All about Hungary: What is Hungarian Gipsy music and what is real Magyar & Romani music ?

What is Hungarian Gipsy music and what is real Magyar & Romani music ?

Posted on Apr 8, 2010| | | No comments:
Like the translated names "Hungarians" and the "gulash" (i will explain it in the Gastronomy section under the article Gulash) to English, the "Hungarian gipsy music" is also a false determination. We can think that the music is coming from gipsy culture and gipsies created it. But it is a mistake, the Hungarian gipsy music is not created but played by gipsies (however it can be created also).

To understand how to merged the two musics (the Roma or Gipsy one & the Magyar or Hungarian one), i explain it with Wikipedia :

Magyar nòta & Hungarian Folklor Music

Hungarian folk music changed greatly beginning in the 19th century, evolving into a new style that had little in common with the music that came before it. Modern Hungarian music was characterized by an "arched melodic line, strict composition, long phrases and extended register", in contrast to the older styles which always utilize a "descending melodic line".
Modern Hungarian folk music was first recorded in 1895 by Béla Vikár, setting the stage for the pioneering work of Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and László Lajtha in musicological collecting. Modern Hungarian folk music began its history with the Habsburg Empire in the 18th century, when central European influences became paramount, including a "regular metric structure for dancing and marching instead of the free speech rhythms of the old style. Folk music at that time consisting of village bagpipers who were replaced by string-based orchestras of the Gypsy, or Roma people.
In the 19th century, Roma orchestras became very well-known throughout Europe, and were frequently thought of as the primary musical heritage of Hungary, as in Franz Liszt's Hungarian Dances and Rhapsodies, which used Hungarian Roma music as representative of Hungarian folk music. Hungarian Roma music is often represented as the only music of the Roma, though multiple forms of Roma music are common throughout Europe and are often dissimilar to Hungarian forms. In the Hungarian language, 19th-century folk styles like the csardas and the verbunkos, are collectively referred to as cigányzene, which translates literally as Gypsy music.
Hungarian nationalist composers, like Bartók, rejected the conflation of Hungarian and Roma music, studying the rural peasant songs of Hungary which, according to music historian Bruno Nettl, "has little in common with" Roma music, a position that is held to by some modern writers, such as the Hungarian author Bálint Sárosi. Simon Broughton, however, has claimed that Roma music is "no less Hungarian and... has more in common with peasant music than the folklorists like to admit", and authors Marian Cotton and Adelaide Bradburn claimed that Hungarian-Roma music was "perhaps... originally Hungarian in character, but (the Roma have made so many changes that) it is difficult to tell what is Hungarian and what is" the authentic music of the Roma.

Roma (Gipsy music)

Romani music (often referred to as Gypsy (or Gipsy) music, which, in other contexts, the Romani consider a derogatory term) is the music of the Romani people, who have their origins in Northern India, but live today mostly in Europe.
Typically nomadic, the Romani people have long acted as wandering entertainers and tradesmen. In all the places Romanies live they have become known as musicians. The wide distances travelled have introduced a multitude of influences, starting with Indian roots and adding Greek, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Czech, Slavic, Romanian, German, French, Spanish and Celtic touches.
Romani music characteristically has vocals that tend to be soulful and declamatory, and the music often incorporates prominent glissandi (slides) between notes. Instrumentation varies widely according to the region the music comes from.
There is a strong tradition of Romani music in Central and Eastern Europe, notably in countries such as Hungary, Romania and the former Yugoslavia. The quintessentially Spanish flamenco is to a very large extent the music (and dance, or indeed the culture) of the Romani people of Andalusia.
Apart from Romani music for local use, in Eastern Europe a separate Romani music originated for entertainment in restaurants and at parties and celebrations. This music drew its themes from Hungarian, Romanian, Russian and other sources of Romani origin, but was more sophisticated and became enormously popular in places like Budapest and Vienna. Later on it gained popularity in Western Europe, where many Romani orchestras were active, playing sophisticated melodies of East European origin.

Original Romani folksongs - not derived from the countries where the Romani live - are relatively rare. This particular folk music is mainly vocal and consists of slow plaintive songs and fast melodies which may be accompanied by dancing. The fast melodies are accompanied with tongue-clacking, hand-clapping, mouth-basses, clicking of wooden spoons, and other folk techniques.

