Thursday, November 20, 2008

LISTEN: Tsymbaly music from Kiev, Ukraine

In the morning I listen to music to set the tone of my day. Coffee turns me into a coked-up werewolf, so tea and mood music are essential. When I am in Ukraine often I need to listen to tsymbaly music. Last summer I bought a self-produced cd from a street performer in Kiev and it has been like medicine ever since. The sound manages to inject a little sprightliness as I emerge from brew-induced slumbers. The sound reminds me of the Appalachian folk music I used to here as a kid on vacation in the Smokey Mountains.

The tsymbly itself is a dulcimer, a massive string instrument played with hammers. Wikipedia says that many regional variations developed throughout the old Austria-Hapsburg empire. I do not know what the differences are from culture-to-culture but I was impressed by this old Ukrainian tapping out some really complex melodies from such a dense mass of strings. It looked like excruiciatingly delicate work. He played several folk tunes and then mixed it up with a Beatles cover- "Hey Jude," in all of its solemnity.

Check out tragiedia, a Ukrainian who lives in Canada, throwing down on the tsymbaly:

Side note: Beatlemania truly does live in Ukraine.

The painting above is Thought for Dovbush by V.V. Kushner (from Hutsul Punk)

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