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Phurikane Gila on Radio Slovak International

One of the best export goods from the Slovak Republic has become Roma or Gypsy music. It has been highly valued also among the major population despite its commonly negative attitude towards the Roma minority. Roma singers have made it into Slovak charts and folk ensembles are still being invited to perform at wedding parties. Moreover, some of the most authentic singers have even been kidnapped by unknown people and dragged away to sing in the streets of foreign countries. Despite making some money, they never have enough to return home.This seems to also be the case of Bela Pokuta from the east Slovak village of Zehra. He was one of the authentic singers presented on the “Phurikane Gila” CD which was published in Slovakia in 2002. Since then, authentic Roma folklore has become widely recognised thanks in part to the efforts of ethnographer Jana Belisova who has compiled the CD as a part of her long term research. Although the fate of Bela Pokuta was not pre-destined by this scientific activity, its plotters might have been inspired by the CD which recorded significant success in Slovakia. Well, enough speculation. The fact is that Roma music is popular among wide audiences. Why? Ethnologist Arne Mann:Mann: Well, it has to do with the job of their predecessors from India. Following the accepted hypothesis, these were groups of people from the lowest social class who earned money by servicing the socially advanced. One of the services they provided was musical entertainment. The Roma have been involved with these services also after they had migrated to Europe.Dancing and singing is thus one of the traditional jobs of the Roma community. By travelling all over Europe, they had a significant influence on local folklore. Ethnologist Arne Mann explains the change of instruments:Mann: Originally, folk songs were accompanied by a pipe and drum and later by the pipes. It was no sooner than in the 18th century, that stringed instruments like violins or base were introduced to the folk music. It was Roma musicians who mastered playing the string instruments best. However now we cannot say to what extent they have modified the original local folk music.The Roma songs are divided into three categories: old songs or phurikane gila, intermediate layer and new songs or so called neve gila. However, there seem to be two more types of typically Roma music. The urban style is represented by the so called “halgato” compositions composed by Roma musicians themselves. These “halgatos” do not only modify famous melodies from operas and operettas but also represent composing skills of talented musicians. The ancient Roma songs expressing the sorrow of the Roma soul can be seen in villages and poorer settlements. However, easy listening “halgatos” as well as authentic “csardases” are now gradually succumbing to the new phenomenon of the rom-pop, or Roma pop music. Ethnologist Arne Mann agrees with ethnographer Jana Belisova that Roma culture is like a sponge. It absorbs external influences very easily.The duo of father and son called “Kmeto band” has made it into the Slovak charts with their Rom-funky style. This style of music has nothing to do with ancient weeping songs which are gradually dying out from Roma settlements in the east of Slovakia. To preserve the authentic folklore of this minority Jana Belisova has not only published the CD of ancient Roma songs but also a book of lyrics translated into Slovak and English. Moreover, her project includes a diary from her travel around eastern Slovak settlements. This year, the “Phurikane Gila” diary has been finally published in the English language. Will it be possible to find it in bookstores abroad? Jana Belisova gives the following answer:Belisova: Well, I hope it will be possible although, we have not been very successful yet in distributing it. So far we have relied on personal contacts and tried to offer the English version of this book via the Internet.”Phurikane Gila” or Ancient Songs, when translated into English, has presented genuine Roma culture at the major music festivals not only in this country. It is not only due to this success that Jana Belisova is now ready to launch a sequence of the ancient songs. The “Phurikane Gila – 2” will be launched on the Slovak market at the beginning of November. In what way will it be different to the successful first volume?Belisova: Well, the first CD was based on research focused on slow balladic Roma songs about death, sorrow and difficult situations in life. The latest CD is called Hoj na, nej na and it’s a compilation of purely fast rhythmical “csardases”, i.e. songs for dancing. We can say that it is an energetic bomb.

Martina Greňová, Radio Slovak International, 25. 10. 2005

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One Response to “Phurikane Gila on Radio Slovak International”

  1. Jay Cutts Says:

    Ako mozem kupit Phurikane Gil’a (1 & 2)? To znamena hudbu (CD) aj knihu. Byvam v Amerike.

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