Known by various names throughout Romania, the doina is a lyrical, solemn chant that is improvised and spontaneous. As the essence of Romanian folklore, until 1900 it was the only musical genre in many regions of the country. Technically, the doina can be sung in any context (outdoors, at home, at work or during wakes), and is always performed solo, with or without instrumental accompaniment (which might include the traditional straight flute, bagpipes and even improvised instruments). There are several regional variants. The doina has a wide-ranging expressive and thematic palette that spans joy, sadness, solitude, social conflicts, brigand attacks, love and so on. Expressing as it does the personal qualities, emotions and virtuosity of the creator-performer, the doina also plays an important social role by providing a cathartic outlet that strengthens solidarity. It has also given rise to other artistic genres (dances). Today, the doina is under threat locally because of a break in the line of transmission from parent to child. Although some fifteen people have been identified as representatives of the various types of doina, an environment conducive to performance and transmission must be restored in order to ensure that this important feature of Romania’s intangible cultural heritage continues to flourish.
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