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July 7, 2009 09:36

The kuvikly (kugikly) is the Russian variety if the many-piped flute, internationally known as the Pan-flute. The type of music instrument is widely spread in various parts of the world, with every people having its own name for it: in England they call it panpipes or pan-flute, sampogno in Latin America, nai or muscal in Moldavia and Romania, skuchudai in Lithuania, larchemi (soinari) in Georgia, etc.

The kuvikly was described by Mr. Dmitrukov in the Moscow Telegraph Journal in 1831. In literature of the 19th century there are some evidences about playing the kuvikly, especially on the area of the Kursk Province.

The range of the kuvikly in ancient Russia, though not wide, took a very distinctive area, embracing one of the oldest regions of the Eastern Slavic settlement, located within the bounds of the modern Bryansk, Kursk, and Kaluga Regions.

The kuvikly is a set of hollow tubes of various length and diameter with a open upper end and the closed bottom end. The instrument was usually made of stems of kuga (the old word for “rush” giving its name to the instrument), reed, bamboo, etc., the stem nodes serving as the bottom of the tube. Nowadays plastic, ebonite and even metal kuvikly are made.

The set of kuvikly usually consists of 3 or 5 pipes of the same diameter but varying in length from 100 to 160 mm. The pipes of the instrument are not fastened together, which allows changing them depending on the wanted pitch. The open upper ends of the instrument are placed on one line. Taking them to mouth and moving them or the head from side to side, one blows on the edges of the tube cut and producing, as a rule, short and impulsive sounds.

In Russian kuvikly each tube has its own name, which helps performers in the process of playing together to exchange remarks and prompting how to play.

A set of five pipes in the hands of one performer is called a “pair”. The kuvikly are played by women, and mainly in an ensemble. Solo kuvikly playing is also practiced, but if of no value, as the performers themselves believe.

Those playing “the pair” must be able to blow the pipes and make separate sounds of the performed music piece with one’s voice. The repertoire of the kuvikly ensembles is usually limited to folk dance tunes. During the kuvikly playing some of the performers sing or, more often, say the lyrics from time to time. Fine are the kuvikly with accompaniment of other folk instruments, such as zhaleika, svirel, and the folk fiddle.

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