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Bea Palya: Folk from our Great-Grandfathers

img  Tobias

“I want people to listen to my music as it is, and not as something exotic.”- “Arra vágyom, hogy a zenémet ne egzotikumként hallgassák, hanem olyannak, amilyen.”

In the first place Bea Palya thinks of herself as a folk singer, which is quite accurate considering that most of her songs have their origins in Hungarian, Romanian, Transylvanian, Bulgarian, Persian folk music. There is however something unusual about her music which makes it recognizable among other performers. What is this peculiarity in her voice? What makes her singing so special? It is the unique way she approaches traditional music. The way she turns it into her very own treasure, the way she melts her thoughts, emotions and life experience into songs. She dusts good old folk songs from past habits and adds her 21st century personality to them creating an exciting mixture of traditional melodies and contemporary sounds with today´s lyrics.

We tend to think of folk music as something that needs to be preserved in its original form, exposed in a museum or in a concert hall, recorded on a disc, performed in the original tone of singing as a piece of our traditional culture. A culture that existed a long time ago, a culture we would like to show our grandchildren. Our ancestors had the kind of music what we call folk music today, to express their feelings towards the community, to throw away their most inner troubles, to sing about their sorrow or to celebrate their joy. They used music to let loose of their emotions, sexual fantasies, anger or fear.

Bea Palya shows us folk music as it was used by our great-grandfathers. Through folk music she creates her own way of expressing pain and frustration, happiness and intimate thoughts with own lyrics and her own sounds. In her interpretation, folk music is not something we have to admire from a great distance and preserve for our children, but something natural that we can live, something that is part of our everyday life, our musical anger-management, our laugh-therapy.

It is not only the traditional melodies that mark her album. She turns everyday noises like laughter, crying, shouting, whispering, breathing into music. As Bea Palya describes this phenomenon: “My first big encounter with music in my childhood was with a prayer by the Hungarian peasant singer Simon Ferenc Józsefné, "I Awake at the Morning Dawn." Just one voice appeared on the recording, but the sharp, powerful sound filled the room, and the ornamentation glittered on the melody line like pearls. Sounds and silence together made the music, and the whole thing had a tranquility, a rhythm of both breath and spirit. The meaning of the words were sharpened, and all of a sudden I felt that this woman, crossing space and time, was singing to me in my room - I could feel every vibration of her spirit, I was able to climb into her skin. I want to carry this further and share it.“

And she carried it to Berlin, to Café Szimpla (Gärtnerstrasse 15 ) where she gave a charmingly intimate concert with András Dés (percussion). Next time she will share her music with us in Budapest (H) at Trafó Club (Liliom u. 41.) with Mátyás Bolya (lute, zither) and András Dés. 

By Anna Szentirmay

Homepage: Bea Palya
Homepage: Café Szimpla Berlin
Homepage: Trafó Club Budapest

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