Why are there Balalaikas

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Why are there Balalaikas

Post  pinhedz on Sun May 08, 2011 7:12 am

pinhedz

Good question.

So, it was in the 17th century, and the Russian church leaders saw something had to be done. People were singing and dancing and playing instruments and generally having a good time. It was very frivolous and irreverent, not righteous and Godly.

So, the church leaders clamped down and banned the singers and the story tellers and the instruments. The holy Archpriest Avvakum describes how he came upon a group of revelers making merry in the country, and in his righteous anger he smashed their tambourines and chased away their dancing bears (grizzlies, but he was a tough Padre).

Before the crackdown, the primary plucked-string instrument was the dombra, which had been left behind by the mongols. The earliest ones looked kind of like this--just a stick stuck trough a gourd:



In time, they improved:



So--on Avakuum's watch--no more music, no more parties, no more fun.

But there were plays with a moral message. These plays would tell about the evils of merry-making and music. By way of illustration of the evils, sometimes the plays would show people--wicked people--playing instruments. In order to ridicule the instruments, they invented a silly-sounding name: the balalaika. They even made it look silly--triangle shaped.

So, the people got so they liked going to the morality plays, where they could see the wicked people playing the silly instruments, and they would learn all about what they must not do. A valuable lesson for us all.



Anyways, that's one theory.

Avvakum was burned at the stake near the end of the 17th century.


pinhedz

Another theory about the triangular shape:

-- Southerners have melons, so they make round instruments.

-- Northerners have no melons, but they got shingles.


Hosni

I figured it must have been an intentionally stupid sounding name.


John McLaughlin

pinhedz wrote:
Another theory about the triangular shape:

-- Southerners have melons, so they make round instruments.

-- Northerners have no melons, but they got shingles.
H'm. THis would explain the 1,300-year-old kora, from the Gambia. I once had the deep privilege of sitting on the floor between two kora players while they rehearsed for an evening. Koras in stereo - hooked for life.

pinhedz

Yes, I reckon Gambians most likely have more melons than shingles.


pinhedz

I got shingles the week before last.

Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as I'd heard about.


Hosni

Ceramic?


Hosni

Why are there balalaikas? Same reason Luther shot Cyrus. No Reason.


pinhedz

The first written reference to a balalaika was on an arrest slip for two serfs in 1688. They were arrested outside of the Kremlin in Moscow and charged with being "drunk and disorderly and playing the balalaika."


pinhedz

Why are there balalaikas? So pickers can pick them with a feedback loop, obviously.


pinhedz



pinhedz

La prima testimonianza storica della balalaika risale ad una cronaca del 1688:

“ Nella giornata del 13 giugno furono portati al
comando degli strelizzi ( una anticipazione russa del ministero degli
interni ) tale Savka Fedorov, figlio di Selesnev e il contadino Ivascko
Dmitriev, del distretto di Scenkursk e con essi medesimi una balalaika
con la quale su un carro erano arrivati fino a Porta Jausa con canti
,schiamazzi e lazzi ingiuriosi nei confronti deggli strelizzi di
guardia…”

That's from a storical cronacal, and even though it's written in European, it looks to me like the strelizzi commando reported on June 13 that a couple of disreputable rapscallions named Savka and his no-good contadino Ivashka were coming through the Yauza gate playing the balalaika and raisin' hell, and were ingiuriosi contronted by the strelizzi guards ...


pinhedz

For our guest in faraway lands, here's a translation:

"Cho đến nay, thật sự về nguồn gốc của loại đàn này vẫn chưa rõ ràng. Đàn
Balalaika lần đầu tiên được nói đến trong một tài liệu vào năm 1688.
Theo tài liệu này thì ông Savka Fedorov, một công dân của thành phố
Arzamas và Ivashka Fedorov [sic--Dimitriev], một nông dân trong khi đi ngang qua cổng
Yauza của thành phố đã chơi đàn Balalaika. Vì những hành động như thế
nên họ đã bị bắt, bị đánh đập và bị cho lưu đày. Nghe có vẻ thật lạ,
nhưng theo dòng Lịch Sử Nga thì đúng như vậy. ..."


pinhedz

No one has yet stated the obvious--that there are balalaikas because they are awesomely powerful chic magnets.

pinhedz
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Re: Why are there Balalaikas

Post  pinhedz on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:44 pm

I was shocked and appalled to read this in the "News of America" Shocked

http://americanews.ru/en/h49/16940.html

70 years a ban on the balalaika in the U.S.

The second in October 2010 Barack Obama extended the ban on the sale balalaika in the U.S. until 2020. Background goes back to pre-war time, when the then head of the Washington administration Franklin Roosevelt signed a secret decree banning balalaika in the country for 10 years. It happened in 1940. Since then, the decree is regularly renewed. Since 2000, the decree of the Clinton ban extended to Alaska, which was the only place where the sale was allowed. Balalaika Alaska is considered the national musical instrument. During Roosevelt’s time, these lands have not yet had the status of the state, so a ban was circumvented by loopholes in the legislation.
The reason for the ban formally was the fact that the balalaika is prohibited in Russia, the Orthodox church and state because “allows you to mock the authorities.” For details, see the link. In fact, in what was then the Soviet Union ban was already lifted. But the Orthodox Church is just banned. Roosevelt was right about one thing - this tool is really dangerous for the government because it can be used as a “soft power.”


Today, the ban remains in an incomplete form. To play the balalaika is not prohibited, although it needs to have a special license. Not allowed bulk sale of this instrument, and industrial manufacturing. Single private sales are allowed. That’s why John Flynn book “How to make a balalaika”, (luth.org / downloads / Flynn-Balalaika-GAL.pdf) was issued in 1984 enjoys a fantastic popularity and has withstood the 9 editions. For ordinary Americans who wish to enjoy the sounds of the balalaika, there is no way how to make it yourself. And buy a balalaika in the store will be impossible for at least another ten years.

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Re: Why are there Balalaikas

Post  pinhedz on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:46 pm

I have an unlicensed balalaika. Neutral

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Re: Why are there Balalaikas

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