Music of Maramures

The music of the village fiddler has had the greatest impact on the folk music of Maramures. For both the artist and the composer it offers an unlimited source of melodies that speak to the soul of village life.

In the early part of the twentieth century large collections of both written and recorded folk music were made. These volumes attracted the attention of composer and folklorist Bela Bartok a professor from the Music Academy in Budapest. He first visited Maramures in 1913.

A few years after his first visit Bartok returned. He spent a great deal of time traveling through the villages of Maramures. With the help of his guide, Ioan Busitia, he learned even more about the passionate music and people of this region and fell in love with them both.

In 1923 Bartok published "The Songs of the Romanian People from Maramures." His conclusions were:

"The folk music of Maramures has its own musical dialect like that of any spoken language. The value of this folklore's artistic and aesthetic essence remains unchanged with time. The unique nature of the music in Maramures are ancient and without comparison to the music found in Hungary or the Ukraine. The artistic costumes worn by the people of Maramures are harmonious and indivisible with the region's music and its folklore."

The entire body of work Bartok created on Romanian music was published in 1967 in the United States in five volumes.

Further academic study on the folk music of Maramures was made by Tiberiu Brediceanu, who wrote: "The violinists and composers of these melodies are distinct to Maramures. These musical traditions have been passed down from generation to generation without outside influence. The village violinist plays the violin (cetera) in a rapid, high pitched manner. The violinist (ceterasual) is accompanied by a guitarist who plays a two or four string guitar (zongura). The drum (doba) directs the rhythm of the Romanian ring dance called a "hora." With the drum is a cymbal (tangalaul) of copper. Beaten together they deliver a ringing, rhythmic effect."

Other musical instruments used in Maramures include: The flute (fluierul ciobanesc) with finger holes is made in two sizes, a small one between 30-40 cm (12-16 inches) and a longer one of 70-80 cm (28-32 inches). Shepherd's pipe (tilinca) a type of flute made of wood or metal. The instrument has no finger holes. The sound is modulated by breath and opening and closing the hole at the end of the pipe with the forefinger. The horn or trumpet made of wood (buciumul) or metal (trambita) are long instruments of one and a half to two meters (5-7 feet) in length. These instruments are used traditionally by shepherds to gather their fold and to play the songs of the shepherds. It is also played at the burial of a young man or, of course, a shepherd.

Whether as part of a musical event or simply a part of the daily life of the village these musical customs are a source of energy for the village. They bring enjoyment, cultural identity and color the landscape, but mostly, they build confidence in the way of life here and the eternal virtues of Maramures.

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