By Thede Kahl
Similar styles of multipart singing are common among the Albanians, Greeks and
Aromanians in the south of Albania and the northwest of Greece. The Aromanians
– called Vlachs by their neighbors – live as minorities throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, southern Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. From these areas they have emigrated to Bulgaria, southeast Romania and other
places. They speak a Romance language similar to Romanian and call themselves
armâni or rrămăni. Originally they were nomadic, and lived from live stock breeding of sheep and goats. Parts of the Aromanian population were urbanized (as early
as the 17th century), while others have continued animal breeding up until today.
Due to the nomadic life of their ancestors and due to the persecution of Moscopolis
(Aromanian : Muscopoli, Albanian : Voskopoja, Greek : Moschopolis) and other surrounding Aromanian settlements by the troops of Ali Pasha (the despot of Tepelena)
during the 18th century, the Aromanians have a widely dispersed population. Most of
their settlements are found in the mountains or in the valleys, but never in the hilly
lands in between. Among the Aromanians, the groups of Farsherots (in Greek arvanitovlachoi, in Romanian fărşeroţi ; self-designation fârşiroţi or, more general, rrămăni)
and Gramustians (in Greek grammostianoi, in Romanian grămusteni ; self-designation
ghrămusteani or, more general, armâni) best maintained their musical traditions and
until recently both groups had a rural way of life.
This essay describes the current situation of multipart singing among the Aromanians and, by way of conclulding, offers a few open questions.
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