Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

The lăutari who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma, although their music draws from a vast variety of ethnic traditions — for example Romanian, Turkish, Jewish, and Slavic — as well as Romani traditions. 

Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performer in the lăutari tradition is Taraful Haiducilor. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Romani themselves, draw heavily on Roman music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania.

Flamenco music and dance came from the Romani in Spain; the distinctive sound of Romani music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, klezmer and Cante Jondo in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz is still widely practised among the original creators (the Romani People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was Django Reinhardt.


Classical music: Romani music is very important in Eastern European cultures such as Hungary, Russia, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.  Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Romani.

Taraf de Haïdouks (Romanian: Taraful Haiducilor, "Taraf of Haiduks") are a taraf, i.e., a troupe of Romani-Romanian lăutari from the town of Clejani, the most prominent such group in Romania in the post-Communist Era. In the Western world it has become known by way of French-speaking areas, where they are known as "Taraf de Haïdouks".

The lăutari of Clejani were long known for their musical skills. The first recordings by ethnomusicologists in the village were made in the interwar period. Speranţa Radulescu also made recordings in Clejani in 1983 for the archive of "The Institute for Ethnography and Folklore". The recordings were made in various configurations. During the Communist era, many lăutari from Clejani were also employed in the national ensembles that played Romanian popular music.

Early contacts in the West included Swiss ethnomusicologist Laurent Aubert and Belgian musicians Stéphane Karo and Michel Winter, two fans who were so taken by the band's music that they turned into managers, brought the newly named "Taraf de Haïdouks" to Western Europe and helped launch their international career.
Since the release of its first album back in 1991, Taraf de Haïdouks has been considered the epitome of Romany music's vitality. The group has toured worldwide, released acclaimed albums and a DVD (see below), and counts among its fans the late Yehudi Menuhin, the Kronos Quartet (with whom it has recorded and performed), actor Johnny Depp (alongside whom the group appeared in the film The Man Who Cried), fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (who invited the band to be models-cum-musicians for his Paris and Tokyo shows), and many more. Meanwhile, the band members seem to have been relatively unaffected by all this, maintaining their way of life (they still reside in Clejani, in the Valachian countryside).


The band's latest release is the Maskarada album, in which they reinterpret and "re-gypsify" pieces by 20th-century classical composers (such as Bartók, Khachaturian and others) who drew inspiration from national folklore and often borrowed from Roma styles.

Irish Dance Traditions

Dancing in the Middle Ages (England) Irish dance dates back to its origins in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries and became closely ...