IV. UKRAINIAN MUSIC AND ITS HISTORY: From Archaic to Baroque eras

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CHAPTER I :: UKRAINE IN THE 18th CENTURY: General outlook


CHAPTER III-a :: TORBAN: Its origins and predecessors

CHAPTER III-b :: TORBAN: Illustrated Overview of Surviving Instruments

CHAPTER IV-a :: UKRAINIAN MUSIC: Renaissance Era, Lute

CHAPTER IV-b :: Baroque & Classical Eras, Baroque Lute & Torban

CHAPTER V :: PERSONALITIES: Known players and literary citations

ICONOGRAPHY :: REGIONAL: Lutes in Early Eastern Europe




Art Music

The early history of music in Ukraine is legendary, owed to irreparable loss of life and material culture during the Mongol invasions. Kievan Rus', its capital Kiev, and thus Ukraine, fell in political importance in the 13th and 14th centuries, and between the 14th and 17th centuries the principal purveyors of formal music instruction were the church brotherhoods, who were particularly active in Lwów (now L'viv), Peremyshl (now Przemyśl), Ostrog (now Ostrih) and Luzk (now Lutsk), as well as Kiev. Although set up primarily for religious education, music instruction was a significant part of the curriculum.

An important development in music occurred when the Polish-Lithuanian union of 1569 (Union of Ljublin) brought the Ukrainian Church on the Right Bank of the river Dnieper under Western influence. Western musical theories and polyphony were adapted at the Mohyla Academy (Kyevo-Moghyljanska Akademija, 1615–1915) in Kiev, the central institution of higher learning in 17th-century that served eastern and southern Slavdom. By the second half of the 16th century neumatic notation had been replaced with the five-staff system called kyivs'ke znamya ("Kievan banner").

The intellectual revolution of the 1600s was given a decisive impetus by the first important Ukrainian composer and theorist- Mykola Dilets'ky. He was well suited for the task of Westernizing Ukrainian music, since he had received an excellent education at the Jesuit academy in Vilnius and was familiar with new developments in Polish music. One of the most prolific composers in eastern Europe, Diletsky wrote the first work on the new music theory to issue from eastern Europe ("Grammatika peniya musikiyskago", published in various editions between 1677 and 1681). Dilets'ky (and by extension the Mohyla Academy and the Glukhov school, which trained later composers such as Danylo Tuptalo (or Tuptalenko, aka St. Dimitry of Rostov), Dmytro Javors'ky, F. Ternopil's'ky, Y. Zahvoys'ky, Hryhory Skovoroda (poet-songwriter ans philosopher (1722–94), Dmytro Bortnyansky, Maxym Berezovs'ky (1745–77), H. Rachyns'ky (1777–1843), and Artemy Vedel (1767–1808), determined the course of the development of music in the Russian Empire which at the time encompassed Ukraine, Belorussia, and Lithuania.

For this new style of multi-voiced choral compositions, known as partesniy spiv (‘part singing’), Dilets'ky provided the theoretical and practical foundation. This resulted in the prevalence of the polyphonic style in Kiev and led to the development of the genre of the ‘partesniy’ (‘choral’) kontsert (concerto). This particularly slavonic mixture of Baroque, and later Classical, styles became firmly established in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine and was passed to St.Petersburg and Moscow via Ukrainian singers and composers who worked there. The popularity and importance of the ‘partesniy’ concerto is attested by the fact that in 1697 two music registers belonging to the L'viv Dormition Brotherhood record 398 works by Ukrainian composers for three to 12 voices (the majority, 120, for eight voices). In 1738 the Hlukhiv (Glukhov) Singing School was founded.

