In Western political discourse, Yugoslavia was frequently referred to as a “buffer zone,” its independence from the Soviet bloc being the single most salient factor making it politically atypical. Another enduring metaphor, that of a crossroads between East and West, was often invoked to describe Yugoslavia’s heterogeneous culture, owing as much to its geographic position in central/southeast Europe as to its multinational makeup. Yet, if not solely for its socialist brand of communism, the Balkan-Slavic identity of Yugoslavia’s traditional culture shaped the perception of the country as a part of the east European cultural bloc.
Like other cultures on the map of Slavic traditions, Yugoslavia presented the casual observer with a colorful variety of village music, ethnic customs and a proliferating national folklore engendered in festival re-enactments of rural life. Rapid social changes following World War II profoundly affected the country’s largely rural-based culture. Despite enormous evidence of vanishing historic practices, the music rooted in the socioeconomic milieu of peasant society remained the main focus of ethnomusico-logical research interest. Yugoslavia’s contemporary culture, originating in such modem institutions as mass media and the market place, did not receive comparable attention.