Musik der Vlach-Roma



Musik der Vlach-Roma
Data » Musik » Genres » Musik der Vlach-Roma
Musik der Vlach-Roma
Christiane Fennesz-Juhasz
In Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the term refers to those Roma groups who, nomadic
until well into the 20th century, have lived in the Hungarian language area for a long time and speak
so-called variants of . Their self-denomination often being only (here, they chiefly comprise
the ("horse dealers"), ("sieve makers"), ("rag-and-bone men"), ("cloth dealers") and ("fishermen").
They are also called (cigány) or (Romani) in Hungary, and in Slovakia. The linguistic classification
is more comprehensive than the notion mentioned above, encompassing all European Roma groups
whose dialects were influenced by Romanian, also including e.g. the , , and in the Balkans. [→ History
of the Vlach Roma ]
Today the and other "Hungarian" live in many European countries – e.g. Austria, Germany, France,
Sweden, Russia, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, Romania (Banat, Transylvania) – as well as on the American
continent; in some cases they have already lived there for more than a hundred years. Thanks to their
common history and the long time spent in the Romanian and Hungarian language areas (Transylvania),
they were able to retain, until this day, not only their specific variants across national borders, but also
an autonomous and largely homogeneous folk music.
Their specific music culture is primarily a vocal tradition, since – at least until a few decades ago –
no proper musical instruments were used. This might also be due to the former way of life of the ,
who moved around with their horses and wagons in the warm seasons in order to sell their goods and
services to the settled population. However, making music was not a source of income for them.
Their traditional songs are divided into two main genres, the dance song (Rom. → khelimaski gjili
[, ]) and the slow, lyric song (Rom. → loki gjili [, ]). These songs consist of verses, with their melodies
based on major or minor scales. The fast dance songs are mostly in tight duple time (2/4), while the
slow songs are performed in free parlando rubato. The song lyrics are usually in throughout, but
occasionally some lines or entire verses may be sung in Hungarian; code switching between Romani
and other languages is however not common. A characteristic feature of both genres is the
improvisational element inherent in their melodies and contents; moreover, singing is strongly related
to the community, which is reflected in the structure of the lyrics and music.
Dance songs are accompanied by traditional techniques imitating various instrumental sounds or
functions: rhythmic finger snapping, hand clapping, feet stamping, drumming on table or chair tops,
beating on household appliances (e.g. milk churn; spoons), and the → oral bass. Since about the 1960s
also proper musical instruments, mainly the guitar, have been used to accompany dance songs as well
as slow songs.
Similar to the are (probably older) "psalmodic" songs, also sung in parlando rubato; their form develops
from a simple, varied phrase (with tone repetitions and descending tonal steps; - → Music of the Roma
in Bohemia and Moravia). Though documented in sound recordings made in the Czech Republic and
Hungary as late as the 1950s (Kovalcsik / Sztanó CC 1993; Jurková CD 2001), tunes of the "psalm
type" (as well as slow songs with two- or three-line verses) are rarely sung today.
Only comparatively few ballads have been preserved among the Vlach Roma. In form they belong to
the loke gjila, but contrary to the lyric songs their sequence of verses is largely fixed, even though the
content-related details can also vary. The so-called "Song of the snake" () is still known to most of
the Rom today: a girl kills her own brother by cooking him a poisonous snake for the love of a
Data » Musik » Genres » Musik der Vlach-Roma
womaniser, and then, abandoned by the latter, perishes. Allegedly based on a true incident, it is
considered a ("true story"; cp. Hungar. "történet") in the narrative tradition of the . [Audio-Illustration
1: Kutka tele paša paj] A more recent ballad, originating in Slovakia around 1960 and featuring the
murder of the Báno, likewise tells a true story. These examples as well as shorter narrative songs
largely represent dialogues (partly alternating with interior monologue).
Traditional singing, mainly in the context of slow songs, involves introducing the song with a spoken
formula addressed to those present. By using words such as ... ("I ask for permission, friends ...") or
... ("Excuse me, friends and Roma ..."), the singer, male or female, asks for permission to sing, usually
only after the audience has asked for it. A special dedication or general well-wishing, like ... ("you
shall be healthy and happy ..."), is answered by those present with another traditional formula: ("You
shall be happy, my brother"), or only ("also you, my sister"). A song is also concluded by a wishing
formula, e.g. ! ("everything in your honour!"), or ! ("You shall all be happy, Roma!"). [Audio-Illustration
2: Chasajlas e Iboj]
Songs are performed at celebrations such as baptisms, weddings (while the band has a break), name
days and birthdays, farewell parties for recruits, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in some groups also
during the death watch and the (commemoration of the deceased), and of course on family occasions
or during spontaneous parties (, cp. Hung. "mulatság") with relatives and friends. In some communities,
men and women do not celebrate and sing together on certain occasions. Amongst the in Northern
Hungary, for example, the women are not allowed to participate in the of the men; in most communities,
however, all sing together, even though the women have to sit at separate tables, as in the case of the
Austrian . Sometimes also a can take over the leading part, provided that her husband, her father or
brother asks her.
