Music of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnian music continues despite the nation's sometimes-troubled history. Evstafiev-bosnia-cello.jpg
Bosnian music continues despite the nation's sometimes-troubled history.

Like the surrounding Balkan countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina has had a turbulent past marked by frequent foreign invasions and occupation. As a result, Bosnian music is now a mixture of the national Slavic folklore with some Turkish influences along with influences from other parts of the world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Republic in Southeast Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southeastern Europe, located within the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city.

Turkish people or the Turks, also known as Anatolian Turks, are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group and nation living mainly in Turkey and speaking Turkish, the most widely spoken Turkic language. They are the largest ethnic group in Turkey, as well as by far the largest ethnic group among the speakers of Turkic languages. Ethnic Turkish minorities exist in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, a Turkish diaspora has been established with modern migration, particularly in Western Europe.



During its period as a part of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was covered in state-supported amateur musical ensembles called Cultural-Artistic Societies (Kulturno-Umjetnička Društva, KUDs) which played Bosnian root music and released a few recordings on local labels.

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Socialist republic in Southeast Europe between 1943 and 1992

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), also known as SFR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country located in central and Southeastern Europe that existed from its foundation in the aftermath of World War II until its dissolution in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. Covering an area of 255,804 km², the SFRY was bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Italy to the west, Austria and Hungary to the north, Bulgaria and Romania to the east, and Albania and Greece to the south.

Traditional music

Original Bosnian music

Rural folk traditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina include the shouted, polyphonic ganga and "ravne pjesme" (flat song) styles, as well as instruments like a droneless bagpipe, wooden flute and šargija. The gusle, an instrument found throughout the Balkans, is also used to accompany ancient Slavic epic poems. There are also Bosnian folk songs in the Ladino language, derived from the area's Jewish population.

Polyphony music with multiple, independent melody lines performed simultaneously

In music, polyphony is one type of musical texture, where a texture is, generally speaking, the way that melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic aspects of a musical composition are combined to shape the overall sound and quality of the work. In particular, polyphony consists of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, which is called homophony.

Ganga is a type of singing that originated from rural Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. It is most commonly found in the regions of Herzegovina and Dalmatia, but it can also be heard in Lika, Karlovac and rural areas of western Montenegro. It is characterized by a lone singer singing a single line of lyrics, followed by others joining in, using a vocal style that is best described as a wail.

Flute Musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

Bosnian roots music came from Middle Bosnia, Posavina, the Drina valley and Kalesija. It is usually performed by singers with two violinists and a šargija player. These bands first appeared around World War I and became popular in the 1960s. This is the third oldest music following after the sevdalinka and ilahija. Self-taught people, mostly in two or three members of the different choices of old instruments, mostly in the violin, sacking, saz, drums, flutes (zurle) or wooden flute, as others have already called, the original performers of Bosnian music that can not be written notes, transmitted by ear from generation to generation, family is usually hereditary. It is thought to be brought from Persia-Kalesi tribe that settled in the area of present Sprecanski valleys and hence probably the name Kalesija. In this part of Bosnia it is the most common. Again, it became the leader of First World War onwards, as well as 60 years in the field Sprecanski doline. This kind of music was enjoyed by all three peoples in Bosnia, Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs, and it contributed a lot to reconcile people socializing, entertainment and other organizations through festivala. In Kalesija it's maintained each year with the Bosnian Festival Original music.

Central Bosnia Canton Canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Central Bosnia Canton is one of 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Posavina is the region of the Sava river basin in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia that is adjacent or near the Sava river itself.

Drina river, which forms a large portion of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia

The Drina is a 346 km (215 mi) long international river, which forms a large portion of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. It is the longest tributary of the Sava River and the longest karst river in the Dinaric Alps which belongs to the Danube river watershed. Its name is derived from the Roman name of the river which in turn is derived from Greek.

