Strigături and comanda

Rhythmic shouts – Strigături

Strigături or chiuitură (rhythmic shouts in verses) are an integral part of Romanian folk dances in all zones except Banat. They take various forms depending on the locality of their origin but the act of shouting or crying out interjections in the form of rhyming couplets whilst dancing is a phenomenon unique to Romania. These shouts can also in Hungarian language in a few ethnically mixed Hungarian and Romanian zones in Kalotaszeg and Mezőség in Transylvania.

These shouts are spontaneous and the actual words used are frequently adapted to suit the ‘mood of the day’ generally making comment on life in the village or more recently in the stage performance group, or on characters in the village or the love lives of the participants or spectators.

The word strigături (singular: strigătură) comes from the verb ‘a striga’ meaning to call out or shout and is means ‘onomatopoeic shouts used to accompany the performance of folk dances’. These are usually in verse form and contain satirical allusions or jokes, or sometimes sentimental comments.

Strigături play a number of different roles in Romanian folk dances. They provide animation for the dance by adding to the atmosphere and entertainment value of the performance. They provide a rhythmic link between the accent of the verses and the rhythm of the dance steps, as the cadence of the strigături is the same as the cadence of the steps. The rhythm of the dancers’ movements, on the beat, in contra-timp or syncopated is closely connected to that of the strigături, which in turn coincides with the backing rhythm of the music. The strigături give the opportunity for competition and emulation between the male dancers, whilst the women’s strigături frequently pass comment about the men’s attractiveness or sexual prowess. Verses of strigături can also contain commands announcing the order of figures or the number of movements in the dance, (note that this is not the same as the comanda below).

Strigături can take various forms, they can be shouted in rhythm or ‘sung’ across the music by a single person, or in unison by a group, or take the form of a dialogue between two persons or groups of people as in the Bihor or Codru regions in north west Romania, or can be polyphonic as in the zones of Maramureș or Oaș. The lines of strigături are frequently interspersed with shrieks, whistles and exclamations which go across the rhythm of the verses.

Strigături are usually divided into verses of between four and eighth lines long. In central and northern Transylvania they are divided into groups of 2 to 4 verses, each lasting 2 measures, with an interval of 2 or more measures between verses. The accent is usually trochaic (eight syllables divided by binary accents starting with a stressed syllable) and iambic (eight syllables divided by binary accents starting with an unstressed syllable), the same as that spoken by the chorus in Greek plays and in many forms of poetry.

Strigături from Maramureș are characterised by keeping to the rhythm of the music, using the local intonation. This is different to Transylvania and closer to north Moldovia.

Strigături from Oaș are known as țâpurituri. The men who țâpuresc take many liberties with the rhythm, dividing and stretching the phrase. They use falsetto voice, intonations with large pitch intervals and gradually take the pitch very high. The verses are proceeded by a fragment initially formed in exclamation “hei!” or “aai!” and the word “țura” (țura, țurică or țurai) once or more times.

Commands – comandă

The use of single word shouts to indicate an imminent change of figure in a free-form dance is widely found in European traditional dance. It is especially, but not exclusively prevalent in ritual dance, such as Morris or sword dance.

These commands are usually given by the designated leader, who in south-east European dance is usually at the front of the line. The use of these ‘comanda’ in Romanian dance is found especially in the south of the country, on the Danube Plain and in Dobrogea, and along both sides of the Carpathians mountain chain. These commands are commonly used in men’s’ solo or men’s group dances, but are also used in mixed social dances. They differ from strigături, in that they are single word, or short refrain shouts, not in verse form, and they are given by one person only, although on the Danube Plain single shouts indicating counts are also found.

Published on 8th August 2018