It is said the Dacians – the very first of Homo Romanius- used guitars in their telling of tales whilst Priests sang melodies accompanied by guitar.
Folk music is undoubtedly the oldest and purest form of music, integrated into the very heart of the Romanian society. Panpipes and the cobza form the very base of the tunes that overtime, with various external influences, have developed to include violins, bagpipes in the 20th century, electric keyboards and more recently electric guitar.
Folk music conservation is a priority in this multicultural music environment. In the Dobrogea, Tartar, Turks, Bulgarian and Ukrainian, elements especially influence music, whereas Wallachia is home to taraf bands, an expression of Romanian and Balkan folk culture. The Doina: a spontaneous, improvised lyrical chant, accompanied by flutes and panpipes is now classified as a ‘UNESCO list of intangible Cultural Heritage.’ The Doina or ‘the shepherds lament or longing’ is poetic, and in some cases compared to the blues – and has perhaps been made more famous internationally by Klezmer musicians. Several variations of it can be found along the Dunare, emphasizing the intrinsic nature of music both within the region and further afield.
That’s not to say that the music hasn’t evolved over the centuries. During Ceauşescu’s dark communist regime ethno-rock was founded, as a means of circumventing strictures that saw Western rock’n roll as ostensibly too harsh, decadent and foreign from Romanian tradition. The pioneers of “folk rock and roll” were initially named ‘The Saints’, and changed their name to Phoenix, in the early 1960s. But they also were Romania’s claim to rock ‘n’ roll fame on an international level. They revolutionised the music platform. Some of their more famous track include: ‘In Umbra’, ‘Andrii Popa’ and ‘Dunăre, Dunăre’., and till this day they are arguably ‘the best Romanian rock band.’ The most famous exploits of this band include emigrating to Western Germany hidden in the back of a truck in speaker cabinets.
Today, music in Romania is diverse with thriving scenes in hip-hop, ‘popcorn’, gypsy electronics and heavy metals. Over the past 3 years, the industry has made huge strides with artists like, Inna, Morandi, Akcent, Edward Maya, Deepcentral, Play&Win, Morris, Deepside Deejays, becoming household names.
Romanian Music at its best:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqeVrAcf6o8 (Roma Party time)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0-iUrRN8R8 (Phoenix: full album)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l5oBPT2WBw (Doina din Maramureș)
Explore Romanian Music in London:
FEAST Fest 2.0 – Romanian Music Festival – London 2015