Bećarac singing and playing from Eastern Croatia

UNESCO Croatian intangible cultural heritage

Bećarac singing and playing from Eastern Croatia

The bećarac is a vocal and vocal-instrumental song performed in the area of Eastern Croatia, in the regions of Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem.

One lead singer starts and the rest of the singers follow him or her in two-part, or occasionally three-part, singing. The significance of the bećarac lies in its decasyllabic verses: there are many of them and they are suitable for word-play, which makes the repertoire practically inexhaustible. The first verse is provocative, taunting, amorous, mocking or boastful, while the second is a humorous antithesis to the first.

Often, two groups of singers, led by two or more of the best singers, perform the bećarac. Lead singers enjoy special admiration and status in the community; they must have a pleasant and powerful voice, know a wide repertoire of old and new couplets, and be apt, quick and clever in inventing new verses.

The bećarac is mostly sung by men, women usually join the male accompanying voices. The singing is accompanied by folk instruments, usually the tambura (chordophone), joined sometimes by a fiddle and/or accordion. The bećarac forms part of various occasions and happenings, a component of both informal music-making and special events.

Ministry of Culture