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  • Emily

Kad su se dva Bracanina (329)

If you’re like me, right about this time of year you start wishing you were by the sea. And what’s better than a good Dalmatian song to put you in the sea mood, when you’re stuck in a cold, rainy, polluted city? Did I mention it’s a catchy one?

This song has so many versions – it’s definitely one of the most interpreted songs I’ve written about thus far. Here are the lyrics from Velika Narodna Lira (if you’re just joining me, take a look at my first post to learn more about this project).


Kad su se dva Bracanina

Intrala na fijumeri –

(2 puta)

A ća, a ća, ća kažu momka dva? (2 puta)

Ma, nima ništa tvoga,

Ma, to je bacva moja,

Ma, ferale mi, hoj,

Ma, sokoliću moj!


Tad rivom projde šjora Mande,

I u momke gleda –

(2 puta)

A ća, a ća, ća kažu momka dva? (2 puta)

Ma, nima ništa tvoga,

Ma, to je bacva moja,

Ma, ferale mi, hoj,

Ma, sokoliću moj!


Tad rivom projde cura fina,

Nosi bokal vina –

(2 puta)

A ća, a ća, ća kažu momka dva? (2 puta)

Ma, hajde curo fina,

Daj nam bokal vina,

Nek cila riva zna

Za Bracanina dva...

 

When two guys from Brač

meet on the seashore –

(2x)

And what? And what? What do the two guys say? (2x)

Well, there's nothing of yours here,

Well, this is my barrel,

Well, cross my heart,

My dear little falcon!


Then Mrs. Mande passes along the seashore,

And she looks at the two guys –

(2x)

And what? And what? What do the two guys say? (2x)

Well, there's nothing of yours here,

Well, this is my barrel,

Well, cross my heart,

My dear little falcon!


When a fine girl passes along the seashore,

carrying jug of wine –

(2x)

And what? And what? What do the two guys say? (2x)

Hey, you fine girl,

bring over that jug of wine,

Let the whole seashore know

About the two guys from Brač...

 

This was an interesting exercise in translation. In part, this is due to the fact that many of these words are very Dalmatian (Italian-influenced) and that’s not a dialect I have a lot of personal experience with. I searched the internet to see how others had translated them and got help from Marko Pinterić’s interesting website about music from Croatia, which has a translation of this song into English, as well as some information about it (“Dalmatian urban song with elements of composed music. This parody is aiming at legendary/proverbial stinginess of the inhabitants of island Brač.”), and even a recipe for “rozata” – a pudding made on Brač.


But I felt Pinterić's translation needed some updating. I made it grammatically correct, but I also changed some of the more emotive words or phrases. And I had to make sure it fit the lyrics from my book, rather than the lyrics he had on his site. Also, he originally translated “dva Bracanina” as “lads of Brač,” but as an American of the 21st century I felt I could not post a translation using “lads of”; personally, I would say “guys from Brac” – “dudes from Brac” also crossed my mind but this felt a bit too early 2000s so I stuck with the more time-tested word “guys.”


As you’ll be able to see in the recordings below, there are differences in the lyrics between versions, but they mostly preserve the same essence.


There's a reason this song has been interpreted so many times – it's extremely catchy. I've actually been singing it on and off for the past year and a half, since I first found it in the book. I played it at a Thanksgiving party a few weeks ago. The lyrics are also very cheeky, as shown above.


Precisely for these reasons, it found fame across Yugoslavia by being included the humorous television program Top Lista Nadrealista as a part of the 1984 (? I cannot confirm this year) sketch “Osmjeh Jadrana” (“The smile of the Adriatic”).

For a song that has been interpreted and recorded time and time again, most recently in 2022, there seems to be little available about its origins, other than that it’s from Dalmatia and was certainly written about people from Brač, an island off of Split in today’s Croatia. Many of the versions are similar, but a lot of versions that take the song and transform it to fit the borders of other genres. For lack of a better way of categorizing them, I’m going to try to do it by genre – I’m not in favor of genre-reductivism, but there are clear sonic similarities between versions that fall mostly along genre lines.


‘Folk’ and similar

I’m going to call this category this way because these versions are based upon traditional instruments (tamburica, accordion) and major vocal harmonies (thirds, fifths, etc.). One such song is the first one I included in the post, from Ansambl Dalmacija.

Perhaps one of the oldest versions of the song available, although I could not find a date for it, is this one by Grupa Dalmatinaca (different from another version attributed to them (1955)). The YouTube description reads: “Released for the Željezara Jesenice steel factory. Both tracks [contain] short warnings and advices for workers in Slovenian.” Another version, with the artist listed as Emil Davor, was recorded in 1958, according to YouTube.


