Monday, April 7, 2008

Kobza to Bandura

In last lecture, we briefly studied about Kobza and Bandura, Ukrainian traditional lute/guitar-like instruments, and how Kobza was played by blind man mostly. Well, I wanted to find out more information about each instruments and differences in their sound.

A quick historical background information about Kobza:
Kobza existed from the sixth century, brought there by Bulgars or by Polovetsians and Khazars (not exactly sure). Some source says that it was brought into Ukraine by wandering Arab scholars in the 10-11th century. It was very popular during the 16th century in Cossack state with the advent of the Hetmanate. The term Kobza later became a synonym for the bandura (newer instrument with more strings) and in the 20th century, it became extinct. However, there is a strong revival of Kobza playing in Ukraine these days, especially in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Kobza is made of a single piece of wod and consisted of a soundboard and 3-8 stings strung across it.

I found a video in Youtube of a Kobzar:



Bandura is differ from Kobza in that it has 32-55 strings and each note is played in different strings. During the 17th and 18th century the bandura was very popular among the common people and by the 18th century the bandura displaced the kobza, and both names are now used synonymously.



















Here is a video of an Ukrainian woman singing and playing Bandura (Youtube):



Personally, I hear their sounds to be very distinct and different. As a musician, I hear the sound of Bandura resembles more of a sound of harpsichord or a harp instead of a lute or a Kobza which are fretted (playing more than one note on a string). Both bring out the soul of Ukrainian musicians very well though. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Ukrainian Music as I have~

1 comment:

petersds said...

When you said that the Bandura had up to 55 strings and that the common people played it i was stunned!! it seems like such a complex instrument, and if Ukraine commoners, who most likely were trying to support their families, were able to learn to play it must have a very deeply rooted tradition in Ukraine history.