Romanian folk music is known to be very dynamic, particularly party music, but also there exists a sad type of traditional song that’s called a point: an emotional, sad song which is purely in free form and often includes ornamental accompaniment. These songs are mostly popular in Romania and are more common in Transylvania; although they’re much less common in Moldavia and the surrounding region of the former Yugoslavia. The most famous Romanian singer and composer of this type of music are Danu Crozgov. However, these songs also enjoy popularity among other Romanian musical genres such as that of Razbor Oruculescence, Buceghe Giuseppe Romanian Rhapsody or that of Stanis Lazarovski. If you’re interested in these types of songs, listen to some examples on the Internet.
Songs from the Bucegi region of Romania are perhaps the most famous example of Romanian folk music. They were probably inspired by the Old Romanian epic poems from the period of the fifth and sixth centuries AD. The poems describe the kingdom of Buceghe, located in present day Romania, as it was before the Trojan War and the unification of the city with Rome. In the poems of the poet Mihailovich describes the daily life of the citizens of Buceghe, things that are clearly familiar to us today in Romanian folk music.
Another very famous type of Romanian folk music that we hear nowadays is the song of Razgraved. This one has been recorded and adapted into several forms and is probably the oldest form of folk music in the country. It was made popular by the Romanian folk singer Razgraved Ionescu in the 1970s. The story behind this particular recording is related to an incident in which the singer had a dispute with the head of state of Romania. Ionescu decided to quit the stage after a quarrel with him, so that he could continue with his performances. Some of his audience members then began to assault him physically, so Ionescu finally left the stage, quitting his show prematurely.
The same legend is related with another recording of Romanian folk music by Razgirdji Jankuline. The singer was banned from performing in the US, due to his participation in the American-based antifolk scene. The ban on him apparently came as a result of an attack by members of a breakaway group from the Romanian Workers’ Party (PVM), who happened to be touring in the country at the time. This recording of Razgraved’s song, Banat Catalog Record, has never received the attention it deserves, even though it contains nothing whatsoever about PVM, or communist rule in Romania.
Another interesting side note regarding the origins of this song is related to the origin of Romanian folk music. On the program notes for this recording, there are references to “zaucci” and “draca”. This refers to the kind of shoes that were usually worn by musicians back then, called “zaucci”. The lyrics also mention “pajama”, which seems to indicate that the singer himself may have used some kind of footwear, or was part of an ensemble.
As was mentioned earlier, Romanian folk music is greatly influenced by European music of the time. This is clearly shown in the numerous examples of Western music within the composition, such as: idiomatic expressions from English to Italian, idiomatic sayings from French to Romanian, and many others. The most obvious influence from European music has been through the use of Western instruments and harmonies within the music. This is made evident in the use of: lute, guitar, mandolin, sitar, piano, harmonica, and so on. However, it should be noted that Romanian composers also developed their own unique sound by combining Western elements with traditional elements and thereby bringing a unique artistic approach to the genre.