The central plain of Transylvania is known as Câmpia Transilvaniei (“plains of Transylvania”) by the Romanians, and Mezőség (“area of fields”) by Hungarians. The peasant population of this region is an ethnic mix of Hungarians, Romanians and Rom (gypsies), and unusually for Transylvania, most of the villages are ethnically mixed. The lands came under various feudal estates with the peasants being bound to the feudal lords. This resulted, in the past to a more fluid situation with the peasants being moved between villages and new villages being founded.
The visual impression given from the term “plain” is not true to the real geography, only in comparison to the surrounding mountains. Villages are nestled within rolling hills which follow a number of rivers that drain into the surrounding river Mureș and river Someș. Densely populated villages with arable farming are separated by empty pasture land and woods.
A century ago the song and music collected by Bela Batók was part of most villager’s lives, and was subject to slower changes. With improved communications repertoire song and music listened to has changed rapidly as lives have changed and the desired music at weddings has moved on.
The village music was gradually taken over by the Rom (gypsy) professional musicians who were formally employed by the feudal land owners. This led to the introduction of the central European fashion of the string ensemble which continued to develop the Transylvanian music repertoire into the 20th century. There is less demand for these groups now in the villages, so there are fewer village tarafs. Many of these have been recorded by Hungarian and Romanian music labels playing a mixture of a few old dances with many more recently introduced popular dances.