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Pyzhatka, a Folk Flute
February 27, 2015 14:25


Pyzhatka is a single-pipe whistle flute traditional for the Kursk Region. This music instrument is a variety of the recorder. 

 
The name of pyzhatka is determined by its construction: a wooden plug with a small cutoff, the so-called pyzh (i.e. wad) is inserted into the upper part of the pipe. The formed air channel is directed to the sharpened edge of the aperture made in the pipe wall. The airstream cleaved upon the sharp edge creates the flute sound. Hence is the name of the music instrument, the pyzhatka.
 
It consists of three components, such as the upper one, which is wad, the middle one, which is called “voices” and has finger holes, and the lower one called “hooter”. The word “hooter” has several different meanings as regards pyzhatka: it is its lower part from the last finger hole to the end of the pipe, or the sound made with all the holes closed (big hooter), or the sound made with three upper holes closed (small hooter). 
 
Waxed thread coiled around the whistle part gives that peculiar muffled and hissing character to the sound of pyzhatka. The threads, wax, and lips are meant to direct the airstream in such a way so that it is distributed evenly between the tube and the reed hole. Thread fixing wax can be replaced with nitrolacquer. Sometimes the pipes are decorated with ornaments.
 
 
The pyzhatka has comparatively small range of just one octave. However, it does not make it a less versatile tool. Just the opposite, the pyzhatka is used both as a solo instrument and in ensemble with other folk Russian music instruments. 

 
It can play the part of the pipe, the zhaleyka, and the horn. In ensemble with other wind instruments the pyzhatka takes the role of accompaniment. When played together, two pyzhatkas can sound in unison and in two-voice polyphony: one pyzhatka leads the tune and another one echoes it. 
 
How is Pyzhatka Made?
 
Tree branches are prepared in spring time: they are cleared of bark, drilled and dried.
 
The next stage is cutting a square aperture to make the whistle, and then driving the wad (pyzh) in. 
 
Afterwards finger holes are cut in the middle part of the pipe. These are six holes divided into two parts. The upper hole for forefinger is cut right in the middle of the tube, and then other holes of the same size are made. Three upper holes (for the left hand) and three lower holes have distance of about two and a half centimeters between each of them. The distance between the upper three and the lower three is no more than five centimeters. 
 
 
The pyzhatka is tuned to other instruments by means of cutting the lower end of the tube. The pyzhatka has great capabilities as a solo instrument. Before playing the pyzhatka it is slightly moistened with water: all the holes are closed with fingers and water is sucked in the tube. 
 
This traditional folk instrument has been restored to the music realm of nowadays and can delight our ears just as it used to do for our ancestors.
 
 
 

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Penny Whistles Folk Arts and Crafts Russian Music Instruments Flutes  

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