JAZZ MANOUCHE – HISTORY 2/3 – The Musical Journey


Beeing expelled from their country (India) the Sintis had to leave their country with their families. They made their way, first barefoot later on using light horse-wagons, passing Uzbekistan, Iraq, today’s Iran (at that time called Persia), further through Kurdistan and Turkey on their way till the lower Balkans and also till today’s Russia.

As they had to feed their families, the Sinti-musicians very often played in the respective countries just the music that was required there. Often at parties, for celebrations or other occasions, just all occasions where they were invited to – and their proverbial musicality was very highly respected already in these days.

There are some old records stating that Sintimusicians had played at the court of kings, princes and barons and were seen always with pleasure. Even some regional protectorate for Sinti should have originated from that, e.g. in “Saint Maries de la Mer” where the Maquis Folco de Baroncelli – Javon (1869-1943), a symbolical personality from the Camargue-region, insured some Sinti-families a lifelong “right to stay”.

Already in this early time, the musical education of the descendants also set up. Thus songs and certain musical abilities, tricks and play-techniques were transmitted by the father to the son, from the uncle to the nephew and thus again together, only purely orally. At that time Sintis neither could read nor write, so that the writing or reading of music (as staffnotation) of course wasn’t utilized amongst them.

So the ability to be able to play certain things, however, was their capital of which they could earn and make a living from. Hence, it was not only of vital importance to be able to control an instrument very well (and therefore above all be better than other local musicians), but also to possibly know just as many songs of the respective countries they travelled to and also to be able to play them very well.

Music has always been and still is a central subject in the culture of the Sintis until this day. Music is being played at all occasions whenever Gypsies meet – just to celebrate music together or just as a form and part of communication – this always belongs into the firm centre of their tradition.

The records say that in the early 13th century the Sintis had travelled until Southern Spain (Andalusia) whose musical influence (Flamenco) they as well adapted into their music like already before they had took over Italian lovesongs, the Hungarian Csardas of the French Musette dancemusic – all kinds of music style of the countries they had travelled before – everything they mixed together into one bright mélange – the JazzManouche.

So all these musical influences lived and still live on till this day inside the music of the Sinti and Roma.


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