Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Research of the Musical Folklore From Maramureș: Chioar Area

Written By

Uță Larisa-Vasilica

Submitted: November 4th, 2019 Reviewed: November 27th, 2019 Published: February 3rd, 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.90682

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Edited by Daniela Turcanu-Carutiu

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Through this study we want to “bring to light” a small part of the beautiful folklore of the Chioar Country, one of the four areas of Maramureș County. Before starting a serious research in the area, we wanted to know first the material that was collected and has not been transcribed or published until now. Thus, we manage to exploit a number of 450 songs, belonging to the neocational lyrics from Chioar, existing in the Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, materialized in unique transcripts, to be gathered in a collection of vocal songs. Through the transcripts we have made, we want to highlight, first of all, the stylistic features of the area but also a musical typological classification of the songs.


  • Chioar area
  • stylistic features
  • unique repertoire
  • typological classification

1. The geographical and historical framework of the Chioar area

The Chioar ethnographic area has long attracted the attention of researchers through the beauty of the landscape, the originality and authenticity of popular creation, and the richness of popular culture manifestations. It has been known in the past and in part also today, under the name of Chioar Country, but, in form and function, it does not come close to the other regions bearing the name of “country.” Unlike the other 17 “countries” of the Romanian territory, the Chioar area is a geographic-historical entity that is much more difficult to individualize, its genesis and evolution taking place within a complex framework. If for most “countries” we can identify a unit of relief as a primary genetic factor, in this case we are talking about a region that has crystallized around a nucleus of another origin, a fortress, called the Stone Fortress (Cetatea de Piatră).1

The territory we propose for study is located in the southwest of Maramureș County and is part of the connection unit between the Eastern Carpathians and the Apuseni Mountains, being present in that area of the “hidden mountains” of Transylvania from which the Preluca and Prisaca Massifs appear, between which a lower area enters, namely, the Chioar Hills.

In the territory of what we call “Chioar Country,” we can identify the following morphological units: the Gutîi-Igniș Mountains,2 the Preluca Massif,3 the Prisaca Massif, the limestone Boiu Plateau, the Chioar Hills, the Copalnic Depression, and the Baia Mare Depression. Within them appear smaller units, special in appearance and genesis.

The central area of ​​Chioarului is between the rivers Lăpuș and Someș. The axis of the area would be the Lăpuș River that runs in the direction that goes from south-southeast to north-northwest. Lăpuș River is the longest river in Maramureș County, collecting the waters from the Igniș and Tibleș Mountains and from the Breaza Ridge and the Preluca Massif. It springs from below Văratec Peak, at about 1200 m altitude, and flows into Someș. It has a length of 114 km, which runs mostly through the Chioar area. Someș River, which borders the Chioarului in the western part, crosses the Maramureș County on an area of ​​50 km [1].

From a geographical point of view, we cannot say that the Chioar area outlines a natural unit with specific features such as those of the Maramureș County (historical Maramureș) or the Country of Hațeg, but the historical, economic, and political conditions are the characteristic features of this territory.

The territory of Chioar has been inhabited since ancient times; the evidence is in the research done by the County Museum of History and Archeology Maramureș together with specialists of the Archeology Institute of Bucharest, which identifies as the points of scientific interest the localities Mesteacăn, Boiu Mare, Prislop, and Văleni. Between 1978 and 1979 in Mesteacăn (Valea Chioarului commune), a locality mentioned in 1424, excavations were made after which materials from the Bronze Age were discovered, more precisely an anthropomorphic statuette and other ceramic objects and remains. Also in the same locality, a Roman coin from the fourth century was discovered, as late as the Roman ceramic (late third to fourth centuries), and for the seventh to ninth centuries, a material made by hand and wheel [2]. The research already started provides sufficient evidence to find that we are not talking about a region where we can associate the terms “colonization” and “coming from elsewhere” but a community that manifests itself through the continuity of human settlements.

In the work of the Graiul, etnografia și folclorul zonei Chioar, Gheorghe Pop and Ioan Chiș Șter discuss the existence of a reference document, Kövár vidékének tàrsadolma written by Szentgyörgyi Mária, where it is mentioned that most of the localities were formed, their number exceeding 45. Another aspect mentioned in the paper is the documentary attestation of the Chioar area, from the thirteenth century. Since then the whole activity was centered around the Stone Fortress or the Fortress of Chioar (Kövár) that existed in the thirteenth century but is mentioned only in 1319 [3]. Of the fortresses from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries that played a role in the military organization of Transylvania, the Chioar fortress was one of the most important ([4], p. 281) because it had an exceptional strategic position, so it was unmistakable: “the fortress is situated at over 400 m altitude, on the saddle of a hill surrounded by the water of the Lăpuș river, which realizes at the foot a gorge between rocks. The 600 m covered in length by the fittings of the fortress give the impression of a whole fortified hill, with very steep slopes that are lost in the water of the river, and at the top they continue with huge walls of walls, which form the belts of the fortress” [3].

