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Roma Christmas songs on CD

WITHIN the project entitled Phurikane giľa - Ancient Roma Songs, ethnographer Jana Belišová, who has long been devoted to preventing Roma songs from slowly disappearing, recorded over 130 songs with her team during her 2002 travels around various Roma settlements in eastern Slovakia. Later, they produced a CD, a songbook, and a diary of a selection of the songs released under the project's title.


photo: Courtesy of Žudro

WITHIN the project entitled Phurikane giľa - Ancient Roma Songs, ethnographer Jana Belišová, who has long been devoted to preventing Roma songs from slowly disappearing, recorded over 130 songs with her team during her 2002 travels around various Roma settlements in eastern Slovakia. Later, they produced a CD, a songbook, and a diary of a selection of the songs released under the project's title.

By the end of last year they issued another CD within the framework of the project. Named Karačoňa (Christmas), it is a collection of Roma Christmas songs.

"Carols and folk theatre plays became the domain of the Roma in many regions. It was Roma musicians who went around singing and playing music under the windows of farmers, expressing their wishes to them: good luck, good health, and good harvest. In some regions, farmer boys performed Christmas plays and the Roma played and sang along with them," said Belišová.

The recorded songs on the Karačoňa CD can be, according to the ethnographer, classified into three groups - interpretations of Slovak Christmas carols, lyrics adapted from Slovak Christmas carols and sung to a melody of Roma origin, and original Roma songs.

As is the case with the Phurikane giľa CD, one can also hear other noises behind the recordings, as they were made in an authentic environment: in the singers' houses, using a single microphone.

"That is why we encounter momentarily inaccurate intonations or the partial voice failure of a singer. But trying too hard to gain technical perfection would probably diminish the spontaneity that these people radiate," Belišová said.

"The material offered on the CD is very precious and unique. There are not many Roma songs with the theme of Christmas. We even met the opinion that they do not exist. The CD is proof that this opinion is not justified."

The Karačoňa CD is on sale in selected bookstores around the country, e.g. Dr Horák (Sk299) at Medená 19, Bratislava, or at the Žudro civic association (Sk250) at Bílikova 13, Bratislava.

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