Heritage of Centuries | 2019 | № 3 (19) | Anna Piotrowska


The Romany Musical Versatility:
the Case of Gypsy Disco-Polo


© Anna G. Piotrowska

Dr. Hab., PhD, Assoc. Prof. ,
Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University,
Krakow, Republic of Poland



DOI: 10.36343/SB.2019.19.3.009

UDC 785.161(=214.58)-021.311

Аbstract: As commonly known, European Roma (Gypsies) have specialized in certain occupations but predominantly were associated with their excellent musicianship skills. It is also true today – as attested, among others, by the never dwindling popularity of such bands as The Gypsy Kings. Gypsy musicians are very much appreciated and their music is still enjoyed. It is the result of the Gypsy versatility and their ability to adapt to musical innovations. Despite the extreme richness of forms, manners of performance, etc. characterising the so-called Gypsy music, or more precisely the music by the Roma, their musical products are still easily identifiable by non-Romany circles who associate them with the colourful world of the highly idealized and romanticised Gypsy life. The paper shows – without neglecting the historical perspective – that the question of the essence of the genuine ‘Gypsyness’ in music can be, at least partially, answered by taking a closer look at new genres associated with Gypsies and by analysing contemporary practices exercised by the Romany musicians. Consequently, the article is focused on the contemporary trends in the so-called Gypsy music, especially those which merged in the 2000s with popular genres such as Gypsy disco-polo – popular till today and enjoyed by large audiences in Poland. The article claims that such new genres as Gypsy disco-polo should be considered as fine examples of Romany musical versatility proving the vitality of their tradition as cultivated today. Romany musicians adapt to the new situation in such a way as to address the requirements of contemporary listeners who expect that the so-called Gypsy music should be on a par with up-to-date productions known from the mass media, while still adhering to the romanticised vision of the ‘Gypsyness’.

Keywords: Roma (Gypsies), Gypsy music, lăutari, Zigeunerkapellen, disco-polo, World Music.

Funding: This work is the result of the HERA 2.002 project BESTROM – “Beyond Stereotypes: Cultural Exchanges and the Romani Contribution to European Public Spaces”, supported by the European Research Council Joint Programme ‘Humanities in the European Research Area’.

Article information: Received on July 2, 2019, signed by the print, volume 2 / 2019 on September 26, 2019, published on September 30, 2019

Full bibliographic reference to the article: Piotrowska, A. G. (2019) The Romany Musical Versatility: the Case of Gypsy Disco-Polo. Nasledie vekov – Heritage of Centuries. 3. pp. 91-97. [Online] Available from: http://old.heritage-magazine.com//wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019_3_Piotrowska.pdf (Accessed: dd.mm.yyyy).



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