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As the Roma passed through Europe, they adapted the local
instruments to their own music. In Spain they excelled on guitar
and in Greece they were famed for their skill on the clarinet
and other wind instruments. But it was in Bulgaria, Romania
and Hungary that the Roma became associated with the violin.
The Roma have numerous legends about how the violin was magically
created for them.
One tells of a young Romani girl named Mara who was in love
with a Gadje (non-Gypsy) who didn't love her in return. She
called on the Devil, who promised to make the young man love
her, if she would give her family to him. She did so and the
Devil turned her father into a violin, her four brothers into
the strings and her mother into the bow. She learned to play
the instrument and attracted the Gadje to her bed, whereupon
the Devil appeared and carried them both away. A young Roma
passed by a few days later and found the violin and returned
to his camp with it and learned to play it. And to this day,
because the violin was born in such sorrow, even when a Gypsy
plays a happy song on his instrument, it always has a sad sound.