Hurdy-gurdy, a musical instrument: string: friction. Russians: Cossacks: Don river Cossacks


Hurdy-gurdy, a musical instrument: string: friction

Ethnic groups:

Russians: Cossacks: Don river Cossacks


Russian Empire, Don Cossack Region, Cossack village Ekaterininskaya


second half of the 19th century


Museum of the Peoples of the USSR


Wood; metal; animal derived materials: offals: bowels; leather: natural leather; threads: plant fiber: cotton; threads: animal: wool; vegetable materials; cloth; paint


length 85.0; width max 38.0; height 16.0


РЭМ 8762-34253


The core of a Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan orchestra was strings (violin, dulcimers, and sometimes double bass) and membranophones (tambourine and/or drum). A. M. Listopadov wrote about the traditional music of the Don Cossacks in the early 20th century, “The instrumental music on the Don cannot boast the number of instruments used among the Cossacks, and does not add anything new to those known to be used by the Great Russians. The most popular of them is the squeeze-box that has won firm recognition everywhere in Russia. The balalaika can often be heard, violin among young people, tambourine, some of the military band instruments such as clarinet, flute, and even brass, since a certain number of Cossacks in military service are buglers and musicians in regiment bands, from which they bring their instruments home to the Don. Thus, the only original representative of the folk instruments family is the Don hurdy-gurdy, “ryleh” or “gudok” in the local vernacular.” Generalizing the collected data, the author found noticeable differences of the Don hurdy-gurdy from the Ukrainian one, and suggested its kinship to the West European organistrum. On the basis of verbal evidence, the researcher reconstructed the history of the instrument’s spread in the Donets river area from about 1824, recovered the names of three generations of hurdy-gurdy players, and identified the repertoire (which was strictly laic). The collector acquired three of the eight identified gudoks for two museums, the Don Museum in Novocherkassk and the Dashkov Museum of Ethnography in Moscow (the latter are currently kept at the Russian Museum of Ethnography).