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Music of Serbia

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Title: Music of Serbia  
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Subject: Serbian cuisine, List of national instruments (music), Serbian traditional clothing, Music of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Music of Montenegro
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Music of Serbia

Serbs and Serbia has a variety of traditional music, which is part of the wider Balkan tradition, with its own distinctive sound and characteristics.


  • History 1
  • Classical music 2
  • Traditional music 3
    • Epic poetry 3.1
  • Serbian folk music 4
    • Novokomponovana 4.1
    • Balkan brass 4.2
    • Čoček 4.3
    • Turbo-folk 4.4
  • Popular music 5
    • Rock 5.1
    • Pop 5.2
    • Hip-hop 5.3
    • Other 5.4
  • Festivals 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


A Herzegovinian sings to the gusle (drawing from 1823). Serbian epic poems were often sung to the accompaniment of this traditional bowed string instrument.

The documented musical history of the Serbs can be traced back to the medieval era. Church music was performed throughout Serbia by choirs or individual singers. The songs performed at the time were derived from the Osmoglasnik, a collection of religious songs dedicated to Jesus. These songs were repeated over the course of eight weeks in a cyclical fashion. Composers from this era include nun Jefimija, monks Kir Stefan the Serb, Isaiah the Serb, Joachim Domestikos Of Serbia, and Nikola the Serb. Together, they belong to the new musical tradition called Serbo-Byzantine school.

Aside from church music, the medieval era in Serbia included traditional music, about which little is known, and court music. During the rule of the Nemanjić dynasty musicians played an important role in the royal court, and were known as sviralnici, glumci and praskavnici. The rulers known for the musical patronage included Stefan Dušan and Đurađ Branković.

With the fall of Serbia under the Ottoman rule came instruments that would further cause Serbian music to flourish.

Medieval musical instruments included horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals. Traditional folk instruments include the gajde, kaval, dajre, diple, tamburitza, gusle, tapan (davul), sargija, ćemane (kemenche), zurla (zurna), and frula among others.

Classical music

Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac

Composer and musicologist Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac is considered one of the most important founders of modern Serbian music.[1] Born in 1856, Mokranjac taught music, collected Serbian traditional songs and did the first scholarly research on Serbian music. He was also the director of the first Serbian School of Music and one of the founders of the Union of Singing Societies. His most famous works are the Song Wreaths.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries numerous bands, both military and civilian, contributed to the development of music culture in Belgrade and other Serbian cities and towns. Prior to Mokranjac's era, Serbia's representatives of the romantic period were world-renowned violinist Serbian language works for choirs were written by Kornelije Stanković.

The Serbian composers Petar Konjović, Stevan Hristić and Miloje Milojević, all born in the 1880s, were the most eminent composers of their generation. They maintained the national expression and modernized the romanticism into the direction of impressionism.

The best-known composers born around 1910 studied in Europe, mostly in Prague. Ljubica Marić, Stanojlo Rajicić, Milan Ristić took influence from Schoenberg, Hindemith and Haba, rejecting the "conservative" work of prior Serbian composers, seeing it as outdated and the wish for national expression was outside their interest.[2]

Other famous classical Serbian composers include Isidor Bajić, Stanislav Binički, and Josif Marinković.

Traditional music

Serbian gusle

Traditional Serbian music include various kinds of bagpipes, flutes, horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals such as:

The genre encompasses both vocal and non-vocal (instrumental).

Balkanika, Balkanopolis, Dvig, Slobodan Trkulja, Belo Platno, Teodulija, Kulin Ban are known Serbian musical groups that use traditional Balkan musical instruments and perform traditional songs and songs based on traditional music elements.

Epic poetry

Kruševac monument to the soldiers of the Battle of Kosovo, depicting Filip Višnjić, a blind guslar.

Sung epic poetry has been an integral part of Serbian and Balkan music for centuries. In the highlands of Serbia and Montenegro these long poems are typically accompanied on a one-string fiddle called the gusle, and concern themselves with themes from history and mythology.

Serbian folk music

Today the Serbian folk music is both rural (izvorna muzika) and urban (starogradska muzika) and includes a two-beat dance called kolo, which is a circle dance with almost no movement above the waist, accompanied by instrumental music made most often with an accordion, but also with other instruments: frula (traditional kind of a recorder), tamburica, or accordion. The Kolos usually last for about 5–13 minutes. Modern accordionists include Mirko Kodić and Ljubiša Pavković. Some kolos are similar to the Hungarian csárdás in that they are slow at the onset and gradually increase their speed until reaching a climax towards the end.

The Banat region in northern Serbia and western Romania (Timiş County) is a culture zone of Serbs and Romanians which can be seen in the culture (folk attire, dance, music) of the region.


A local genre titled novokomponovana (newly composed) is a result of the urbanisation of folk music.[3] In early times, it had a professional approach to performance, used accordion and clarinet and typically included love songs or other simple lyrics (though there had been royalist and anti-Communist lyrical themes persisting underground). Many of the genre's best-known performers have included Šaban Šaulić, Toma Zdravković, and Silvana Armenulić. At a later stage, the popular performers such as Lepa Brena, Vesna Zmijanac and Dragana Mirković used more influences from pop music, oriental music, and other genres, which led to the emergence of turbo folk.

