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Roma Culture: Music

"We have music, and if somebody doesn’t have music, then they’re nothing."

-Šelja Bajrami, Plemetina

  • Gracanica, 2003: watch a Video of the Gracanica Roma Children's Choir performing Dzelem Dzelem.
  • Gracanica, 2003: download extended footage (Zip file) of the World Roma Day celebrations in Gracanica, Kosovo, including traditional music and dances.
  • Plemetina, 2003: watch a Video of dancing and music at interviewee Gazmend Salijevic's engagement party (1).
  • Plemetina, 2003: watch a Video of dancing and music at interviewee Gazmend Salijevic's engagement party (2).
  • Prilužje, 2003: watch a Video of a traditional Roma dance.

Dzelem Dzelem is akin to a national anthem for many Roma in the former Yugoslavia. Two versions of Dzelem Dzelem are bundled onto the CD-ROM; one version is performed by Muzo Bizlim, and the other is performed by Adem Osmani’s Gracanica Roma Children’s Choir.

The English lyrics of all songs are written below. Dzelem Dzelem lyrics are additionally translated into Serbian and the original Romanes.

Dzelem Dzelem, Wedding Procession, Pop Music, Pop Music 2, and Emanuela are all performed by Muzo Bizlim, known on the streets of Šuto Orizari, Macedonia as “O Phuro,” or the old man. Bizlim is one of the last true composers and performers of classical Roma folk music.

Bizlim’s music was recorded in 2000 by Gregory Scarborough, a young American musician who has dedicated years of his life to work in Šuto Orizari, Macedonia. Scarborough produced The Shutka Music Project; Heartsongs from the Gypsies of Shutka, Macedonia, as well as You Are My Eyes: a compilation of folksongs from Turkish Kurdistan. These CDs are both available for purchase. To buy a CD, or to obtain more information on Scarborough’s past work, current projects and the music of Bizlim and other Roma performers, please contact Gregory Scarborough at gscar01@hotmail.com or write him at:

Gregory Scarborough
Music That Matters
2960 Coles Way
Atlanta, Georgia 30350 USA

Play the Music:

All Bizlim’s Songs © 2000 Music That Matters
Gracanica Roma Children's Choir Songs © 2003 Adem Osmani

Dzelem Dzelem Lyrics (and other lyrics to traditional Roma songs not included on this site)

Dzelem Dzelem- English
I went, I went

I went, I went, far away on a long road
And I met happy Roma
Ah Roma, where did you come from
With your children, happy Roma

Ah! Roma
Ah! Roma

I had a big family too
But the black legionnaires killed them

Ah! Roma
Ah! Roma

Open dear lord your black gates
So that I can see where my people are
Their black faces and black eyes I love them like two black grapes

Ah! Roma
Ah! Roma

O lord! I know that there is more time
Stand up Roma
Again I will go far away a long road
And I will walk with happy Roma

Ah! Roma
Ah! Roma

Dzelem Dzelem- Romanes
Dzelem, Dzelem
Dzelem, Dzelem lungone dromencar
Maladiljem bahtale romencar
Ah romaljen kotar tumen aven
E chorolencar bahtale chavencar

Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen
Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen

Sasa vi man bari familjija
Mudardasla I kalji legija
Sare chindas vi romen vi romnjen
Mashkar ljende vi cikne chavore

Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen
Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen

Putar devla te kalje udara
Te shaj dikav kas si me manusha
Paljen ka djav lungone dromencar
Taj ka pirav bahtale romencar

Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen
Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen

O pre devla isi vahj si akana
Ushten sare sundaleske roma
O kalo muj e kalje jaka
Kamavaljen sar e kalje draka

Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen
Aaaj Romaljen, Aaaj cavaljen

Dzelem Dzelem- Serbian
Otišao Sam, Otišao Sam
Otišao Sam, Otišao Sam dalekim putevima
I sreo sam Srecne Rome
Ah Romi odakle ste vi došli
Sa svojom decom srecnom Romskom decom

Aj! Romi
Aj! Romi

Imao sam I ja srecnu porodicu
Ali ubila je crna legija

Aj! Romi
Aj! Romi

Otvori bože svoje crne kapije
Da bi mogao da vidim gde je moj narod
Crno lice I crne oci volim ih kao crveno grozdje

Aj! Romi
Aj! Romi

Bože ima još vremena
Ustajte svi Romi
Opet cu ici dugim putevima I srescu se sa
Srecnim Romima

Aj! Romi
Aj! Romi

Beshli I chai tele (A girl is sitting down)
A girl is sitting down
Praying to God
Praying to God
Which man to take

She runs from the thief
She does not want him
She does not want him
Because he steals

Get away from the rich man
He is selfish
He is filled with tricks and lies
He doesn’t stay at home

The man who looks for women
They are hungry for women
They don’t stay with one girl
Always winking their eyes

The drunk man
Walks the streets
Walks the streets
More hungry than usual

My daughter go take
For you a poor Roma
He will love you much
You’ll be filled with children

Hajde Hajde Fato (Come on, Come on, Fato)

Come on, Come on Fato
You must go to your parents
Your Parents, Fato, whom
You haven’t seen is such a long time

Okay, uncle, wait, I’ll put on my clothes
Uncle, I’ll put on my clothes
I’ll dress and comb my hair
Uncle, I’ll comb my hair

Don’t dress, Fato, don’t comb
You don’t need to
Fato, your mother is dead
Fato, your mother, my sister, is dead

Bistergjan Bachtiar (You forgot, o Bachtiar)
Don’t hold your head high
Beautiful Bachtiar
You are big-eared (too proud)
You lift your ears so high
With money you sharpen them

Do you remember, Bachtiar hamaldji
A hungry worker
In your poverty,
You might have hung yourself
Because of your children’s hunger


You forgot, Bachtiar, your broken shoes
Now that you’ve become a little rich
When you drink a little, outside like a rooster
You neglect your neighbors
We’re not speaking harsh words
Only a poor man thinks highly of himself when he’s rich

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Who We Were, Who We Are: Kosovo Roma Oral Histories
©Bobby Anderson 2003-2009. All rights reserved.

This project was made possible by the generous financial support of the Open Society Institute Roma Culture Initiative.

Additional thanks to all other
donors & implementers

This study may be freely distributed, in whole or part, so long as the source is cited:
Who We Were, Who We Are: Kosovo Roma Oral Histories © Bobby Anderson 2003-2009
Is there something you feel we're missing? Do you have any comments, suggestions, or need additional information? Please write Bobby Anderson at bobby@balkanproject.org