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Romania is a European country with a multicultural music environment which includes active ethnic music scenes. Romania also has thriving scenes in the fields of pop music, hip hop, heavy metal and rock and roll. During the first decade of the 21st century some Europop groups/artists, such as Tom Boxer, Morandi, Akcent, Edward Maya, Alexandra Stan, Inna and Yarabi, achieved success abroad. Traditional Romanian folk music remains popular, and some folk musicians have come to national (and even international) fame.
Folk music is the oldest form of Romanian musical creation, characterised by great vitality; it is the defining source of the cultured musical creation, both religious and lay. Conservation of Romanian folk music has been aided by a large and enduring audience, also by numerous performers who helped propagate and further develop the folk sound. One of them, Gheorghe Zamfir, is famous throughout the world today and helped popularize a traditional Romanian folk instrument, the panpipes.
The religious musical creation, born under the influence of Byzantine music adjusted to the intonations of the local folk music, saw a period of glory between the 15th and 17th centuries, when reputed schools of liturgical music developed within Romanian monasteries. Russian and Western influences brought about the introduction of polyphony in religious music in the 18th century, a genre developed by a series of Romanian composers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Traditional Romanian music reflects a confluence of sounds similar to Central European (especially Hungarian) as well as Balkan traditional music. In Romanian folk music, emphasis is on melody rather than percussion, with frequent use of the violin for melody and often only the cimbalom for percussion. The melody itself and especially the melodic embellishments are reminiscent of music from further south in the Balkans and of a distant Turkish influence.
In Banat, the violin is the most common folk instrument, now played alongside imported woodwind instruments; other instruments include the taragot (today often the saxophone plays the taragot role in bands). Efta Botoca is among the most renowned violinists from Banat.
Bucovina is a remote province and its traditions include some of the most ancient Romanian instruments, including the ţilincă and the cobza. Pipes (fluieraş or fluier mare) are also played, usually with accompaniment by a cobza (more recently, the accordion). Violins and brass instruments have been imported in modern times.
Crişana has an ancient tradition of using violins, often in duos. This format is also found in Transylvania but is an older tradition. Petrică Paşca has recently helped popularize the taragot in the region. Also, in Roşia village are well known two local instruments: Hidede, a type of violin with a trumpet, replacing the resonance box and a type of drum called Dobă.
Dobrujan music is characterized by Balkan and Turkish rhythm and melodicism. Dobrogea's population is ethnically mixed and the music here has a heavier Turkish, Bulgarian, Tartar and Ukrainian import than in the rest of the country. The most popular dance from Dobrogea is the geamparale, which is quite different from the other traditional dances of Romania.
The typical folk ensemble from Maramureş is zongora and violin, often with drums. Taragot, saxophone and accordion have more recently been introduced.
In Oaş, a violin adapted to be shriller is used, accompanied by the zongora. The singing in this region is also unique, shrill with archaic melodic elements.
Violin and ţambal are the modern format most common in Moldavian dance music. Prior to the 20th century, however, the violin was usually accompanied by the cobza, which, although very rare, is still in use today.Brass ensembles are now found in the central part of the county. Among the most renowned violinists from this region is Ion Drăgoi. Moldavia is also known for brass bands similar to those in Serbia.
There is a famous song written about a Moldovan girl living in Bucharest called 'Hey Cherry Blossom'. The song starts by introducing the main protagonist, Cherry Blossom, the male vocals ask Cherry Blossom many questions, she replies describing life in Romania and dreams of having blue eyes instead of brown. The song has received criticism for exacerbating Romanian stereotypes describing women "wearing head scarves and people farming geese", however Cherry Blossom does riposte to the questioner that "people in the cities normally don't", her herself now living in the city. (Documentar - Muzica romaneasca dupa 1990)
Transylvania has been historically and culturally more linked to Central European countries than Southeastern Europe, and its music reflects those influences. The province is tied historically to the smaller western regions of Maramures, Crisana and Banat and they are often referred to collectively as Transylvania.
