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Rozhok
July 14, 2008 17:59


Rozhok is an ancient Russian folk music wind instrument.

The descriptions of rozhok appeared only in the second half of the 18th century in works on music instruments by Tuchkov and other researchers, who referred to it as a widely spread instrument of Russian origin: “This tool seems to have been invented by the Russians themselves”.

According to those descriptions, rozhok producing a very strong and shrill sound was used not only by shepherds at work, but also “in taverns for entertainment” and “in boats to accompany oarsmen’s singing”.

The first mentioning of ensemble rozhok playing dates back to the 1600s, which allows referring the rozhok tradition to an earlier period. The instrument was most likely recorded in earlier sources under a different name, like a “pipe” or something.

The rozhok is a straight conical pipe with five finger-holes on its upper side and one underneath. It has a small bell on the lower end and a pasted-in mouthpiece on its upper end. The mouthpiece is cut out as a small cup, whereas the lower end of the tube is shaped as a conical socket.

Rozhoks are made of birch, maple or juniper. Musicians note that these are juniper rozhoks that have the best sound characteristics. In the past they were made in the same way as shepherd’s horns, i.e. of two halves fastened together with birch bark.

The rozhok has a strong but mild sound; producing the sound is quite difficult. Its sound range is a little bit more than an octave. There are two types of rozhok: for solo and ensemble playing.

Ensemble varieties of this instrument are called “vizgunok” (squeaker) and “bas” (bass). They are always tuned up an octave to one another and are of the smallest and biggest size respectively. For solo play middle size instruments are usually used. Such rozhoks are called “polubasok” (semi-bass).

Rozhok tunes are divided into four types: signal, song, folk dance and dancing. The repertoire of folk tunes is very extensive. Of shepher’s signals alone there are several types. Naturally, song tunes take the central place in the rozhok repertoire.

Rozok has a number of names, such as “shepherd’s rozhok”, “Russian rozhok”, “song rozhok”. Rather lately, in the late 19th century it came to be called “vladimirsky rozhok” due to the success of the rozhok choir headed by Nikolai Vasilievich Kondratiev from the Vladimir Region.

The Kondratiev Choir consisted of 12 rozhok players. They were divided into three parts, one of them performing high second parts, the other playing the main melody in the middle range and the third one playing low second parts on bass rozhoks.

The members of the rozhok choir were simple shepherds who had no classical musical education and could not play from a score. Thus, each of the performers had to be a composer as well, in order to develop his theme in the framework of the whole ensemble. This choir toured much around Russia and was a great success at the International exhibition in Paris in 1884.

In the second half of the 19th and early 20th cc ensemble rozhok playing became very popular especially in the former Vladimir and Tver Provinces. Nowadays both ensemble and solo rozhok playing remains in some places, such as in the Vladimir Region and partly in the Kostroma Region. Besides, rozhoks are used within some folk instrument orchestras.

Read more about russian Music Instruments... 

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Sources:
    folkmusic.ru
    folkinst.narod.ru
    Russian Wiki


Tags: Russian Music Instruments     

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