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Women’s oral transmition in Romania

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Sibiu, once European capital of culture in 2007, is a city in Transilvania with lots of german influences. The recordings in Sibiu come from the around the kitchen table of Fabiola and Raj, who study theatre at the Sibiu University. After a dinner of a wonderful soup made of sorrel and lovage (transsilvanian speciality) that Fabiolas mother cooked, we start singing and sharing songs. This wonderful night lasts many hours, and sometimes I have shivers all over, because Fabiolas voice and the traditional romanian songs are so heart-touching. We shift between happy songs that animate you to dance („Last night I bought you earrings, why are you not wearing them today anymore?“) and very sad, slow mourning songs. Many are telling tales of shepherds and their traditional way of living in the mountains with the sheep (the Transhumance), which strongly influenced the romanian culture for centuries. They tell about love and jealousy, mountains and flowers, sheep and the hard daily life of peasants and shepherds. Many of the songs Fabiola and Raj know from their mothers and grandmothers, and from teachers who played in folkloric ensembles. And besides being touched by the music, we notice something very special: while we share our songs and listen to each other, we feel a deep connection to those people we just met.
Much deeper than we would have had if we just sat around, drinking and speaking.
We notice soemthing, that happens again and again during our trip: We ask for one song, the people are a bit shy to share, but after that…! We receive many more. It seems to us, that singing traditional songs is something much more alive than in Western Europe.

The song „Foia verdea bobului“ is a „Doina“, which is a whole genre of songs. You will probably nowhere find the song sung like in our recording of Fabiola, as it is like this with the folkloric songs: many are passed on in the families and never quite sung the same way.
Another fast song, probably from Moldova, is the call of the girls for the boys of the village to dance with them. Once a week the girls and boys used to meet to dance circle songs (like Hora) together, and around this tradition many songs exist, also boys calling the girls for the dance. The song is supported with a great rhythm technique, 2 spoons hold together and a knife that goes up and down in between them.
The songs between Moldova (not the country, but the eastern part of Romania called also Moldova) and Transsilvania differ in rhythm and tempo, the transilvanian songs being mostly slower than the Moldavian ones. Many of these old songs are nowadays mainly played on weddings, where the songs and the way to dance to them are passed on between generations.

The last song that Fabiola and Raj share with us, is a fertility song for calling the rain: Paparude. It is said, that the unmarried girls of the village used to go out to dancing naked in the fields to call the rain and for the fields to be productive, whilst singing this song. Fabiola is convinced, that the songs can never really die, as long as the lifestyle in the villages and the shepherds continue. And there is bands like „Subcarparti“ which play this old songs in dubstep or electronic ways, connecting people who never heard the old songs to these traditions.

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