Dynacord Powermixer 1000 as used by the lautari
Dynacord Powermixer 1000 as used by the lautari

Dynacord Powermixer 1000 as used by the lautari
Etnográfica 17(3), p. 581-603.

This contribution describes how Roma professional musicians in Romania use electronic sound processing for live performances in various contexts. It focuses on four techniques – amplification, mixing, reverberation and echo – which are intimately linked in the practice of these musicians. The latter two effects are modeled on natural acoustic phenomena, but are used by the musicians to create sound environments with artificial, impossible or paradoxical properties. The article details how these techniques are used, in relation to the typical interactions between the musicians and their audiences. This leads to the argument that artificial echo and reverberation (building upon amplification and mixing) are used by Roma professional musicians as techniques to “enchant” both the performance places and the social relations which they host.

Click here for full text (opens in new window).

Documents discussed in the article

Adi Minune live in a wedding

This video illustrates the proximity between the dancers and the singers. The most obvious interactions are the "dedications": guests offering music to one another. These announcements are made by the singer on behalf of the dedicator.

Gicuţă din Aparători, live in Olteniţa

An excerpt of a manea song, performed live by Gicuţă din Apărători at a wedding in Olteniţa. Gicuţă din Apărători is well known amongst the lăutari in Bucharest. In 2009-2010, he was one of the main manele singers in the capital, “resident” musician at Hanul Drumeţului, a famous restaurant and club. Along the years, he had carefully selected the musicians in his band, and as a whole, the latter was remarkably stable and trained. Apart from Hanul Drumeţului, Gicuţă used to be hired for various events, mainly in Roma communities. He was most often asked to perform manele songs, but his repertoire extended into other genres as well.

I translated the recording using subtitles on a blue background. Use the fullscreen button on the player to read the subtitles at full scale.

Listen to the:

  • wide echo and resonance, especially on the voice and the melodic instruments,
  • "dedications" (dedicaţii) adressed by individuals in the audience to other guests. Each dedication implies a "tip"(bacşiş) for the musicians.
  • "Exotic" lyrics and musical features (ornaments, parallel thirds, etc.), with a slight ironic twist.

Florin Salam live in a wedding

Along with the usual echo, the temporal and geographical references in the lyrics illustrate the building of a "heterotopia".

Parodies of manele singers

Excerpts of two parodies broadcasted on TV show în Puiii Mei, Antena 1.

First one portrays famous singer Florin Salam in a car wash (09/04/2011).

Second one imagines his encounter with Harry Potter.

In the context of my article, these parodies illustrate the fact that echo has become a stereotyped acoustic marker of the manea.