The Slovenia Times

Retrieved from a pond, ancient fir makes its musical debut

Samo Kutin, Bakalina Velika, plays the lyre made from an ancient silver fir. Photo: STA

The first two instruments made from the wood of a Stone-Age silver fir that was discovered in a pond in the west of the country made their concert debut in Ljubljana on 20 April.

The premiering lyre and flute were just part of the show in which Bakalina Velika, a band inspired by the pantheistic traditions of western Slovenia, took an enthusiastic crowd on an exciting musical adventure.

The band's frontman Jani Kutin and one of his two brothers were involved in the find of several logs in a pond near their home village of ńĆadrg in the Tolmin area, inside the Triglav National Park.

One of the samples has been confirmed by radiocarbon dating in Vienna to be more than 6,500 years old, while the results of two more are still pending, Kutin says. At any rate, evidence so far shows they are more than 2,100 years old.

The ancient logs were discovered during restoration of man-made ponds that used to serve as watering holes for cattle but were also key habitat for native species of newt and toad.

In his storytelling manner Jani told the crowd gathered at the Metelkova venue that it was his third brother Samo, also a member of the band, who suggested turning the wood into musical instruments.

Craftsmen have made two so far, but there are plans for more. They hope to make a classical guitar, a violin and a more professional lyre.

The wood turned out to be strong enough as well as having nice resonance. "The instruments are great and we are happy," Jani told the Slovenian Press Agency ahead of the concert.

At the concert, Jani improvised with the flute and Samo with the lyre as the instruments are new and yet to find a place in the band's compositions.

Featuring six experienced musicians from acclaimed world music, jazz and rock ensembles, Bakalina Velika use a variety of instruments and combine elements of diverse genres, from alt-rock to unconventional chanson and folk to jazz and experimentation.

Their music takes audiences from remote peaks to deep ravines, from ancient caves to shrines. The lyrics, written and sung in the local dialect by Jani, tell stories about gold prospectors, the mysteries of the midsummer's night, about olden days, eagles, wolves and rivers, raising eternal questions about human existence in nature and the universe.

Having evolved from a duo called Bakalina, an old local word for a large clay bowl, the band have so far released two albums and are working on a third one, which is due to come out next year.


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