Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia

Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia

Once you hear an original Dalmatian klapa song live, especially in a traditional setting such as a small alley or the local square, you can rest assured that you’ll fall in love from the very first notes. Unlike other traditional songs, klapa brings pure joy to the listeners thanks to its unique homophonic / unison singing technique with polyphonic elements. It is no surprise then that klapa groups often gathered to impress girls looking from their windows with their singing. Only a rare few of these beauties were able to resist klapa songs, as this a cappella technique involves no loud notes or strong beats, but rather singing in harmony that no-one can be indifferent to.

 

Klapa singing has its roots in the Mediterranean cultural sphere, small seaside towns and villages and islands, where – in the absence of modern-day gadgets and the Internet – friends spent time singing together, usually unaccompanied by any instruments. One voice normally starts off, followed by others. Even though the words can be difficult to make out at times, you only need to let yourself go and simply enjoy the mellow sounds that seem to float on the sea waves. Themes usually revolve around the sea, love, and the Mediterranean way of life. A cappella songs are rarely about sorrow – even if the klapa sings about days gone by, it is always with lofty sentiment, more often than not praising the values and ideals of past generations.

 

Although at one point in the past it was reserved strictly for men, klapa singing has become significantly more accepting –nowadays it has become quite common to see all-female or mixed groups competing with male groups, and often winning. Klapa groups accompanied by instruments and modern arrangements greatly contributed to the rise in popularity of this type of singing in Croatia and beyond. Despite their departure from the traditional form, klapa groups now fill stadiums and concert halls and top the music charts in Croatia. So if you ever find yourself in some arched alley and hear a klapa singing, or if you manage to pay a visit to the biggest and oldest klapa singing festival – the one in the town of Omiš – try to take in every note and feel its beauty... Look at the faces of those around you being moved by the songs, and you’ll understand why Dalmatian people will never let go of their songs.