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.