The official register (cadastre) of 1566 shows that the territory of the Fortress of Chioar was quite large; 67 localities are mentioned “with the passage of time its extent has always varied, the number of villages belonging to it exceeding 80” ([5], pp. 173–174). In 1378 the fortress was donated to the Romanian voivodes Balc and Drag and their brother Ioan, the descendants of Dragoș voivode from Maramureș ([6], p. 164); this family was keeping it until the death of the last descendant in 1555. In a short time Chioar Country became organized in voivodships with a certain number of villages. In the year 1566, there were 12 voivodes in 61 villages, and in 1603 there were 16 voivodes in 81 villages. In the official registers that have been kept, the number of inhabitants is mentioned, as well as the duties they owed to the citadel. In about 61 villages, there were 230 families of nobles, the Chioar area being the area with the most Romanian nobles, after Făgăraș ([7], p. 11).

From November 1599 to September 1600, the fortress and the entire Chioar territory were under the leadership of Mihai Viteazul. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the land came into the possession of the Habsburg Empire, which, starting in 1662, administered it through the Teleki family.4 Under Austrian rule, the inhabitants of the district were forced to contribute food, money, and labor for the imperial army. The social oppression was doubled by the confessional one, by the insistence of Vienna to impose Catholicism5. From here, in various ways, this greedy family will grab everything they can (land, especially), wanting to make Chioar a large area with a unitary structure.

As is well-known, the establishment of the Habsburg regime in Transylvania brought many movements and the privileges of the servants. People who fled from authorities, called “fugitives,” are sometimes made up of gangs who keep the authorities under tension. This is also the case of Grigore Pintea with his numerous fortresses of Romanians, who hoped that by the victory of the rebels, they would avoid falling into the “eternal slavery” that they felt the Teleki family was preparing. In 1703 Pintea was killed, and the uprising ended with the peace concluded at Satu Mare in 1711. In order to avoid the regrouping of the anti-Habsburg forces, the Fortress of Chioar was destroyed in 1718, by General Rabutin de Bussy’s order.

The inhabitants of Chioar today call it “the city of Racolța” (a link to the name of Francesc Rákoszi, the rebel). In the memory of the inhabitants, the demolition of the fortress lasted a long time because, it is said that the people took the tile from which the fortress was made to make their baking ovens—among the few that are still preserved today. We will not dwell on the modern history of the Chioar area; we will say only that the people of these regions received with great enthusiasm the historical decisions of 1 December, 1918, to which they sent their representatives.6 The foundations remained all the traditional ones, strong on which the healthy spirituality of some proud people was built, of a richness of souls and nobility who are no more valuable than other inhabitants of the Romanian lands.


2. The level of ethnographic and folkloric research of the area

Scientific research currently has numerous data on the evolution of concerns for Romanian folklore. The stage reached the concerns for the popular heritage and especially the areas that have been researched, still requires some contributions, even more so than for some folklore areas, such as the Chioar area, some collections and representative studies that would help a better understanding and identification of the particularities of this area. Of course, we cannot dispute some concerns for the collection of folklore material from Chioar undertaken by personalities interested in the folklore of Transylvania. On the other hand, the research activity on a region or the development of a particular subject will never cover the entire activity of a community. There will always be a side that will never be known and one that is waiting to be discovered and deciphered from the many documents that have remained manuscript until now. We consider that such an activity would put in a clearer light the general ethnological folkloristic movement and that of areas less known as the one in question.

Leaving aside the indirect testimonies about this area, it seems that the first written notice in a prestigious magazine, about the popular Chilean spiritual production we owe to AP Alexi: 7 texts by Doine Doine și hore poporale (Din ținutul Cetății de Peatră) published in Familia ([8], p. 164) magazine in 1871. At the end of the nineteenth century, the greatest merits in the field of folklore collection in the Chioar area were attributed to a teacher named Ilie Pop from Șomcuta Mare. He also responded to the requests of Simion Florea Marian (1847–1907),7 sending a rich material regarding the customs in the area which is present through the collected folklore materials, in numerous periodicals of the time such as Amicul familiei, Șezătoarea, Familia, Tribuna (1884–1903) and the Gutinul newspaper (published in Baia Mare between 1889 and 1890, intended to inform a wider public). We must mention that in the Cărțile săteanului român, nr. 7 (1878), Ilie Pop published an article entitled Cetatea de Peatră, in which he talks about the name of the fortress and of the Chioar, the Chiorean tradition, recounting the legend of the construction of the fortress heard from some elders.

The one who somehow understands Ilie Pop’s concerns about the folklore of the Chioar area is Emil Bran (1864–1941),8 trained in the cultural environment of the city of Gherla. The contribution regarding this area is reported in the periodicals of the time (in the Tribuna magazine, the ballad Tânguirea nevestei is published, specifying that it is a “popular literature”).

