Monday, February 17, 2014

The Cimbalom/Tambal in Romanian Folk Music

Today's featured instrument  is the cimbalom, which is the Hungarian name for the instrument known as the hammered dulcimer (in English) or tambal (in Romanian). It is a distinctive element of Romanian folk music, especially in taraf bands. I will use the words cimbalom and tambal interchangeably.

My daughter definitely thought the cimbalom was an instrument from Hell when I played the fourth video in this post. There are some people out there who absolutely despise tambal and in cases like that it can be useful as an instrument of torture.  Percussion instruments tend to have that effect on susceptible individuals. Keep that in mind when your neighbors have noisy late night parties this summer and don't invite you.

Here is a folk dance from Romania familiar to many: Hora de Mina. The bagpipe and the panpipes play the melody, and the tambal is the rhythm section.

The next video is of Toni Iordarce.  He was known in Romania as the "Paganini of the Cimbalom."  Unfortunately, he died at a young age (45) from diabetic complications. During the later years of Ceaușescu's brutal regime (he was executed on Christmas Day, 1989) there was rationing of food, fuel, and medicine.  The majority of Romanian citizens (except for Party functionaries) often went hungry, had no heat in their apartments during long, cold winters, and died from diseases easily treated or controlled in the West.  This was probably the case with Iordarce.

It is a pleasure to watch him play.

This is a folk tune made famous in an arrangement for violin by Grigoraş Ionică Dinicu, Ciocarlia, played on the cimbalom and accompanied by orchestra.

The musician is Victor Copacinschi and the video is from 1976. The video is in black and white.  Color TV broadcasts did not exist in Romania until 1983.

This is a sirba, a popular Romanian folk dance, played on tambal and accordion, from the region of Dobrogea (south-east Romania).

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

Variations on a Romanian Folk Dance: Hora de Mina

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

Crossing the River, Music From the Romanian Folklore Region of Dobrogea

The Alien Diaries will be taking a short break.  The next post will be on or about March 1st. There are over 200 posts written over the course of nearly four will be sure to find something that you like.  Thanks for reading!

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