Serbian Suite


Serbian Suite

 for Flute/Alto Flute, Oboe, B Clarinet, B Bass Clarinet,
Bassoon, Violin, Cello, and Percussion





A series of compositions inspired by or adapting Serbian folk melodies.

I posted an earlier version of this composition on this site a year ago.  This version is significantly revised.

The traditional music of the Balkans has been somewhat neglected even by those interested in world folk music, though in my experience it is one of the richest traditions.  Some of the melodies I've adapted may also be claimed by other Balkan traditions than Serbian, but my sources have identified them as Serbian, so that is what I've called them.

Comments welcome.

The audio file was created with software as a demo.

Audio file on this site: Serbian Suite Nov 2022 (Mastered with Thunder at 50pct).mp3

Source: Some sections of this composition incorporate or adapt folk melodies from Folk Songs of Many Peoples v. 1 by F. Botsford 1921

Please note that this score is under copyright. For performance or recording permission, please see my permissions page.

Image: Illustration of Filip Višnjić, published in Знаменити Срби 19. века (1901)

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  • Hi Jon,

    My father's father is from Macedonia - Monastr my mother's father is from Bulgaria-Rusçuk...They have migrated to Istanbul around early 20th cty.

    Your music sounds very beautiful to my ears... You continue your minimalist approach to beauty.  Specially triangle sounds excellent...

    You may find abundant material in Turkish references both Turkish and English about how to make this type of music polyphonic...  There are also excellent (and many) examples of how to do it...

    Thank you for making me remember through my genes...

    All the best.


    • Thanks for the reply and for liking it.  As you know (though maybe not everyone reading this does) the music of the Balkan nations is a rich tapestry of influences from all over the Otttoman area:  Turkish, Greek, Macedonian, Serbian and other Slavic, with an ancestry going back to Arabic, Persian, and probably even Indian music.  An example of this is the great Rebetica singer Roza Eskenazi (many of her recordings are available on YouTube,) a Greek Jewish woman who was born Istanbul, later lived in Greece, was bilingual in Greek and Turkish (some of her songs have both Greek and Turkish lyrics,) and was often accompanied by Armenian instrumentalists.

      Technical note for those who may be interested:  my composition begins with a taxim,  a traditional feature of Middle Eastern music, where a solo instrumentalist introduces the piece by playing an improvised, free form exploration of the piece’s scale.  Strictly speaking a taxim should be improvised, but I’ve just tried to make my taxim  sound improvised.  I’ve considered adding a note to the score saying that the introduction is an example and that the musician can substitute their own improvisation If they want.  Maybe if I ever get this performed, I will suggest this option to the group.

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