The folklore collectors in the Chioar area prove to be, during this period, with a good sense of the selection of folklore productions, but there are numerous gaps regarding the data on localities and informants, and there are certain interventions in the folklore production text that harm the authentic. However, their merit remains unquestionable regarding the beginnings of the folklore movement in Chioar, which will be developed and amplified in the next century.

In 1920, at the initiative of the teacher Poptefan Pop, with the collaboration of Ilie Pop and Aurel Buteanu, appeared the “sheet” Chioarul.9 The most valuable folklore collections published in this magazine are those of Andrei Grobeiu and Vladimir Diaconiță-Poiană, especially the sinks from their collections and manuscripts (1070 chiuituri ale Chioarului). Some attempts (Micle Adelaida, Contribuții la cunoașterea activității desfășurate de doi dascăli din Țara Chioarului, Ilie Pop și Andrei Grobeiu) ([8], p. 172) to highlight the material of the collection have classified the siftings collected by the two teachers in the following groups: satirical, erotic, of greed, friendship and social-political character, of course being a questionable division.

In the first half of the twentieth century, several publications intended exclusively for the publication of folklore material, such as Izvorașul (1919–1940), Comoara satelor (1923–1927), and Anuarul arhivei de folclor (1923–1945), which will also include folk material from the Chioar area. The most important contributor to the Izvorașul magazine was teacher Costică Iureș from the town of Vima Mare (belonging to the county of Someș). He sends to the magazine five lyrical songs under the title Doine, cântece.

Between 1969 and 1970, in the Rapsodia chioreană magazine of the High School in Șomcuta Mare (today named “Ioan Buteanu” High School), songs collected by the students of the high school are published. Also here we find the study Arta populară în lemn din Țara Chioarului signed by Sabin Șainelic,10 which brings to light details of the popular architecture found in the area (the reason for the tree of life, the reason for the sun). The popular dances were also absent from the concerns of the researchers of the Chioar area, Gheorghe Baciu and Gavril Ghiur, being the authors of two volumes entitled Dansuri populare din Țara Lăpușului și Țara Chioaruluii (1973). Virgil Medan was preoccupied with the Chiorean musical folklore, publishing the work Cântece epice (Cluj-Napoca, 1979), where two transcribed variants of the ballad Pintea Viteazul are included. The first is collected from Valea Chioarului (p. 221) and the second from Buciumi (p. 223). Both are built on the occasion of revealing the secret of Pintea’s death.

In the context of the concerns for the folklore of the Chioar area, a series of studies were carried out under the aegis of the County Center for the Conservation and Promotion of the Traditional Culture of Maramureș (CJCPCT), which resulted in reference works, for example the work of the Janeta Ciocan, Portul popular din Țara Chioarului. Other important works are as follows: Arhitectura bisericilor de lemn din Țara Chioarului (Sabin Șainelic, 1971); Dansuri populare din Țara Lăpușului și Țara Chioarului (Baciu Gheorghe, Ghiur Gavrilă, 1973)11; Instalații populare pentru obținerea uleiului în zonele etnografice Chioar și Lăpuș (Janeta Ciocan, 1978); Nobilimea Chioarului (Valer Hossu, 2003); Miorița s-a născut în Maramureș (Ștef, Dorin, 2005)12; and Satele Chioarului la 1405: date istorice, economice, demografice și etimologice pentru anii 1231–2005 (Vasile Radu, 2005). The list of works could continue because the Chioar area still represents an interest for ethnomusicologists and not only as evidenced by the articles published in the Memoria ethnografică.13

Among the highly individualized areas, with customs, beliefs, and well-preserved habits, there is the Chioar area. Despite the interference with the neighboring areas (Codru, Lăpuș, Maramureș Istoric, Sălaj), this area has retained a series of characteristic elements in archaic form. An important feature of this region is the wheat, which Chis Ioan Șter states in the work Graiul, etnografia și folclorul zonei Chioar (1983) that it is almost confused with the Codru area and thus we are entitled to count the Chiorean dialect as belonging to the family of the Someanese dialect. We could say that the area is, rather, a “transition” between Codru (due to the many common elements of the Someşean type) and Lăpuș (against which there is no firm geographical delimitation). However, there are localities that are individualized in terms of dialect. An exception is the locality of Vălenii Șomcutei, where the vowel “ă” is not used properly; in some words it is replaced by the vowel “a” (e.g., Maicuță când m-ai facutu/Doamne bine ți-o parutu/De părerea ta cea bună/Mi-ai facut fașe de lână/Și procuț di matragună). An explanation of this fact was not found; it is certain that even today the locality is individualized with this particularity in speech.

With the arrival of the Hungarian colonists in the Depression of Maramureș, from the end of the thirteenth century,14 there were also influences on the lexicon which were not only due to the political, administrative, or military factor but also to the coexistence of the native population with the groups of colonists, in the last seven centuries. Professor Gheorghe Radu mentions in the book Observații asupra lexicului subdialectului maramureșean (1970) that there are numerous Hungarian terms attested in the regionalisms of Maramureș County.

