Since the publication of the first edition of this booklet interest in Ukrainian folk music and instruments has continued to grow. This is evident in the large number of new recordings and books that have appeared on the subject during the past ten years. The independence Ukraine finally gained has also brought on a change in the political climate in Ukraine and the West. This has also sparked a new found interest in Ukraine and its arts. The continued development and perfecting of Ukrainian folk instruments by craftspeople both in Ukraine and in the West has meant that some additions needed to be made. In some cases information had to be changed. All efforts have been made to make sure information in this booklet is up to date and accurate, without making it overly extended Tunings of instruments have not been given because many are not typical, similarly examples of folk-music material have been avoided to keep the booklet within a project-like size.
Interest in traditional folk instruments is growing, not only in Ukraine but also in the West. This movement, which started almost a hundred years ago as an offshoot of the romantic movement, has been a valuable tool in defining national identity and in developing a better understanding of the cultural attributes of each nation. A similar movement can be observed in the new-found popularity in Renaissance and Baroque music in the West. Not only are recordings and music readily available, but the quality of these works has become more sophisticated. The audience is no longer able to accept "straight" performances of ancient music but require that authentic instruments be used and that the music being performed in an authentic style, even though such "perfect" performances would have been a rarity at their time the music was conceived.
This trend will most probably influence those who enjoy listening and playing Ukrainian music. They will become more interested in the finer points of the music, such as the use of authentic folk instruments and their differences.
This booklet is an introduction to the folk instruments of the Ukrainian people. It will allow you to gain a better understanding of the instruments of this region and to understand appreciate what you are listening to. It is written in a popular style to be accessible to all and to enable its use for school projects and as a handy reference book, without the use of too many technical terms that may cloud some of the more interesting facts about an instrument. Much information has been written and published about Ukrainian folk instruments, some of this has been incorrect or outdated. The unfortunate problem is that this information is often repeated. The author has made a great effort to ensure that all the facts in this book are current and correct.
Instrumental ensemble, 17th century
Music has accompanied human existence for as long as we know. Initially, the first musical instrument was the voice, and it is thought that songs developed to accompany work and to put meaning into ritual. Gradually percussive instruments were introduced to beat time to make work more profitable and interesting.
Wind instruments, such as the blowing of sea shells and animal horns were introduced later: first as signals and later, with the discovery of how to change their pitch, into musical instruments.
In primitive society, with conflicts at one's doorstep at all times, the discovery that the taut string of a bow could make a sound when pressed to a hollow, may have led to the discovery of the first string instruments. Thus, from the world around them, humans discovered musical instruments and with these new discoveries and further experimentation, new tastes in music developed.
Musical instruments and the music they produce reflect the economic, technical and cultural environment in which people lived and their psychological makeup. Ukraine is rich in musical instruments and among these instruments are folk instruments many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Some are variants that have gone through a long process of change to adapt to their new environment.
The first written sources that mention musical instruments in Ukraine date back to ancient Greek chronicles of the 6th century. Wandering Arab scholars paid great attention to the musical instruments used in Rus', but it was not until the 19th century that investigative studies were made into Ukrainian musical instruments. These included the publications of Mykola Lysenko - the father of Modern Ukrainian music.