Traditional Ethnic Music of Ukraine

Dear friends,

Today I tell you some interesting facts about traditional Ukrainian music. Music is an important part of our culture, thus I am sure it would be meaningful for you to take the next step in learning Ukrainian culture and mentality. The traditional music from Ukraine is as diverse as it is symbolic. For centuries this music has represented the culture and has been a poetic interpretation of tradition and folk rituals. The roots are thought to come from oral tradition of Bylina and 16th century epic poems.

There are several instruments that are a staple in Ukraine music. The lute, bass lute, cello, flutes, lira, bagpipes, drum and tambourine are the base for traditional music. Most of this music consists of ensembles of three. Of course, it is very diverse and different combinations were common.

ukraine music

It was traditional for professional musicians to sing dumy, or epic poems. They were in a separate class, often in the bandura or torban and called lirnyky or kobzari. They had a very important position in society and were revered as artists.

When this music is performed in public there is a lot of improvisational dancing involved. It is symphonic, beautiful and always tells a story, sometimes marking a special occasion like a birth or a marriage. Since it originates from oral traditions, it has important meanings and reveals the soul of the society. With Russian influences, these songs are full of rich history. Unfortunately during the 1930’s, the Russian regimes attempted to this music because of its religious undertones. It was often ritual music marking special occasions. There has been a revival of this traditional music, however.

ukrainian culture

Surprisingly, a lot of this revival is happening in North America. In the early 1900s, there were many Ukrainian immigrants, like Pawlo Humeniuk, that brought this music to life. These artists had a huge following and their popularity has continued and now has influenced modern musicians. The population in this area includes many diverse ethnic groups. This gave way to a diverse music history. Some of this music includes bilyj holos and choral ensembles.

Most of this music includes singing and dancing. It tells a story. It is rich in history and respect for the culture. With so many types of ethnicity in the Ukraine, all arts have been affected. Music, dance, singing and paintings are all areas that have been touched. They are all very diverse. There is really something for everyone. The centuries have allowed many cultures to be combined to create a unique blend of traditional art.

Current groups include Volyn Folk Choir and Poltava. With the current revival of this type of music there are new groups all over that are bringing back the traditions. It is bringing the culture together in a way that nothing else has been able to do thus far. Traditional ethnic music of Ukraine is a wonderful blend of different cultural influences that is still as complex today as it was centuries ago. 🙂

Traditional Ukrainian music “Gopak”:

Video 2: An excerpt from a Ukrainian folk musical “Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки

(Vechera na khutore bliz Dikan’ki) (English: “Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka”)

For your information: Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka is a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol, written from 1831-1832. They appeared in various magazines and were published in book form when Gogol, who had spent his life in Ukraine up to the age of nineteen, was twenty two. He put his early impressions and memories of childhood into these pictures of peasant life. In a series of letters to his mother, he asked her to write down descriptions of village customs, dress, superstitions, and old stories. These were also used as primary sources.

Each of the segments were based on Ukrainian folklore and feature comedic elements and a binding narrator, beekeeper Pan’ko-the-Redhaired, who is dictating the stories to the reader. A few other characters are mentioned in terms of the stories they provide, but regardless these segments are still told through the beekeeper Rudy.



Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)



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