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Rattle Russian Treshyotka!
May 22, 2008 21:46

The folk music instrument treshyotka (translated as rattle) produces a variety of peculiar percussion sounds similar to hand clapping. This originally Russian instrument consisting of a number of wooden plates thread on a string was very popular and widely used in dances during wedding ceremonies.

During archeological diggings in Novgorod in 1992 there were found two plates, which had been part of an ancient treshyotka set dating back to the 12th century, as Professor V.I. Povetkin surmised.

Treshyotkas were used at wedding ceremonies while performing songs of praise with dances. Choir singing of songs of praise was often accompanied with a whole ensemble, sometimes counting over ten people. During a wedding treshyotkas were decorated with ribbons, flowers and sometimes little bells.

The use of treshyotkas in wedding rituals suggests that in the past this instrument performed not only musical but also the mystical function of protecting the newlyweds from evil spirits. In some villages people still keep up the tradition of playing and even making treshyotkas.

Treshyotka should be made of perfectly dry wood, preferably oak – this is what provides musical qualities of the instrument.

Treshyotka consists of a set of 18 to 20 thin narrow plates 16 to 18 cm long that are connected together with a solid string put through little holes in the upper parts of the plates. The long plates are divided from each other with short plates at the top, which actually allow producing this quite specific rattling sound.

In order to produce the sound, one should properly hold the string and stir it with different force and at various angles. When playing the treshyotka first stretch it like an accordion and then squeeze it strongly. This technique allows producing quite a number of various sounds and rhythms. A rattle is usually held in front of one’s chest or head, or even higher, since the instrument attracts attention not only with its peculiar sound but also with its appearance.

It was probably its simple construction that made the instrument so popular in the olden days. Today, however, this already exotic instrument is successfully applied as one of the basic instruments in instrumental folk music ensembles, on a par with bayan, gusli and wooden spoons.

There exist another percussion music instrument with the same name and functions, yet its construction differs from the traditional Russian rattle. This type of treshyotka is used in symphony orchestras.

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