In the field of music (collections and transcriptions of songs, identification of musical peculiarities of the area), we can say that there is no important work to clarify these aspects. For these reasons, the Chioar area represents a territory with many elements in the field of ethnology or ethnomusicology that are waiting to be discovered and enhanced.


3. Inventory and archiving of the musical repertoire

The inventory and archiving of the musical repertoire are two interdependent activities, without which the manifestations of the past would be based only on stories of the indirect witnesses, not on living documents, which surprised the phenomenon in its full unfolding. Both involve a first, chronological and logical approach to the facts which, once recorded, will be kept in optimal conditions to last in time.

The Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy represents one of the oldest research centers of traditional culture, being established in 1930,15 in Cluj-Napoca, its purpose being to study at a professional level the Romanian folklore, its links with the repertoire of other nationalities from Romania, as well as the cultural relations with the neighboring peoples. The Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy has a unique immaterial spiritual heritage in Europe, with over 750,000 ethnological and anthropological documents, and it has its own periodical publication, of international circulation, Anuarul Arhivei de Folclor, a remarkable scientific production. The institute has become a center of excellence in the institutional network of the Romanian Academy, carrying out some great works of national interest, among them are Bibliografia generală a etnografiei şi folclorului (1800–1930), Ritualurile agrare româneşti, Cimiliturile româneşti, Proverbe româneşti, maghiare şi săseşti (dicţionar tezaur), Cântecele populare ale maghiarilor din Transilvania, and Tipologia dansurilor populare. Currently, within the institute the Enciclopedia culturii tradiţionale românești is developed, and ethnomusicologists and ethno-choreologists are concerned with monographic research on the most important areas of Transylvania.

University professor Ioan Cuceu, director of the Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, mentioned in a press article that the idea of a research project with the theme Enciclopedia culturii tradiționale românești was launched in a public session of the Romanian Academy on May 27, 1920, by Ovidiu Densuşianu, who at that time criticized everything that had been done so far in terms of knowledge of traditional culture.

Returning to our research topic on the musical folklore of the Chioar Country, within the Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, I have identified a unique material, which deserves a special attention to be used further. We are talking about a number of 602 vocal songs that we extracted from 17 catalogs, ordered by certain periods, the first catalog being from 1950. Respecting the pattern offered by the catalogs, we made a table in which we included all the extracted songs. With one exception, the table is made according to the model offered by the catalogs. It has ten fields and not nine:

(1) Criterion number; (2) band number; (3) the title; (4) played from; (5) gender; (6) informant; (7) origin; (8) collector; (9) place and date of registration; (10) observations.

From our table we excluded the tenth heading. In the catalogs at the observations, data about the song were passed, whether it was transcribed or not. In the table of the institute, in the case of the songs that have not been transcribed, nothing is completed in this section, space is left, and to those that have been transcribed, “Tr” is written. The 602 vocal songs represent a musical material that has not been transcribed or published, so this section is not necessary in the case of our table.

The musical materials can be found both in the original version, the recordings being made on tape recorders, as well as in electronic format, (currently a tape digitizing activity is carried out—this is part of the inventory and archiving process adapted to the technological evolution).

The selected musical material was collected between 1958 and 1980 by important researchers who worked in Baia Mare and Cluj-Napoca such as the following: Virgil Medan, Ioan Chiș Șter, Ileana Szenik, Ioan R. Nicola, Doina Truță, Nicolae Both, Pașca Valer, Florian Elena, Berindan Emilia, Levendula Florica, Covaciu Lucia, dar și de către studenți pe care aceștia i-au îndrumat: Loliciu Tiberia, Lăscuțiu Corina, Popescu Rodica, Anca Natalia, Marinescu Maria, Arsene Doru, Răciu Sever, Coltău Rodica, Olah Paul, Ilieș Doina, Giurgiu Dana, Hosu Vasile, Istrate Adriana, Jurj Dochița, Sibian Rodica, Pop Sabina, and Govor Mărioara.

The localities investigated are the following: Cavnic, Groși, Cicârlău, Valea Chioarului, Vălenii Șomcutei, Stejera, Iadăra, Buciumi, Buteasa, Șomcuta Mare, Curtuiușu Mare, Hovrila, Durușa, Sârbi, Copalnic Mânăștur, Preluca Veche, Măgureni, Românești, Remetea Chioarului, Coaș, Berința, Cărbunari, Bontăieni, Negreia, Boiu Mare, Cetățele, Plopiș, Chiuzbaia, Codru Butesii, Remeți pe Someș, Remecioara, Finteușu Mare, Prislop, and Șurdești.

The informants from which the material was collected fall into the age category, 8–92 years.

Based on the data entered in the table, making a retrospective of the evolution of the material collection, quantitatively, in this case, most of the songs were collected between 1973 and 1979 (this appreciation is relative because in many cases, information boxes and the date and place of registration are missing).

