Victor Botnaru: Our traditional music is still of interest today

“If we talk about folk music, we must also talk about traditional musical instruments. The cobza I'm holding in my hands now is rather new, it’s about 5 years old. But cobza playing is an old craft, hundreds of years old”, said Victor Botnaru, a cobza player and lecturer at the Moldovan Academy of Arts, during a debate discussing the Moldo-Romanian bid to add cobza to the UNESCO cultural heritage list.

Victor Botnaru keeps stories about the peasant bands from the olden days, one of which he has from his grandmother from Cucuruzeni village, Orhei district: “The violinists used to come to us from the neighboring village, from Ciocâlteni. The world was eagerly waiting for Tănase and Ghiță, with the violin, and Matianu - with the cobza. Back then, the cobza was played with a goose feather...”

Thanks to Victor Botnaru, his teaching methodology and his own band, the number of cobza players is increasing. “The cobza is the instrument that suits me the most, that’s why I was offered by the Academy of Arts to lead the cobza class for singers of folk songs. This is where I started, from the experiences I accumulated being a member of Andrei Tamazlâcaru’s Tălăncuța ensemble, which also aimed to research and promote folk creations. I laid out on paper, page by page, the lessons a player would need, so that, in the end, he could pick up the cobza, sing with his voice and accompany himself. The methodology written by me is about 400 pages long, with all the traditional compartments. You just have to want to learn,” he said.

Victor Botnaru also offers consultations in cobza making. He collaborates with luthier Nicușor Mardare on the remodeling of the instrument. He also encouraged Vladimir Dron from Gura Galbenei, Cimișlia district, to make cobzas. Asked what other instruments could be submitted to the UNESCO list, he said: “The bagpipe. Bagpipes are spread all over the world, but we have our bagpipes. I consulted the archives of the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History and discovered about five types of bagpipes. The pipe should also be submitted. The pipe, too, is an instrument spread all over the world, but we have our own, original one, in terms of construction and playing techniques”.

The debate was the third edition of the “Double integration through cooperation and information. Continuity” Project, financed by the Department for Relations with the Republic of Moldova. The content of this debate does not represent the official position of the Department for Relations with the Republic of Moldova.

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