Trăgnala Rumjana (abstract)

A very simple dance, part of the Bulgarian school curriculum, consisting of the all-European basic steps (R L | R L | R – | L -).

The original recording, well-known in the folk dance world, was played by the “Orchestra for Folk Songs of the Bulgarian Radio” (Ансамбъл за народни песни на Българското радио) and issued on the Balkanton LP BHA 565 in 1966. Dick Crum introduced the dance to the US in 1975, the music was licensed by the XOPO record label (X 329b).

Although the dance is often taught and perceived as a 7/8 measure, this recording is in fact an 8/8 with the rhythm 3-2-3, a particular speciality of old Pirin tunes, but also known in other parts of the country in earlier years. Even Bulgarian teachers like Stefan Vâglarov (Bâlgarski narodni hora i tanci, Izd. Medicina i Fizkultura, Sofija 1976) present it as 7/8. However, old music sheets of Trăgnala Rumjana in 8/8 or 8/16 probably show an older – original – version, whereas newer recordings are all being played in 7/8. The old 8/8 rhythm structure is disappearing; choreographers and dance instructors are contributing to this unfortunate loss of a beautiful regional specialty.

Many dance syllabi and record sleeves place Trăgnala Rumjana in Pirin (SW Bulgaria).

According to Todor Mollov (Bălgarski folklorni motivi, Vol. 6: Love Songs: Ruma moma za voda i momăk ovčar; 36 song lyrics from the same subject group can be found scattered across the whole country.

Ethnomusicologial notations which date as far back as 1926 attribute main parts of tune and lyrics to different Bulgarian regions (Belogradčik, Nikopol and Elin-Pelin).

So the song Trăgnala Rumjana cannot be attributed exclusively to Pirin.

How about the dance?

The dance steps are ubiquitous, pan-European. Two notable Bulgarian authors (Krasimir Petrov, Nikolaj Cvetkov) don’t even mention Trăgnala Rumjana. Stefan Văglarov and Boris Conev state that it is being danced all over Bulgaria (Văglarov, Stefan: Bălgarski narodni hora i tanci. Sofia 1976, p. 128; Conev, Boris: Bălgarski narodni hora i răčenici, 1960, p. 198). Văglarov adds that it has preserved its “Pirin style”.

Dick Crum, relying on a lead dancer of the Filip Kutev Ensemble, places it in the Rhodopes and in Strandža and describes a very sober (i.e. Rhodopian) style. Ron Houston emphasizes the unadorned style of the movements.


In all its aspects – lyrics, tune and dance – Trăgnala Rumjana is not located in one specific Bulgarian region. It is a universal Bulgarian dance with different regional characteristics of musical arrangement and style of movement depending on the performing area.