Music gallery

The traditional music of Žejân/Žejane deserves attention whether one is talking about its instrumental or its vocal form.

The first ethnographic descriptions of this musical tradition date from the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Two musical instruments are mentioned, both wind instruments: a bagpipe, or citore, and a two-bore wooden flute, or šurli. Musicians playing these instruments were an obligatory part of wedding processions, but the instruments were also played on everyday occasions. Villagers would play the citore as they tended to the tended to the fire; the playing of the šurli often accompanied the grazing of the cattle and sheep.

Nowadays, only the oldest villagers remember these two instruments. They were replaced some time ago by the harmonica, or gusli, the two-string mandolin-like instrument, or cindra and, more recently, by the accordion. The sound of the cindra accompanied local dances, carnival celebrations and other festive events. In the 1920s, popular melodies began to be played on the piano accordion, which gradually became the principal accompaniment to village musical events. It is still widely used today, especially during carnival, known locally as Pust.

Two children's instruments should be also mentioned as being part of this tradition: the wooden ratchet, or škripâc, which children used to mark the arrival of Easter, and the whistle, or tinjor, usually carved out of ash wood during cattle grazing.

A prominent element of the Žejanan musical identity is the betâra kânta (old song), or old-style a capella singing in two-part harmony. This type of singing is known as bugarenje in Croatian ethnomusicology. It is also cultivated in the neighboring villages Vele Mune and Male Mune, as well as in other areas of the local Ćićarija region, such as the villages of Lanišće, Račja Vas, Dane and Vodice.

The themes of the songs are usually related to love and aspects of everyday life. The Žejanan songs are special because they are sung in the local Žejanski language. Villagers used to sing on various occasions and in different locations around the village--on their way home after working in the fields, with company at home, while socializing at the local tavern, during Pust, and on summer nights, outside, wherever people liked to gather in the village. A good mood and a sufficient number of singers was all that was needed! While both Žejanan women and men cherished this kind of singing in the past, they rarely sang in mixed groups, especially when singing outside the home. Women's singing of this kind is not practised any more, but Žejanan men have preserved the betâra kânta through the present day.

Traditional music is now cultivated and preserved through the activities of the Žejanski zvončari (Bellringers of Žejân/Žejane), the local folklore society. Click on the pdf link to learn more about this society's musical activities from a text written by its current president Mauro Doričić. You can also listen to several songs performed by the Žejanski kântaduri (Žejanan Singers) by clicking on the audio links.



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