Roma Music - Sources to learn more about the term, the people and the mus

As WOMEX 15 will be kicked off by a Roma music opening Gypsy HeartBeats today (courtesy of our local partner Hangvetö), we would like to share some insights and sources of information on Roma and Gypsy music we have gained of the last weeks and months. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, but rather food for thought, a short overview. May it be an encouragement for you (and us) to learn more about this wonderful music by these wonderful people.

One of the best overviews we have read is written by our good friend and long time WOMEXican Michal Shapiro:

The Words
The word Gypsy actually stems from "Egypt" because that is where Europeans wrongly assumed these nomads with darker skin would come from.
The Spanish Gitano has the same background.

Even amongst the Romani Union, the UN or the EU, the use of the word Roma is not coherent. Romani sometimes is used only as the adjective form of Roma, sometimes it as a noun as well, it also is the name used for the Roma language.

The History
The Roma - musicology hints at it, only linguistics actually prove it - have their Roots in Northern India and Pakistan. Over a very long course, Roma have migrated through Central Asia to Europe, taking different routes. Therefore the Gitanos and Manouche in Spain and France do not necessarily share the same history (if you look at the last centuries) as the Roma in Central Eastern Europe or the Sinti in German speaking countries.

The Music Style(s)
This is much debated and a very complex topic. In a nutshell, there is a more traditional form of Roma music, allegedly what Romani people used to play amongst themselves, which is using, dancing, spoons, body percussion or washboards. And then there are the many many variations and blends of these styles with local folk music, which the Roma musicians adopted and enriched.

It is interesting to know that a straight and danceable rhythm apparently was one of the highly accepted and welcomed qualities of Roma music when it established itself in Europe. Thus the notion of Roma music as (wedding, village, birthday) party music is not only a clichée, though you may argue it often is reproduced in a very clichee form.

The People
See the links!

The Artists
See the links (Michal Shapiros piece), our opening artists and just browse virtualWOMEX

article posted by:Paul Bräuer, Piranha Arts