Margaret Beissinger

Ch. 1:
Music, Dance, Performance: A Descriptive Analysis of Manele
Anca Giurchescu & Speranța Rădulescu

Ch. 2:
A History of the Manea: The 19th to the Mid-20th Century
Costin Moisil

Ch. 3:
How the Music of Manele is Structured
Speranța Rădulescu

Ch. 4:
Romanian Manele and Regional Parallels: "Oriental" Ethnopop in the Balkans
Margaret Beissinger

Ch. 5:
Actors and Performance
Speranța Rădulescu

Ch. 6:
The "Boyar in the Helicopter": Power, Parody, and Carnival in Manea Performances
Victor Alexandre Stoichita

Ch. 7:
Manele and the Underworld
Adrian Schiop

Ch. 8:
Village Manele: An Urban Genre in Rural Romania
Margaret Beissinger

Ch. 9:
Turbo-Authenticity: An Essay about "Manelism"
Vintilă Mihăilescu

Speranța Rădulescu

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Chapter 1:

Music, Dance, Performance: A Descriptive Analysis of Manele

Anca Giurchescu & Speranța Rădulescu

This chapter offers an ethnographic description of the manea phenomenon: manele are the product of a syncretic merging of music, text, dance, gestures, and behavior. They are created and performed at parties and social events by hired manelişti (sg. manelist)—popular professional Romani musicians. Their audiences are working-class youth from cities and villages (Romanians, Roma, and other ethnicities) and enthusiastic profiteers of capitalism who have emerged in the last two decades in Romania. Through an ambiguous discourse that manelişti construct with all of the expressive resources available to them, they attract several categories of patrons, including wealthy individuals, whose successes in life (measured by money, power, and prestige) they extol, and impoverished youth, in whom they instill the hope that an ostentatious way of life is within reach. A number of anthropological interpretations that are revisited in other chapters of the book are also outlined in this chapter.


Example 1.1         Map of present-day Romania and its provinces. The lightly shaded regions on the map are those in which manele have enjoyed the greatest popularity.

Romanian provinces

Example 1.2         Turkish manea: Aman Doctor. Recorded and published around 1928 by Odeon label, catalogue number A199197a. Performers: Constantin Vasile, clarinet; Petrică Bugeanu, accordion. Collection of John DeMetrick. Used by permission. 1:03.

Aman doctor

Example 1.3         Turkish manea. Recorded in 1949 in the village of Clejani, Giurgiu, by Paula Carp and Constantin Zamfir, 16 May 1949. Transcription by Pascal Bentoiu (excerpt), included in Alexandru 1956: 281-82. Performers: Pârvan Răgălie, first violin; Costică Nederescu, second violin; Ion Păturică, cobză. The record is included in the Archives of Institutul de etnografie şi folclor Constantin Brăiloiu [Constantin Brăiloiu Institute of Ethnography and Folklore] under the catalogue number Fgm. 4091. The notation begins approximately after the 8th measure. 3:02.

Turkish manea Turkish manea

Example 1.4         Manea rhythms (first line). Standard rhythmic formula and (in the subsequent six lines) different formulae deriving from it. The derived formulae can be played simultaneously in the accompaniment of the same manea or in the accompaniment of different manele.

Manea rhythms

Example 1.5.a         "Oriental" iconographic universe imagined through manele: scene from a wedding banquet under a tent [Photo: George Popescu]. Used by permission.

Wedding banquet

Example 1.5.b         "Oriental" iconographic universe: scene from the Miss Piranda contest, 2010. (See also Video 1.13 and Video 1.18) [Photo: George Popescu]. Used by permission.

Miss Piranda contest

Example 1.5.c         "Occidental" iconographic universe: scene from a wedding party. (See also Video 1.22.) [Photo: George Popescu]. Used by permission.

Wedding party

Example 1.5.d          "Occidental" iconographic universe: musicians preparing for performance on stage [Photo: George Popescu]. Used by permission.


Example 1.6         Köçek, early 18th century, included in Popescu-Judetz 1982:46-58.

Kocek, early 18th century, included in Popescu-Judetz

Example 1.7         Anatolian group performing köçek. Kastamonu (city), Cide (town), July 2012. Dancer: İsmail Ersoy [Photo: Beril Çakmakoğlu].

Anatolian group performing kocek

Example 1.8         Çengi dancer. Miniature by Abdulcelil Levni, 18th century, included in Popescu-Judetz 1982:46–58.

Cengi dancer

Example 1.9         The Romani woman Nadia Pitigoi, dancing to manele accompanied by her husband Napoleon Constantin. Village of Gratia, Teleorman, 2004 [Photo: Shane Solow]. Used by permission.

Nadia Pitigoi

Example 1.10         "Gypsy" manea performed on stage by the ensemble Vatra, at a festival. Town of Caracal, Olt, 1993 [Camera: Anca Giurchescu]. 0:19.

Example 1.11         Two young Romani women – sisters Luminiţa and Alina Petrache – dancing to manea music. Bucharest, 2010 [Photo: Anca Giurchescu].

