A geographical and cultural region in southeastern Europe, located around the Balkan Mountains, which run through Bulgaria and eastern Serbia. Countries associated with the Balkans include Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey.

Balkan music (traditional):

A distinct, rhythmically complex music that characterizes the southeastern European region. The traditional music of the region’s various ethnic groups during the Ottoman Empire informs much of the music.


A goblet shaped hand drum used mostly in music originating in countries near the Middle East. Its thin, responsive drumhead and resonance help it produce a distinctively crisp sound. Though it is not known exactly when these drums were first made, they are known to be of ancient origin.


A traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument. Its name comes from a word meaning “to make noise, hum or buzz”. The gadulka is an integral part of Bulgarian traditional instrumental ensembles, commonly played in the context of dance music. The gadulka commonly has three (occasionally four) main strings with up to ten sympathetic resonating strings underneath.  Only the main melodic strings are touched by the player’s fingers and the strings are never pressed all the way down to touch the neck.


An aerophone instrument that uses enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The gaida, and its variations, is an traditional musical instrument for all Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Gumboot dance:

An African dance, marked by syncopated foot stomps and handclaps, in which the performers wear Wellington boots. Sometimes the dancers decorate the boots with bells to create a ringing sensation when their feet stomp onto the ground. Rooted in South African gold mines, gumboot dance incorporated many steps and routines that parodied the officers and guards who controlled the mines and workers barracks.  In the United States, African-American fraternities and sororities created a similar polyrhythmic dance style called “stepping.”


A form of traditional Japanese theatre. It developed alongside Noh, and was performed along with noh as an intermission of sorts between noh acts, and retains close links to noh in the modern day; therefore, it is sometimes designated noh-kyōgen. However, its content is not at all similar to the formal, symbolic, and solemn noh theater. Kyōgen is a comical form, and its primary goal is to make its audience laugh.


A major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. Traditionally, a Noh ‘performance day’ lasts all day and consists of five Noh plays interspersed with shorter, humorous kyōgen pieces. While the field of Noh performance is extremely codified, and regulated by the iemoto system, with an emphasis on tradition rather than innovation, some performers do compose new plays or revive historical ones that are not a part of the standard repertoire. 


In the 1970s and 80s, the term was often referred to young, very stylish black men in South African townships, noted for their natty attire and self confidence.

Pantsula dance:

An energetic dance originating from black South African townships in the 1980s, marked by a flat-footed African tap-and-glide movement. The Zulu word “pantsula” means to “waddle like a duck” or alternatively “to walk with protruded buttocks,” which  characterizes the dance. Pantsula dancing is similar to American break dancing. They would dance using props, musical instruments such as large bass drums, and even dance theatrically as if they were putting on a Broadway show.


A long-necked plucked lute, a stringed instrument found in different versions in different places. The tambura in its bodily shape somewhat resembles the sitar, but it has no frets, as only the open strings are played as a harmonic accompaniment to the other musicians. It has four or five wire strings, which are plucked one after another in a regular pattern to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note.


A large double-headed frame-drum, made of wood and cow or goat skin, originating in ancient Macedonia and the Middle East. It’s used in ancient Grecian ceremonies such as religious festivals or war marches. The drum produces a deep sound. Tupans are commonly used in Bulgarian folk music and are also found in Turkish folk music, where they are called davuls.


The largest South African ethnic group. Under South African apartheid, the South African government classified the Zulu people as third-class citizens and enforced upon them state-sanctioned discrimination.