The Kuvytsi - Rebro (Svyryli, Naj)
The kuvytsi are one of the most ancient of folk instruments and are better known in the West as the Pan pipes. Pan pipes have been found in archeological excavations in Ukraine that date back some 5,000 years. The instrument consists of several pipes each of which, when blown endwise, produces one sound. Various versions of the kuvytsi exist in Ukraine, such as the one-sided kuvytsi, which consist of a system of pipes from large to small in one direction or double-sided kuvytsi, which have their largest pipe in the center.
These instruments were used by ensembles in Chernihiv Province and also widely in the Western Ukraine. In recent years the Moldovan concert version of the pan-pipes called the "Naj" has been introduced successfully. These instruments allow chromatic notes to be readily obtained, a semitone lower than the primary sound of the pipe. This is done by bending the angle of the pipes with relation to the player's lips. The air stream is thus broken on the far end of the pipe, rather than the end closest the lips.
The Horn (Rih, Rizhok, Lihava, Cossack Horn, Hornpipe)
An instrument that was popular in Eastern Ukraine, with between three and six fingerholes, or sometimes none. Usually they were made from a cylindrical reed with a cow's horn to form the bell. The mouthpiece usually has a single reed although occasionally double reed instruments can be found.
Rizhok from "Hray muzyko" of Humeniuk
The trembita is the Ukrainian version of the alpine horn. It is usually made of spruce that has been split, a central bore dug out and then glued together and bound with birch bark. It is usually some three meters (10 feet) long, being 2.3 to 5 cm (1-2 in.) wide at the mouthpiece and 6cm (3 1/2 in) wide at the bell. Shorter trembitas of half to one meter in length can be found. This shorter instruments are often called "vivcharska dudka" (shepherds pipe) or "syhnal'na truba." The mouthpiece is often made from a separate piece.
The range is approximately three octaves, encompassing the natural harmonic series such as in the french horn.
The trembita was primarily used in signaling events such as the coming of visitors, enemies or death in the mountain regions of Ukraine and thus a system of elaborate signals was devised. Carol motifs were also played on the instrument at Christmas. Like many of the instruments of Western Ukraine, the trembita is not unique to the Ukrainian people. Instruments such as the trombita, trabita, trebita can be found in Poland and the bucium in Romania.
Hutsuls playing trembitas
The Wooden Trumpet (Truba, Lihava, Cossack Trumpet, Sihnal'na truba)
The truba or lihava is an instrument of the surma type, only with a mouthpiece like that of a standard trumpet made of wood. The instrument has seven to ten finger-holes and is presently used in contemporary folk instrument orchestras.
The Surma (Shawm)
The surma is a type of shawm that had widespread use in the armies of the Cossack host. It is thought that the instrument was introduced into Ukraine from the Caucasus or Turkey where the surma exists under the names zurna and surnai. The term is often used to describe the wooden trumpet. The instrument surma is made of wood with a conical bore, having a bell at one end and a double reed similar to that used in the oboe at the other. It usually has nine to ten finger-holes and is capable of chromatic sounds through a range of dynamics. The instrument is reminiscent of the sound of the oboe. Presently the surma has found its way into orchestras of Ukrainian folk instruments in a range of sizes such as prima, alto and bass.
The Bagpipes (Volynka, Duda, Koza)
The bagpipes are popular in many countries of the world. They are constructed around a goat skin air reservoir into which air is blown through a pipe with a valve. A number of playing pipes [two to four] extend from the bag holding the air. The main playing pipe has five to seven, sometimes eight fingerholes on which the melody is played. The other pipes produce a drone. This is usually either a single tonic note or a perfect fifth. Each of these playing pipes has a double reed usually made from a goose quill. In recent times this instrument has lost the popularity it had previously, and is rarely used today. It was originally found in Western and Central Ukraine.
The Jaw Harp (Drymba, Varhan, Vargan)
The drymba is commonly known in the West as the Jaw harp or in its corrupted version: the Jew's -harp. It is made of metal in a form similar to a distorted horseshoe. In the center is a stainless steel tongue. The instrument is held up to the mouth with the left hand so as to touch the teeth while the right hand plucks the stainless steel blade. The players mouth served as a resonator. While playing the drymba, the performer often hums a melody.
The Ocheretyna or Ocheretianka (Berest)
The ocheretyna is similar in principle to the kazoo. It has been used in Ukraine by folk musicians for a long time. Sometimes folk violinists would place one in their lips and hum while playing, producing a duet. The ocheretyna is made from a length of fresh reed that is cut so that the joints are at the ends. In one end a hole is made. One of the walls is cut away so that the internal membrane of the reed is visible. This membrane is near the closed end of the reed and vibrates when the instrument is hummed into. An interesting version of this instrument is the reed dudka which is similar to the instrument described above only having six finger holes with which to play a melody.
Another instrument related to the ocheretyna and in widespread folkloric use is the hrebinetz. This is a plastic comb with a piece of waxed paper wrapped around it. The paper is buzzed between the lips and the teeth of the comb. It is played in imitation of the harmonica.
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