Balalaika, the most Russianist of Russian instruments

kjb
@kjb
2 years ago
12 posts

I have a Balalaika which I play occasionally.  I tune mine like a 3 string ukulele CEA and often play clawhammer style.  The high metal string rings and can give a good drone sound.  Great fun.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,858 posts

The original balalaika was a diatonic fretted instrument, but that changed, IIRC, in the mid- late-1800s.  If you can find a diatonic one, hang on to it!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
2,013 posts

Cool!  E E A, eh?

Well it's wonderful that you are exploring both the balalaika in its native state and the mtn dulcimer!  If you ever can post a video of a simple tune on your balalaika I'm sure we'd all love to watch it!  nod




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
TwoGunBob
TwoGunBob
@twogunbob
3 years ago
8 posts

It was very much to play traditional Russian folk music so I've kept to the E-E-A tuning with two nylon and one steel string while playing with the flesh of the index finger as opposed to a pick. Nowhere near getting to a level of pizzicato or double pizzicato but I can muddle through The Peddlers (the Tetris song) and The Moon Shines Softly. Being in north Texas there's a Russian folk society in Houston I've contacted but nothing local(ish) and not much of an English speaking online community. There's 152 of us in all of Reddit. So, I'm excited about also dipping into the dulcimer cause this seems like a lively and supportive community and not quite so alone with an instrument as I've been with the balalaika. 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
2,013 posts

Well I think one important question would be ...what kind of music do you want to play on your balalaika?  They look to be chromatically fretted, so if you 'don't' aim to play specific Russian kinds of music, you could just tune the 3 strings however you wanted... in intervals like mandolin/fiddle 5ths, like a dulcimer, like 3 strings of a guitar, or like a 3 string Uke.  The only limits are the fact of only 3 strings.  The scale length would tell you what gauge strings to put on once you've decided on the tuning you want.

The other approach is if you want to tune it and play it in traditional balalaika style.  Sometimes there are youtube instructional videos that you can follow for beginners of any instrument- that are in another language but are not all that hard to follow- just listen for and duplicate the tuning being used, and then do along with what the video person is doing.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
TwoGunBob
TwoGunBob
@twogunbob
3 years ago
8 posts

Picked a tourist model up last October, or rather my son found one in a pile of 'weird instruments' and convinced me to buy it. About three months later I did figure out the instrument was REALLY meant for the mantle and not to be played. Went ahead and ordered a Roosebeck and have been desperately working on learning to play it over the last year. Unfortunately resources in English are few and far between. Part of the reason for getting a Dulcimer was simply the wealth of help available as opposed to the book and meager videos available for the balalaika. Anyone here miss with the three stringed Dorito at all?

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updated by @twogunbob: 03/08/19 02:09:00PM