We also have more recent versions that are quite similar from Klapa Žrnovnica (2014), and Ansambl Linđo from Dubrovnik (released on Croatia Records in 2017, but presumably recorded much earlier; composer and author listed as ‘traditional’ and arranger listed as Antun Simatović). Many other similar versions exist.


I also want to highlight this music video from Klapa Pastura on the BalkanMusicCenter YouTube account, which includes this vivid description: “Beautiful Croatian Island Bratch hides a very temperament and happy music that stays in the ears forever. Group Klapa Pastura represents own island with wide known party song that nobody is able to forget after trying out the red wine of their cellars...”

Finally, a 2020 version with lyrics about COVID-19: “When the two guys from Brač met Corona… What do the two guys say?... Let the whole country know that I’ll win!”


I also found one version that I would call “modern folk”, sung by a woman – the first one we've seen so far – Marina Tomašević. She sang it in 2017 as part of a medley on the show Moč glasbe nas združuje, which appears to be a music television program in Slovenia. Tomašević is a long-time singer whose career has mostly been in Croatia.


Klapa

I found two versions that are in klapa style (a cappella). I love this one sung by Klapa Sebenico (arranged by Lj. Stipišić Delmata), performed at the Festival of Dalmatian Klapa in 2018. I feel like the arrangement, full of diction, dynamics and tempo shifts, really pulls out the playfulness of the song. And watching the performers’ faces is really fun.

I also found a version sung by a girls’ klapa group, Klapa Bepo, to add to the (quite poor) gender balance.


Choral

Of course, there are also a few choral versions of this song. The first one is attributed to the choir Kršmanović, which was likely from Belgrade, and according to the uploader was performed in Rijeka in the 1960s. There’s an interesting dialogue about the words in the comments here, in which someone ostensibly from Brač notes that “ća” should really be “ca” (the difference, for those of you not familiar with the pronunciation of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, is “cha” versus “tsa”). I do hear “ca” in most of the versions, but VNL’s lyrics, as well as some other versions, also use ‘ća’. The same arrangement was also sung in 2018 by the choir Abrašević from Valjevo.


A women’s choir from Slovenia also sang the song around 2013, and interestingly, similar comments about the pronunciation were made on this video as well.


Rock and punk versions

Believe it or not, this song appears to be inspirational for those with rock or punk leanings. Maybe it’s because of the cheekiness of the song, or maybe it became popular in the rock world after one of the covers. I don’t really know. All I can do is show you what’s out there, in this case, and say that I’d love to know more.


First, we've got this cool version from Branimir Štulić which sounds like horror country rock to me. Štulić is best known as the frontman of the Yugoslav rock band Azra. I am not sure when this was recoreded, although it sounds like a live recording, and it's got a great tambourine.


In 1999, a version by Zbunjeni (from Makarska) was released. The music video juxtaposes rock music with images of village life. Of all the rock versions, this one is the least saccharine. It’s mostly rock, with an accordion (and maybe a kazoo?) to spice it up at times.

Another seemingly well-known rock cover is by Neno Belan, Žan Jakopač and Fiumens – entitled “Fiumera (Dva Bracanina),” this one has a thumping beat and a thing I think is a tambourine but which sounds like jingle bells. Of course, it’s got electric guitars and a drum kit, and rock vocals, but it maintains the harmony of the folk versions, and within that harmony also the vocal styles. We also get some brass instruments towards the end. There is, most unfortunately, a DJ remix of this song that makes it sound even more like a Disney Channel Christmas song.


Most recently, we have a 2022 “punk cover” by Fuzz Mihi. I laughed a lot watching this music video. They even offer a disclaimer: “Niti jedan Bracanin nije ozlijeđen, niti se napio za vrijeme snimanja videa / No Bracanin was injured or got drunk during the video footage.” This version is pretty straight rock – guitars, drums, etc. I also want to highlight that they actually use the word “cover” in their description of the song.

Also I learned that Deep Purple apparently knows the song.


Assorted versions

Then we have some that don’t quite fit into these other categories. Here’s a version supposedly from a 1971 concert by Đorđi Peruzović, which is really a shlager – a German word that refers to upbeat pop music from Europe with simple lyrics. It’s pretty recognizable from its beat and instrumentation.


Also from the ‘70s, we have this quirky instrumental version from the Đelo Jusić Orchestra. It’s mostly similar to the folk versions, but it also includes some classical instruments, as well as vocal “lalalalas” and hand claps. At the end it speeds up and the vocals turn into a party.


Then we've got what I'd like to call the ‘80s resort version, sung by Vinko Coce, in 1999. Honestly, that's my summer song.


Finally, I'd like to share Ansambl Dixilend's upbeat jazz instrumental version. Croatia Records released this version in 2016, but it was definitely recorded much earlier – I am just not sure when. A very fun take on the song.


You can find a collection of all the songs from Velika Narodna Lira that are available on Spotify on my playlist.


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