Why Do We Always Sing

The Croatian National Tourist bureau’s advertising tag line is “See the Mediterranean as it once was!”  When I began to visit Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coast in 1971 it truly was delightful with very few tourists and not a behemoth cruise ship in sight.

At that time I stayed right in the middle of the old town and had no problems sleeping at night since there was only an occasional drunk wandering in the wee hours making noise.  During the evenings I often would sit on the window ledge, captivated with the sounds of the old town.  One of my treasured memories is hearing the voices of several men at the nearby cafe, sipping their wine and singing traditional songs. This custom of singing has been a tradition in Croatia for hundreds of years, often passed on from one generation to the next.

The word Klapa means a group of friends, often from the same town or regional area, who have made song a significant part of their lives.   The number of singers can vary but typically there are between five and eight.  Traditionally this has been a male dominated activity but in recent years many women’s Klapas have also formed. Each group has one lead voice that begins the distinctive melody while the others join with harmony, completing the magic.  These traditional songs often celebrate the love of a woman; the vast Dalmatian vineyards, mother country and our azure sea (Nasa Mora).  Today nearly all of our towns and cities have at least several Klapa groups and performances are always a popular event with standing room only.

At home I often have my television on tuned to our local Dubrovnik channel. It shows the view of the Stradun and the background music is a variety of Klapa groups. I do have my favorites, with Tomislav Bralic and Klapa Intrade at the top of my list.

As you listen to the music, let my friend Daniela’s recent comment give you inspiration.  She reminded me that Croatia has abundance of gorgeous ladies and handsome gentlemen and also of the joys of listening to the sounds of our Klapa groups.  Let your imagination reflect upon the shimmering turquoise Adriatic, a hidden cove perfect for lovers swimming among the rocky coastline.  The fisherman sitting on his small wooden boat as he sips a morning Rakija before beginning to pull in the nets filled with our so delightful seafood.  The thrill of a young girl as she is serenaded under her window, there are no words to describe her joy!

It is not necessary to understand Croatian; the video presents the song well enough for you to understand it completely.  Title of the song is “Vasto Uvik Pivam” – why do we always sing.

Video does not work properly in email, open the blog to hear the music.

11 thoughts on “Why Do We Always Sing

    • The video does not play until you open in the blog, can’t work properly in email.

  1. I do remember days and years during 1980’s here in Dubrovnik, when in evening hours you could hear many young people singing “klapske pjesme” (songs written for Klapa interpretation) all around the Grad (Old Town).
    Best places for Klapa singing were in front of the Sponza Palace, Rectors Palace as well, under the arches at the entrance at the harbor in the Old Town, and these locations were the most popular places because of excellent echo effects.
    I would also like to point to some different styles of Klapas interpretations, first one Klapa “Sinj”, representing a pure traditional acapella interpretation, second link is Klapa “Sibenik” with, I would call it, a Mediterranean style (mandolins and guitars included), and third video is something that is quit in Klapas tradition of song writing, where Klapa “Cambi” is performing a “klapa” song but in pop music arrangements and production.
    If you asked me, I like it strong, plain and simple (acapella), but I hope that you will also enjoy in two other videos as well.

    Dear Carol, and Friends I wish you all a nice Sunday afternoon,

    • Thanks Niksa, I agree the acapella is also my favorite, but still love Intrade.

  2. Hi, Carol. I don’t know if you remember me. We briefly met at one or two meetings of the DFC, I believe at least. You approached Ivan in Gruz before you came to us. I so feel with you regarding the wonderful pre war Dubrovnik. You might not know that Ivan and I came every single year in the Summer. We so enjoyed the Summer Festivals then. It was a small and intime community with, yes, few foreign tourists – mostly Yugoslavs from the various then existing states. I am returning to Dubrovnik in mid April. Let’s get together and chat. I like your blog. It is great, imaginative and very informative. Christiane

    • Thank you Christiane for your lovely comments. I do remember you both and would love to hear from you after you’ve settled in again. Let’s hope April is not as wet as last year.

  3. It was absolutely wonderful! I think I’m in love with that guy who was singing! I also took the time to ‘see’ the video from your last post- interesting use of the scissors on your hair!

    • One of the reasons I love watching Klapa Intrade is Tomislav. He reminds me of a younger Ivo, when he had hair. Glad you got to see Ivan scissors hand making me look young and beautiful, he is the best! Have fun at Disney, I know you are looking forward to the trip.

  4. I wish to say many things … how well-written your post is, as it brings images into life and that I know is a skill … how much I enjoyed reading it, and how glad I am we have found each other in this vastness of blog sphere … but I can hardly string few meaningful words together for tears … and I can hardly say what is I am crying for the most … my lost home-land, memories of my own listening klape (moje su klape bile iz Senja i okolice) … or for this life that has taken me so far away … I wish I could say it better but I can’t. Apart from their musical aspect, klape (in their original meaning) are also a symbol … they represent this unique type of men one can only find in those parts.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

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