Gyul Devoykya – Tutorial

Hello everyone! In this article I’m going to present to you a really nice Bulgarian Folk Song – “Gyul Devoykya”. This song is a pretty famous song in Bulgaria. It is  a great example of the diversity of rhythms in our tradition. The song is entirely in 13/8. That is an unusual (odd) time signature but it’s quite common in Bulgaria. For those of you who don’t know what that means – it is basically a meter that contains both simple and compound beats. Simple beats can be divided into two notes, compound beats can be divided into three notes.

In this case the 13/8 consist of six beats divided as follows: 2 – 2 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 2. We have three simple beats, one compound beat and two more simple beats. The example here shows exactly how the beats are divided. The accents above the stave indicate which beats are particularly emphasised by the performer.

Example 13/8

Here’s the first recording of the tune. It was made back in 1983 by the Bulgarian singer Pavlina Gorcheva. A sad fact is that she passed away recently. She was one of the singers in Bulgarian music that recorded and conserved a lot of nice Bulgarian traditional songs from Shopska area. This, in fact, is where this particular song comes from. In this video the song is performed in a very traditional manner.


I have also arranged and performed this very song many times. Here’s a slower tempo example an arrangement that I made of the same song, the singer in this recording is Sibina Radenkova.

And another, faster one. This I made as for a advertisement video about the Bulgarian Rose, made by “Our Home is Bulgaria” foundation, again the singer is Sibina Radenkova.

Here’s a link to the Video. I really recommend you to check it out. It’s a really well made production. LINK

The connection about this song and the Bulgarian Rose is not accidental. There beautiful lyrics tell a really nice story about a girl and a rose tree. Here’s a resume of the lyrics in English:

The song tells a story about a maiden lovely as a rose who falls asleep under a white rose bush. Blooms start falling on her and she says gently to the bush:
“Rose bush, don’t drop your green blooms on me, for I cannot pick them while they’re still green. I have enough worries on my own. A young, handsome man desires me while I’m being given to an ugly old one. If I knew that the ugly old man was coming I would go to my garden, I would pick a bunch of bitter wormwood and rub it on my face. So when the old man arrives and kisses me my cheek would be as bitter as the wormwood, But if I knew it was the young man I would pick a bunch of rose blooms and rub it on my face. So when the young, handsome man arrives my cheeks would be as sweet as roses”.


I’m also attaching a score of the song along with lyrics in written in latin alphabet so that everybody can read them.

Gyul Devoykya – A maiden lovely as a rose

Gyul devoykya by vasilevzhivko
  1. Gyul devoykya lele
    pod byal gyul zaspala
    Gyul se roni lele
    Po devoykya pada
    Devoykya mu lele
    tihom progovarya
    gyul le brale lele
    zelen se ne rodi

  2. Gyul le brale lele
    po mene ne padai
    na mene sa gyule
    dor dva, dor tri yada
    Star me saka gyule
    mlad me preotima
    mlad me saka gyule
    star me preotima

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