Local boys before a performance of Tovareća mužika (‘donkey music’) on the waterfront in Sali, on the island of Dugi otok, June 2013
Tovareća mužika is a distinct style of music, performed on cattle horns to a loud drumbeat (and with old pots filled with stones), which is unique to the town of Sali and its surroundings.
Long cattle horns such as these have been used by local fishermen for centuries to signal one another, but the origins of Tovareća mužika itself are more recent – performances are said to have begun in the 1960s following a practical joke at the expense of an elderly couple who hoped to get married in secret. The wedding was gatecrashed by pranksters blowing cattle horns and beating metal pots and pans, and although the impromptu ‘musicians’ were hurriedly paid off with drinks – to get rid of them – the formula seemed far too good not to repeat on other occasions. The reference to donkeys (magarac in Croatian, but tovar in local Dalmatian dialect) reflects the humorous nature of performances and their origins.
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