Balkan party music in Seattle

Si la kale bal

Posted on Sep 21, 2018

A song by the legendary Serbian Rom singer Saban Bajramovic, recorded in 1980. It’s played in a Banat-style 7/8 meter (3+2+2, with stress on beats 1, 2, 4 and 6, not 1, 3, 4 and 6 as commonly heard in the Balkans). We play it for listening, though dancers sometimes do a Romanian dance to it. The instrumental melody is usually highly elaborated by a soloist; the transcription shows only a basic melody, so listen to lots of performances on YouTube and take it from there.

We’ve heard several versions of the lyrics and use those from the Galbeno Songbook here. These include “Si la” in the title and lyrics, not “Sila” as seen almost everywhere else for this song. Our compact Romany dictionary translates “Si la kale bal” word for word as “is her black hair” (“her hair is black”, “she has black hair”), whereas it has no entry for “sila.” Sounds the same either way.

 

Sila kale bal

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