Cimpoi – the Instrument
Cimpoi (cheem-POY) means ‘bagpipe’, an instrument native to Romania. In their comprehensive book on Romanian dance Romanian Traditional Dance, by Anca Giurchescu and Sunni Bloland (1992), the authors state “The cimpoi (bagpipe), used extensively in the past, began to disappear rapidly after World War 1. At present it is encountered only sporadically in the Danube Plain, the sub-Carpathian regions, Dobrogea, the Moldavian Plateau, and the southern part of Transylvania. These traditional instruments [fluier, caval, and cimpoi – DB] have gradually been replaced by the violin in Muntenia and Moldavia and by the clarinet in southern Transylvania.”
Wikipedia says “Its repertoire is mainly dance music, usually played accompanied by a folk orchestra or played solo to provide music for the traditional dance ensemble. The traditional repertoire of songs is very limited, consisting of about ten different melodies, each one paired with a different rhythm and dance”
For more on the cimpoi, see https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/balkan-bagpipes/
I’ve found other Cimpoi tunes in Hora, Brâul, Sirba, Geamparalele, rhythms. See https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/dance-information/romanian-dance-rhythms-uneven/
Cimpoi – the Dance
I have found no YouTubes of Cimpoi being danced in Romania, on stage or otherwise. The only mention of Cimpoi in Romanian Traditional Dance (above), which lists hundreds of traditional dances, is the reference to the bagpipe. The name of the music accompanying the dance Cimpoi, Joc din cimpoi, (YouTube above) refers to a bagpipe (playing a rustem dance rhythm), not a dance named Cimpoi. I’ve found several Romanian-based YouTubes with the name Cimpoi in them – all are referring to the bagpipe.
Its rhythm tells us the choreography for Cimpoi is in the rustem family of dances, but was it ever a ‘village’ dance? Mihai David, who introduced Cimpoi to North Americans, said he learned it while dancing with the Romanian State Folk Dance Ensemble, (1963-1965). Their job was to produce folk-based spectacles glorifying Romania for the theatre-going market at home and abroad. Authenticity was researched, then moulded to serve the needs of spectacle and propaganda. Often choreographies were created to correspond with stirring orchestral arrangements. That seeems to be the case here, as the footwork matches the music exactly. The exciting music and choreography are what makes Cimpoi such fun for recreational folk dancers, but only one recording is suitable.
John Uhlemann wrote: “Mihai taught another Rustem choreography to a bagpipe tune, but since he had already used the name “rustemul,” he called the dance “Cimpoi” (meaning “bagpipe”).
“The cimpoi used by Marin Chisăr is of the south Romanian type. Chisăr was born in the village of Goicea Mare (as in the dance “Trei păzește de la Goicea Mare”, the recording for which he plays), not far from the Danube river. The Transylvanian bagpipe was occasionally similar, but I believe most Transylvanian bagpipes were of the variable drone type, much as in neighboring Hungary. I would love to know if that type has been resurrected at all.“