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Young couple tour Europe to promote traditional instrument cobza


08-09-2014 00:26 BJT

Old musical traditions might not be attractive to most young people, but that's not the case for a young couple in Romania. They've become spellbound by a dying music tradition around an instrument called the cobza, and have even formed a band to tour around Europe.

In 19th century Romania, celebrating a wedding, christening or other party without the rollicking rhythm of the cobza was unthinkable. But then the unique instrument, a cousin of the lute, fell out of fashion. Now however, young enthusiasts like Florin and his wife Beatrice have rediscovered its beauty. Their band plays across Europe.

Florin said, "This instrument that is now neglected hides an incredible musical heritage. It has great value and I think we mustn't abaondon it so easily."

Vasile Nica sings of love and the forests of his homeland, or just improvises. His 80-year-old Cobza, plucked with a goose quill, is even older than him. He learned in the traditional way, the skill handed down by a professional troubador or 'lautar', and paid for his lessons with a sheep.

Nica said, "It is a treasure. You know, when you don't love something you do things without really wanting to do them. If I own something I use it but that doesn't mean that I put my heart into it. But when I take the cobza into my arms I don't need food, I don't need anything anymore."

Vasile is one of the last traditional cobza players in the world. But to his great regret, his son and grandchildren didn't want to take it up. However, the cobza hasn't necessarily played its last note.

Ethnomusicologist Speranta Radulescu said, "Young people are not interested in the sound of our past. I know this because I teach at the university. But a moment will come soon, when they will want to know how the world of their grandparents and great-grandparents sounded like, where they come from and who they are."

That moment may have already come. Dozens of young people gathered for a cobza concert earlier this year at one of a Bucharest's most famous clubs.

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