Uneven musical rhythms are found widely through Europe: the Springar and Polska of Scandinavia, Slovak songs and dances, Albanian and Slavic dances from Albania and Macedonia, throughout Bulgarian, Anatolian dances of Greeks, Turks and Armenians, and Romanian dances and songs.
Romanian musicologist Constantin Brăiloiu termed these "aksak" using Turkish medieval music terminology, but only the term is borrowed and it does not indicate a Turkish origin for these dances. These rhythms use beats of unequal length, the long beat being about 1½ times the length of the short beat.
There are many features of Romanian folklore that are common to both the Romanian and Bulgarian sides of the Danube. These uneven rhythm dances are part of this shared tradition.
The asymmetric dance rhythms are;
- Rustemul has two beats, short-long, usually written in 5/16. The timing is not perfectly in 5/16 (2+3), sometimes it will drift nearer to 3/8, and in some areas it looses the asymmetry, getting close to 2/4.
- Geampara has three beats, short-short-long, written as 7/16 (2+2+3), and is found in Dobrogea and Danubian plain of south east Romania.
- Şchioapa has four beat rhythms, short-short-short-long, notated as 9/8 (2+2+2+3). In Dobrogea it is known as Cadâneasca and more closely resembles the Bulgarian Dajchovo. The southern Moldavian Şchioapa and southern Transylvanian Hodoroaga have a musical rhythm of 5/4 (2+2+2+4).
Many of the dances within the Romanian repertoire of Transylvania have stretched beats which are difficult to notate. Those of southern Transylvania are predominantly close to 7/8 rhythm.
- Purtata walking dance:
- Transylvanian plain Purtata dances are based on two slow beats per measure, with much stretching and hesitation in the music
- Southern Transylvanian Purtata are to their local typical 7/8 (3+2+2 ) or 10/16 (4+3+3) music
- De-a lungul (along the way) of east Transylvania danced to a slow and stretched 10/16 (4+3+3) or 11/16 (4+3+4) music
- Învârtita from southern Transylvania, including the Mureş region and across to Sălăj and Cluj regions, is danced to an asymmetric 10/8 (4+3+3) rhythm.
- Fecioreasca from Southern Transylvanian are adapted to the asymmetric 7/8 rhythm.
The many Banat Brâu dances have fixed choreographies with a musical rhythm is 2/4 or asymmetric 7/8 (3+2+2). This "long-short-short" rhythm, notated either as 3+2+2 or 4+3+3, has examples from Albania through west Bulgaria, east Serbia, Romanian Banat, and into Transylvania. It is thought that this has old origins from the early west Balkans. Similar dances, in steps and rhythm, to the Banat Brâul are found in Serbia, Žikino, and in west Bulgaria, Četvorno.
In addition to the above, asymmetric rhythms are found;
- In Romania the 7/8 (2+2+3) rhythm is widespread particularly through Moldavia with the Capra custom as well as for a social couple dance with called figures known by various names such as Spic de Grâu or hop şi alta or Kecsketánc (Csango). It may be that the 7/8 (2+2+3) rhythm has been in the Balkans around the Black Sea from early times.
- The slow Hore from Oltenia and Bucovina are normally notated in 3/8 but are towards 5/16 (3+2).
- Traditional Colinde (pre-Christian carols) can have unpredictable combinations of long and short beats.
|Rustemul||Rustemul, Resteul, Ghimpele, Bugeacul, Murguleţul, Paiduşca||circle, hand hold (normally low hand hold)||crossing steps, hops, swinging arms||5/8|
|Geampara||Geampara, Pandelaşul, Zlata,||circle, hand hold, couples||crossing steps, stamps, hops, swinging arms||7/16|
|Şchioapa||Şchioapa, Cadâneasca, Hodoroaga||circle, hand hold, men shoulder hold||9/16 or 5/8|
|Purtata||Purtata, De purtat, Româneşte de purtat, Româneşte cu fete, De-nceput, Purtata, Pe sub mână, De-a lungul, P-a lungul, De-a mână||couples in crescent||10/16 (4+6), 7/8 (3+2+2 ), 10/16 (4+3+3), or 11/16 (4+3+4)|
|Asymmetric rhythm Învârtita||Învârtita, De-învârtita,||scattered couples, trios, or small circles||turning as a couple, resting figure||can include women's pirouettes, men's heel clicks||10/16 (4+3+3)
|southern Transylvanian Fecioreşte||Fecioreasca||group||walking (plimbări) and figures||syncopation, stamps, leaps, hops, heel clicks||2/4 or 7/8|
|Banat Brâul||Brâul lui ...,
Brâul de la ...,
|shoulder hold||fixed sequence, often with a number of figures||crossing steps, leg swings, hops||2/4, 7/8 (3+2+2)|
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