Add to favorite
 
123
Subscribe to our Newsletters Subscribe to our Newsletters Get Daily Updates RSS


Russian Tradition of Semantron, aka Slavic Flat Bells, Part 1
June 9, 2015 14:44


Semantron (“bilo” in Russian) is one of the most ancient and simple but powerful music instruments. The resounding spellbinding voice of these ancient Slavic flat bells was known in Russia long before the coming of Christianity. The semantron has been used in the Orthodox Christian East since times immemorial. Thus, the famous St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople had neither bells, nor bell towers.
Semantrons of various types were widely used in monasteries and cities. They were made of metal, wood and even stone, especially in the areas that had no other material but stone.
The Russian name of the semantron – bilo – comes from the root of the Old Russian word “beat”. The sound is made with beating a stick or a special hammer on the flat surface of the bilo.
The wooden semantron was a plank made of maple, ash-tree, beech, or birch. Depending on its shape, size and material, which varied, the instrument gave different sounds. Metal semantrons (known since the 6th century) were made of iron, copper, cast iron, and bell bronze. Stone semantrons were known in the Solovetsky Monastery in the 15th century.
Ringing these flat bells is an ancient tradition in Russia. The earliest written Old Russian sources that mention the bilo are chronicles of the 11th – 15th centuries. The semantron was not unique for Old Russia; it existed and still exists in lots of countries.


The small bilo was sometimes made in the form of a balancing beam, an arch that symbolized the dome of heaven and had the voice of the thundering sky. Its sounds served as a notification signal to local dwellers of some important event: a fire, an enemy attack, a community gathering to solve various daily tasks, and beginning of a church service.
As for church bells, there was long-term mistrust of them in Russia, since they were associated with Catholicism. However, an active process of introducing bells from the Western Europe into Russia was propelled in the 15th century and the semantrons were nearly supplanted from monasteries.
However, the present day charter of church ringing provides placing the flat bells of semantrons along with usual bells in various combinations on belltowers. Thanks to this solution the sound timbres of flat and traditional bells constantly blend together and intertwine thus creating an uncountable variety of tone combinations that deepen the emotional and sensory perception of ringing.

Read more abour russian Music Instruments... 

 




Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Music Instruments Russian Music Bell Ringing Semantron Bells 

Next Previous

You might also find interesting:

History of Bell Founding in Russia, Part 1 Russian Romance, the Spell of Sentimental Art Song About Russian Pop-Music A Glimpse of Hip-Hop Culture in Russia Aleksandr Galich. Downtrodden Singing Poet









Comment on our site


RSS   twitter   facebook   submit

Bookmark and Share

search on the map

Music Samples

Shnitke-02-Concerto Grosso1-Rondo




TAGS:
travel to Russia  dairy products   Contemporary Writers  Syktyvkar  Science  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia  Open-Air Concerts  Master-Bank license  New Year  Russian artists  Russian tourism  Festivals in Moscow  Izhevsk  Rostov Region  Stanislav Zhukovsky  Yuri Gagarin  Russian regions  Russian Cinema  Tretyakov Gallery  Olkhon  criminality  Moscow  Mikhail Bulgakov  Russian business  migration in Russia  Washington Post  Vasily Livanov  Olympic Games 2012  Bashkortostan Republic  Exhibitions in Moscow  Usinsk  John Lennon  Gus-Khrustalny  Bolkhov  Evgeny Dybsky  Business in Russia  Russian television  St. Petersburg  Russia Travel Tips  Exhibition Fairs  Stavropol Territory  Emil Gilels  Andreapol  Omsk  Immersive Shows  Altai Region  Rosa Khutor  Borsch  Robots  Association of Small Towns Theatres 


Travel Blogs
Top Traveling Sites