Dancing to manea music

Example 1.12         Manea: Joacă manea [Dance to the manea]. Singer: Babi Minune [Babi Wonder]; dancer: Papušika. Video-clip produced by Amma Records, as a part of the album Inimă de ţigan [Gypsy heart]. Bucharest, 2004., accessed January 2010. 0:31. Transcription by Speranţa Rădulescu – beginning. The global architectonic form of this manea: A B (b1+b2) C D B (b1+ b2) D var. B (b1+ b2) b1 b1 b1 b1…. (the C section is Duke Ellington’s famous piece "Caravan").

Dancing to manea music - Babi Minune Dancing to manea music - Babi Minune

Example 1.13         Oriental manea based on the Bulgarian song Vlez! [Come in!]. Performed by the young Romani manelist Ionuţ Cercel and the Bulgarian vocalist Cvetelina Yaneva (fragment). Videoclip produced by Planeta HD. Calafat, 2013., accessed February 2014. 0:32.

Example 1.14         Romanian horă at the wedding of Antonela & Andrei. Performed by Petrică and Camelia Ciucă ensemble. Produced by Digital Media Studio. Calafat, 2013. accessed February 2014. 0:34.

Example 1.15         Bride dancing to manele in the Orientalized style at the wedding of Marius & Florina. Performed by Florin Salam and his ensemble. Posted on Youtube by Mihai Puştiu. Town of Olteniţa, 12 July 2013., accessed August 2013. Used by permission. 0:30.

Example 1.16         Cadână [odalisque] – Elena, belly dancer, with Orlando playing tarabana – dancing in the Orientalized style at the wedding of Nica & Lori. (A male dancer underscores the syncopated rhythm of the accompaniment by hip movements, handclapping, finger-snapping, and stamping of the feet.), accessed May 2014. 0:33.

Example 1.17         Florentina, Miss Piranda 2010, dances to manele at home, rehearsing her "sexy" expression and gestures., accessed June 2011. 0:31.

Example 1.18         Miss Piranda contest (excerpt) (an example of "classical 'Orientalized' manea"). Filmed by Jose Boudet. Bucharest, 2011., accessed November 2011. 0:13.

Example 1.19         Dancing manele to horă music. (In the accompaniment of this horă, a rhythmic formula suggests specific manea movements to the dancers.) Village of Ciupelniţa, Prahova County, 1999 [Camera: Anca Giurchescu]. 0:35.

Example 1.20         "Gypsy" manea from Transylvania (fragment). Produced by Tadaschi Igarashi, 2011., accessed December 2011. 0:31.

Example 1.21         Peasant dance to manea music. (The dancers borrow the circle formation--with hand or shoulder holds and even step patterns from the Romanian horă and sârbă, combined with movements specific to the Orientalized manea.) Performed by Florin Salam and his ensemble., accessed March 2014. 0:42.

Example 1.22         Occidentalized manea: Îţi mănânc buzele [I devour your lips]. Performed by Florin Salam, Claudia Asu, and ensemble. Videoclip produced by Big Man Romania., accessed June 2013. Used by permission. 1:44.

Example 1.23         The manea ensemble of Adrian de la Severin plays for Claudia’s coming-of-age celebration at the restaurant Arena. (Here one can observe the co-existence of various stylistic ways of dancing to manele: "Oriental," Western, "Gypsy," peasant, and a blend thereof.) Bucharest, 2012. Produced by Marius Trifan., accessed October 2013. 0:28.

Example 1.24         Choreographic discourse interrupted by arrhythmic movements, pauses, and gestures--non-dance elements incorporated into the emotional substance of the dance. Unidentified young couple dancing to manele, Million Dollars Club, Bucharest, 2011 [Camera: Anca Giurchescu]. 1:59.

Example 1.25         Manea at restaurant, sung by Florin Salam: N-am avut şef [I didn’t have a boss]. (The manelist frequently interrupts his performance for dedications and flattering words, either of his own initiative or urged by someone from the close circle of individuals hiring the musicians.) Bucharest, before 2010., accessed May 2010. Used by permission. 3:20.

Example 1.26         "Surprise": the wedding organizers arranged a brief "Oriental" show featuring a professional dancer dressed as a cadână [odalisque] who performs a heavily stereotyped "belly dance." Parc Restaurant, Amara (town), Ialomiţa County., accessed June 2013. 0:31.

Example 1.27         Miss Piranda, 27 March 2011 (excerpt). (Miss Piranda typically falls somewhere between "Oriental" classic belly and traditional Romani dance.), accessed June 2013. [Camera: Jose Boude]. 0:33.

Examples 1.28.a-c         CD covers featuring women (a, top left: "Benga [African popular music genre] manele"; b, bottom left: "Indian mega-party"; c, right: "Real manele").

CD front covers representing women CD front covers representing women CD front covers representing women

Example 1.29         Babi Minune [Babi Wonder] singing and dancing to the manea Made in Romania (excerpt). (This manea reinforces a popular reconstruction of national identity that acknowledges the existence of Roma.) Bucharest, 2008. 3e3FCLZgGXs, accessed August 2010. Video-clip produced by Amma – Noi facem muzica. 0:34.

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