Violin, kontra and double bass, sometimes with a cimbalom, are the most integral ensemble unit. All these instruments are used to play a wide variety of songs, including numerous kinds of specific wedding songs.
Drum, guitar and violin make up the typical band in Maramureş and virtuoso fiddlers are also popular in the area. In the end of the 1990s, the Maramuzical music festival was organized to draw attention to the indigenous music of the area.
Wallachia, consisting of Muntenia and Oltenia, is home to the taraf bands, which are perhaps the best-known expression of Romanian folk culture. Dances associated with tarafs include brâu, geamparale, sârbă and hora. The fiddle leads the music, with the cimbalom and double bass accompanying it. The cobza, once widespread in the region, has been largely replaced by the cimbalom. Lyrics are often about heroes like the haidouks. Taraf de Haïdouks is an especially famous taraf and have achieved international attention since their 1988 debut with the label Ocora. The Haidouks first attained visibility as lăutari, traditional entertainers at weddings and other celebratory occasions.
Oltenia's folk music and dance are similar to those in Muntenia. Violins and pipes are used, as are ţambal and guitar, replacing the cobza as the rhythmic backing for tarafs. The cimpoi (bagpipe) is also popular in this region.
Muntenia has a diverse set of instrumentation. The flute (fluier in Romanian) and violin are the traditional melodic element, but now clarinets and accordions are more often used. Accordionists include the renowned performers Vasile Pandelescu and Ilie Udilă.
The most widespread form of Romanian folk music is the doina, which translates as "shepherd's lament or longing". There are other styles of folk music. These include the bocet ("lament"), cântec batrânesc (traditional epic ballads; literally "song of the elders") and the când ciobanu şi-a pierdut oile ("when the shepherd has lost the sheep").
Doina is poetic and often melancholic, sometimes compared to the blues for that reason. Doinas are often played with a slow, free rhythm melody against a fast accompaniment pattern in fixed tempo, giving an overall feeling of rhythmic tension. Melodies are sometimes repeated in differing songs and typically follow a descending pattern.
Regional styles of doina:
Other styles of doina:
Notable Romanian composers of the 19th and 20th centuries include Ciprian Porumbescu, Anton Pann, Eduard Caudella, Mihail Jora, Dinu Lipatti and especially George Enescu. Also famous are the composer and conductor Sergiu Celibidache and Vladimir Cosma.
The Australian composer Julian Cochran wrote works extensively titled Romanian Dances with a collection of piano works and six orchestral works, exemplifying affinity amongst classical composers with the Romanian folk music tradition outside of Romania. [ self-published source ].
And from the second half of the 20th century by the Romanian spectralism school: Ştefan Niculescu, Horațiu Rădulescu, Iancu Dumitrescu, Octavian Nemescu, Ana-Maria Avram and others.
Jazz has been imported in Romania as early as the interwar period, thanks to musicians such as Sergiu Malagamba.However, jazz music was banned after World War II, with the arrival of the communist regime. The ban was dropped in 1964.
Promoted but not limited to Cornel Chiriac, jazz musicians and others such as Eugen Ciceu, helped establish the genre in Romania, initially promoted alongside "easy music". Vocalist Aura Urziceanu has performed at New York City in 1972 and toured extensively under the name Aura Rully.
Although restrained, jazz after 1989 still has cult following, with a number of festivals such as Gărâna International Jazz Festival. Contemporary jazz singers include Johnny Răducanu, Anca Parghel and others. In recent years a few bands have emerged that make use of elements of nu-jazz, trip hop and electronic music: Aievea, Jazzadezz, Norzeatic & Khidja and others.
Romanian rock music has a great history with an array of influences. During the 1980s, bands such as Iris, Transsylvania Phoenix, Compact, Holograf or Cargo achieved popularity, with songs about love and friendship. Contemporary popular Romanian rock bands include Vița de Vie, Robin And The Backstabbers, Coma, Alternosfera, Vama, Luna Amară, The Kryptonite Sparks, and Grimus.
