Traditional Romanian instruments

The Flute, the Leaf, the Bucium, the Buhai, the Cimpoi, the Naiul, the Trumpet, the Ţambalul, the Ţitera or the Cobza are old instruments that have been preserved to this day. Music is an important part of the existence of the Romanian peasant. The sensitivity to the beauty of sound was also transmitted in the rich forms and ornaments that adorn the musical instruments created by folk craftsmen. Musical instrument makers often make a demonstration of the beauty of the built instruments and their talent in detecting the expansion of the range of interpretive possibilities of popular songs, “pearls in themselves”, as our national composer, George Enescu, considered them.

The most widespread musical instrument is the whistle, which is closely related to animal growing, especially shepherding. The sound is obtained by completely, almost completely plugging or opening the side holes with the fingers, the air thus vibrating in the tube.


Buciumul (also called tulnic) is a musical instrument used by Romanian shepherds in the mountains. Of origin, it was used in the past in the principalities of Moldova and Wallachia as a signaling tool in military conflicts. The Latin word “buccinum”, meaning bent horn. In some regions it was also sung at funerals, and in the past it was also used to signal foreign invasions.

The bucium is a tube open at both ends, made up of long staves of fir, ash, linden, hazel or paltin, well dried, tightened from place to place with wooden or metal rings.


A musical instrument related to the tambourine and consisting of a resonating box with metal strings vibrated by a plectrum. Endowed with a soft, pleasant sound, the zither is used to perform solo pieces, as well as in combination with other instruments. The name is reminiscent of the sistrum, a variety of the lyre in Ancient Greece. The sistrum is a musical instrument used by the ancient Egyptians, consisting of a metal blade curved in an ovoid shape, with united ends, provided with a handle and having, at the end of the curve, movable metal bars that, by touching or hitting with a rod of iron, they produced sounds. The performers standing in front of each other form an original duet in which each one supports his song. The variety of titeras consists of a body and two necks.

The body is a rectangular box with two supports of two legs each, made of long maple wood. The box wall has a thickness of 4 mm. A volute is attached to the left and right walls of the body, which serves to fix the ends of the necks. The body is covered with a resonance plate, made of 2 mm thick fir wood.
The resonance plate is provided from the inside with two springs, and a shaped hole is cut in the middle.

Tambalul (Cimballom)

The Romanian tambal is a chordophone instrument operated by striking with the help of two wooden sticks (“hammers”), which are wrapped at the end with a textile material. It was used in the area of ​​the “Old Kingdom” (especially in Muntenia) until the interwar period, after which its use was increasingly restricted. Musical records mention him as having been found on Romanian territory since the second half of the 18th century (F. J. Sulzer), but his presence in these places is much older. When playing, the Romanian cymbal is held by the performer in the area of ​​the abdomen, being hung around the neck with a strap or for the ones of big sizes, it stays on 4 feet.


The cobza is a traditional stringed instrument, operated by plucking. It was used by the Romanians in the space that included the “Old Kingdom”. An instrument with the main role of accompaniment, the cobza gradually disappeared from the practice of traditional music, since the interwar period of the last century. At the moment there are only a few traditional performers who play the cobza. They work in some folklore ensembles. The body of the reed (resonance box) is oversized in size, in relation to the other parts that make up the instrument. It has a pear shape, cut in half, being built from “staves” of paltin wood. The resonance plate is made of spruce wood, in order to be as elastic as possible, in terms of picking up the vibrations from the gag. The instrument has a short and thick neck, its end being without a fret. The place of the nails is arranged broken, compared to the trajectory of the neck.

Nai – Panflute

An ancient musical instrument, the nai is made up of the slightly curved assembly of several tubes (around 20) of cane, elder or other essences, having different sizes. These tubes are closed at the bottom by wax plugs and are open at the top, where the naist (panflute player) introduces the air, thus emitting the sound.


The buhaiul is a membranophonic instrument operated by friction, by means of a strand of hair from a horse’s tail. The body of the instrument (with the role of acoustic enclosure) is made from a discarded piece of wood. It usually has a frustoconical shape. Its staves are fixed with the help of metal circles. At one of the edges of the body (the one with the small diameter) a well-stretched skin (usually goat) is applied as a membrane. In its center is fixed the strand of hair, which hangs freely at the other end. By rubbing the strand (following the model of milking), the skin membrane is vibrated. The vibration of the membrane is partially controlled by the performer by the way the strand is rubbed by hand. The instrument makes a muffled sound. The sound differences of this noise depend on: the dimensions of the resonator body (of the bell), the dimensions of the membrane and the way in which this membrane is stretched. If the bellowing is skillfully handled by the performers, it imitates the lowing of cattle quite well. Buhaiul is the main sound instrument used by carolers, in the context of winter customs with an agrarian substrate, related to the New Year.


The trambita is like a trumpet, an aerophone instrument with an appearance similar to the bucium or tulnic. It is made by hand from thin sheet iron (galvanized) by occasional craftsmen, being used as a signaling tool in the pastoral mountain areas of the north of the country (Maramureş, Suceava counties). The tool does not have a well-defined size or shape. If it exceeds two meters in length, the trambita can have the shape of a horn, in which the pavilion is truncated-conical elongated (very slightly flared). At the other end, the trumpet has a wooden mouthpiece about ten centimeters long and two centimeters in diameter, which is used to produce sound with the help of the lips. The tin tube segments that make up the instrument (bent or coiled ones) are tightly glued with tin, in a primitive way of working. Depending on the size of the tube or the correctness of the construction, according to the acoustic laws, the trumpet emits a series of frequencies, according to the model of the upper resonance of the fundamental sound (a fragment of this scale). The range of the instrument can be greatly affected by the degree of skill or musical competence of the instrumentalist. The signals emitted by the trumpet are various. They have a melodic line significantly influenced by the local rhythmic-melodic formulas, which are detached depending on the folklore area in which the instrument is used.


The bagpipe consists of a goatskin bag called “bellows”. Air is introduced into it, like in a tank, through a small pipe, made of elder, metal or bone. On the wall opposite the pipe are two whistles that communicate tightly with the interior. The longest of them emits a fixed sound, which uniformly accompanies the whole song of the bagpipe.

During the song, the bagpiper holds the bellows under his arm, which pushes the air into the whistle, and the holes of the short whistle are operated with the fingers, as in an ordinary whistle.

The bagpipes also feature sculptural elements. Its leather bellows have whistles made of wood, often carved into geometric shapes or the shape of an animal’s (usually goat’s) head.