The balalaika is a musical instrument of Russian origin, strings plucked, of the family of lutes, now played throughout the world.
It is an "modern" instrument because its codification was made in 1886-1888,
it has been defined by the musician and composer Vasily Andreev
(1861-1918) and by the balalaika maker F. Passerbsky and S. Nalimoff.
The first concert was held in St. Petersburg in 1886 by Vassily Andreev accompanied with piano.
The first orchestra was born in 1888 in St. Petersburg and was called "The Circle" conducted by Vassili Andreev.
The peculiarity of his playing technique consists in the fact that it
is played exclusively with the fingers without using plectrum, pick or
nail. And more precisely with the fingertips which gives it its sound
softer and less metallic than plucked string instrument with plectres
(mandolin, zither, bouzouki ...)
The family of balalaikas:
prima (soloist), secunda, alto, bass, contrabass (the bigger) and piccolo (the smaller). The fund has a
triangular table pine, which backs the ribs are often maple and a
handle most of the time ebony.
The solo instrument "prima"
measuring around 68cm and weighs about 900g. It is granted in E, E, A,
which is attuned to 440hz. The 2 string of E nylon are granted in
unison, the A string is made of steel.
The techniques involved
are many, we can play with a finger (thumb, index) or more fingers
alternately or simultaneously. The balalaika player plays seated and holds
the instrument between his legs.
These techniques have been
developed over the years by many soloists and teachers: Pavel
Netcheporenko (1916, the Moscow Conservatory) is the principal.
The repertoire is very rich: original compositions, arrangements of Russian traditional tunes, transcripts (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, De Falla,
Schubert, Saint-Saens, Paganini, Prokofiev ...).
Composers have written in a variety of styles: classical,
romantic, modern contemporary, traditional Russian.
Most famoust are : Troianovsky and Chalov for the traditional style, Andreev
and Vasilenko for the classic style, Chichakov and Trostiansky for
romantic style, and Koussiakov for the modern contemporary style.
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