Druga Gimnazija Sarajevo

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The reason why I chose this topic was to find out what significance Sevdalinka, as traditional music of BIH have in life's of people from Sarajevo and is it still present in their lives. The essential understanding of Sevdalinka could be summarized in the words of [1] Omer Pobrić: [2] "Sevdalinka is an urban Bosnian love song, with the word "Bosnian" defining the geographical origin of Sevdalinka, the word "urban" depicting its urban nature, and the word "love" denoting its content related theme."

Word Sevdah [3] comes from Turkish language and it means loving someone. In case of Sevdalinka in BiH [4] it refers to unreturned that cause's emotional suffering. Sevdalinka was like serenade where young man and women would communicate their feelings through song. Sevdalinka is generally melancholic, sad song of men which has lost beloved one or country. It belongs to expressive culture, firstly related to music and then to other segments of culture such as reflection of cultural identity, traditions, and morals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Music is art that has its aesthetics.

Robert Borofsky noted that [5] "Anthropologists often draw on this tradition to emphasize a people` s shared beliefs and behaviours that distinguish them from other and, at the same time, offer them sense of sheared meaning."

Sevdalinka may also be understood as a product of syncretism in this region which was under the rule of different nations and cultures which is also proved and researched by Ludvik Kuba [6] in his research about outer impacts to Sevdalinka. It survived different empires and governments that include Pre-Slavic Period, Medieval Bosnia, Ottoman era, Austro-Hungarian era, Communism (former Yugoslavia) and finally today's Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Each culture influenced the development of Sevdalinka. [7] "Sevdalinka is live book of history, being transmitted from generation to generation, its theme includes poetic imagery paints beautiful scenes of nature."

For my field work I am going to use different types of research methods: questionnaire interviews and in the addition participant observation using emic approach, in order to answer my research question.

Investigation: Methodology and Problems

In order to gather as much data as possible I decided to use quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative data refers to questionnaires in which students from my school aged 16-18 at my school took part. This way it is much easier to get into contact with participants. This method helped me analyse behaviour of a wider group of participants and it helped me collect a lot of data in the larger area then it can be done through interviews. The advantage of questionnaires is the anonymity of participants, as stated in guidance note by which I fulfil my ethic obligation as in appendix 1.0 is seen: "Please answer the following questionnaire. All information and it is referred as confidential and are going to be used for the this research only" by protecting their privacy unless they prove contrary. While preparing for the interview I informed the participant about the research and asked his consent for participation of field research. I also visited museum House of Sevdalinka" and "National museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina". During my visit I found important information for my research and conducted interview which helped me to understand what Sevdalinka represents in our culture.

My questionnaire consisted of nine questions, multiple choices and text boxes where the participant could write their answers. Questions were clearly stated so participant have easy task in answering of them. In total there were 77 male and female participants. Their age range varied from 16 to 60. This was important because it shows how interest for Sevdalinka changed.

Using data from questionnaire I was able to find out how different political systems, cultural and religious backgrounds influence importance of Sevdalinka.

This statement can be supported by research conducted by [8] Franz Boas where he researched how children who grow up in New York differ by anatomy and behaviour from their parents who grow up in Europe.

Qualitative data which was used was method in this investigation. Data was collected from interviews, anthropological books, internet [9] , magazines, and participant observation. I conducted interviews with two participants of different age group, 18 and 50 years old. The purpose of these interviews is to see opinions about Sevdalinka from teenager and adult participant. I asked specific questions in order to avoid unnecessary waste of time and information.

The interview with the specialist of this branch of music was anonymous as well. It was an interview via e-mail. The purpose of this interview was to understand how the participant who is performer of Sevdalinka views Sevdalinka and how BB. views the interests of the young population towards Sevdalinka.

One of the methods I used was participant observation. I was able to get a deeper and more experienced insight on the activities preformed during the group singing of Sevdalinka. I observed people during (change it) different family events. Family members who participate in birthday celebration were of different age, sex and religion. I was participating in all the activities that I observed, which included singing. I recorded my findings immediately after the celebration was finished. This enabled me to understand how and why and how people sing.

Reason why I chose three methods for investigation was because of complexity of subject chosen which was impossible to complete without using all above mentioned methods. There was few a problems which occurred during collection of data I was enabled to interview one of the participants in person, [10] BB. was away on business trip however, I overcome this problem by conducting interview by email. Also I handed in questionnaire in paper form first which was not taken seriously by participants especially my pears which jepedajzed objectivity so I decided to send same questionnaires via email which was successful in obtaining all necessary data.

In addition I used anthropology books [11] , works of ethnomusicologists as Omer Pobrić, Ludvik Kuba, Cvjetko Rihtman, and information from the museums.

Secondary source helped me in understanding and competing of my course work.

Napisati o ljudima koji su učestvovali kosu bili 3 interview a.

Data Presentation and Analysis:

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with a very dynamic history. Those changes affected society as well as Sevdalinka. Presence of Ottoman Empire had a significant impact in development on Sevdalinka. This can be seen through the words and music which was used in Sevadalinka which clearly reflection o Islamic morals and rules in relation to gender equality.

Such as it was morally inacceptable in public for even huband and wife to show any intimacy such as to call each other by names or even look at each other in public. famous ballad Hasanaginica talks of shame for spouses This is reflection of patriarchal system which was dominant in this region in 17/18 century. Due to these circumstances females expressed their feelings and thoughts through singing. Sevdalinka played important role in everyday lifes of women especially in Sarajevo because they have been able to express their feelings through the performing of Sevdalinka in public events. That was the only way how male and female communicated between each other publically without bringing shame to their family.

