No visit to Zadar Region is complete without listening to at least one klapa song. This traditional form of all-male, a capella singing can be heard from lovely promenades of Zadar to charming alleyways of Dubrovnik, and never fail to leave a lasting impression to foreign visitors of Zadar region.
The word klapa literally describes a group of good friends; hence klapa bands usually include five or more singers. They are generally males dressed in traditional clothing of Dalmatia, although in contemporary times, females are also encouraged to participate in this distinctive part of Croatian culture.
By default, performances don’t have a leader in strict terms, and singers stand in a crescent-like position before first tenor unleashes his voice. He is followed and empowered by tenori, baritoni and basi singers, aiming to form an optimal vocal performance.
Age of singers may vary, and it is not uncommon to mix elderly performers with those from younger generations. There is no official school for this type of singing, so craft is transferred orally. Lyrics usually deal with love, passion and natural gorgeousness of Dalmatia, but topics such as difficult life situations and time passing issues are also covered.
Croatia protects klapa culture through numerous events and festivals, but that doesn’t mean other nations don’t recognize its unique beauty. In 2012, UNESCO added klapa singing to its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, underlining its importance on global scale.
So next time you enjoy your holiday in Zadar Region and see a band performing in Dalmatian clothes, lean back and enjoy. Not just vital for Croatia, but world culture as a whole, klapa will surely break the language barrier, and touch your emotional nerve in a very special way.