Drawing on this statistic, we come to the conclusion that, from a musical point of view, the Chioar area has not so far been of great interest to researchers, with special attention being paid to the specific habits or certain crafts. We could not identify a specific reason for this fact, but we are convinced that any area has its specifics that it deserves and must be discovered step by step.

After identifying all the musical materials from Chioar, existing in the 17 catalogs of the Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, I extracted each musical example from the tape recorder.16 The timings of each existing song within the bands were not mentioned in the catalogs, so it was necessary to identify and listen to each musical example.

Our aim in the present research is to bring to light a unique musical material, which has not been harnessed beyond the collection stage, and to identify certain local styles of the Chioar Country area. Until we reached this level of research, we went through several steps, the first being that of selecting the musical material. After a first hearing of the 601 songs, we divided the musical material into 2 parts:

  • One by selection criterion, somewhat instinctively, was the belonging of the song to the area in question. We selected 335 songs from the Chioarului area that will be analyzed.

  • A number of 115 songs have the following characteristics: they are well-known songs, belonging to interpreters representing the time; ballads; playing songs in aksak; and rhythm that is not specific to the neocational lyrics of Chioar Country. They have two rhythms within the same song (parlando rubato and divisional or in some cases aksak); ballad texts were adapted to a carol song; they have influences from the south of the country, either they were listened to, learned, and then transmitted by the men who were doing the army in those times in the southern cities or they were received by the media. The peasant of the past (as well as the one of the present), if he liked a song from a certain foreign area, even far away, consciously managed to acquire it, taking also the means of expression specific to the area from which he came; thus, over time it became clear that we did not recognize the belonging of certain songs.

Here, we are already witnessing a phenomenon in which the archaic song coexists with the new song resulting from the process of transformation and adaptation of traditional folklore to the conditions of modern society. The functionality of these songs is different from the traditional one. This is explained in the first place by the fact that the ideological and artistic horizon of the folklore creator—the anonymous peasant—is considerably enlarged by the contacts he has within the new village with the external factors from the urban environment.

The rest of the songs (152) could not be the object of our research because, besides the audition criterion, there were also cases in which different technical problems appeared, for example, the same recording was encountered at different levels and informants, creating the feeling that we have a song recorded in two variants, when in fact we are talking about one and the same. In the table a song with a certain quota was passed, but on the band corresponding to the quota, that song did not appear; this is the situation in which the recording had problems, and we could not transcribe the respective song musically.

I have encountered other situations, but these did not represent an impediment with regard to the musical transcription: cases in which the informants’ data were wrong, which resulted from the recording hearing, where the informant provides data about him (name, place of origin, age); in some songs the informer or the collector was not passed, sometimes the title—often I made additions to the table following the information provided by the one who sang during the recording.

After selecting the material proposed for analysis, it was introduced in another table in which we made certain corrections or completions, such as name of informant and age, name of collector, name of song, or locality from which it was collected. All additions were made according to the data that resulted from the hearing of the material.

We wanted to point out how important all these details are which in turn contribute to shaping the identity of a repertoire. Often these data are an important point in the research process, and if they do not exist, we are in a position not to consider a material that might be interesting.


4. Methodology of classification of melodic types

In the process of evolution of folk creations, the classification has developed in close interaction with the theoretical results of musical folklore. The methods of musical classification applied so far to the music of different ethnic groups are distinguished by the morphological element pursued and by the hierarchy of structural features. We will briefly list the main methods and their characteristics [9].

  1. The lexical classification (dictionary-type ordering) consistently follows one of the morphological elements: the melody (the cadences, the ambitus), the metrical rhythmic structure of the verse, or the rhythm. These methods have benefits when archiving is discussed. In this case we only consider the closest variants; it gives no clue as to the song.

  2. The method that takes into account all the morphological elements (melody, rhythm, verse, form) is that of grammatical classification. In the evolution of the research, this method overlaps with the descriptive stage, which is due to the fundamental theoretical knowledge regarding folklore. The research at this stage is able to characterize the genres and highlight the particularities of the area.

  3. The typological classification follows the grouping of the melodies into related categories, the models being constructed on a melodic and rhythmic level. In this case, a balance will be established between the two morphological elements, but the melodic element will prevail. Most of the typological classifications were conceived on the basis of the melodic criterion, comprising only vocal creations, (for instrumental music a sub-rhythmic classification and melodic subsidiary are elaborated). In the typological classifications based on the melodic element, there are various points of view regarding the hierarchy. As a whole, it is all about giving priority to the general features that will gradually evolve toward the particular features (timing system, architectural structure, etc.).

