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Soulfia - an open project for ethnomusic, travel and spiritual development

Striving for harmony with nature through folklore unites a group of non-professional musicians in search of spiritual development

Photo: Soulfia

Soulfia is not an ordinary music group, but an open project of travelling musicians that anyone can join at any time. It was created 8 years ago by a handful of enthusiasts, but over time it has grown, attracting hundreds of like-minded people.

Soulfia's music is a mixture of Bulgarian folklore blended with vibes from the Balkans and the Middle East. It is played by ear, not using scores, and improvisation is done on various folk motifs - not only from Bulgaria, but also from North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Iran... "We travel the world with our musical instruments , and that means that we play somewhere almost every day. And wherever we go, we draw inspiration from the local culture, people and life, trying to enrich ourselves from their folklore," says Tsvetelin Petrov, one of the participants in Soulfia. ‎

Tsvetelin Petrov

The pursuit of freedom and spiritual development takes musicians all the way to India and Nepal. Their improvisations are joined by performers from the local communities, resulting in a curious fusion of ethnic rhythms and vibrations. The live recordings are then uploaded to the YouTube channel as well as the Soulfia Facebook page. ‎

"Hundreds of musicians from many countries have participated so far, while we travel or when they visit Bulgaria”, Tsvetelin told Radio Bulgaria. „We have appeared on stage in different line-ups. The maximum we have gathered on stage is 16 people. This turned into a movement and now in many places in Bulgaria you will see groups of people freely playing and performing Bulgarian folklore. The songs are learned like in the old days on the square - everyone can get involved. You don't need to be a professional musician or have gone to lessons or rehearsals, things are learned on the spot, a little bit by ear. From time to time we post events on our Facebook page, we are often invited to various festivals. But the rest of the time we travel with our instruments and play wherever we find ourselves."‎

Soulfia is not just a music project. The enthusiasts from the group are building eco-friendly houses in mountainous and forested areas. For this purpose, they use natural materials - stone, wood, clay... Because, according to Tsvetelin, when people build an object together, it benefits the whole community and "this way they feel empathy and they feel... at home". ‎

In addition to playing and building, Soulfia participants also draw embroidery. Theirs is the composition of Bulgarian embroidery, depicted on the walls of several Sofia buildings. And not only there.‎

"This has always existed in the Bulgarian way of life - the painting of the houses. They bring not only beauty, but also energy support to the space itself. You know that there have always been ornaments on the costumes and clothes of Bulgarians, even on the dishes they used. It was believed that these ornaments supported the spiritual development of the people who used them. That's why we decided to depict embroidery on the facades. The last thing we did was a campaign on the Septemvri-Dobrinishte narrow gauge railway line. At some of the stations along the route - Tsvetino, Avramovo, Yakoruda and Bansko, we built special installations of embroidery patterns," Tsvetelin Petrov tells us.

And he adds that Soulfia's message is to encourage young people to express themselves through music or through painting, to get out of the cities, to travel and look for the path to sustainable spiritual development and freedom."‎

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: Soulfia

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