressing, but no river does gush forth; being felt is a whiff and a surge, but there is no storm to break loose. The melody mo­ves from one hill to another one, and with each touching a peak it is being pushed back. Until it quiets down, grows thinner and flows down… "Shinka" is only one of the many possible views to the folklore treasures of the Rhodopes.

Included into this album are fifteen more models of a dialogue between the works of an author and the song tradition. Each one of them is unique for itself. Because every accident of the ground conceals the uniquen­ess. And it is indeed difficult to bring together this many-sidedness into a summarized picture.

Mirrored into the collection of pearls from the Rhodopes, collected and recreated by Stefan Dragostinov in the course of years, is the skill of the musician to lend a ear to the innermostness, to delve into the heart and to bring to fruition the soaring of his own will of an interpretor.

This, of course, is possible thanks to the women-singers - today's inheritresses of the one-time Shinka, who have managed to preserve and to enrich the Rhodopes and who have, in a masterly way, managed to turn it into an exciting message to the next peak of the Rhodopian tradition.

On the Cover: M. Karapaounov, "A Girl of Smolyan"
Special thanks to Mr. Svetoslav Piperov