The songs belonging to the neocational lyrics are classified into three categories, old style songs, modern style songs, and vocal playing songs. Within each category, songs are classified musically, bringing together songs with common characteristics and melodic types. In each case I first separated the minor songs from the major ones, and then, I ordered them according to the number of melodic lines (with two melodic lines, minor and major; with three melodic lines, minor and major; with four melodic lines, minor and major; and with five melodic lines, minor and major lines). I took each copy separately, and, depending on the number of melodic lines, I made a diagram of the form, which also includes the main lines. These shape schemes present, from a geometric point of view, a certain general melodic profile. It is shaped by the relation of three or more points (depending on how many melodic lines we have) linked by an imaginary line: the starting point, the climax, and the end point.

In some situations the climax may be missing, resulting in a unilinear or rectilinear profile, this being the simplest:


  • When the climax coincides with the initial point, a descending melodic profile results.

  • When the climax coincides with the end point, an ascending melodic profile results.

If the climax is located at the middle, at a distance approximately equal to the initial and final point, then a vaulted, ascending or descending melodic profile results.

The establishment of the melodic profile is indicative because there are various intermediate variants; when they are combined, a variety of models result—the unilinear profile is neutral to the other two. Take as an example the profile called zigzag or combined vault (combination between upward and downward arching). In this case we are talking about songs with four or more melodic lines.

Once we analyzed each song and identified the melodic profile, I made an order of them starting from songs with two melodic lines and to the most complex case, in which the number of melodic lines varies between four and five (improvisational form).

The musical classification thus follows the sequence:

1. Uniliniar

2. Boltit

3. Boltit combinat

I have also encountered cases where the final was in the second stage. In this case I wrote only the number of melodic lines and the number corresponding to the cadence of each:

Regarding modern style songs and playing songs, identifying also a short refrain, a support refrain, positioned at the beginning, middle, or end of the song, we agreed that in the melodic profile scheme, next to the melodic line that has the refrain, we put a symbol (“+”); the position of this symbol will be in front of the letter corresponding to the melodic line if the refrain is also in front of the respective line and vice versa, after the letter corresponding to the melodic line if it is after it:

This symbol (“+”) is only used in cases where the refrain represents a complement, that is, the support refrain. When it is a stand-alone refrain, we use the following spelling:

There were also cases in which both situations were present, proper refrain and support refrain:

Having as an important reference the musical typological classification, we made a numbering of the songs according to it. In the case of songs that had several variants, we proceeded as Béla Bartók (1881–1945). In the case of variants, it does not change the order number of the song but keeps it, adding a small print letter, starting with “a” (e.g., 187a, 187b, 187c… 187, etc., depending on how many variants we have). This numbering offers a good visibility of the songs belonging to the same melodic type.


5. Specific aspects of the transcription of the songs in the Chioar area

At the level of the musical language, despite the fact that we have not found sources that talk about the particularities of the Chioar area, we consider that the musical material we submit to the study (335 songs from the neocasual lyrics, of which 84 are variants) is a representative source, in which we can identify a number of elements that outline the specificity of the area. The repertoire of the neocational lyric contains the most alive genres of folklore, being subjected as such to a continuous preface, in order to be in step with the life and feelings of the people, the melodic types materializing in countless variants. The broad sphere of the neocational lyric is defined only on the basis of the literary and functional criterion. Taking into account the musical criterion, we distinguish three genres: the doina, the song itself, and the vocal song of play.

I made the transcript of the musical material in such a way that the score would play as accurately as possible the sound reality, be easy to decipher, and not create a barrier to the one who has the interest to decipher it and the song would illustrate the idea that was wanted to be transmitted with his help.

Each copy in the collection was transcribed at least twice, so the musical material was learned much faster, and when I met several variants of a song, I could make the correspondence between them much easier.

In the case of each song, the transcript corresponds to the first verse, except in cases where the beginning is unclear or has an incomplete form, in which case the second or third verse was transcribed (a fact marked by the number 2 or 3 next to the first melodic line). I have also encountered some examples of songs in which the performance has an improvisational character, the variations targeting both the rhythmic-melodic parameter and the formal aspect, these songs being transcribed entirely. All the transcribed musical material is present on a CD in MP3 format, the order of the songs on the compact disc being the same as the one in the work.

The own song, a genre rich in themes and ideas with countless variants, is a fundamental material in the research of musical folklore. Especially confessional and intimate, the song expresses varied feelings and ideas, depending on the nature of each individual or the spiritual state that they externalize through the art of sounds. To the common name of the song in the scientific terminology was added by Constantin Brăiloiu the own explanation, to distinguish it from the occasional songs, integrated to some habits, particularly functional and thematic. Permanent renewal explains the very large number of melodic types and variants existing in the repertoire. Within the musical material I researched, I came across songs that have one to eleven variants.

Some songs have common melodic types with other areas. An example in this sense is the modern style song S-o dus badea-n cătănie which is sung on another text and slightly melodically varied and from the Alba area:

Example 1 from the archive of the Cluj Folklore Institute:

Șurdești, MM.

Pop Maria, Pop Mărioara.

Cul. Istrate A., 1978; Tr. Uță L.

