Traditional Ukrainian Folk Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Traditional Ukrainian folk music is a distinctive form of music with its own history, style and character. It is an important part of the country’s cultural heritage.

What is traditional Ukrainian folk music?

Traditional Ukrainian folk music includes a wide variety of styles and genres. Probably the most famous type of Ukrainian folk music is the bandura music of the kobzars, who were itinerant troubadours who performed songs about history, current events, love and morality. Kobzar bands were often made up of two bandurists, a fiddler and a drummer, and their music was very popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Other popular types of Ukrainian folk music include instrumental dance music, such as the fast-paced Hutsul handed-down from the Carpathian Mountains or the more lyrical Polissian style from northern Ukraine; vocal lirychna duets such as those performed in the old market squares of Lviv or Kyiv; and epic ballads known as dumas that tell stories of Cossack heroes or other legendary figures.

The history of traditional Ukrainian folk music.

Ukraine has a long history of traditional folk music, which has been handed down from generation to generation. Most of the songs are about love, nature, and the daily life of Ukrainian peasants. The music is very lyrical and often has a melancholic character.

The main instruments used in traditional Ukrainian folk music are the bandura (a type of lute), the accordion, and the violin. The bandura is the most popular instrument, and it is often used to accompany singing. The accordion is also a very popular instrument, and it is used to provide accompaniment for dancing.

Traditional Ukrainian folk music was very important in the development of rock music in Ukraine. Many famous Ukrainian rock musicians got their start by playing traditional folk music.

The instruments used in traditional Ukrainian folk music.

The bandura, a plucked instrument related to the lute, is probably the best known Ukrainian folk instrument. The bandura has a long neck and between 24 and 38 strings. It is held upright on the player’s lap and played with both hands. The left hand stops the strings while the right hand plucks them. The instrument originated in Persia and was brought to Ukraine by Iranian migrants in the 16th century.

The kobza is a stringed instrument related to the lute. It has a pear-shaped body, a short neck and six or seven strings. It is held vertically on the player’s lap and played with picks attached to the fingers of both hands. The kobza was popular in Ukraine from the 16th to 18th centuries but declined in popularity after the bandura became more widespread.

The torban (also called tsymbaly or torbyna) is a type of hurdy-gurdy. It has a long neck and a rectangular box body with one or two soundboards. The torban usually has 4 strings which are stopped by pressure on metal levers (keys) attached to wooden tangents (Small wedges). The right hand turns a crank which rubs against one or two rosined wheels that touch the strings. The left hand presses keys that stop the strings at different points, producing different pitches. The torban originated in Western Europe but was brought to Ukraine in the 16th century and quickly became popular there.

The different genres of traditional Ukrainian folk music.

Traditional Ukrainian folk music is incredibly diverse, with numerous musical styles that have developed over the centuries in different parts of the country. These include everything from festive songs and dances to work songs and lullabies, and each one has its own unique history and meaning.

One of the most commonly heard genres of traditional Ukrainian folk music is the dumka, a type of ballad that often tells a tragic story. Dumkas originated in the eastern region of Ukraine and often make use of minor keys and mournful melodies to convey their emotional themes. Another popular genre is the ohona, a kind of folk song that was traditionally sung by workers whileperforming various tasks such as farming or blacksmithing. Ohonas typically have a lively, upbeat tempo that helps to keep workers motivated during their long hours of labor.

Other well-known genres of Ukrainian folk music include kolomeyki (fast-paced danced songs originating in the western region of Ukraine), lirnyky (traditional songs typically sung by blind itinerant musicians), and banduristika (songs played on a bandura, a traditional Ukrainian string instrument). Regardless of their differences, all traditional Ukrainian folk music genres share a rich history and cultural heritage that continues to be enjoyed by people all over the world today.

The different regional styles of traditional Ukrainian folk music.

Ukraine is a country with a very rich and diverse musical culture. Folk music is an important part of this musical culture, and it can be divided into a number of different regional styles.

The most well-known style of Ukrainian folk music is the bandura music of the central region, which is closely related to the music of neighboring countries such as Poland and Slovakia. This style features a distinctive type of folk instrument, the bandura, which is a large lute-like instrument with up to 60 strings.

Another significant regional style is the lyric folk songs of the western region, which are often very emotional and expressive. These songs often deal with themes such as love, loss, and nature, and they are usually sung by solo vocalists accompanied by traditional instruments such as the accordion or violin.

The music of the eastern region is also quite distinctive, with a strong influence from neighboring countries such as Russia and Belarus. This style includes both simple peasant songs as well as more ornate urban songs, and it often features instruments such as the balalaika (a Russian folk instrument) or the dulcimer (a hammered string instrument).

Finally, there is also a distinct style of folk music from the southern region of Ukraine, which has been influenced by the music of Turkey and Romania. This style includes both instrumental music and songs, and it often features lively dance tunes.

The influence of traditional Ukrainian folk music on modern Ukrainian music.

Traditional Ukrainian folk music has had a significant influence on modern Ukrainian music. Many of the folk songs that were popular in the past are still popular today, and many modern Ukrainian musicians have been influenced by the folk music of their country.

One of the most significant ways that traditional Ukrainian folk music has influenced modern Ukrainian music is in the use of modes. Modes are sets of pitches that create a specific scale, and each mode has a different feeling or character. Traditional Ukrainian folk music often uses modes that are not commonly used in western music, such as the Dorian mode or the Phrygian mode. These modes give Ukrainian folk music its unique sound.

Another way that traditional Ukrainian folk music has influenced modern Ukrainian music is in the use of ornamentation. Ornamentation is the use of decorative notes or flourishes to make a piece of music sound more interesting. Many traditional Ukrainian folk songs make use of ornamentation, and this tradition has carried over into modern Ukraine. Many modern Ukrainian composers make use of ornamental flourishes in their works, and some even write entire pieces in an ornamental style.

Finally, traditional Ukrainian folk music has also influenced modern Ukraine in terms of rhythm and meter. In western music, most pieces are written in either 4/4 or 3/4 time, but traditional Ukrainian folk songs often make use of other time signatures. This gives Ukrainian folk music its characteristic syncopated rhythms. Many modern Ukrainians composers have been influenced by these rhythms, and they often incorporate them into their own works.

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