“We wanted to be sure that the music we used had good provenance”
Photo from the Kosovo Roma Oral Histories project
Roma Songs and Music
In recent years we’ve been meeting young people from central European communities through our music-making projects, and one of our partners (Karen Latimer, from Doncaster) suggested we should work together on a project to encourage young people from central Europe to join in music-making activities in and out of school. She also suggested we should do this by using music from their home communities as a starting point – we’ve found in the past that songs in home languages are always popular with children and young people.
Of course, many community musicians share songs from around the globe as part of their practice – and we had a few songs up our sleeves – but we’re always slightly concerned that passing songs in foreign languages, without translation, among people who don’t speak them is likely to lead to inaccuracies. Also, central Europe is a place with many languages and cultures which do not always (or even often) match national boundaries, and we wanted to be sure that the music we used had good ‘provenance’ – we could show where it originated, and in the case of songs that we had accurate pronunciation and translations.
It took a while for us to find and trace authentic music, but eventually we found the amazing Jana Beliskova, musician and academic working in Slovakia. Jana has collected Roma songs from communities in central Europe and published them – with translations, sheet music and CDs.
We now have Jana’s complete set of publications – nursery songs, ancient songs, and new songs. They will be used in our projects around the region – and if anyone wants to buy copies themselves, get in touch with us and we will put you in contact with Jana.