The Bubon (Resheto, Taraban, Tambourine)
The bubon consists of a wooden ring with a diameter of up to 50cm (20in)
which has a skin tightened over one or both sides. Occasionally, holes
are made in the wooden sides into which metal rings are placed which
rattle when the bubon is struck with the hand or a stick. The first
mentions of the bubon date back to the 11th century; It was also a
popular instrument among the Ukrainian Cossacks.
The Cymbals (Tarilky)
The cymbals were used in Kievan Rus’ and are depicted on the walls of
the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. They are also depicted in the Kiev
Psalter of 1397. They were used in the military music of the Zaporozhian
Cossacks. In the 19th century the cymbals usually formed part of a drum
kit. One cymbal attached to the side of a drum was struck by another
cymbal held in one hand, while the other hand struck the drum with a
The Kettle Drums, Timpani, (Lytavry, Tulumbasy)
The kettle drums were used in Ukraine from the times of the Cossacks,
and probably earlier as a signaling device to announce meetings and
enemy attacks. They have been recently introduced into folk instrument
Illustration (p35) Cossack striking kettle drum (Remove this
illustration. The cossack is not holding the sticks correctly.)
The Bass Drum
The bass drum is often used together with a cymbal to provide rhythmic
accompaniment in the troyista muzyka. This instrument is sometimes
called a bubon or bukhalo.
The Bukhalo (Drum kit, Bass drum)
This is a type of large drum often used in dance music. It is fixed to
the player with a belt so that the performer can also dance and move
about when needed. The bukhalo is struck with a stick and often has a
cymbal joined to the side of the instrument which is struck by a metal
rod, or another cymbal, to produce unexpected rhythmic devices. The
sticks are called bubinky. The one used to strike the drum is made of
wood, and the one used to strike the cymbal is made of metal.
The Buhay (Buhai, Berebenytsia, Bika, Buga, Bochka)
The buhay is an instrument that originated in Western Ukraine and is
classified as a friction drum. It consists of a conical barrel sometimes
a bucket. At one end a sheep membrane is stretched with a hole in this
skin’s center. Through this hole a tuft of horse hair with a knot at one
end is passed. Usually two performers are needed to operate the
instrument, one to hold the instrument, the other to pull the horsehair
with moistened fingers. In recent times versions of the Buhay have been
made which are held in position by the players feet. These instruments
can be played successfully by one player without assistance. Five to six
different sounds can be obtained from the instrument, depending on the
skill of the player.
It plays an important part in New Years and Christmas rituals and can
also be found in Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Lithuania, where it is
known as the Bukhai.
The derkach is occasionally used in Ukrainian folk instrument
orchestras, but is usually found as a child’s toy. The derkach was made
by taking a piece of rounded hard wood and cutting teeth into it.
Another piece of wood is joined to this with a tongue. As this piece
rotates around the rounded piece, the tongue makes a noise as it passes
over the teeth.
The rapach is a huge version of the Derkach. Huge rapaches were used by
churches in the Priashiv region instead of bells.
The Torokhkalo (Kalatalo, Torokhkavka, Klepach)
This is an instrument used in folk ensembles whenever a drum is not
available. It was also used by night guards to scare away intruders. The
instrument is made from a piece of wood with a handle. A second piece of
wood shorter than the first is joined to the original piece by metal
rings near from the handle. A hole is drilled through both pieces at one
end and a wooden bolt is placed through the hole so that the additional
piece can move a small distance. When the instrument is spun around it
produces a very loud sound amplified by the stillness of the night. A
variant of the torokhalo is the klepach that consists of a wooden hammer
on an axis which is swung from one side to the other.
This is an instrument consisting of copper or brass plates strung from a
wire. In the past it was made of silver. When the instrument was shaken,
it produced a jingling sound reminiscent of small bells. The instrument
is now no longer used.
(Rubal, Rubel, Kuchelka, Kachanka, Kachalka, Rebra) The zatula is not
really a musical instrument but a household item for washing and ironing
clothes. It is occasionally used as a percussion instrument. The
kachanka is a piece of wood that has grooves carved into it. A wooden
rod was run over these grooves to soften clothes after washing. The
kachanka is played in a humorous way by placing the rounded rod under
the chin and using the kachanka as a bow, playing over the rod, or
visa-versa. The rasping sound thus produced is similar to that of the
In some folk instrument ensembles a steel horseshoe dangling from the
end of a gut string is struck with a piece of metal wire. This produced
a high-pitched ringing sound similar to a triangle.
The Batih is a thick stick that is rhythmically tapped on the floor in
some folkloric groups. Pieces of metal or bottle-caps can be attached to
the stick, which rattle when the stick strikes the ground. This adds to
the percussive effect of the instrument.
Mishalow, Victor – The Ukrainian Hurdy-gurdy. Epic ballads, psalms and
songs from the repertoire of Vasyl Nechepa. (Kobza – Toronto, 1990)
Mishalow, Victor – The Ukrainian Hurdy-gurdy – in “Sinfonye” The journal
of the Hurdy-gurdy society pp.6-15 No. 7 Summer 1993 (Dorset, England
Mizynec, V – The Kobzar Brotherhoods – in “Bandura” (# 7-8 N.Y. 1984 p.
Moyle, Natalie K. – Ukrainian Dumy – Editio Minor CIUS and HURI
Nezovybat’ko, O. – Ukrainski tsymbaly (The Ukrainian Hammer Dulcimer)
Palmer, Susann – The Hurdy-gurdy – Davids and Charles (Devon, UK 1980)
Prokopenko, N. – Ustrojstvo, khranenie i remont narodnyx muzykalnyx
instrumentov (Adjustment, storage and repair of folk music instruments)
Sadie, S (ed) – The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. –
Macmillan Press (NY, 1984)
Skliar, Ivan – Podarunok Sopilkariam (A gift to Soplika players) (Kyiv,
Skliar, Ivan – Kyivs’ka-kharkivs’ka bandura (The Kyiv-kharkiv bandura)
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