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The bagpipe was common throughout all European countries by the 16th century and is recorded to have been used in Romanian courts. During the period of Ottoman influence the bagpipe replaced in the courts in favour of eastern instruments from Turkey. Although the countries of Wallachia and Moldavia were at war with the Ottomans and eventually became vassal states there was not a migration of Turkish people or a replacement of the nobility and rulers by Turkish. However, many of the Romanian nobles sided with the Ottomans and there was an importation of Ottoman influences and of Ottoman gypsy musicians.

However, with the rural shepherds and farmers the cimpoi continued continued to be played, but with the fluier as the main dance music instrument. With the displacement of the peasant musicians by the gypsy lăutari during the 19th and 20th centuries the cimpoi has nearly died out. Untill recently bagpipes were found in most of Romania apart from the central, northern and eastern parts of Transylvania, but now it is only played by a few elderly people. Within the town folk ensembles the soloist pipe multi-instrumentalist generally will have a few bagpipe items with the orchestra.

The Romanian instrument has a single reed and straight bore chanter and is less stringent than its Balkan relatives.

These chanter options lead to 6 types of cimpoi; 4 single changer, 2 double chanter. The double chanter has one for the melody and the other has two drone notes a 4th apart which are set using a finger hole on the drone chanter.


Alexandru, T (1980), Romanian folk music, Musical publishing house, Bucharest


© Eliznik2005, First issue 2002, Last updated Mar-07