The Rhodopes are situated on a crossroad, where during the centuries different cultures met, clashed and interwove creating a real mosaic of customs, beliefs and traditions that everyone can now touch. Church towers and minarets stay close in the Rhodopean villages; people celebrate together pagan, Christian and Muslim festivals. The local people still respect and keep their century-old traditions – the old Rhodopean houses still impress with their specific architecture, and a number of old crafts are practiced even today.
The Rhodopean songs are a poetic wealth full of word-gems with precious imagination, rich emotionality and captivating even rhythm – like the sounds of a forest. And you could hardly realize: whether the mountains sings or the people. The songs are just like the mountain itself – with peaks and ravines, easy and wide, songs like a confession. Each song was first wept out and then sung. It is impregnated with the charming scent of thyme, marjoram and yarrow, with the murmur of its springs, the opening of heavy gates and the sighs of beautiful maids, and their words coming from honey lips… It is no chance that Ivan Vazov has named the Rhodope mountain – “a sea of songs”. Along with Beethoven’s symphonies as our planet’s utmost message of peace to the other worlds and civilizations, the spacecraft Voyager bears in its golden record the song “Izlel ye Delyo Haydutin” sung by famous Rhodopean singer – Valya Balkanska.
The Rhodopean’ s songs – these are songs integrated in a unity of words, melody and bagpipe sounds. Being the most traditional music instrument in the region, the bagpipe is accompanying the people in both their everyday life and holidays. To play his song, the man from the Rhodopes creates a unique minor pentatonic – five typical Rhodopean tones as a sound sequence of stratified melodious voices.
The people of the Rhodopes are respecting much and are proud of their traditions. The village of Shiroka Luka boasts of the national Folk Music Secondary School for the youth from all over the country. The alumni of the national school specialized in folk instruments and singing have been kindling love for the Bulgarian folklore and keeping the national traditions for 30 years. The fabulous folk ensembles from the town of Smolyan – “100 Caba – Gaydi”, “Rhodopa”, the children’s and youth folk ensemble Orpheus and the numerous amateur groups to the cultural homes are preserving and promoting the Rhodopean folklore variety in the country and abroad.