Studio Kemix firm Dzemal Dzihanovic from Živinice together with his artists brought this kind of music to perfection at the end 20th century. With its entirely new form of modernity, it is most common in the Tuzla Canton and the cradle of this music city Živinice was named Bosnian town of original music. Songs are performed preferably in a diphthong, the first and second voice which is a special secret performance of this music and some performers sing in troglasju as they do Kalesijski triple that was recorded in 1968, as the first written record of the tone on the album, along with Higurashi no naku.

Živinice City in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Živinice is a city located in Tuzla Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, south of Tuzla. As of 2013, it has a population of 57,765 inhabitants.

Tuzla Canton Canton in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Tuzla Canton is one of 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The cantonal seat is in Tuzla.

A diphthong, also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel. In most varieties of English, the phrase no highway cowboys has five distinct diphthongs, one in every syllable.


Probably the most distinctive and identifiably "Bosnian" of music, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Sevdalinka is a kind of emotional, melancholic folk song that often describes sad subjects such as love and loss, the death of a dear person or heartbreak. Sevdalinkas were traditionally performed with a saz, a Turkish string instrument, which was later replaced by the accordion. However the more modern arrangement, to the derision of some purists, is typically a vocalist accompanied by the accordion along with snare drums, upright bass, guitars, clarinets and violins. Sevdalinkas are unique to Bosnia and Herzegovina. They arose in Ottoman Bosnia as urban Bosnian music with often oriental and sometimes Sefardi influences. Examples are "Kad ja pođoh na Benbašu", the unofficial anthem of the city of Sarajevo, and "Kraj Tanana Sadrvana". Though not as common as it once was, traditional Sevdalinka singers like Kadir Kurtagić, Emina Ahmedhodžić, Hašim Muharemović and Muhamed Mešanović-Hamić are still popular to the extent that their recordings are available.

Bağlama a stringed musical instrument

The bağlama is a stringed musical instrument.

String instrument musical instrument that generates tones by one or more strings stretched between two points

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Accordion Bellows-driven free-reed aerophone musical instruments

Accordions are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type, colloquially referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist. The concertina and bandoneón are related; the harmonium and American reed organ are in the same family.

More modern performers Beba Selimović, Zehra Deović, Silvana Armenulić, Safet Isović, Himzo Polovina, Zaim Imamović and Hanka Paldum have used non-native instruments, including the accordion, clarinet, violin and guitar.

Ilahije i Kaside (Religious Songs)

Ilahije (Anasheed) are religious songs that came after or before sevdalinkas. [6] These songs usually deal with religion, but some of them tell tales of how two lovers (male and female) come together.

Modern folk

"Modern" folk was referred to as "novokomponovana narodna muzika" ("newly composed folk music") for a while, although the term went out of use in favor of simply "narodna" or "folk". It is based on various influences, sevdah stories with music of Serbia and/or Turkey often with incorporated elements of pop music. During the time of Yugoslavia, the genre developed jointly in Bosnia and Serbia, and performers from both sides of today's borders still enjoy certain popularity on the other side.

Classical music

BH composers of European classical music include Nihad Hrustanbegovic, Dino Zonić, Mirsad (Giga) Jelešković, Ališer Sijarić, Igor Karača, Dino Rešidbegović, Hanan Hadžajlić, Anđelka Bego-Šimunić, etc.

Film music

Bosnian composers of film scores include Saša Lošić and Nihad Hrustanbegovic

Pop and rock

Rock music has been very popular in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the mid-20th century. Popular and influential rock bands and artists have included Indexi, Bijelo dugme, Divlje jagode, Plavi orkestar, Crvena jabuka, Zabranjeno pušenje, Hari Mata Hari and others from the Sarajevo school of pop rock

Metal and hardcore

Heavy metal music is fairly underground within the musical scene in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the mid '80s, two metal bands were formed in capital Sarajevo: Bombarder and Parasite from which D.throne emerged as next generation in 1991. One of the pioneer trash metal bands Monolit was founded in Mostar also during the '80s. Modern extreme metal scene originate from city of Tuzla.

