Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Romani Potpourri

You cannot offend anybody by a song. Romani proverb

If you like Romani (Gypsy) music you have come to the right place. Today's post features some lively songs and dances played by talented Romani and non-Romani musicians. All songs are in the Romani language. Romani has many dialects, and it's one language you won't find on Google Translate. For more info on the language, read this article from Wikipedia.

The Roma people, who originally came from the Indian subcontinent, were nomads. They made their way westward to Europe, and many of them settled in the Balkans. They encountered much discrimination because their customs and physical appearence were different than the mainstream population. Despite the prejudice, the Roma managed to survive wherever they settled. They found they could make a decent living as musicians and were very good at it.

The first video is of a very popular dance song, Opa Cupa, performed by a band from the west coast of the United States, Brass Menažeri (pronounced "menagerie"). Their specialty is Romani and Serbian brass music. It will make you want to get up and dance, and the enthusiasm from the audience is contagious!

The next video is a song from Macedonia very popular amongst folk dancers all over the world, Rumelaj. The Dunav group is based in Jerusalem, Israel. They have numerous teaching videos on YouTube; this is one of them, and their website is one of the best places on the Internet for information on Balkan music and dance.

To visit the Dunav website, click here:

Here is a totally different rendition of Rumelaj, performed by the Hungarian band Besh O Drom. If you like music on steroids, you'll love this.

You can read more about Besh O Drom here:

Esma Redžepova, the "Queen of the Gypsies" is a very well known singer, songwriter and humanitarian from Macedonia. She has been performing since 1957, when she was "discovered" during a singing contest sponsored by a radio station, back in the day when Macedonia was part of a bigger country, Yugoslavia. You can read more about her here:

In this video she sings the anthem of the Roma people, Djelem, Djelem., a very emotional and beautiful song.

The translation can be found here:

And finally, here's Esma performing her most famous song: Chaje Shukarije with the Gyspy Kings and Queens. She puts her body and soul into it, which is why she's been so popular, not just in Macedonia, but all over the world, for over 50 years.

If you enjoyed this you may also like People Are Afraid of What They Know Little About which describes the situation of the Roma in Eastern Europe, and includes lots of music.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


  1. What a fun article! You are right I was dancing in my seat! :) Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful culture...

  2. It was fun to write...Roma music is great!