As Ukraine began to reach its musical maturity in the 18th century, its accomplishments started to serve, and be absorbed by, Russia's musical development, so that in the early 19th century Kiev lost its musical primacy to Moscow. More and more musicians were being engaged in Russia and forced to develop a musical life there. This trend had already started at the end of the 17th century when the tsar summoned Diletsky to Moscow to teach the rudiments of polyphonic style, and continued with the appointment in the early 18th century of I. Popovsky as the precentor of the imperial court choir and the recruitment of singers from Ukraine. It became more pronounced when the Rozumovs'ky (Razumovsky) family (which produced the last hetman of Ukraine, to 1764) established itself in St Petersburg and began hiring gifted musicians from Ukraine (e.g. M. Poltorats'ky). The flowering of the Ukrainian school can clearly be seen in the work of three masters: Artemy Vedel, Maxym Berezovs'ky and Dmytro Bortnyans'ky. The last two also studied elsewhere in Italy with Galuppi and Martini, and upon their return were to remain in St Petersburg: Berezovs'ky, very briefly before his suicide, and Bortnyans'ky for the rest of his long and productive life. In their best and most original work, notably in the genre of the a cappella choral concerto, the two styles of Baroque and Classical are synthesized into a choral style of symphonic proportion and dramaturgy.

Traditional music

Much of Ukrainian music is influenced by the country's geographical position, lying between eastern Europe and western Asia, with both Slav and non-Slav neighbours. Its musical life is recorded in a number of historical sources. The 11th-century frescoes in the cathedral of St Sofia in Kiev depict musicians playing many instruments (including lutes). They also show the skomorokhi dance and theatrical performances. The Chronicle of Volïnsk (1241) mentions Mitusa, a ‘renowned’ singer from Galicia, and documents of the 14th and 15th centuries record Ukrainian lira (hurdy-gurdy) players at the Polish court, and the kobza-bandura performer Churilo. The Kiev znamennïy chant is thought to have been developed from non-liturgical vocal music in the second half of the 11th century.

Ukrainian vocal musics exhibit a wide variety of forms – monodic, heterophonic, homophonic, harmonic and polyphonic (from the 16th century) – often reflecting the instrumental accompaniment with which they are associated. Common traditional instruments include: the kobza (lute), Bandura, torban (bass lute), violin, basolya (3-string cello), the relya (or lyra, a hurdy-gurdy) and the cimbalom; the sopilka (duct flute), floyara (open, end-blown flute), trembyta (long wooden trumpet), fife and koza (bagpipes); and the buben (frame drum), tulumbas (kettledrum, played by Cossack regimental musicians), resheto (tambourine) and drymba (jew's harp). Traditional instrumental ensembles are often known as troïstï muzyki (from the ‘three musicians’ that typically make up the ensemble, e.g. violin, sopilka and buben; violin, cimbalom and buben. When performing dance melodies instrumental performance always includes improvisation.

Melodies may be broadly classified in four ways: formulaic recitative with a narrow pitch range, common in ritual, ceremonial and epic genres; declamatory recitative with a non-strophic structure, used for dumy; rospivno-protyazhnïy melodies with two- or three-line stanzas (AB, AAB, ABB), followed by a modified reprise, typical of domestic and social texts; and melodies based on dance rhythms characteristic of games, epigrammatic refrains and short and cyclical instrumental forms. Although West Asian melodic characteristics can be discerned, traditional musics have been greatly influenced by the Western major-minor system since the 17th century. Rospiv (chant) melodies and melodies based on dance rhythms come close to Western diatonic and functional-harmonic models.

Among the traditional dances of Ukraine are: (see BALLI) the kozak, hopak, kolomïyka and hutsulka in duple time; and the metelitsya, shumka, arkan and chabarashka. Dances originating outside the region but which have been widely adopted include: the mantovana, polka, mazurka, krakowiak, csárdás, waltz, barynya and tropak. Vocal and instrumental genres of dance melodies are found; both display a characteristic acceleration of tempo during performance. Dance melodies for vocal performance form a ‘template’ to which a great number of often short, different lyrical texts may be sung. The opposition of accents in the text against those of rhythm and metre is a characteristic feature of dance melodies. Ukrainian instrumental and dance music was also influenced by Jewish and Gypsy korchmar (‘tavern’) ensembles.

Vocal music

Calendrical, ritual and celebratory musics. Kolyadki (‘carols’) and shchedrivki are sung at Christmas and New Year respectively. The texts of these songs refer to agriculture and domestic life. Sung antiphonally, they consist of a verse and refrain of blessings (e.g. oy day Bozhe, ‘may God grant you’, dobriy vecher, ‘good evening’), often with lines of 5+5 syllables. They have a limited pitch range and are usually in a diatonic major or minor mode. The singers are accompanied by players who portray characters known as ‘the goat’ and ‘Malanka’. Carols from church traditions are also sung.

