What You Have to Know about Unique Russian Music Instruments

If you are a music lover, the chance is you know almost everything about the most common musical instruments. You must have known that a piano is technically a string instrument, that the buzz of your mouth can make an embouchure sing and even everything about those trippy and rare double-reed instruments such as the oboe and bassoon.

There are a lot of musical instruments out there that you can learn and enjoy. For example, if you like thrumming tones, you can learn how to play drum and bass, or even learn to play the tuba. If you like a higher tonality, you can go for one of a ton of mainstream music instruments. But what if you want to learn to play a more unique music instrument? Luckily, there are thousands, if not millions of unique-looking and unique-sounding instruments to buy from on the market such as fluba, octobass, and many others.

There are still many more music instruments that will blow your mind. Perhaps if you are a man with a tough heart, you will likely try your hand at playing one of those unique musical instruments. Who knows what hidden talents you will discover within yourselves?

Russian Music Instruments

When we think of the relation between Russia and classical music, we will be immediately reminded of the great composers like Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky. Russia’s role in the canon of Western classical music, both as musicians and composers, is well established though it can be easy to overlook the vast variety of native Russian musical instruments.

What you have to know about unique Russian music instruments is that they take various forms such as ensemble playing and solo performing on the pipe, bayan, violin, et cetera.

Pre-Christians used to play typical medieval European music instruments such as the gùsli or wood-zither, svirel which is a woodwind instrument equivalent to the flute; gudok which is similar to a fiddle, and also horns, as well as schamanic accessories like tambourines, drums, small bells, and noisemakers. These instruments were typically played during rites, court ceremonies, entertainment, and probably in pagan temples.

Balalaika as a Symbol

Among the many Russian music instruments, the balalaika stands out the most not just because it is the most recognized but also because it has become a symbol of Russian culture. Fortunately, much is being done for its establishment, and it continues to evolve as a native instrument and a key to the concert orchestra. However, how much do you know about this national instrument?

There are a lot of varieties of balalaika and all of them have found their role as solo and orchestra music instruments and can easily be heard in music more than many realize.

Balalaika has a unique triangular shape. The back is made of beech and the soundboard is pine wood. Most balalaikas have three strings though some have six of which the last two strings are usually tuned to the same note E and the first to note A. That is how most balalaika players tune their balalaika instruments. In folk usage, all three strings are tuned to different notes. Melodies are played by either rapid plucking or strumming.

Other Local National Music Instruments

Besides balalaika, there are also other local national music instruments and this is what you have to know about unique Russian music instruments such as:

  • Treschyotka: It is a Russian folk music instrument which is a kind of rattle. It produces various percussion sounds. It is built from several wooden slats that are threaded together on a string. It is often used to perform in wedding ceremonies and usually decorated with ribbons, flowers, and little bells. In order to generate diverse rhythms and sounds, the player should hold the string, stretch it like when playing the accordion, and then squeeze the slats together. Try different forces and change the angle of the slats to generate unique sounds.
  • Lozhky: Lozhky is musical spoons made of harder wood than common tablespoons. The spoons often have longer handles and the ladle has a smooth, polished surface. Sometimes there are jingles attached to the handle. A set of spoons consist of 2, 3 or 4 spoons of different sizes in order to generate different pitches. There are a lot of techniques and tricks for mastering the spoons. To play them, the player should put two spoons between the fingers of their left hand and hold the third spoon in their right hand, and then they hit the first two spoons with the third one.
  • Jaleika: It is a wind musical instrument with a reed inside the mouthpiece and finger holes to produce different pitches; it is equal to the recorder. It has a jaunty, raucous sound and takes a lot of air pressure to get it. It is often played to highlight melodies.
  • Kolokolchiki: It is the plural word for bells in Russian. In Russia, the horses usually wear jingle bells or bubenchik. It is like the jingles on the tambourine. The jingle bells are set on leather harnesses strapped around their necks, bodies, heads, chests or rumps. On the wooden structure over the center, there are three kolokochiki hanging to warn everyone that the horse is coming.
  • Buben: It is also known as tambourine, a hand-held percussion music instrument with a narrow round frame and a manmade or rawhide membrane stretched over one side. There are little bells or jingles attached in the slots of the frame. Buben is widely used by the wandering minstrel-clowns called skomorokhi and bear tamers. The players should do all sorts of tricks to play it. They can either toss it up in the air and catch it or bang it on their knee, chin, head or nose. They can also beat it with their hands, fingers, elbows, and then shake and rattle it, all while singing and dancing.

Russian National Museum of Music

Russian National Museum of Music is an institution opened for the public which is dedicated to musical culture. Its broad range of collection is one of the most comprehensive and the largest in existence, offering both world-known pieces like Stradivari violins and other local national musical instruments.

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