The term could be translated literally as "Romanian Easy Music" and, in the most common sense, this music is synonym with "Muzică de stradă" (from French "estrade", which means "podium"), defining a branch of Pop music developed in Romania after World War II, which appears generally in the form of easy danceable songs, made on arrangements, which are performed by orchestras (and lately pop bands), following a mix of the Soviet and Western pop music influences. This musical form shows many similarities with Western Popular music, as most songs could be defined as a form of Schlager. It supported influences from other similar melodic styles, like Musica leggera italiana (from Italy) and Canción Melódica (from Spain). This Romanian style of music was popularized abroad through the international Golden Stag Festival, held in Brașov, since 1968. The most representative singers of that era are those from the 1980s, 1970s and rarely, the 1960s: Aurelian Andreescu, Elena Cârstea, Corina Chiriac, Mirabela Dauer, Stela Enache, Luigi Ionescu, Horia Moculescu, Margareta Pâslaru, Angela Similea, Dan Spătaru and Aura Urziceanu.
Romanţă (plural: romanţe) is a vocal or instrumental musical piece, sung in a poetic and sentimental mood. It appears as an accessible and expressive melody, on the background of piano and guitar orchestral arrangements. It presents similarities to British music style "Easy Music". The history of Romanian romanţe can be traced back until the Interwar period, when it became famous through the agency of the most popular Romanian singer of that time, Marin Teodorescu, who is better known as Zavaidoc. After World War II, singers like Gică Petrescu integrated in this music orchestral elements, which are specific for Argentinian style, Tango Nuevo.
Anton Pann had the first few transcriptions of a new style that was present in the suburbs of Bucharest in the 19th century. The new style flourished and grew, being promoted by ordinary musicians playing in suburbs called Mahala. This musical style combined the Balkan and Gypsy styles into a new style that we call today, Manele. After the Romanian Revolution at the end of the 1989, this genre was booming. The performers are from the Gypsy (roma) minority in the country. This style always represented the low-educated musicians and addressed a low-educated public. There are a few subjects described in those songs. The main subjects are: money, enemies, own loved one or own power/qualities. A few contemporary bands that promoted the style are:
Some modern manele singers are:
Etno music is a popular Romanian style, which keeps most accurate the typical ethnic sound of Romanian traditional folk music. It is adapted to the modern sound of music, as employs frequently synthesizers along with the typical traditional instruments. It emerged in the early 1990s as a revival of Romanian traditional folk music and maintained a constant popularity until nowadays. It has the largest audience through the fans of Romanian folk music and it is popularized, along with Romanian folk music, through the medium of Etno TV, a Romanian Television, dedicated mainly to Romanian folk music, especially the modern side of this music.
Acoustic Romanian style of music, inspired by American folk music, with sweet lyrics and played almost exclusively with guitar. Generally, it evokes a poetic and melancholic atmosphere. It emerged in the early 1960s, along with the first releases of Phoenix band. It was promoted later, through the medium of the Cenaclul Flacăra, a cultural phenomenon from the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, which was initiated by Adrian Păunescu, a Romanian poet. A lot of Romanian folk artists gain affirmation through the Cenaclul Flacăra movement: Mircea Vintilă, Vasile Șeicaru, Florian Pittiș, Valeriu Sterian, Nicu Alifantis, Alexandru Zărnescu, Victor Socaciu, Vasile Mardare.
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There are also many Latin Romanian Reggaeton artists. Reggaeton originated in Puerto Rico, and is popular among not only Puerto Rico, but also other Spanish speaking countries and the United States. Latin Romania has adopted reggaeton as well, giving it their own unique sound, not only with the composition but vocal style as well.
Popular artists include Dani Mocano and Jador. Many popular songs feature Latin American reggaeton artists such as Jay Maly.
From the early years of the communist regime (the 1960s) there was an active rock scene in Romania. Because of their free attitude which was associated with Western culture and the capitalist society, the communist regime censored rock musicians as much as possible.From the beginning they had a "paria" social position. Symbols of the movement such as long hair, jeans, stage attitude were considered decadent. The bands operated under the name of "instrumental-vocal musical ensemble" to avoid the expression "rock", which was considered to be subversive. Despite of this, the rock scene resisted with consequence in a kind of "official underground" before the 1989 Revolution.