Singing is the expression of , i.e. "giving pleasure" (literally translated) or "celebrating" (in the figurative
sense). This phrase, also often found in many songs, describes the extraordinary emotional state of
happiness, good luck, grief and consolation that is reached while singing and celebrating.
Apart from the , which are of course sung to accompany dances, the melodies of the are generally not
related to certain functions, occasions or customs. There are only very few occasion-specific genres
attested in early recordings, such as lamentations of the dead, which belong to the songs of the "psalm
type" (Kovalcsik / Sztanó CC 1993), or lullabies corresponding to the (Jurková CD 2001). Similarly,
as with most of the other Roma groups, only few examples of children’s songs have been collected
(Cech et al. 2001; Fennesz-Juhasz / Heinschink CD 2002). This is probably connected with the specific
(musical) socialisation in traditional Roma communities, where there is no strict separation between
the spheres of adults and children. The children are integrated into social events right from the start;
only just able to walk, they are encouraged to dance at celebrations and at an early age get to know
the traditional songs by joining in the singing.
The late 1970s saw the emergence of a folklore music performed by professional ensembles and based
on the traditional music of the . This style became popular with the Roma in Hungary and the
neighbouring countries as well as with an international audience. The initiators were the Budapest
group "Kalyi Jag" (Rom. "Black Fire"; founded in 1978; The
musicians around Gusztáv Varga, members of from north-east Hungary, enrich their interpretations
of traditional songs by additional instruments like the guitar and the mandolin, and also by polyphonic
singing; moreover, they perform songs of other Roma groups in their characteristic style. The example
set by the members of this popular ensemble, who have given concerts all over Europe, was followed
Data » Musik » Genres » Musik der Vlach-Roma
by numerous other groups. One of the most famous groups in this context is "Ando Drom" ("On the
road"; founded in Budapest in 1984), who, besides the Vlach tradition, also include elements of various
other Roma music styles (from Hungary, the Balkans or Spain). [→ The music of the Roma in Hungary]
Up until the end of the 1980s, the traditional songs were sung in Austria only in the family context or
during large celebrations within the community. It was particularly → Ruža Nikolić-Lakatos with her
family ensemble (The Gypsy Family) and → Ceija Stojka who, through their concerts and recordings,
made them known to a wider audience. They also sing self-composed songs in ( – "new songs"), which
incorporate some traditional, though mostly popular elements and music styles such as Schlager,
popsongs, jazz and Latin American melodies and rhythms. The neve gjila, but also traditional songs,
are accompanied by acoustic guitars; various other modern instruments may also be used (e-bass,
percussion, drum computer). In recent years the well-known (jazz) rock guitarist Harri Stojka – after
producing two CDs of his father Mongo way back in the mid-1990s – has won wide acclaim for his
own compositions sung in Romani. Together with his band Gitancœur (vocals, violin, keyboards, solo
and rhythm e-guitar, e-bass, drums, percussion) he integrates different elements of pop, jazz, rock and
hip-hop, sometimes also borrowing elements which are more readily associated with the Roma (e.g.
flamenco; Indian sitar sounds).
In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, traditional songs of the Vlašika are even today only exceptionally
presented to the public, at cultural presentations and festivals; in this context the Makula family from
Kendice and Petrovany as well as the young Lovarkinja Lenka Kotlarová from Brno may be mentioned.
Balázs, Gusztáv (1995) A nagyecsedi oláh cigányok tánchagyománya – The Dance Tradition
of Vlach Gypsies in Nagyecsed (= Cigány Néprajzi Társaság – Studies in Roma [gypsy]
ethnography 3). Budapest.
Cech, Petra / Fennesz-Juhasz, Christiane / Halwachs, Dieter W. / Heinschink, Mozes F. (eds.)
(2001) Fern von uns im Traum ... / Te na dikhas sunende ... Märchen, Erzählungen und Lieder
der Lovara, Klagenfurt.
Hajdu, András (1958) Les Tsiganes de Hongrie et leur musique. Études Tsiganes 4 (1), pp.
Hemetek, Ursula et al. (ed.) (1992) Romane ģila. Lieder und Tänze der Roma in Österreich
Beiheft zur gleichnamigen Kassette (= IDI-Ton 23), Wien.
Hemetek, Ursula (ed.) (1994) Amare ģila – Unsere Lieder. Ruža Nikolić-Lakatos. Beiheft zur
gleichnamigen CD (= Tondokumente zur Volksmusik in Österreich, Vol. 4, Romamusik 1),
RST-91571-2, Wien.
Hemetek, Ursula (1996) Zur Improvisation der Romane ģila (Lieder der Roma).
