Sounds of Croatia

Our April 2020 series is coming to an end and I would like to end it on a different “note”, by exploring some traditional Croatian music.

This is the last “Croatian Thursday” for now, but new tours are coming in May.

This April 2020 every Thursday we explored “something” related to Croatia, starting with a post about Croatian language and its connection to other languages in the region, we’ve learnt about a legend of an earthquake-dragon, found the “missing link” between martens, our currency and our coat of arms and explored a little bit the “region of goats”, Istria.

Croatia became independent only in the 1990s, but our culture goes far beyond. However, every region was under so many different kingdoms, empires, federations, republics, and now we have an interesting cultural mix where every region has a different cultural influence, depending on the shared history with the closest neighboring country. The coast was influenced by Venetians and then Italians, the continent is very “Austro-Hungarian”, with an Ottoman influence in some region. In music, every region developed something original, in some cases unique in the world.

I’ll keep it simple and limit myself to four clips this time, representing a musical genre specific to that region.


Map from OCHA.

Let’s start with the coast and the region of Dalmatia (cities like Split and Zadar). The most typical musical genre in that region is klapa singing. “Klapa” literally translates as “a group of friends” and this type of a cappella singing developed exactly as you would think a “group of friends” would create their song. Friends would come together, drink some wine and start to sing. Main motifs are love, wine, sea and the homeland. Today, “klapa” singing is part of the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

You will find many klapas in Dalmatia and they are not necessarily a cappela any more, but can have an instrumental background as well. Among many, I’ve chosen this love song:


If we stay by the coast but go further north, we’ll come to the regions of Istria (city of Pula) and Kvarner (city of Rijeka). Folk music in this region uses a unique musical scale, also inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage since 2009. Find out more about it in the UNESCO’s clip right here:

529px-SopileSopile, traditional instrument from Istria, photo by Croq

If we go further to the continental part, around the capital of Zagreb, we’ll find the region of Zagorje. This is one of the most typical and most known songs from the region, speaking about the beauty of the region but also about the beauty of the capital. Main theme of the song is traveling by train from Zagorje to Zagreb. Already by the sound, you can feel that we are moving away from the coast and coming to Central Europe.


Further east, we arrive to the region of Slavonia, known for its tambura music. Tambura is a long-necked lute, typical not only in our eastern region, but also in Hungary, Serbia (especially on the north), Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria… We’re still in Central and Eastern European musical surroundings. Another love song. (Short resume: she’s everything to him, but she went with another man and now he sings. And also, he drinks some wine. Wine usually goes well with love problems. Excellent white wine in that region, by the way.)


Croatia is rich in folk music and more will come in future posts.

For now, our April tours are over, but we’ll soon start with new tours. On Saturday, I’ll be on Facebook, new Croatian destination arrives here on Sunday.

4 statuerday

5 sunday trip

Check all May tours here!






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