Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Balalaika

As a guitar enthusiast, I'm fascinated by the string instruments that various cultures embrace. Of course, Slavic culture has its own: the балалайка. Wikipedia, the source of all human knowledge, answers all of your burning questions concerning this cherished churner of beauty:

"The balalaika family of instruments includes instruments of various sizes, from the highest-pitched to the lowest, the prima balalaika, secunda balalaika, alto balalaika, bass balalaika and contrabass balalaika (Note: that's the contrabass on the left). All have three-sided bodies, spruce or fir tops, backs made of 3-9 wooden sections made usually from maple, strung usually with three strings.

The prima balalaika is played with the fingers, the sekunda and alto either with the fingers or a plectrum, depending on the music being played, and the basses and contrabasses (equipped with extension legs which rest on the floor) are played with leather plectrums"

Here's Aлексей Aрхиповский on the prima to demonstrate what the full potential of the балалайка:

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