Milan Opacich with his tamburitza orchestra performing for a wedding.
Photo courtesy of Milan Opacich.
Tamburitza music, thought to have originated in pre-14th century Turkey, eventually spread in popularity throughout the Slavic world. Though originally utilizing a solo instrument, by the 18th century focus had shifted to the tamburitza ensemble, with parts assigned to each instrument in a similar manner to the Western symphony orchestra*. Today, the tamburitza, or tambura, ensemble usually consists of seven to eight tamburashi, or musicians who play tamburitza. The
, the smallest instrument, carries the melody, while the
provides the driving chords and rhythms of the ensemble. Sometimes replacing the prima, the
offers a lower-ranged melody line, and with the prima incorporates a harmony line. The
, or acoustic upright bass equivalent, provides rhythm, while the
embellishes the melody line with riffs and runs. Together, the ensemble incorporates both singing and instrumentals in performances for community gatherings.
Glossary of Tamburitza Terms
Almir Mutapcic. 3-23-02.