Sevadlinka is storytelling legend.

Ottoman brought a new style and melody. ..New instruments as [12] saz, tambourine were also influenceddress style. Cjetko Rihtman ethnomusicologist studied the effects of Ottoman culture on folk music. He tried to prove that Sevdalinka changed over time. Also cultural transmission is present between Turkish and Bosnian languages in Sevdalinka were there are same words in both languages but have different meanings. When Austro- Hungarian Empire came to these regions new instrument harmonic was added to the spectra of melodies. In the communism period, public performance of Sevdalinka was set aside and replaced by revolutionary songs, although in most households and private gatherings parents and grandparents would still teach their children how to sing sevdalinka. This is an example of a cold revitalization movement where even if it was not present completely in public, it still managed to survive in our society even if it was not performed for years. A similar movement happened with the Native Americans (Handsome Lake (1800.)) where for their wellbeing managed to take advantage of the new system and protect their own heritage.

This question was used to get clear image how many participants do or not listen sevdalinka and this kind of graph is used to see both female and male answers which may be compared.

Graph 1:


In this graph 39% of participants answered that they never listen sevdalinka.28% answered that they listen sevdalinka sometimes and 33% answered that they listen it often.

Graph 4: Where do you usually listen sevdalinka?


53% of participants listen music at home while having birthday parties, family gathering were they are meant to sing and involve in socialization from. 21% of participants listen at special celebrations such as marriage where sevdalinkas lyrics and history can be learned.26% of participants answered as other which includes listening in car and on concerts. Today performers of sevdalinka are modernizing it in order to make it more suitable, closer for younger listeners. Also they are mixing sevdalinka with other genres of music as jazz which became very popular. 45 % of female participants listen music at home, 19% on special celebrations and 36 % on other occasions which were similar to male.

Graph 5: Are you familiar with lyrics and music of sevdalinka ?


Statistic information's for male about knowledge of sevdalinka lyrics was very surprising that even those who do not listen it have general knowledge about its lyrics. From female population 11 participants of 21 which do not listen sevdalinka did not know its lyrics.

Graph6: Do you know origin of sevdalinka ?


From female participants % answered that they do not know origin of sevdalinka while 72% did now actual origin of sevdalinka.89% of male participants knew origin of sevdalinka while 11% of them did not know. These results show that participants know origin of Sevdalinka but some of them do not have knowledge about sevdalinka so thay may say that it's not part of our identity.



While I was doing an interview with a specialist, I asked questions which may be seen in appendix1.1

The participants answer to the first question was that sevdalinka has a very important place in his career and that it is very important to know how to sing sevdalinka in order to be accepted by public as honourable artist. BB. [19] thinks that sevdalinka is still part of our culture and identity because it is what distinguishes us from other cultures. From BB`s experience, BB says that people like to listen to foreign music instead of trying to understand their own national music and that people who live abroad start to appreciate their cultural heritage more than when they used to live in their home country. BB states that media influence is important if rightly used which can bring Sevdalinka closer to the hearts of youth.

Second and third interview I have done simultaneously with two participants which were from different age groups. The same questions were asked but the answers were different. A young participant, age 17, answered that Sevdalinka is part of our culture and identity and that it is something like the saying that goes: "Country without history is person with no memory". BB. said that we have to have some knowledge about Sevdalinka in order to have right to judge it and to know if we like it or not. BB states that the themes of the songs are not close to younger generations.

For my observations, I attended gatherings such as birthdays, celebrations and marriages. All participants were sitting around the table eating a specially prepared meal, everyone talking and joking. Singing of sevdalinka will occur spontaneously, led by the older member of the family who is known as someone who sings well and all others will join in.


The data collected supported the idea that Sevdalinka is still present as part of Bosnian cultural identity but it is interpreted in a different way than it was beforeoriginal. Three research methods were used for [20] certainty of result, final answer. It was limited research geographically and timely. In further work I would like to cooperate with House of Sevdah and level up my research to higher degree, do researches in other cities of my country. Also there are a few issues which arose from this research. One is influence of media in structuring our identity and other is gender equality in Sarajevo and BiH. These two issues although very important are still marginalised in our country. Another criticism is that I expected the answers to the questionnaires/interviews to be quick and to the point but they were not.


Finally from my interviews, questionnaires and observation, I conclude that Sevdalinka is still a part of our identity and that it will always be. There are two classifications of Sevdalinka first one is Sevdalinka as music genre which may be liked or disliked and second Sevdalinka which is our identity marker no matter if we like it or not.

Word count: 1936

In this table answer of all questions are showen:

2. Secod question was to put age and here age range is presented.

Age range

10-20 =38



41-50 =9

51-60 =7



IB Diploma Programme


Anthropology course work investigation on importance of sevdalinka in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Please answer the following questionnaire. All information and it is referred as confidential and are going to be used for the this research only.


male female

Age :

Do you listen sevdalinka ? yes no

If no why, and after answering please continue to questions?

How often do you listen sevdalinka?




Where do you listen sevdalinka?

At home

Special celebrations (please right down, name other)


Are you familiar with lyrics and music of sevdalinka ?

yes no

Do you know origin of sevdalinka ?

yes no

Do you consider that sevdalinka is part of identity and tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina ?

yes no

What significant places Sevdalinka on our culture nowadays ?


not at all



quite a bit

Appendix 1.01:

Interview 1:

What does Sevdalinka represents to you as an artist?

Is Sevdalinka still part of our culture?

Is Sevdalinka still part of our identity?

From your professional experience is there significance number of listeners of Sevdalinka?

Do you think that in future Sevdalinka may become closer to younger population by mixing with other genres?