An example of how individuals can influence the survival of traditional music illustrated by the example of 'Klapa' music in Berlin and one of it's chief exponents - Klapa Berlin. This polyphonic a cappella music, native to Dalmatia, was brought to Berlin by Bozo Maric, a Dalmatian sent by the priesthood to the Croatian Catholic Missionary in Berlin.
In 1995, Maric founded the first Klapa ensemble there. This new formation began traveling back to Croatia to attend Klapa Festivals and also performed with the group in various Croatian communities in Germany. The priest left Berlin three years later, but he had left an indelible mark on the city because Dalmatian music has remained in Berlin ever since and, despite temporal interruptions, the ensemble has grown in size. Today, the choir sing songs plucked from their childhood and youth, from their parents and grandparents - and from old cassettes, bought on holiday in Croatia!
Klapa-Berlin „PROJDEN KROZ PASIKE“
Klapa-Berlin „Ju Te Sam Se“
'Projden kroz Pašike' (I Went Through The Streets)
Projden kroz Pasike, sa družbon veselon.
Ozgar me posipje, murtilon zelenon.
Murtilon zelenon, milo moje zlato.
I went through the streets with my funny followers
From above you pelted me with green blossoms.
With green blossoms, my dearest sweetheat
'Ju te san se zaljubijoju' (I've Fallen In Love With You)
Ju te san se zaljubijo,
druge ne bi poželijo,
Cesarica as bi bila.
I'm in love with you,
I would never want another
Even if she was an Empress
An integral part of any classic Klapa repertoire, both of these traditional songs were recorded for the 'Heimatlieder ' world music project album. The lyrics are written in 'Old Dalmatian', an extinct romance language superseded by modern Croatian, although it can still be understood by some southern Croats . Klapa songs have long been passed on orally, and therefore no one can say exactly when and by whom they were written, although it has certainly been around since the 19th Century. This singing style developed along the Dalmatian coastline and off-lying islands. The exact musical roots of Klapa are not provable. The Croatian ethnomusicologist and Klapa singer Joško Ćaleta proposes that it was sang recreationally - regardless of political or religious adherences. Today, the term 'Klapa' is synonymous with the polyphonic a cappella folk song in which the melody and harmonies carry the music, with the rhythm playing a minor role. Klapa music is a communal 'coming together' and can be heard at parties, on religious occasions, weddings, and even during the odd game of bocce (an outdoor metal ball game).
When, in 1943, Croatia was amalgamated into the greater Yugoslav Republic (SFRY), regional folk music still managed to maintain a certain autonomy. Since 1967, Klapa singers from around the world have flocked to the Dalmatian Klapa Festival in Omis, where both professionals and amateurs congregate. For several years, only all-male formations participated, vocally divided into solo tenor, choral tenor, baritone and bass. Klapa music's popularity grew substantially in Croatia during the 1990's. Women's choirs arose and young people, increasingly aware of national traditions, began to develop it with an emphasis on instrumentation. In 2012, Klapa was even nominated as an 'intangible' Unseco World Heritage Site. The Eurovision Song Contest of 2013 will also see Croatia represented by Klapa s Mora, six singers from various Klapa choirs.
Klapa Berlin members are purists who sing mainly a cappella, i.e without instrumental accompaniment. Since 2012, the group consists of ten singers aged between thirty and sixty years old - including five members of the 'original' Klapa. They all met through the Croatian Catholic community in Berlin and have performed many concerts within this community - as well as at fairs, Christmas markets, openings, public holidays, the Croatian Embassy and state receptions - including for the current President of Croatia. Because of the excellent acoustics, they also sing in unusual places - such as railway stations, under bridges or in front of the Brandenburg Gate.