Horitul – the singing of Hore in the Transylvanian Plain

Oina Game in Romania
31/05/2021
Interview with H.E. Mrs. Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Bulgaria
31/05/2021
Horitul – the singing of Hore in the Transylvanian Plain
Domain: Oral traditions and expressions
Element inscribed on the National ICH Registry

The name of this old practice of traditional vocal singing shares a common root with the one for the circle dances very popular in the Balkan area (such as Bulgarian horo, Northern Macedonian oro, Serbo-Croatian kolo, Greek khoron), though it represents a different ICH element. Horitul is a Romanian artistic interpretation of the Hore songs – a traditional lyrical vocal genre widespread in the central area of The Transylvanian Plateau and its surroundings. This musical tradition still enjoys a high number of practitioners in rural localities; they are generally peasants involved in agriculture. While working on the fields, in the forest or in their own garden, people believe their work is made easier through practicing Horitul. The performances are mostly individual, and practiced by those members of the community who are endowed with musical talent and are recognized by the community for their musical and poetical skills. The Hore songs express mostly sadness, grief or pain and, very rarely, joy. The songs have a simple line, mono- or at most bipartite- structure, and they often exceed the ambit of an octave, but they are very rich in musical ornamentation according to the artistic capacity of the performer. Also, not being characterized by rhythm, and thus designed to be sung without musical instruments, the Hore songs can have very long texts lasting between 10 to 15 minutes. It is considered that the Hore songs may have originated in the old ritual incantations with a spiritual purification function. In a similar way to the religious confession of sins or psychotherapy, Horitul encourages relief and reaching psychological and emotional balance for the performer.

As an active ICH element practiced only by the elderly in representative communities, the Horitul is a highly endangered element.

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