Bosnian Music

The prominent arts of Bosnian music, dance, literature and poetry have been very well developed in the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina.



There were three major ethnic races that lent and contributed to the development of the arts. Also, the Ottoman and Austrian occupations had left a great legacy of influence on these arts.

Focusing more on the art of the Bosnian music, it especially reflected very strongly the great diversity that existed in Bosnia. Bosnian music can be broadly divided into two two tradition: rural and urban traditions.

The urban tradition is strongly influenced by the musical practices of the Turks. On the other hand, the rural tradition is strongly characterized by musical styles such as ravne pesme which is a flat song that is played only on a limited scale, ganga which is an almost shouted polyphonic style, and some varied types of songs that are generally an accompaniment on the sargija which is essentially a simple long-necked lute, or the diple which is a wooden flute or rather a droneless bagpipe.

The urban tradition of the Bosnian music displays a much more heavy influence of the Turks. This can be observed in all its melismatic singing where more than one note per syllable is played. Also the kind of accompaniment or the saz reflects the Turkish influence.

The ancient tradition of the epic poems is still kept alive in the Bosnian music scene. These epic poems are still sung to the sound of the gusle, which is a fiddle with a single-stringed bow.

The Jewish heritage of Bosnia is reflected in the folksongs that are sung in the Spanish dialect of Ladino that has descended from the fifteenth century. But of course the rich heritage of the Bosnian folk music is soon disappearing due to the strong influence of Western pop music.

Sevdalinka is derived from the Turkish word of sevda which means love. Sevdalinka songs were by far the most widespread among the various forms of music that was predominant in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The sevdalinka songs uniquely incorporated elements of both the West and the East. These songs are also deeply emotional. And they speak through metaphors and symbols, which depicted the emotions of love won and love lost.

In fact these Bosnian songs soon came to symbolize Bosnia to the natives and the foreigners alike.