Kaynak Pipers Band
Bulgarian kaba gaida
The Kaynak Pipers Band was founded in 2013 with a mission to reignite the popularity of the iconic Bulgarian instrument, the kaba gaida. Three short years later, their performance at the 2016 International Bagpipe Conference in Glasgow, Scotland took the bagpiping world by storm. Now this vibrant ensemble is bringing their ancient, inspiring music to American audiences.
The Kaynak Pipers Band plays the traditional music of the Rhodope Mountains of southern Bulgaria. In the relative isolation of the Rhodope region, the kaba gaida (deep or soft bagpipe) remains almost unchanged from its original form. Made of traditional materials like elder wood and goat skin, the kaba gaida employs both a chanter, for fingering the tune, and a single drone, which provides a steady undertone. These physical features create a distinctive, timeless music the band says speaks “to your heart rather than your head.” Originally played by shepherds, who developed a repertoire that incorporated the sounds of the natural world around them, the music also functioned to call communities together for work and for celebrations like weddings and saints’ days. As such, traditional Rhodopean music is widely understood to have positive social, meditative, and even healing powers for both musician and audience.
The Kaynak Pipers Band will perform in Richmond in the traditional configuration of a five-person ensemble: three pipers accompanied by a drummer and a singer. Atanas Peev learned to play the kaba gaida growing up in the Rhodope, where he performed with the youth ensemble of his hometown of Smolyan. Yanko Marangozov and Cvetelin Andreev began playing the bagpipes a decade ago, inspired by their travels in Rhodope. Atanas and Yanko are past winners of the International Gaida Competition, and Cvetelin was recently named one of “40 Under 40” innovative Bulgarians for his efforts to promote the kaba gaida. Todora Vasileva, who began singing traditional Rhodopean songs at age four, weaves haunting vocals over the pipes, and master percussionist Peter “Buny” Yordanov accompanies with the traditional tupan drum. Living in the capital city of Sofia, the members of the Kaynak Pipers Band are exploring new ways to pass on their cultural heritage and keep it vital for the coming generations: they offer lessons at the neighborhood community center to students of all levels, and teach bagpipe aficionados worldwide via the internet. Their popular children’s workshops, Gaida Games, inspire children as young as three to appreciate and play this most traditional Bulgarian music. The group’s full membership of eight musicians also includes some of Bulgaria’s few remaining masters of the traditional construction of the kaba gaida.
The term kaynak means “source”; a musician “playing his kaynak” is one who is playing from his soul. Because it so profoundly speaks to the human condition, a kaba gaida song was one of the pieces chosen for the Messages from Earth recording aboard the Voyager spacecraft where, the Kaynak Pipers Band jokes, “the aliens are hopefully enjoying it” along with audiences on Earth.
The Kaynak Pipers Band kaba gaida project is funded by Program "Culture" through the Sofia Municipality 2016.