Gypsy music and radio
Before we learn about Gypsy music or Gypsy radio, it is essential to know something about the term ‘Gypsy’. The word gypsy is sometimes spelt as gipsy. Earlier, this word was used sometime around the sixteenth century to classify the Romani people in England. The gypsies are usually dark-skinned people.
Basically, the Gypsies or Romani people are said to be traveling a lot. As result, there are numerous theories about their place of origin, living style and music. No conclusive evidence is yet available of this category of people who lived over 400 years ago, especially because they kept on wandering from one place to another. The Irish and Scottish travelers are sometimes branded as ‘Gypsies’. Similarly, the Yeniches from central and western Europe are also called ‘Gypsies’. But both are not believed to constituents of the Romani people. However, the Banjara tribe in India is often considered part of the Gypsies or Romani people.
The Romani people were widely known as roaming musicians, actors and traders. As they traveled through Europe, North Africa, Gulf countries and north-west India, the Gypsy music was influenced by the local culture and is, therefore, quite varied in nature. The basic influence seems to have come from Indian, Greek, Arabic, Czech, Romanian, German and Spanish music.
The basic features of Gypsy music, both vocal and the instrumentation, differ depending on the regional influence it takes. However, one common feature is that the Gypsy music is traditionally louder, booming and emotional. It includes major slides (glissandi) between the successive notes.
The Gypsy music in India is largely heard in Rajasthan and surrounding states. You can hear shades of Gypsy music from the traveling puppeteers (Bhats), snake-charmers (Saperas) and magicians. Kemenche, a type of rebec, and khartal, a kind of castanets are typical Rajasthani Gypsy instruments.
In modern times, the first Gypsy radio station, called Radio C, was launched in Hungary in February 2001. The Gypsy Radio came up from the European Union’s Eastern European Reconstruction Fund.
According to BBC, the editor-in-chief of this radio said it was aimed at breaking the seclusion of the large gypsy population. The radio caters to a 100,000-strong gypsy population in and around Budapest. The Romani staffers intend to make the life of their community more ‘liveable’. It was reported that there is an increasing number of gypsies who do not want to live on the dole; they do not want to be a parasite on society. They want to do something for their prosperity.
The Gypsy radio provides a wide array of informative programs on current topics like mixed marriages. Radio C has invited members of the gypsy community to visit its studio and bring along their own music to set up the radio’s own music archive, reports BBC.
The BBC also reported that the Hungarian Independent Media Centre and the Roma Press Centre organized a free nine-month journalist course for the Roma people. It includes six months of practical training.
Thus, the ancient tradition of Gypsies lives on.