If any country feels like home to the Roma, it is Romania. Of course, apart from the pleasing similarity of the names the two ethnic groups have very little in common. While I’m sure the Romanians have a very rich and interesting history they don’t quite have the same allure as the gypsies. Over the last 900-1400 years the Roma have spread from northern India out across Europe and the Americas. They bring many talents and gifts with them as they travel – many of which can only be found in fiction – but arguably, the most recognisable one is their tradition of music. 

They blend and adapt with the local styles and by now are well entrenched in many Eastern European countries and also very prominent is their influence on Spanish music. Closest to my heart however is the mixing of musical traditions between the Roma and the Romanians and the musicians that sprung from it; the lautari. The lautari are generally members of a familial clan and perform together in bands that are built around a talented soloist. The Romanian peasants and the lautari influence each other, though they are distinct. The lautari are often found performing at weddings and celebrations. 
The classic Romanian wedding is a rather strenuous affair and the lautari have the task of guiding and entertaining the participants as well as moderating any conflict. Considering these events can consist of an alcohol-fuelled haze lasting around 48 hours, the stamina and the repertoire of these musicians is legendary. With their whole life dedicated to such a lifestyle, their music must be legendary. And it is – well at least I think so anyway.


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