Fanfare Ciocărlia is a popular twelve-piece Balkan Brass Band/Romani brass band (not to be confused with Romanian) from the northeastern Romanian village of Zece Prăjini. The band began as a loose assemblage of part-time musicians playing at local weddings and baptisms. In October 1996, the German sound engineer and record producer Henry Ernst visited Zece Prajini and convinced a number of the musicians there to assemble a touring band. These musicians decided to name the band Fanfare Ciocârlia: Fanfare being a French word that has passed into Romanian and is used to designate a brass band; Ciocârlia being the Romanian word for the skylark. Since their discovery by Ernst, who serves as their manager, they have played more than thousand concerts in more than 50 countries across the globe.
With historical roots in Austrian and Turkish military bands, Fanfare Ciocârlia's instrumental lineup includes trumpets, tenor and baritone horns, tubas, clarinets, saxophones, bass drum and percussion. Their song lyrics are usually either in Romani or Romanian. Their musical style stems primarily from the traditions of Romani and Romanian folk dance music, but they also borrow freely from Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian musical styles, and they incorporate a number of tunes gleaned from international radio, Hollywood and Bollywood in their broad repertoire as well. They are best known for a very fast, high-energy sound, with complex rhythms and high-speed, staccato clarinet, saxophone and trumpet solos, sometimes performed at more than 200 beats per minute. They are also known for using no sheet music in their performances, sometimes randomly blasting their horns and clarinets in the middle of a song, and for playing old, battered instruments onstage.