Some notable acts include:

  • Acronian
  • Aesthetic Empathy
  • After Oblivion
  • Aggressor
  • Agonize
  • Aiqëhahirit
  • Anemija
  • Arjen
  • Bestias
  • Bombarder
  • Cadaver
  • Cave Ritual
  • Contusio
  • Corbansick
  • Cacafuego
  • D.Throne
  • Deathcircle
  • Doberman
  • Festival of Mutilation
  • Flatline
  • Forensic Clinic
  • Gnu
  • Hetrem
  • Hobson Choice
  • Kaos
  • Kontra
  • Korov
  • Krov
  • Krv
  • Kursk
  • Maichinery
  • Mavet
  • Mephistos
  • Monolit
  • Mortipher
  • Motherpig
  • My Last Suicide
  • Nigrum Ignis Circuli
  • Niteris
  • Odar
  • Ofsajd
  • Parasite
  • Parricide
  • Sadismo
  • Silent Kingdom
  • Tanker
  • Terra Slaves
  • Tmärrdhë
  • Toxicdeath
  • Vetëvrakh

Electronic music

Bosnian electronic/dance music has also been very popular in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the mid-20th century. Popular producers and artists include Adi Lukovac (Adi Lukovac & The Ornaments), Mirza (Mizi) Čaušević (mentalEscape), Dr Mladen Milicevic, Dr. Igor Karača, Dr. Dino Rešidbegović, Dr. Hanan Hadžajlić, Axa, Basheskia, Meldeen (trance metal), Vuneny, Velahavle, Billain, Fa11out and dZihan & Kamien. Such producers and artists are responsible for various styles of electronic music such as drum and bass/neurofunk, trance music, breakbeat and industrial.

New generation of electronic music producers in Bosnia includes names such as Arnej, Siniša Tamamović, Mladen Tomić, Mr Inessential, DJ Mika, Narcis Jr. aka Monophonic/Mashala, Cycle Six, Chipi, Nadix, LudDogg, Demia E.Clash and many more.

Hip hop

Hip hop music is new to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but became very popular throughout the urban public with the famous rapper Edo Maajka, who is the most popular rapper in Bosnia-Herzegovina and most famous throughout the rest of the former Yugoslavia.

World music

Lately, Bosnian world music scene (mostly Balkan influenced music) is growing bigger. Some of the bands are:

See also

Related Research Articles

Sevdalinka is a traditional genre of folk music from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sevdalinka is an integral part of the Bosniak culture, but is also spread across the ex-Yugoslavia region, including Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The actual composers of many Sevdalinka songs are largely unknown because these are traditional folk songs.

Saša Lošić Bosnia and Herzegovina musician

Saša Lošić "Loša" is a Bosnian recording artist. Lošić initially rose to prominence as the lead vocalist of the Bosnian-based music act Plavi Orkestar, which is one of the most popular music bands of the former Yugoslav Pop and Rock scene. Lošić remains one of the most recognizable composers of the Balkans, and one of the most prominent musicians of the Balkan music scene. He currently lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Safet Isović Bosnia and Herzegovina singer-politician

Safet Isović was a Bosnian singer, one of the most prominent and popular performers of the Bosnian traditional music sevdalinka.

University of Sarajevo university in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The University of Sarajevo is a public university located in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the largest and oldest university in the country, as well as the oldest institution of tertiary learning in the former Yugoslavia, tracing its initial origins to 1537 as an Islamic madrasa.

Mostar Sevdah Reunion

Mostar Sevdah Reunion is a world-fusion musical ensemble from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina playing almost exclusively sevdalinka fused with contemporary musical styles. The band is composed of experienced musicians and often collaborates with renowned musicians in the field of Roma music: they made two albums with Šaban Bajramović and two albums with Ljiljana Buttler. Ljiljana frequently toured with the band until her death in 2010.

Aldin Kurić, known by his stage name Al'Dino, is a Bosnian singer, songwriter and composer.

