Folk Songs

Romania

A THOUSAND MASONS WORKED AT PAVEL’S BRIDGE

Description: This ballad (Greek: paralogi) refers to the widespread legend of sacrificing a female victim and immurement with the aim of building an important bridge. Immurement was a common motif in the folklore of the Balkan peoples, e.g. in the Serbian and Albanian epic poem "The Building of Skadar" (Rozafa Castle in Shkodër), the Romanian folk poem "The Argeș Monastery" and the Greek version "Bridge of Arta" (Greek: Γεφύρι της Άρτας), referring to the still existing bridge in Arta city (Epirus). The Serbian poem was best known due to its publication by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and the translation into German by Jacob Grimm who described it as "one of the most touching poems of all nations and all times". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe did not share Grimm's opinion because he found the poem's spirit "superstitiously barbaric". According to this variety from the only Greek speaking village in Romania, one thousand masons were building Pavel's bridge (in our opinion this refers to the Ergene bridge between today's Akarca and Pehlivanköy), but its foundations collapsed each night. Finally, a bird with a human voice informed the head builder Pavel that, in order for the bridge to remain standing, he should sacrifice his wife. Pavel outwits his wife by pretending to have lost his wedding ring in a ravine. A captivating dialogue between Pavel and his wife follows. The singer is not a professional musician, but has learned the song from her grandmother, so that we can assume that this is an old version from Thrace, which has accepted some Bulgarian influence in the names (Pavel, Dunava) and which reflects the migration history of the Thracian Greeks in Romania from Eastern Thrace (probably Pavliköy, today Pehlivanköy) to Bessarabia (Bolhrad) and Dobrudja (Danube).

Cite as: Çíle mastóri ðúlivan su Pavéli tu Ʝufír' – A thousand masons worked at Pavel’s bridge; performer: Irina Alexe; camera/ interview: Thede Kahl; transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl; Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Ani Antonova; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248ROV0001a.

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A WHITE DOVE FROM MY HOMELAND

Description: In this short song, the dying fighter is spoken to by a dove. She advises him to write a letter to his mother and his beloved; they should not wait for him. The well-known motif of the dying fighter who becomes one with nature was widespread in the Greek world and in the Balkans. The recording was made in the only Greek village in Romania. Irina Alexe sings in the old Thracian dialect that her ancestors brought with them from Thrace. The Greeks in the village of Izvoarele immigrated via Russia and have lived on the edge of the Danube Delta for around 200 years.

Cite as: Éna áspro pliɕtéri apó ton-dópo mu – A white dove from my homeland; performer: Irina Alexe; camera/ interview: Thede Kahl; transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl; Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Antonio Fichera; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248ROV0002a.

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Greece

HIT ME GENTLY, MOTHER

Description: Traditional dance song from Asproneri (Evros, Greece), performed as a mixed dance (men and women) from October till Christmas.

Cite as: Ðérɲi mi, máɲi m, ɣaʎiná ɣaʎiná – Hit me gently, mother; performer: Dimitra Ketetzoudi; camera/ interview: Sotirios Rousiakis; transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl; Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Antonio Fichera; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0005a.

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RAINMAKING RITUAL SONG PIRPIRUNA

Description: The ritual song “Pirpiruna” (in other regions Perperuna, Perperouna, Dodola, Dodole) has the function to invoke the rain in times of drought. A girl, wearing a skirt made of green branches, sang and danced through the streets and went from house to house, begging for rain in spring and early summer. The ladies are speakers of the local Thracian Greek variety.

Cite as: Ι pirpirúna – Rainmaking ritual song Pirpiruna; performers: Athanasia Havouzoudi, Panagiota Hristakoudi, Eleni Salambasi, camera/ interview: Sotirios Rousiakis, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis, editor: Thede Kahl, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0006a.

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MY PROUD EYES

Description: Traditional song from the village of Asvestades in Thrace, performed by men or/and women, popular at many occasions except Christmas and Easter period. A woman complains about the man she was married to.

Cite as: Maták'a mu kamarutá – My proud eyes; performers: Athanasia Havouzoudi, Eleni Salambasi, camera/ interview: Sotirios Rousiakis, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis, editor: Valentina Paul, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID-number: thra1248GRV0009a.

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SHUT UP, DON’T SPEAK!

Description: This traditional dance song has been sung on many occasions in the village of Asvestades and in the area of the Erythropotamos river. It is a mixed dance (men and women) in the zunaráðkus (zonaradikos) style. The verses concern the large family of the local priest who has been badly attacked by robbers. Almost all of his daughters and daughters-in-law can be comforted and richly married; only the youngest continues to cry for her loved one.

Cite as: Supáʃiti, ʃiíʃiti! – Shut up, don’t speak!; Performers: Athanasia Havouzoudi, Eleni Salambasi, camera/ interview: Sotirios Rousiakis, transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis, editor: Antonio Fichera, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0012a.