Examples 2 and 3 from Ioan Bocșa, Muzică vocală tradițională din Munții Apuseni [10]:

After the transcription stage, the material was classified into three broad categories: old style songs17 (in 179 songs out of which 56 are variants), songs of modern style (in 95 songs of which 16 are variants), and songs playing vocals (in 61 songs, of which 12 are variants).

The old style song is characterized by the execution parlando rubato. Depending on the style of zonal interpretation—sometimes depending on the vocal capabilities of the performer—the melody is richly ornamented. In the Chioar Country, the songs are not very ornate, and they have a much more melodic outline. The most common are the anterior or posterior grace note and the lower or upper mordent; we do not find a loaded ornamental pallet. The song itself is widespread in an individual interpretation, a way preferred by the lyrical categories. Some creations, long crystallized and entered into the consciousness of the community, can also be interpreted as a group. And in this case, I met songs, performed especially by a group of women. I noticed that there is a person within the group who is somewhat imposing, both in terms of the interpretation and the smooth running of the song text. In these cases, the women sang with a loud, penetrating “metallic” emission, and in the individual singing, they were much more gracious.

Many of the melodic types we encounter are based on formulas specific to the melodic recitative. We give as an example the first melodic line in two songs: Munte, munte brad crengos and Cucule pasăre blândă.

Example 4 from the archive of the Cluj Folklore Institute:

Buteasa, MM.

Bodea Ion, 51.

Cul. Șter C.I., 1975; Tr. Uță L.

Example 5 from the archive of the Cluj Folklore Institute:

Remecioara, MM.

Filimon Leontina.

Cul. Șter C.I., 1976; Tr. Uță L.

If we sit and analyze, these general features are the resemblance to the doina; the essential difference consists of the character of the architectural structure: the free, improvised form in the doina, fixed (strophic) in the catalog itself.

Unlike the old style song, the rhythm of the modern style song, as a result of the transformation tendency, is an exclusively divisive one. In the last two centuries, a new style, called “modern” (Constantin Brăiloiu), also appears within the regional frameworks and on the basis of the national fund, following the important changes in people’s lives: the gradual disaggregation of the closed peasant economy and patriarchal life., large population changes, either in search of work, or to escape exploitation, intense village-town or seasonal commuting, military service, the importance of the fighters in the life of the villages and their heterogeneous repertoire, etc.

The new style is imposed by its great accessibility; wide and fast circulation; uneven development on a regional level (it seems that the first new style songs appeared in the sub-Carpathian area); the exuberant, dynamic character, achieved through fast movement and regular rhythm (close to the measured rhythm); the simplification of the melody by giving up the melismatic richness; varied melodic contour; and large interval breaks.

Other features are as follows: developing the melodic verse by adding new melodic lines or repetition and adding to the traditional metric pattern some interjections; short melodic drawings sung on refrain syllables, at the beginning or the end of the melodic line; amplifying the sound material and the ambitus; new relationships between the final cadence and the inner cadences; the appearance of the major-minor tones; the tonal structure; the sensible formulas of ascending cadences; the preference for the songs with a single functional center; and the presence of the refrain in the end or inside the musical discourse.

Regarding the vocal dance music, in Chioar there are also songs performed vocally, on tetrapodic lyrics, usually appearing beside the text and shouting with satirical character. As a way of execution, often the rhythm (in most cases punctuated) is exceeded by the importance of the words, the performer giving priority to them, within the dances being close melodic variants. In the vocal dance song, the words are only a pretext for singing in the rhythm of the dance, and whole verses are often being replaced with the syllables of a refrain, la, la, la, or na, na, na:

Example 6 from the archive of the Cluj Folklore Institute:

Coaș, MM.

Petrică Elvira, 36 a.

Cul. Răciu S., 1975; Tr. Uță L.


6. Conclusion

We notice that the song does not lose its syllabic character even though it is slightly ornamented (with supports, mordents). Following the transcripts made according to the system adopted and practiced by the researchers of the Folklore Archive Institute in Cluj-Napoca, we identified these small differences with the folklore of other areas. From a sonic point of view, we can say that the folklore in the Chioar Country is largely similar to that of certain areas of Transylvania: Codru, Lăpuș, Sălaj, Cluj, Someș, Bistrița, and Alba. Collapsed as a number in the past, playing songs today represents, thanks to professional singers, an important chapter to be written in our folklore, as this genre is preferred in the transmission of new folklore ideas. It is our duty to look as far as possible on the authenticity of musical folklore as a legacy of the past and to give it to the next generation in a form that corresponds to reality.


