Ukrainian Folk Music: A Brief Overview

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at some of the history and defining characteristics of Ukrainian folk music.


Folk music is an important part of Ukrainian culture. It dates back hundreds of years and has been passed down through the generations. Folk music is usually sung by peasants or other working-class people and is often about their daily lives.

The most popular instrument in Ukrainian folk music is the bandura, a type of lute. Other important instruments include the flute, accordion, and violin.

Ukrainian folk music has been influenced by a number of different cultures over the years, including Polish, Turkish, and Russian. As a result, it is a very diverse genre with a wide range of different sounds and styles.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ukrainian folk music, there are a number of great resources available online and in libraries. You can also find some Ukrainian folk musicians performing at concerts and festivals around the world.

What is Ukrainian Folk Music?

Ukrainian folk music is the traditional music of the Ukrainian people. It is often based on the music of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Ukrainian folk music has been influenced by a number of other genres, including Polka, Cossack music, and Ukrainian classical music.


Though the name “Ukraine” (Україна) derives from a Slavic root meaning “borderland” or “frontier region,” the music of Ukraine is anything but geographically confined. In fact, over the past millennium Ukrainian folk music has melded with the sounds of neighboring countries and incorporated influences from Central Europe, Turkey, and even Persia. The result is a rich tapestry of regional styles that are sometimes hard to untangle.

One of the earliest and most important influences on Ukrainian folk music was the music of the Byzantine Empire. Christianity arrived in Ukraine in 988 CE, bringing with it liturgical chant and other church music. This new music quickly began to mix with existing folk traditions, particularly in the regions around Kyiv and Chernihiv. By the 13th century, a distinctive style of liturgical chant known as kondak had developed in these areas. Kondak rhythms would go on to have a significant impact on Ukrainian folk song.

Other important early influences on Ukrainian folk music include Central European polyphony and Gregorian chant. These genres became popular in Ukraine in the 16th century due to the political and cultural ties between Ukraine and Western Europe at that time.


Traditional Ukrainian folk music is known for its unique and distinctive sound. The music is often based on ancient Slavic traditions and makes use of a wide variety of instruments.

One of the most important instruments in Ukrainian folk music is the bandura, a type of lute. The bandura has a long neck and a round body, and is often decorated with intricate carvings. It is used to play both solo and accompaniment parts, and its distinctive sound lends a characteristic flavor to Ukrainian folk music.

Other Important Instruments:
-The trembita, a type of alpine horn made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, is used to signal the beginning of a musical performance.
-The kobza, a type of lute with frets, was historically used primarily as an accompanying instrument but can also be played solo.
-The torban, or bass bandura, is a large drones instrument with up to 12 strings that adds depth and richness to the sound of Ukrainian folk music.


What sets Ukrainian folk music apart from the music of other countries? A few things, actually. For one, it has a very distinctive sound, thanks in large part to the unique instruments that are used.

These include the bandura (a type of lute), the kobza (a string instrument), the torban (an orchestral wind instrument), and the dulcimer. In addition, Ukrainian folk music often features intricate vocal harmonies.

As for the lyrics, they tend to be quite poetic and often tell stories of love, loss, and nature. They also often have moral or religious messages.

Ukrainian folk music is the music of the Ukrainian people. It is songs performed by Ukrainians for Ukrainians. The music includes songs of love, marriage, loss, and even war.

“Oy, Poltava”

“Oy, Poltava” is a popular Ukrainian folk song about the city of Poltava. The song is sung in the Poltava dialect of Ukrainian and celebrates the city’s history and beauty.

“Duma pro te, Oleh”

“Duma pro te, Oleh” is a popular Ukrainian folk song about a young man named Oleh who leaves his homeland to seek his fortune. The song is sung in a minor key and has a melancholy tone. It is believed to date back to the 18th century.

“Chervona Ruta”

“Chervona Ruta” (also known as “The Red Poppy”) is one of the most popular Ukrainian folk songs. It is often performed by Ukrainian folk bands and choirs, and has been adapted by numerous artists over the years.

The song tells the story of a young woman who is in love with a soldier. She is waiting for him to return from battle, but he never does. The woman eventually dies of a broken heart, and her spirit returns to haunt the soldier.

“Chervona Ruta” is a sad and melancholy song, but it is also beautiful and haunting. It captures the emotions of loss, love, and hope that are so common in Ukrainian folk music.


In conclusion, Ukrainian folk music is a vibrant and important part of the country’s heritage. From the distinctive sounds of the bandura and the kobza, to the lively rhythms of the hopak, there is much to enjoy in this rich musical tradition. If you have the opportunity to see Ukrainian folk music performed live, you are sure to be impressed by the skill and passion of the musicians.

Similar Posts