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Folk music is, on the one hand, the oldest form of Romanian musical creation, characterised by great vitality until our times, and on the other hand, a defining source of the cultured musical creation, both religious and lay. Gheorghe Zamfir, is probably the most famous representative of this scene throughout the world today, having made known a typically Romanian folk instrument, the panpipes. The focus on folk music from an international perspective hinders the fact that Romania has been able to establish a unique pop/rock music scene as well. In the sixties the Romanian state music officials were trying to join the international songcontest and therefor modernized their music looking mostly towards French chanson and German songwriters. Singers like Margareta Pâslaru, Mirabella Dauer and Mihaela Runceanu were the names in the sixties and seventies representing their country. Staying truer to their folkroots singer-songwriters like Tudor Gheorge, the blind George Nicolescu and Nicu Alifantis represented a more local Romanian sound which gained them popularity amongst the people but not with the state.

Rock and roll didn't really gain solid ground in Romania in the early sixties since it was considered deformed music. There were some beatgroups trying, inspired by the movie ‘The young ones’, such as Uranus, Cometele and Sfinţii. In 1968 there was a small breakthrough but the music was not allowed to be called rock so instead they called it "electric guitar bands" (formaţii de chitare electrice in Romanian). Acts like Sfinx, Progresiv TM, Phoenix (with Nicolae Covaci) and Mondial were allowed to record. Songwriter Dorin Liviu Zaharia was able to record his controversial rocksuites ‘Decameronul focului alb’ (1969) and ‘Karma Kaliyuga’ (1971) with progrock group Olympia 64. The whole scene was forced underground when the regime hardened again at the start of the seventies.  Mondial re-emerged in 1977 as Semnal M. In the Eighties Romania developed a still vibrant heavy - and doom metal scene starting with the band Celelalte Cuvinte (The Other Words) in 1981. In the Eighties a watered down version of (hard)rock was made in an envirement that became stricter. Bands like Krypton and Iris made mellow (prog)rock to Western standards and compared to what Romanian rock sounded like a decade before. Underground Timpuri Noi tried themselves to New Wave.

It was the Romanian folk that became eventually popular internationally at the end of the Eighties. Mostly coming forth from the Roma music tradition ( with Fanfare Ciocărlia as best example) and the Wallachian province. This province is home to the taraf bands, which are perhaps the best-known expression of Romanian folk culture. Dances associated with tarafs include brâu, geamparale, sârba and hora. The fiddle leads the music, with the cimbalom and double bass accompanying it. Lyrics are often about heroes like the Haidouks. Taraf de Haidouks is an especially famous taraf, and have achieved international attention since their 1988 debut with the label Ocora. The Haidouks first attained visibility as lăutari, traditional entertainers at weddings and other celebratory occasions. Romania also knows its own version of Turbofolk/Chalka called Manele adding electronics and housebeats.

That folk pop plays such an important part doesn’t mean that more international styles like hiphop, dance and rock played no part in Romanian music. With the dubious reputation of being one of the centre point of international CD piracy Romanians had access to millions of international music albums since the invention of the cd burner in 1997. This wasn’t very positive for creating a local pop scene though because any album was immediately pirated and international record company’s were hesitant to enter the Romanian market.

Starting out as a female popsinger Loredana (Groza) made a breakthrough being a musical voice during the revolution of 1989 with the song 'Buna seara, iubito'

. After ten years of pop she took her music to another level in the new age by mixing and incorporating Romanian folkmusic and instruments into a energetic cocktail. She is one of the biggest stars Romania has to date.

After the turn in 1990 an independent pop and rock scene slowly started evolving in Romania. Since 1991 groups like Directia 5 and Holograf have been popular guitar driven pop acts with a Western grungy sound. Suie Paparude looked more to Depeche mode in sound. In 21th century groups like Luna Amară, Kumm, Omul cu şobolani and byron took a more intelligent arty approach to alternative poprock incorporating folk and jazz. Singer/songwriter Mihai Mărgineanu takes the music one step further and creates and avant garde mix cabaret, folk, jazz, gypsy-blues and artpop reinterpreting old Romanian songs and writing his own material..

At the turn of the century electronic pop-duo Blondy also became popular. Singer Andreea Banica went solo in 2004. International pop success came with the Moldavian boyband O-Zone and their European hit "Dragostea din tei". A year later Akcent has a big European hit with ‘Kylie’ and established themselves as a credible act in their home country together with Morandi. Locally popsinger Keo and Radu Marian became one of the more recent popular pop-singers. More international (English language) pop-dance music is made by Inna who entered stage in 2008 and is pushed heavily by MTV. Singer Andra is the new popstar competing with her. Dance-orientated acts like Radio Killer and DJ Sava (with singer Raluka) tackle the dance-techno scene.




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