LV Latviski

Styprys kai gaiļs. (LFK 508, 1935)

The music of the Latvian Gypsies (Roma people)

Ieva Tihovska

The series of publications "Studia humanitarica" by the University of Latvia Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art has just received a valuable addition the scholarly monograph by Dr. art. Ieva Tihovska "Īsta čigānu mūzika: Autentiskums un etniskums Latvijas čigānu (romu) mūzikā" (Real Gypsy music: Authenticity and ethnicity in the music of the Latvian Gypsies (Roma people); Rīga: LU LFMI, 2017, 248 lpp.). The book is based on the dissertation defended by the author in 2014 at the Academy of Music named after Jāzeps Vītols. The book was prepared and published within the framework of the budget sub-programme No. 05.04.00 "Krišjāņa Barona Dainu skapis" (The Cabinet of Folksongs of Krišjānis Barons) of the Ministry of Education and science of the Republic of Latvia and with the support of State Culture Capital Foundation.

This book is the first ever study devoted completely to music of some minority people living in Latvia. The author felt the necessity to perform such a research, as she frequently encountered questions like: "Can one find true gypsy music in Latvia?" and "Who are real Gypsies?", both in conversations and publications of different ages. The book introduces its readers to theories of ethnicity and authenticity that may be of interest not only in relation to Gypsy ethnic culture and movements, but also to such issues in general. The Gypsy society and music is described in the book taking into account the rooting of the Gypsies in the local culture, and viewing them as a part of the local culture. The repertoire and performance style of the local Gypsies (mainly concentrating on those of the Gypsies from Ventspils), with samples of which also made available through the on-line audio supplement to the book at The book reveals the idea of authenticity as understood by the Gypsies themselves, for example connecting songs to the life stories of particular people. The study describes the social structure and values of the Gypsy communities, and the modern challenges faced by the ethnic identity. The researcher analyses festivities involving singing and dancing, taking place within the community, as well as the music making history of the local Gypsies since 1930s, tracing the development in which the Gypsies in collaboration with the non-Gypsies have formed their public and striking “Gypsiness”, or right the opposite – tried to make their performances as ethnically neutral as possible.

"The research of the life with music of the Gypsy or Roma people has lasted more than ten years, and now it is crowned with a book. This book not only gives the readers an opportunity to read and think over a text extremely rich in information and very carefully formed from the theoretical perspective, but also provides the readers with a rare opportunity in the academic situation of Latvia – to reflect on that what is already achieved and what should still be strived towards in ethnomusicology – a discipline that over the recent decade features a fruitful interaction between the approaches of music history and theory, ethnology and social anthropology. The book convincingly displays the benefits from combination of all of the above approaches. But it is specifically the long-term manifold field-work, during which the stories were listened to, the songs were recorded, and different music-making contexts were observed has been the main key to success of this book." (From the review of the book by social anthropologist PhD Agita Lūse.)

Last time modified: 22.08.2017 12:01:04