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IN MAY I WILL FINISH THE FABRIC

Description: The girls of Amorio village used to sing this traditional song when they were weaving on home looms. The song speaks of a lazy girl who wants to sleep a lot, drink and dance. This stands in contrast to the real situation of unmarried women in the traditional patriarchal society of Amorio in the past. They had to be very diligent and hardworking and to avoid going too often to the feasts and dances to become the ideal woman and increase their prospects of a good and prosperous marriage.

Cite as: To Maĭ θa válo to paní – In May I will finish the fabric; performers: Dimitra Pagonidi, Maria Patliaka; camera/ interview: Sotirios Rousiakis; transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Antonio Fichera; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0015a.

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FIVE PILGRIMS JOURNEYING TO THE HOLY LAND

Description: After the establishment of the borders between Greece and Bulgaria, inhabitants from Mikro Bogialiki in North Thrace, present day Malko Sharkovo in Bulgaria, settled in Proskynites in the Rodopi district of Thrace. This village also has inhabitants from other parts of North and East Thrace. Tasoula Papavasiliou is singing a traditional dance song from Mikro Bogialiki and mentions the dance’s name as "zonaritiko" from the word "zoni" (sash), because when the men and the women danced and sang this song they used to touch each other with their wide woven sash. The song concerns the fate of an unmarried man who travelled to visit the Holy Land with other pilgrims, but became terminally ill. So he calls the tomb metaphorically his wife and the tombstone his mother-in-law, a widespread trope in traditional poetry of Greeks and other Balkan populations.

Cite as: Pénde xadzídes k'ínisan – Five pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land; performer: Tasoula Papavasiliou, camera/ interview: Thede Kahl, transcription: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis; translation: Sotirios Rousiakis, editor: Valentina Paul, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0017a.

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I WAS ORPHANED FROM A YOUNG AGE

Description: After the establishment of the borders between Greece and Bulgaria, inhabitants from Mikro Bogialiki in North Thrace, present day Malko Sharkovo in Bulgaria, settled in Proskynites in the Rodopi district of Thrace. This village also has inhabitants from other parts of North and East Thrace. Tasoula Papavasiliou sings a traditional song of Mikro Bogialiki and mentions that people used to sing in the past, during the "mindzi", a nightly gathering in the autumn when the peel the corn and collect the seeds. The song concerns a young orphan man who was obliged to work for a rich Bulgarian widow for twelve years. Afterwards, he wanted to return to his family to get married. The widow proposed that he stay and marry on of her servants, but he declined and revealed that he wanted to marry the Bulgarian widow.

Cite as: Apó mikrós orfánipsa – I was orphaned from a young age; performer: Tasoula Papavasiliou; camera: Thede Kahl; interview/ transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Valentina Paul, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0018a.

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WHEN THE GINGER GIRLS LEAVE THE DANCE 

Description: This song speaks about ginger and dark haired girls, who came to the central square of the village for dancing. Among them there was a nice young girl. A young man asked her to change the dance position and dance closed to him. The girl denies and the man asks her persistently to come and open his heart. The song was common among the inhabitants from Mikro Bogialiki in North Thrace (Bulgaria) and can now be heard in Proskynites village (Rodopi prefecture).

Cite as: Vʝíkane rúses sto χoró – When the ginger girls leave the dance; performer: Tasoula Papavasiliou; camera: Thede Kahl; interview/ transcription/ translation: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis; editor: Valentina Paul; retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/vlach, ID number: thra1248GRV0019a.

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GIANNIS AND MARULIO

Description: After the creation of the borders between Greece and Bulgaria, inhabitants from Mikro Bogialiki in North Thrace, present day Malko Sharkovo in Bulgaria, settled in Proskynites in Rodopi district. From their homeland in what is now southern Bulgaria, they brought historical folk songs like this tragic love song. Tasoula Papavasiliou learned singing from her mother and mentioned the name of the dance "zonaritiko" (zonaradikos) which derives from the sash, because the men and women used to grab at their woven sashes while dancing. The song speaks about the love of two young people, John (Giannis) and Mary (Maroulio), a common motif in many regions of Greece. Their love was prohibited because they were first cousins. When John revealed it to his mother, she became very angry and cursed him to die. In Greek folklore, mother's curse is very strong and always comes true. Thus, in this case, Mary got engaged [to someone else] and John dies of grief. His funeral procession and their wedding procession meet and Mary asks the people to dig a big double tomb so that she can be buried with her dead beloved.

Cite as: O Ʝánis kʹe to Maruʎó – Giannis and Marulio; performer: Tasoula Papavasiliou, camera/ interview: Thede Kahl, transcription: Thede Kahl, Sotirios Rousiakis; translation: Sotirios Rousiakis, editor: Valentina Paul, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: thra1248GRV0020a.

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