SIEF 2011, Lisbon 13-19 April. In panel "Sound, space and memory: ways of emotionalizing and instrumentalizing sound", convened by Eckehard Pistrick and Cyril Isniard.


This paper deals with the relations between the sonic shaping of musical space and the symbolic references of musical structures. It focuses on an amplified song genre, which became popular throughout Romania in the aftermath of the 1989 revolution.

In Romania, manele have been a popular song genre for the past 20 years. They are performed primarily by professional Roma musicians, for Roma and non Roma audiences. Manele are characterized by their rhythmic pattern, along with a typical melismatic performance style. Both features are generally commented as "oriental" by local listeners.

The genre is also associated with strong amplification and the use of electronic sound effects. Amongst the latter, reverberation and echo are most common. I propose to analyze the ways in which these electronic spatializing techniques mingle with the characteristic exoticism of the genre.

How does the acoustic shaping of musical space combine with the symbolic references to the East ? What kind of experience do the musicians seek to provide for their listeners ? How does the enchanted sonic world of manele relate to their actual setting of performance ? My analysis will be based on recordings and field observations carried during 2009-2010 in Bucharest.