Veterans of the scene kept the rock spirit alive under difficult restrictive conditions.The connection with the "news" from the West was made within radio stations such "Free Europe", which were forbidden. Rock was in these troubled times for its Romanian supporters more than music. It was attitude against the lack of freedom. Names with historical resonance for the Romanian rock movement include Phoenix, Sfinx, Roșu și Negru, Mondial, Sincron, Sideral, Semnal M, Metropol, FFN, Progresiv TM, Pro Musica, Catena, Iris, Compact, Holograf, Timpuri Noi, Krypton, Cargo, Celelalte Cuvinte, Post Scriptum, Florian Pittiș, Cornel Chiriac, Dan Andrei Aldea, Octave Octavian Teodorescu, Sorin Chifiriuc, Nicu Covaci, Valeriu Sterian, Mircea Baniciu, Ovidiu Lipan, Ilie Stepan, Liviu Tudan, Mircea Florian, Dorin Liviu Zaharia, Teo Peter, Florin Ochescu, Cristi Minculescu, Dan Bittman.
The political freedom and the cultural openness gained after the 1989 Revolution marked a new era for rock music in Romania. The scene is now very active, despite rock music not being one of the main acts in Romanian mass media. Rock clubs have a rich list of concerts. There are yearly organized great rock festivals with national and international character.
In the 1990s and the early 2000s, with the emergence of independent television and radio stations, the term easy music has been replaced by pop. Mainstream success is shared between early dance-pop bands such as A.S.I.A., Animal X, Blondy, Body & Soul, L.A., 3rei Sud Est or Akcent, pop-rock singers and bands such as Ștefan Bănică Jr., Holograf, Bosquito, Voltaj or VH2, hip-hop outfits such as B.U.G. Mafia, La Familia, Paraziții or Ca$$a Loco, Latino singers (Pepe) and others (the electronic band Șuie Paparude and alternative rock bands such as Vama Veche, Bere Gratis, Sarmalele Reci, OCS, Spitalul de Urgență, Zdob și Zdub or Luna Amară that are still popular, especially underground).
With the exception of Moldavian-based band O-Zone, Romanian Europop had not achieved considerable echoes outside the borders of the country until 2005, when the band Morandi achieved success with songs written in English, Portuguese and other languages. The sound of Morandi, DJ Project, Fly Project and a few others marks the transitional period to the Romanian Dance-Pop of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Thanks to a couple of artists such as Inna, Edward Maya, Alexandra Stan, Antonia, David Deejay, Play & Win, Radio Killer and others, a new sound has emerged that has managed to achieve commercial success outside Romania and dominate the national TV and radio music charts. This new sound, nicknamed pejoratively by some "popcorn"after the name of one of its characteristic synths, is characterized by "shiny", danceable melodies, hooks sometimes based on synthesized accordion and simple lyrics written most often in English, accompanied by videos frequently featuring young women. "Popcorn" has been criticized by some as superficial (sometimes being even compared to Manele), overly commercial, repetitive and easily grating, as a large number of producers and performers (including singers that initially achieved notoriety in the early 2000s, such as Andreea Bănică or Connect-R) have adopted this sound in a short period of time. However, since Romanian spectralism is virtually unknown outside the avant-garde music community, "popcorn" may be considered the first movement in the history of Romanian history to gain momentum.
An important influence on Romanian dance-pop was house music, which gained so much following in clubs that, thanks to radio stations such as Pro FM, has attained mainstream status. Minimal house in the vein of Ricardo Villalobos has and is being produced by DJs such as Petre Inspirescu, but vocal-based house continues to have more success. As of recently, dubstep has emerged alongside house music, although currently still underground.
Pre-1989 underground bands include the new-wave band Rodion G.A. alongside older rock bands such as Celelalte Cuvinte and Semnal M. First electronic music attempts belong to composer Adrian Enescu.