Most Romani music is based on the folk music of the countries where the Romani went through or settled. Local music is adopted and performed – usually instrumental – and, slowly, it is transformed into Romani styles, which are usually more complex than the original styles. In its turn, Romani music has influenced greatly the local music. Among these the Hungarian version became best known, although examples of Romani music in other countries also endure.
Though the Roma are primarily known as the performers of Hungarian styles like verbunkos, they have their own form of folk music that is largely without instrumentation, in spite of their reputation in that field outside of the Roma community. Roma music tends to take on characteristics of whatever music the people are around, however, embellished with "twists and turns, trills and runs", making a very new, and distinctively Roma style. Though without instruments, Roma folk musicians use sticks, tapped on the ground, rhythmic grunts and a technique called oral-bassing which vocally imitates the sound of instruments. Some modern Roma musicians, like Ando Drom (here below), Romani Rota and Kalyi Jag (here below) have added modern instruments like guitars to the Roma style, while Gyula Babos' Project Romani has used elements of avant-garde jazz.


So, once there is the Magyar népdal  (Magyar folk song is its translation) which is the oldest source of the traditional Hungarian music. Then there is the Romani music (original Gipsy music) which is based on the Roma people's rythm and vocals but mixed up with those music of countries which they crossed within their migration. And at last there is the Magyar nòta or cigànyzene (Magyar song is its translation or Hungarian gipsy music with another name) what is a "product" of the XX. century pratically, a new style of the mixture of the Magyar nòta, Romani music and can get even some classical elements and new instrumental sounds.

This is a Magyar népdal from the Csangos who are a Hungarian ethnic group of Roman Catholic faith living mostly in the Romanian region of Moldavia, especially in the Bacău County. Their traditional language, Csango, an old Hungarian dialect is still in use:

Another example for the Magyar népdal with English subtitle and with Hungarian dances. Marta sebestyén sings (see article here !) :

An original Romani music by Ando Drom :

Kalyi Jag, a very popular group in Hungary. This is another example for the Romani music :

Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band - Rumelaj
Originally Rumelaj is a turkish dance which has been adopted by the Gipsies of the Balkan. Good example how Romani music adapts others' music but playing in their style. Kalyi Jag sings the same song, this version is from a Balkan group.
Here is the text if you feel to sing it (Hungarian phonetic) :

Zetur minji maj mundra kurva men
Zetur minji maj mada mundra damere

Rume rume rumelaj hojdi hojdi hojdi
Rume rume rumelaj hojdi hojdi hojdi

A nice example for a Magyar nòta played by a gipsy band :

Another example for Magyar nòta, this is the style what is not so easy to stand, that is a violation of the universal music (i am sorry for my subjective criticisism) :

Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra, also known as 100 Violins, is a Hungarian symphony orchestra of Romani (Gypsy) musicians, particularly influenced by Johannes Brahms, Vittorio Monti, Piotr Tchaïkovski, Johann Strauss, Johann Strauss II and more of them.

Read more about it by clicking here ! To see them, watch video here below :

You can see and hear an instrument which is typically used by gipsy bands in Hungary : the cimbalom is a concert hammered dulcimer: a type of chordophone composed of a large, trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top. It is a musical instrument commonly found throughout the group of East European nations and cultures which composed Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), namely contemporary Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The first representation of a simple struck chordophone which we categorize as a hammered dulcimer can be found in the Assyrian bas-relief in Kyindjuk dated back to 3500 BC. The peoples of the Mediterranean all had versions this instrument under different names, as did many peoples in Asia.
The folk hammered dulcimer common amongst the Gypsy people of Austria-Hungary was taken by V. Josef Schunda, a master piano maker living and working in Pest, Hungary, as the basis for a concert cimbalom for which he arranged serial production in 1874. The fourth edition of the first textbook for the concert cimbalom by Géza Allaga, a member of the Hungarian Royal Opera orchestra, was published in 1889.
The concert cimbalom became popular within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was used by all the ethnic groups within the country including Magyar (Hungarian), Jewish, and Slavic musicians, as well as Roma (Gypsy) lautari musicians (lăutari). Use of the instrument spread by the end of the 19th century and took the place of the cobza in Romanian and Moldovan folk ensembles. In Wallachia it is used almost as a percussion instrument. In Transylvania and Banat, the style of playing is more tonal, heavy with arpeggios.
Read more about cimbalom by clicking here !

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