This is usually 1.5m to 3m in length and made of well-seasoned deal, maple, ash, lime or hazel wood which is conical or cylindrical bored, slit lengthways, hollowed out and then glued together. In the north it can be made of galvanised iron and folded like a trombone. As it does not have valves or finger holes it can only play the pitches in the natural harmonic series.
The generic term bucium, used in the Muntenian Carpathians of Argeș and Prahova, and in the Moldavian Carpathians of Vrancea and Neamț, is derived from the Latin bucinum = trumpet blast.
In the northern regions the name appears to be linked to the Slavic trambica, maybe via the Huțul and Rusyn. In Bucovina it is called trâmbiță, in Oaș and Maramureș trâmbită or trânghită.
In the Apuseni mountains it is known as tulnic, and is often played by women. The derivation for this word is not know. The difference between the bucium, trâmbiță and tulnic is in the curve and the width; the tulnic is not curved.
The bucium has several different functions:
- Integrated into pastoral life, it is used to call the sheep into the sheep-folds in the afternoons and evenings. In the Apuseni mountains it is also used in the morning when taking the sheep out. In Oaş there are two types of melodies, at the sheep fold the trâmbiță is plays a high tune at the end of the milking.
- In Bucovina, Oaş, Maramureş, and some villages in the north of Neamţ three or four trâmbită lead the funeral processions.
- In the Apuseni it is also used for communication for people in the highlands, similar to Scandinavia.
- In common with the Swiss Alpenhorn, Slovenian Rog, Serbian (Vlach Homolje) bušen, Polish & Ukrainian trembita, Lithuania truba, Estonia and Scandinavian luur it is only found in the mountain regions.