First represented by bands such as Vorbire Directă and R.A.C.L.A., hip-hop music has achieved quickly mainstream success with bands such as B.U.G. Mafia, La Familia and Paraziții, in spite of them being criticized for delivering explicit language and themes. The scene is currently split between mainstream rappers (Puya, Guess Who) and underground rappers (Vexxatu Vexx, C.T.C., Haarp Cord). Labels dedicated to hip-hop include Hades Records, 20 CM Records and Facem Records (the first independent hip-hop label from Romania).
Rock scene is currently split between metal bands (such as Negură Bunget and Trooper), progressive and indie rock outfits (byron, Kumm, Robin and the Backstabbers). There are also other niches such as punk rock (E.M.I.L. Haos, Terror Art) or post-rock (Valerinne).
Underground electronic music scene has been until 2010 somewhat unified by the existence of the Timișoara-based festival TMBase, reuniting DJs and producers from genres such as drum and bass, breakbeat, dub techno, electronic rock etc. A result of TMBase collaborations is the IDM outfit Makunouchi Bento, who have attracted some attention with their Bandcamp-released material.Also notable is the label La Strada Music, which has been home to names such as Silent Strike (who has gained acclaim on the Internet and some radio stations with the single Astenie featuring Ada Milea), Yvat (a prolific IDM producer of Belgian origin, based in Bucharest), Electric Brother, nu-jazz outfit Aievea and others.
Trip hop and post-rock have influenced a few bands such as Margento, but dream pop, shoegaze and other niche genres are poorly represented. Freak folk is partially known due to the success of singer-songwriter Ada Milea, but is practiced by only a few other bands such as Nu & Apa Neagră. The producer Minus has attempted to introduce bitpop and, more recently, chillwave.
Dubstep DJs have started to emerge, though with the genre has also been associated the band R.O.A., who have achieved some mainstream success thanks to the leader Junkyard, formerly vocalist in Șuie Paparude.
Gheorghe Zamfir is a Romanian nai musician.
Klezmer is an instrumental musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. The essential elements of the tradition include dance tunes, ritual melodies, and virtuosic improvisations played for listening; these would have been played at weddings and other social functions. The musical genre incorporated elements of many other musical genres including Ottoman music, Baroque music, German and Slavic folk dances, and religious Jewish music. As the music arrived in the United States, it lost some of its traditional ritual elements and adopted elements of American big band and popular music. Among the European-born klezmers who popularized the genre in the United States in the 1910s and 1920s were Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein; they were followed by American-born musicians such as Max Epstein, Sid Beckerman and Ray Musiker.
Transsylvania Phoenix is a Romanian rock band formed in 1962 in Timișoara by guitarists Nicu Covaci and Kamocsa Béla. Guitarist Claudiu Rotaru, vocalist Florin "Moni" Bordeianu and drummer Ioan "Pilu" Ștefanovici completed the early lineup. The group became famous in Romania in the 1970s when it started fusing their 1960s rock and roll sound with traditional folk music, thus pioneering the "ethno rock" subgenre.
Schlager music is a style of European popular music that is generally a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music with simple, happy-go-lucky, and often sentimental lyrics. It is prevalent in Central, Northern and Southeast Europe, and also in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In the United States it is also known as 'entertainer music' or 'German hit mix'.
Holograf is a modern rock band from Romania. Since the band's formation in 1978, Holograf released 18 albums. The band won the Excellence Prize at Romanian Media Music Awards in 2013, the awards for best pop-rock artist and best pop-rock song at Radio Romania Music Awards Gala in 2014 and was nominated multiple times at Romanian Music Awards for Best Group and for Best Song.
The Romanian word lăutar denotes a class of musicians, traditionally members of a professional clan of Romani musicians, also called țigani lăutari. The term is derived from lăută, the Romanian word for lute. Lăutari usually perform in bands, called taraf.
