Thursday, October 4, 2012

The бард and the семиструнка

In the 1960's, the term "bard" (бард) was applied to Russian singer-songwriters who were known for their poetry that they set to simple folk music.  Among the major emphases of bard poetry is a strong anti-Soviet sentiment that rendered bards mostly underground during the Soviet era, and consequently their music was rarely allowed to be recorded.  In general, bard poetry expresses messages of escapism and glorification of the outlaw life, and in this sense reminds one of American Western ballads and some American folk music.

Check out this Russian bard music here.

Bard poetry is generally accompanied only by a Russian guitar to maintain simplicity of the music so that the lyrics take prominence.  The Russian guitar itself is an interesting and unique aspect of bard music.  Unlike an ordinary six-string guitar, the Russian guitar has seven strings, and in Russian is often called a семиструнка, a nickname derived from семиструнная гитара (seven-stringed guitar).  The tuning of the семиструнка also differs from the standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-e) of a six-string guitar; instead it is tuned to an open G-chord (D-G-B-d-g-b-d).

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