Izeta Selimović, known by her stage name Beba Selimović, is a Bosnian sevdalinka-folk singer and was one of the leading female singers of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Yugoslavia, along with Zehra Deović, Nada Mamula and Silvana Armenulić.

Emina (poem) song

"Emina" is a poem by Bosnian poet Aleksa Šantić that became a popular sevdalinka song, covered by many prominent singers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other parts of former Yugoslavia. It was first published in 1902 in the Serbian literary journal Kolo. The subject of the poem is Šantić's neighbor, a Bosnian Muslim girl named Emina Sefić. It is one of the most well-known sevdalinka songs of all time.

Radoslav "Rade" Jovanović was a Yugoslav composer and songwriter, best known for his legacy collection of sevdalinka folk songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zuzi Zu Bosnia and Herzegovina singer

Zumreta Midžić, known by her stage name Zuzi Zu, is a popular Bosnian artist: singer, musician and songwriter. She performs various music genres from pop-rock to Bosnian folk - sevdalinka and Gypsy music. She was born in Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina and for many years she was living and working in Sarajevo.

Dino Residbegovic Bosnian composer

Dino Residbegovic born 1975 in Sarajevo, is a contemporary classical music and electronic/electroacoustic music composer.

Emina Zečaj is a Bosnian interpreter of the traditional folk music, sevdalinka.

Božo Vrećo is a Bosnian musician.

Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo

Ismet Alajbegović "Šerbo" was a Bosnian accordionist, composer, and songwriter of folk songs.

Jozo Penava was a Bosnian music producer, composer, arranger, musician and vocalist. Penava immensely contributed to the development of folk songs and the traditional Bosnian folk music sevdalinka in Yugoslavia. He worked with many prominent sevdalinka singers of the 20th century, such as Safet Isović, Zehra Deović, Himzo Polovina, Nada Mamula, Beba Selimović, Nedžad Salković, Silvana Armenulić, and Meho Puzić, among others.

Amira Medunjanin is a female singer from Bosnia and Herzegovina and interpreter of sevdalinka.

Ilidža Folk Music Festival

The Ilidža Folk Music Festival is the oldest living and premier folk music festival in the Former Yugoslavia. It is held annually in Ilidža, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The festival was established in 1964 by the Association of Bosnian Recording Artists, is held in July and lasts for four days. The event hosts contemporary and traditional artists in genres under the umbrella of Folk, including Sevdalinka, Starogradska, Modern Folk, Novokomponovana, Macedonian Folk, Turbo-folk and accordion music. It has traditionally been the premier showpiece event for folk recording artists in Yugoslavia, with the two major Yugoslav record labels Jugoton and PGP-RTS releasing live LPs of each year's edition. Numerous acclaimed folk singers from the Former Yugoslavia were either signed by record labels or received wider media exposure following performances at the festival. Serbian Turbo-folk star Ceca performed at the 1988 edition when she was 15 years old and won the competition with her single Cvetak Zanovetak, while Hanka Paldum was signed by Diskoton after winning the newcomer competition in 1974.


  1. Divanhana Official (12 November 2013). "Divanhana - Grana od bora - Live in Sarajevo 2013 (Official video)" . Retrieved 6 April 2018 via YouTube.
  2. Sarajevo Sevdah Fest (17 September 2013). "MOSTAR SEVDAH REUNINION - VRANJANKA" via YouTube.
  3. Sarajevo Sevdah Fest (17 September 2013). "MOSTAR SEVDAH REUNION - SJECAS LI HANUMA" via YouTube.
  4. Sarajevo Sevdah Fest (17 September 2013). "MOSTAR SEVDAH REUNINION - GRANA DO BORA" via YouTube.
  5. Safet Isović (1 September 2013). "Safet Isovic - Oci moje kletvom bih vas kleo - (Audio 1986)" via YouTube.
  6. AjnurSoA (14 November 2010). "Hor Kewser - Ti me rani [ Official 2010 ][English & French subtitle]" . Retrieved 6 April 2018 via YouTube.

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