The Roma
Photo of Romani wedding in Sofia, March 1936English-speaking people used to call them Gypsies. They now call themselves the Roma or Rroma: modern descendants of a nomadic people who left India perhaps a thousand years ago and made their way gradually to Europe, where they have been persecuted to this day. Their language, heard in many dialects, is called Romani or Romanes. As is often the case with people living on the margins of society, they've had a disproportionate impact on the musical traditions and folklore of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.


  • Esma Redzepova is the leading Balkan Rom singer of her generation
  • Ivo Papazov (or Papasov) is an incredible Turkish Rom clarinetist from Bulgaria who helped bring Bulgarian Rom wedding music to worldwide prominence.
  • An interview with Yuri Yunakov, who played sax with Ivo Papazov's band and who now leads the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble in New York.
  • Ferus Mustafov, one of many talented musicians in the Jasharov family, is one of the best-known Rom sax and clarinet plays in the Balkans.
  • The Kochani Orchestra, a Romani brass band from Macedonia.
  • Kalyi Jag ("Black Fire") was one of the first modern Rom bands in Hungary to perform Rom roots music in a traditional style, sans strolling violinists.
  • RootsWorld lists a number of Rom bands available on CD.
  • A brief list of Rom (or Romani-style) songs and bands from the former Yugoslavia, with some lyrics in a mixture of Serbo-Croatian and Romanes.
  • Carol Silverman, one of the leading American researchers of Rom culture, sings with Yuri Yunakov.
  • The Django Reinhardt Swing Page is an excellent site about the legendary jazz guitarist and other Rom jazz guitarists.
  • The ubiquitous Gipsy Kings rose to fame from a community of Roma in southern France.

Music and folklore links

Editorially selected links, not ads

General information

  • The Patrin, perhaps the best Romani site on the Web, maintained by M. Courbet as a tribute to his grandfather, who escaped and then fought the Nazis in occupied France.
  • A brief history of the Roma, from The Patrin.
  • supports Rom organizations and performers.
  • Les Roms de Roumanie, a black-and-white photographic essay from 1996 by Yves Lreseche.
  • The Dream, a stunning photographic essay on life among the Roma of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by Stacia Spragg.
  • Another report on the plight of Roma in Bulgaria, whose lot has not necessarily improved since the end of communism.
  • Bury Me Standing: A review of Isabel Fonseca's engaging book on the Roma of Eastern Europe.

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Updated 4 January 2003