  1. 1. Poșca G, Moldovan C. Județul Maramureș, București. 1980. pp. 54-55
  2. 2. Iuga Maria G. Cercetarea arheologică de la Mesteacăn. Article published in May 1980, în ziarul “Pentru socialism”
  3. 3. Ursu V, Ursu T. Cetatea Chioarului vatră de piatră, de neam, de istorie, articol publicat în mai, 1980, în ziarul “Pentru socialism”
  4. 4. României I. Editura Academiei Române din R.P.R., București. Vol. II. 1962
  5. 5. Prodan D. Iobăgia în Transilvania. Vol. II. București: Editura Academiei Române; 1968
  6. 6. Iosepescu S. Constatări de istorie militară medievală în bazinul Someșului Mijlociu, în “Marmația” 5–6, Baia Mare, 1979–1981
  7. 7. Meteș Ș. Cercetări și sentințe judecătorești privitoare la românii din ținutul Cetății de piatră (Chioar) în sec. al XVII-lea (1661). București: 1946
  8. 8. Pop G, Ioan Chiș Șter G. Etnografia și Folclorul Zonei Chioar, Baia Mare. 1983
  9. 9. Iștoc L. Catalogul tipologic al cântecelor propriu-zise din Transilvania, Teză de doctorat, Prof. univ. Dr. Ileana Szenik, Academia de Muzică “Gheorghe Dima” din Cluj-Napoca. 1997
  10. 10. Bocșa I. Muzică Vocală Tradițională din Munții Apuseni—Bazinul Arieșului și Văile Aiud, Geoagiu, Galda, Fundația Culturală TerrArmonia. 2013


  • The name comes from the Hungarian language Kövár; kö means stone, and vár, fortress.
  • The relief is volcanic, with large cones—Igniș (1307 m), Mogoșa (1246 m), or semi-crater like the one of the Gutîi (1443 m), destroyed by an explosive eruption.
  • The Preluca Massif is actually a high horst of 700–800 m, cut off by erosion surfaces (on which the households are scattered, as in the Apuseni Mountains) and deeply fragmented by narrow valleys. The maximum altitude on the northern edge is 810 m, in the Peak of the Flowers.
  • In February 1662 Kamény Simon, son of the deceased prince Kamény János, appoints Teleki Mihái as the supreme captain of the Chioar.
  • Toward the end of the seventeenth century, confessional disorders among the Romanian population from Chioar will also appear. Some accept Catholicism while others do not, the result being the division of villages from an occasional point of view (e.g., Vălenii Șomcutei).
  • From Chioar area there were important people of the time, who participated in the revolution: Ion Buteanu, the prefect of Iancu, and Ioan Popescu from Coaş, who after participating in the revolutionary events in Chioar, from 1848, moves to Moldova, Bârlad, where it establishes and activates a normal school—now under the name of the Normal School “Alexandru Vlahuță,” one of the oldest pedagogical schools in the country.
  • Renowned folklorist, member of the Romanian Academy, born in Iliești in Suceava. In addition to folklore collections from all the lands inhabited by Romanians, he wrote monographs on holidays, Romanian customs, ornithology, chromatics, etc. Through his work he laid the foundations for the scientific research of folklore and stimulated the wide collection of popular creations by other researchers.
  • A fost fratele preotului greco-catolic Laurențiu Bran, primul român care a tradus poeziile lui Mihai Eminescu în alte limbi.
  • Appeared under heavy financial conditions, the Chioarul was printed at Șomcuta Mare, at the typeface “Mercur” where folklore collections also appear.
  • The researcher who writes the first studies on the Codru and Chioar areas.
  • The work includes drawings, graphic scoring of dances, illustrative sketches, musical scores, etc.
  • It contains an anthology of 136 texts of the version Miorița—carol, collected from Maramureș (Maramureș County, 63; Chioar Country, 22; Country of Codrului, 28; Country of Lăpușului, 23). The texts were published, with two exceptions, in various collections, anthologies and periodicals, published in Maramureș, in Cluj-Napoca or Bucharest, between 1925 and 2001.
  • It is a journal of the CJCPCT published biannually since 2001. The journal publishes original research and reviews of cultural and social anthropology (ethnology, linguistics, traditional medicine) and areas of interference.
  • The Hungarian settlers arrived in Maramureș and northern Transylvania, being attracted by the rich hunting of the forests in the area, and later they discovered the salt deposits (from the perimeter of Ocna Șugatag-Coștiui), as well as the Baia Mare-Baia Sprie mining basin. For this reason they decided to colonize this region with Germans and Hungarians, to ensure an efficient exploitation of resources.
  • “Cu denumirea Arhiva de Folklor a Academiei Române, institutul a fost înfiinţat, în urma memoriilor alcătuite de Ion Muşlea, pe lângă Muzeul Limbii Române al Universităţii Regele Ferdinand I din Cluj, în Sesiunea anuală a Academiei Române din mai 1930”—information taken over from the official website of the Folklore Archive Institute of the Romanian Academy—
  • Over time, the musical material existing within each band often exceeded 50 minutes.
  • In the specialty literature, the old style was also called dialectal. The notion of dialect was first used by Béla Bartók with reference to the differences found in the old style song in those areas of Transylvania and Banat where she made folklore collections.

Written By

Uță Larisa-Vasilica

Submitted: November 4th, 2019 Reviewed: November 27th, 2019 Published: February 3rd, 2020