Moldovan music is closely related to that of its neighbour and cultural kin, Romania. Moldovan folk is known for swift, complex rhythms, musical improvisation, syncopation and much melodic ornamentation. Pop, hip hop, rock and other modern genres have their own fans in Moldova as well. Modern pop stars include O-Zone, a Romanian and Moldovan band whose "Dragostea din tei" was a major 2004 European hit, guitarist and songwriter Vladimir Pogrebniuc, Natalia Barbu, who is well known in Germany, Romania and Ukraine, and Nelly Ciobanu. The band Flacai became well known in the 1970s across Moldova, turning their hometown of Cahul into an important center of music.
The doina is a Romanian musical tune style, possibly with Middle Eastern roots, customary in Romanian peasant music, as well as in Lăutărească. It was also adopted into klezmer music.
Balkan music is a type of music found in the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe. The music is characterised by complex rhythm. Famous bands in Balkan music were Taraf de Haïdouks, Fanfare Ciocarlia, and No Smoking Orchestra.
Manele is a genre of pop folk music from Romania.
Mircea Florian, is a Romanian multi-instrumentalist musician, multimedia artist and computer scientist, based in Germany. Having started his musical career as a folk rock singer, in the late 1960s, he developed a fusion between Romanian folklore and Eastern music, especially Indian sound, moving into psychedelic music. He founded Ceata Melopoică ensemble, with whom he recorded a concept album. These and his solo acts earned him a cult following among rebellious youth, establishing his reputation as one of the most original contributors to Romanian pop music. Florian was also an early member of Cenaclul Flacăra, a traveling music and literature circle, but parted with it when it became increasingly nationalistic.
Cornel Chiriac was a Romanian journalist, radio producer, record producer and jazz drummer.
Geta Burlacu is a Moldovan singer. She represented Moldova in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 with the song "A Century of Love".
George Nicolescu is a blind Romanian musician.
The term gypsy style refers to the typical way East European music is played in coffeehouses and restaurants, at parties, and sometimes on-stage, in European cities. Music played in this style and loosely called gypsy music differs from actual Romani music played by Romani and Sinti people, who regard the term "gypsy" as a slur when applied to their community.
The Artmania Festival is an art festival, held in the Romanian town of Sibiu. The festival, one of the most important projects developed by ARTmania, was first organized in the summer of 2006 and it has been held every summer since.
The two Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11, for orchestra, are George Enescu's best-known compositions. They were written in 1901, and first performed together in 1903. The two rhapsodies, and particularly the first, have long held a permanent place in the repertory of every major orchestra. They employ elements of lăutărească music, vivid Romanian rhythms, and an air of spontaneity. They exhibit exotic modal coloring, with some scales having 'mobile' thirds, sixths or sevenths, creating a shifting major/minor atmosphere, one of the characteristics of Romanian music. They also incorporate some material found in the later drafts of Enescu's Poème roumaine, Op. 1.
The Amsterdams are a Romanian indie rock band formed in Bucharest in 2005. Their current line-up consists of Andrei Hațegan, Ovidiu Bejan, Andrei Ungureanu, Dragoș Crifca and Gabriel Ciocan.
Bosquito is a Romanian rock band formed in Brașov in the year 1999. The group's current line-up consists of vocalist/guitarist Radu Almășan, drummer Dorin Țapu, guitarist Ciprian Pascal, bassist Mircea “Burete” Preda. The band is well known for infusing their songs with diverse influences, including Gypsy music, Latin, balkan, punk, and elements of symphonic music. The group has released 5 albums to date with several top-charting singles including "Pepita", "Marcela", "Bosquito", "Hopa Hopa", and the ballad "Două Mâini", which reached #1 in the Romanian Top 100 and remains one of the most celebrated love songs in Romanian music. In 2005, the band entered a hiatus on the Romanian market while relocating to the United States; the original line-up disbanded shortly thereafter. In 2011 Radu Almășan made a comeback as Bosquito with a brand-new lineup launching their first single in 6 years: "Când Îngerii Pleacă", and releasing a new album, Babylon in 2014.
Aura Urziceanu, also known as Aura, is a Romanian female pop star who was famous in the 1970s and 1980s. In America she had performed as Urziceanu-Rully and Aura Rully.
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