The first album published by the Music Information Centre of Serbia (Co-Publisher: World Music Association of Serbia) is called “Bokan Stanković: Traditional Playing On the Ocarina From Lasovo and Eastern Serbia” (MICS, 2022)

Thanks to the release of the album with the booklet “Bokan Stanković – Traditional Playing On the Svrljig Bagpipes, Duduk and Ocarina From Eastern Serbia” (WMAS Records, 2019), it was found out that the great centre of playing and making the ocarina was the village of Lasovo, in eastern Serbia, where Bokan comes from. Although Lasovo is not geographically so far from the Paraćin region – where the famous ocarinist Božidar Vekić (who also influenced the traditional music of eastern Serbia) was active – the tradition of Lasovo ocarinists is completely different and authentic: both in the shape of the instrument and its characteristics, in its sound, in the way it is played, and in the repertoire performed on it. During the 20th century, there were several dozen ocarinists in this village, but Bokan Stanković remained the last active performer of this tradition, its last offspring. Furthermore, as a great connoisseur of not only the musical tradition of his village, but the whole of Eastern Serbia, and Serbia in general, Bokan upgraded the repertoire, too. Because of all that, the Music Information Centre of Serbia and the Word Music Association of Serbia accepted the proposal of ethnologist and anthropologist Dejan Krstić, PhD, to release another CD by Bokan Stanković, this time only with a playing of the ocarina, with the accompanying study by Dejan Krstić focused on the tradition of playing and making ocarina in the Eastern Serbia, especially in the village of Lasovo.

The 46 melodies of folk dances and folk songs played on Lasovo ocarina are stored on the disc. Apart from the melodies that were played and sung in Lasovo, Bokan Stanković, who is a master of playing this instrument, also performs melodies from other places in eastern Serbia.

In addition to previously known data from the literature and other sources on the ocarina in Serbia, the booklet that accompanies this CD contains completely new data on the ocarina and ocarinists in eastern Serbia, ocarinists from Lasovo, the tradition of playing and making ocarina in this village, as well as on all the melodies on the CD.

These data were mostly obtained from Bokan Stanković, but they were completed for this occasion by the results of field interviews and other sources, and also by a lot of photographs found during field research. More than 30 prominent ocarinists and masters of ocarina making from Lasovo and the attached data on each of them clearly show that this village was the unique and the largest centre of this instrument not only in eastern Serbia but in Serbia in general, and perhaps in the Balkans. The ways of transmission and evolution of this tradition, data on its role in the local social environment, the repertoire performed on the ocarina, the way of playing it, its characteristics as an instrument and its production are presented here, too. It is an instrument that was, above all, played within livestock or agricultural context in a rural area, in the open air, but it was also used for entertainment and to accompany the dance at get-together events. The very wide and varied repertoire performed on the ocarina in Lasovo was determined by the fact that at the same time, from the very beginning and during the first two-thirds of the 20th century, this village was a prominent centre of brass orchestras. These ensembles had a very good reputation and were hired throughout the area of Crna Reka, therefore having a wide repertoire – from traditional local melodies of the whole area, through the once-popular melodies of the city’s gipsy string orchestras, to songs from gramophone records and those broadcast on the radio. What came to their ears through brass bands, which were constantly present in public life, many Lasovo inhabitants passed on to ocarina playing. Later, as well as the brass bands themselves, under the influence of radio, from the 50s to the 70s of the 20th century, they also accepted the Pomoravlje-Šumadija music tradition then popular at the national level. By the way, the fact that music was at a very high place on the value scale of this micro-social community also contributed to the mass acceptance of ocarina in this village.

Dejan Krstić, PhD