Vesnyanki are songs performed by women to celebrate the coming of spring. They have a characteristic exclamation, ‘gu’, which is sung as a glissando at the end of each stanza (ex.1). There are round-dance and game variants of vesnyanki (e.g. proso, ‘millet’, kryviy tanets, ‘the crooked dance’, and vorotar, ‘the gate-keeper’), which have become children's game-songs. Texts have various forms but each stanza usually has two lines. Kupal'skiye songs which were performed during the summer solstice, have now been appropriated for the festival of the birth of John the Baptist. Associated with these songs are the petrivochnïye, which were sung from Trinity Sunday to St Peter's day (12 July). The texts of both types of song refer to love and match-making. Harvest is marked by obzhinochnïye songs, which accompany the weaving of garlands from ears of wheat and rye, and by a procession of reapers.

All calendrical and ritual songs are performed by a group, who partly sing antiphonally. The melodies have a narrow pitch and are variants of basic formulae. They consist of one or two lines with refrains (less frequently they can be of three lines with a repetition of the second half) and are both sung in unison and with heterophony.

Of celebratory ritual songs – vesilnï (wedding), krestyl'nï (baptismal) and pomynal'nï (funerary) – the largest number are wedding songs. Indispensable at a Ukrainian wedding are the ritual songs ladkannya, sung by a chorus, often antiphonally between men and women. They comment on and describe the wedding rituals, for example decorating the wedding sapling (gil'tse), untying the bride's tress and covering the head of the bride with a cap. The singing uses both unison and heterophonic textures, with the voices often in parallel 3rds. A singer using a high falsetto (tonchik) sings above the chorus (ex.2). The ladkannya texts have lines of 5+3, 6+3 and 7+3 syllables. The melodies are formulaic, use ornamentation and a slight slowing of the tempo to delay the movement from note to note, particularly when in the Western major mode and when sounding the first degree. In the western parts of Ukraine ladkannya are recited in unison on the tonic, or in 3rds (gymel).

Polyphonic and heterophonic song

During the second half of the 17th century Ukraine was divided into the dneprovskoye levoberezh'ye (left bank of the Dnieper), which was Orthodox, and the pravoberezh'ye (right bank), which was Greco-Catholic. A widespread genre on the levoberezh'ye was the polyphonic singing of ‘street’ long songs (protyazhnïy).

In these the second, supporting, part was sung with a belïy (‘white’) chest sound in a low to medium register. The pitch was set by the leader and was taken up by the chorus from which an upper voice (govryak) stood out. The melodic lines were similar to rospiv (chant) melodies on which the singers could improvise. Characteristic features included frequent changes of metre, and repetition of the preceding musical line for the first line of a new stanza. This style was used for love songs, domestic songs, songs sung by ox-cart drivers (chumaki) who carried salt from the mines, and in Cossack songs.

In north and north-western Ukraine (Poles'ye and Volïn') a form of heterophony is found of falsetto singing with glissandi over a tonic drone, the top line having an ambitus of a 4th or 5th. The style is found in ritual songs, for example vesnyanki (spring songs), troitskiye (songs for the Trinity), obzhyiskovi (reaping songs) and vesilnï (wedding songs). The ends of the stanzas are characterized by long pauses on the last accented syllable of the stanza, and a shortening of the last unaccented one.

Music of the Carpathians.

The three peoples who live in the Carpathian region – Boykos, Hutsuls and Lemkos/Rusyns – possess distinct musics influenced by their pastoral and agrarian economy. The most common genres are solo songs, performed in a parlando rubato style; group songs are performed in unison. Melodies often consist of microtonal descending lines, with a glissando at the end of the stanza; they are similar to shepherds’ tunes played on the sopilka or drymba.

Ghukannya are solo songs used to exchange messages between shepherds, in a style similar to yodelling. These are found in the foothills of the Carpathians and also in parts of Slovakia and Romania. Another widespread genre of this region is the recitative-like holosinnya (lament) for the dead. They were once found throughout Ukraine and are associated with the long, chanted epic chronicles (oprïshkov and gayduk) which recount the deeds of historical liberators of Ukraine, and contemporary unusual events in the people's lives.