Voraussetzungen - Beispiele - Vergleiche, in: Haid, Gerlinde / Sulz, Josef (eds.) Improvisation
in der Volksmusik der Alpenländer. Voraussetzungen - Beispiele - Vergleiche, Innsbruck, pp.
Kertész Wilkinson, Irén (1997) The Fair is ahead of me. Individual Creativity and Social
Contexts in the Performances of a Southern Hungarian Vlach Gypsy Slow Song (= Gypsy
Folk Music of Europe 4), Budapest.
Kovalcsik, Katalin (1985) Vlach Gypsy Folk Songs in Slovakia (= Gypsy Folk Music of Europe
1). Budapest.
Sárosi, Bálint (1977) Zigeunermusik. Zürich / Freiburg i. Br.
Data » Musik » Genres » Musik der Vlach-Roma
Sound Recordings
Ando Drom (1995) Kaj phirel o Del. Ando Drom Foundation AD 01 BP 95.
Ando Drom (1997) Phari mamo. Frankfurt (Network Medien CD 26.981).
Bari, Karoly (ed.) (1996) Anthology of Gypsy Folk Songs I-IV. Hungary and Romania (4 CDs
mit Beiheft), Budapest (EMI Quintana QUI 903095).
Bari, Karoly (ed.) (1999) Gypsy Folklore I-X: Hungary and Romania. Collected by Károly
Bari (10 CDs mit Beiheft [Englisch, Romani]), Budapest (Private Publishing).
Davidová, Eva / Šenkyřík, Tomáš (eds.) (2003) Giľa – Ďíla – Giľora. Písňe olašských a
usedlých Romů. Songs of oláh and settled Roma. CD with Booklet (Czech, English, Romani),
Brno (Muzeum romské kultury).
Fennesz-Juhasz, Christiane / Mozes F. Heinschink (eds.) (2002) Kodo phende e Romora … /
Dies erzählten die Rom …. Lovarenge paramiči taj gjila. Märchen und Lieder der Lovara
(Romani Projekt CD 2), Graz.
Hemetek, Ursula (ed.) (1992) Romane ģila. Lieder und Tänze der Roma in Österreich (Kassette
mit Beiheft). Wien (IDI-Ton 23).
Jurková, Zuzana (ed.) (2001) Vlachicka Djila. Nejstarši terénní nahrávky hudebního folkloru
olašských Romů z České a Slovenské republiky – Die ältesten Feldaufnahmen der Musik der
Vlach-Roma aus der Tschechischen Republik und der Slowakischen Republik (CD mit Beiheft
[Tschechisch, Deutsch, Romani]). Praha (Academia).
Kalyi Jag (1987) Gypsy Folks Songs from Hungary. Budapest (Hungaroton LP 18132).
Kalyi Jag (1989) Lungoj o drom angla mande. Budapest (Hungaroton LP 18179).
Kalyi Jag (1995) O Suno – The Dream. Gypsy Folk Songs from Hungary. Budapest (Hungaroton
HCD 18211).
Kalyi Jag (1998) Romano Kamipo – Cigány szerelem – Gipsy Love. Budapest (Hungaroton
HCD 18245).
Kovalcsik, Katalin / Sztanó, Pál (eds.) (1993) Püspökladányi cigány népdalok – Hungarian
Gypsy Folks Songs. Collected by Imre Csenki, Rudolf Víg and Pál Sztanó (Kassette mit Beiheft).
Budapest (Hungaroton Classic Kft. MK 18172).
Ruža Nikolić-Lakatos (1994) Amare ģila – Unsere Lieder. Hg. v. Ursula Hemetek (=
Tondokumente zur Volksmusik in Österreich, Vol. 4, Romamusik 1). CD mit Beiheft. Wien
Ruža Nikolić-Lakatos and The Gypsy Family (2000) Ruzsa shej. Wien (Eigenverlag, CSM
Ruža Nikolić-Lakatos and The Gypsy Family Gelem gelem. Wien (Eigenverlag, CSM
Ceija Stojka (2000) Me Dikhlem Suno (CD mit Beiheft). Non food factory nff 2303 (Vertrieb
Harri Stojka and Gitancœr (2000) Gitancœur (CD mit Beiheft). Wien (Geco Tonwaren H 115
[Vertrieb Hoanzl]), 2000.
Harri Stojka and Gitancœr (2002) Live @ Radio Kulturhaus (CD mit Beiblatt). Wien (Geco
Tonwaren H 186 [Vertrieb Hoanzl]), 2000.
Mongo Stojka and Rom 2001 (1995) Amari Luma (CD mit Beiheft). Sing Sang Records SSR
Data » Musik » Genres » Musik der Vlach-Roma
Mongo Stojka (1997) Nevi Luma (CD mit Beiheft). Groove Records 97060-2.
Christiane Fennesz-Juhasz
May 2002 / Vienna, Austria