Balkan brass

Goran Bregović performing live with his orchestra

Brass bands, known as "trubači" (трубачи, the trumpeters) are extremely popular, especially in Central and Southern Serbia where Balkan Brass Band originated. The music has its tradition from the First Serbian Uprising. The trumpet was used as a military instrument to wake and gather soldiers and announce battles, the trumpet took on the role of entertainment during downtime, as soldiers used it to transpose popular folk songs. When the war ended and the soldiers returned to the rural life, the music entered civilian life and eventually became a music style, accompanying births, baptisms, weddings, slavas, farewell parties for those joining military service, state and church festivals, harvesting, reaping, and funerals. In 1831 the first official military band was formed by Prince Miloš Obrenović. Roma пеопле have adopted the tradition and enhanced the music, and today most of the best performers are Roma.

The best known Serbian Brass musicians are Fejat Sejdić, and Boban Marković and are also the biggest names in the world of modern brass band bandleaders. Guča trumpet festival is one of the most popular and biggest music festivals in Serbia[4] is a 5-day annual festival with 300 000 visitors.


Čoček is a musical genre and belly dance that emerged in the Balkans during the early 19th century. Čoček originated from Ottoman military bands, which at that time were scattered across the region, mostly throughout Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and Romania. That led to the eventual segmentation and wide range of ethnic sub-styles in čoček. The Serbian čoček is more popular in south Serbia and differs slightly to Bulgarian čoček, which has more oriental sound.


Turbo-folk (a term coined by rock musician Rambo Amadeus) music emerged during the Yugoslav wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Turbo-folk used Serbian folk music and "novokomponovana" as the basis, and added influences from rock, pop and electronic dance music. In the 2000s turbo-folk featured even more pop music elements, and some of the performers were labeled as pop-folk. Some of the best known turbo-folk performers include Seka Aleksić, Aca Lukas, Ceca Ražnatović, Indira Radić, Mile Kitić, Saša Matić, Jelena Karleuša and others.

Popular music


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was a part, was not an Eastern Bloc country, but a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and as such, was far more open to western influences compared to the other socialist states. The western-influenced pop and rock music was socially accepted, the Yugoslav rock scene was well developed and covered in the media, which included numerous magazines, radio and TV shows. Paralleling the breakup of Yugoslavia due to civil war, its rock scene also ceased to exist. During the 1990s the popularity of rock music declined in Serbia, and although several major mainstream acts managed to sustain their popularity, an underground and independent music scene developed. The 2000s saw the revival of the mainstream scene.

The most notable Serbian rock acts include Galija, Idoli, Korni Grupa, Laboratorija Zvuka, Partibrejkers, Pekinška Patka, Piloti, Rambo Amadeus, Riblja Čorba, Smak, Šarlo Akrobata, YU grupa, Van Gogh, and others.


Željko Joksimović representing Serbia and Montenegro at 2004 Eurovision, becoming second overall in the competition.
Marija Šerifović won Eurosong in 2007.

Some of the most popular Serbian Aleksandra Kovač, Aleksandra Radović, Jelena Tomašević, Ana Stanić, Nataša Bekvalac, Emina Jahović, and others.

Marija Šerifović won the first place at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, and Serbia was the host of the 2008 contest. Željko Joksimović took the second place at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Lane moje. In 2012 he came third with the song Nije ljubav stvar.


Serbian hip hop emerged in the early 1980s, with the birth of b-boy crews. The first Serbian Hip Hop record release was the Degout EP by The Master Scratch Band, which was released by Jugoton in 1984. But the Hip Hop Scene in Serbia was not open and popularized until the Demo of the Badvajzer (Budweiser) crew who became extremely popular in 1987.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, bands such as Green Kool Posse, Who Is The Best and Robin Hood came into being all together starting the first Hip Hop scene in Serbia and former Yugoslavia.

The music spread slowly until 1995, until Da li imaš pravo? by Gru was released, marking the beginning of the first wave of Serbian hip hop, which reached its peak in 1997-98, when many new groups started to break out from the underground: Ding Dong, Voodoo Popeye, Straight Jackin, Sunshine, Bad Copy, Belgrade Ghetto, CYA, 187.

In 2002 the Bassivity label was formed, which made Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian hip hop widely available in record stores. Their first release, V.I.P. - Ekipa Stigla, was one of the two albums which marked the beginning of the second wave of Serbian hip hop. The other was BSSST...Tišinčina by the Belgrade group Beogradski sindikat. In 2003 Marčelo's debut album De Facto, also released on the Bassivity label, came out to both public and critical acclaim, and he was branded as the voice of a new generation.


In 2010, Serbian DJ Marko Milićević most known as Gramophonedzie released his debut single "Why Don't You" which entered the UK Singles Chart on 7 March 2010 at number 12.[5]


The most famous festivals in Serbia are: Exit, Belgrade Beer Fest, Gitarijada, Nišville and Guča Trumpet Festival.

See also


  1. ^ "Stevan Mokranjac, Composer". Serbian Music. Serbian Unity Congress. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22. Even though many say that the stimulus Mokranjac gave to Serbian music was more important than his compositions, many musicians who sing or listen to his works state that the true Mokranjac is exemplified in the Song Wreaths. ... From the moment they were composed, Mokranjac's Song Wreaths played an important role in singing societies. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Warrander, Gail (2011). Kosovo. Bradt Guides. p. 41.  
  4. ^
  5. ^
  • Burton, Kim. "Balkan Beats". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 273–276. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

External links

  • Music of Serbia at DMOZ
  • Project Rastko category (some text in English, RealAudio church choirs)
  • The History Serbian Culture - Some facts about medieval Serbian music
  • Serbian Cultural Association Opleanc - Descriptions of Serbian folk dance choreographies
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