The culture of a long journey
Although Roma have been in Europe for more than six centuries, we remain by-in-large unknown. Many things have been and continue to be said about our origins. These range from us being the descendants of Cain and Judas, to us being the survivors of Atlantis. Today many think we come from Romania. However, it was in the 18th century when people began to associate Roma with India. No ancient text speaks of the exodus of any group identified as “Roma” that migrated from Asia to Europe. The only evidence of our origins is the Romani language.
After having being studied and analysed, Romani has been identified as belonging to the Sanskrit family, closely related to other languages such as Hindi, Urdu and Farsi. Although our language originated from Sanskrit, we have many words borrowed from other languages such as Persian, Armenian, Slavic languages, Turkish, Greek and Romanian (Jimenez, N. 2008). Thanks to all the loanwords from these languages, it has been possible to deduce the route taken by Roma after leaving India.
La música gitana
“The inspiration of the moment is the unstoppable engine of Romani musicians, something that at times clashes with strict classical rules, where even the cadences of a concert had to be written on ruled paper given that classical players rejected the value of and steadfast commitment involved in improvisation. The creative passion of the performer, reclaimed in the past three decades by classical music specialists, remains alive in the very roots of Romani music.
The late violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin passionately defended Romani influences on classical music after having come into contact as a player with another freer and more communicative way of making music. Menuhin learnt in equal measure from violinists, clarinetists and singers. He felt the lyricism, the rhythmic strength, the naturalness and the freshness of Romani influences. This influence was palpable in songs and dances by Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvořák and Leos Jánacek. It was also evident in violin and orchestral pieces by composers as diverse as Pablo Sarasate, Fritz Kreisler, Bela Bartók and Georges Enesco…”
Pérez Senz, Javier (2007). “La fascinación por la música en libertad.” Cuadernos Gitanos (No. 1).