The music of Hutsulys is greatly influenced by the kolomïyka couplet (with lines of 4+4+6 syllables), particularly the slow protyazhnïy songs. Boykys and Hutsulys also have rapid tunes of the kolomïyka-type, which provide the basis for thousands of short texts of an epigrammatic character. They are performed solo with instrumental accompaniment, including troïstï muzyki ensembles at weddings and during leisure-time activities. A characteristic mode of the Hutsulys has a lowered third and sharpened fourth and seventh degrees, and is known as the ‘Hutsuly mode’ Hutsuly vocal music may also be pentatonic. Ukrainian Lemkïs, who live in the extreme west of the country, have musics that have characteristically swift tempos and are based on dance rhythms.

Epics & Dumy.

A genre of Ukrainian performed epic poetry, dumy are mainly found in central and eastern regions. They have recitative-like, declamatory melodies, not arranged in stanzas, often accompanied by the kobza, bandura or lira. Large-scale works, which can total more than 300 lines or more of poetry, are linked to the epics of old Kiev, the byliny and Slovo o polko Igoreve (‘The lay of Igor's campaign’).

Dumy are first mentioned in the annals of the Polish chronicler S. Sarnitski (1567), and were first written down in 1693 as Kozak Holota (Cossack Holota). Some 50 tales, in a large number of variants, have been documented, which were composed by soldiers in Cossack campaigns and later were cultivated by professional players who specialized in playing the kobza and lira. Many of these performers were blind and were formed into guilds.

To gain recognition as players of the kobza and lira, musicians had to spend three to six years studying under a master of the guild. During this time they would learn the epic repertory, study the dumy melodies, gain proficiency in playing the instruments, learn Levian (the language of the guild) and the guild's etiquette, and pass an examination, known as vizvilka or otklinshchini. The schools and guilds, which were organized on a territorial basis and protected the rights of the musicians, existed until the beginning of the 20th century. Outstanding performers of dumy include O. Veresay, A. Shut, M. Kravchenko, G. Goncharenko, I. Skubiy, M. Dubina, E. Movchan, G. Tkachenko and A. Hrebin.

The lines of dumy are not equisyllabic, extending over 6–16–18 syllables grouped together in irregular declamatory groups (ustupy). A performance begins with a rhetorical exclamation, ‘oy’ or ‘hey’ sung to a descending musical phrase, known as zaplachka (‘weeping’). This phrase contains the basic motif that is varied by the kobza or lira throughout the performance. A characteristic feature of traditional performance is the ornamented cadences performed at the end of each ustupy. Motifs in the texts often are embellished with rhyming figures of speech (e.g. dumaye-hadaye, plache-rydaye) and phrases such as nevolya turets'kaya (‘Turkish captivity’) or slava kozats'ka (‘Cossack glory’), and conclude with a ‘glory’ section, slava ne umre, ne polyazhe, bude slava slavnaya pomezh kozkami, pomezh druz'yami, pomezh rytsaryami (‘let not glory die, let it not perish, let there be resplendent glory among Cossacks, among friends, among knights’).

Other traditions

In addition to the dumy, traditions of epic performance in Ukraine included the Kievan byliny (after the collapse of the Kievan state, 882–1054, the performers of byliny migrated north), ‘historical’ songs, ballads and spivanki-khroniki (‘sung chronicles’). These ‘chronicles’ took the form of performed short stanzas of epic poetry. They were performed in both urban and rural contexts, assimilating many regional styles, in particular urban kant melodies.

The earliest records, both texts and music, of historical songs date from the late 17th century (Hoy na hori zhentsi zhnut, ‘Hoy, the Reapers are Reaping on the Hill’, and Oy bida, bida tiy chaytsi nebozi, ‘Oh Woe, Woe Poor Lapwing’). The text of the ballad Dunayu, Dunayu, chemu smuten techesh? (‘Danube, Danube, Why do you Flow so Sadly?’) was recorded in the grammar book of the Czech scholar Jan Blagoslav (1550–60). Large cycles of songs in rhymed syllabic verse about national heroes, such as Morozenko, Nechay and Khmel'nitsky, have survived in manuscripts dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Cossacks, members of the lower middle class and those in training for the priesthood were taught singing, alongside other subjects, in ‘schools of the brotherhood’ set up in important urban centres (for example those in Lvov, founded 1585, Kiev, 1615, and Lutsk, 1617). These schools introduced elements of written tradition and the major-minor system into epic performance. Historical songs and ballads have melodies in march rhythms that reflect underlying harmonic progressions and cadences in which a leading note resolves onto the tonic.

The growing importance of written traditions in the growth of the romance during the 18th and 19th centuries was a result of interaction between traditional and urban musics. Especially popular romances include Yikhav kozak za Dunay (‘The Cossack Went beyond the Danube’), text by S. Klimovsky, Chorniï brovy, kariï ochi (‘Black Brows, Brown Eyes’), text by K. Dumitrashko, and Stoit' hora visokaya (‘There Stands a High Mountain’), text by L. Glibov.

The most striking general characteristic of Ukrainian folk music in general is that its vast majority is in minor modes or keys (unlike, for example, music of Baltic peoples). There is no rational explanation for this phenomenon, and the fact remains, while the people of Ukraine do not exhibit any inordinate moroseness, even under the weight of History which dealt the Ukrainians a low hand for a very long time, with several periods of virtual depopulation of the Land.Interestingly, minor 3rds and 6ths were nor considered dissonant in Ukraine, unlike in the rest of Medieval Europe. They were common in parallel motion, and sometimes a cadence would end on the minor 3rd, in penitential Psalms that typically reserved Picardy thirds only for the very final note.

Yakov Soroker ("Ukrainian Musical Elements in Classical Music", Translated by Olya Samilenko. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1995.) identifies several melodic phrases as characteristic of Ukrainian folk music. One phrase which he identifies is characterized by the movement of the leading tone, not up to the tonic, but down to the dominant.Another melodic stereotype is the ascending minor sixth, most frequently symbolizing an exclamation.A third type of Ukrainian melody is encountered in the "dumy," so much so that it is often referred to as the "duma mode," the Dorian mode with a sharpened fourth degree. A fourth characteristic of Ukrainian songs which Soroker gives is that of changing mode from major to parallel minor (an atavistic
carryover from Renaissance bass patterns).

A fifth type of melody contains augmented seconds, occurring mainly in the western regions of Ukraine among the Hutsuls and Lemkos. This particular feature is present in the versions of Baroque Lute works of Sylvius Leopold Weiss preserved in the so-called Moscow Weiss Manuscript (mid-18th century). These augmented seconds are not found in the standard versions of this music preserved elsewhere. Based on this it has been postulated that the Manuscript belonged to Timofey Belogradsky, a Ukrainian student of Weiss' in Dresden. An e-edition of this Manuscript may be found HERE.There is a phrase which Soroker considers a "signature" melody among Ukrainian songs. There are two versions, one of which features
a descending minor sixth, from the fifth of the scale down to the seventh degree, with a direct resolution to the tonic. The other version has the
descending minor sixth from the fifth degree down to the leading tone, to the second degree and then the tonic.

Ukrainian folk song can be divided into 3 broad aesthetic categories (a deliberate if necessary oversimplification...): The first is an archaic type of modal "a Capella" song in which a phrase sung by a soloist is answered by a choral phrase in 2- or 3- voice vertical polyphony/heterophony/harmony. The vocal inflection here is quite mediaeval in character, and some peculiarities of distinctly Ukrainian flavor are noticeable, such as parallel fifths and octaves, and/or plagal cadences in which the perfect fifth is a leading note to the tonic in cadential figures which move from IV to I in final resolutions. This feature is thought to have originated in Ancient Greece.

This type of song, once dominant, after 1650 has ceded its hegemony to the 2 newer types, but can still be found in isolated villages. Examples presented here in Renaissance-Lute intabulations for use by lutenists (no standard notation, tabulature only.

Nearly 400 musical examples of archaic Ukrainian songs and dances intabulated for Renaissance lute are found in the Ukrainian-American composer Roman Turovsky's four mucical cycles entitled MIKROKOSMOS I, II, III and IV:






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