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"Russian stereotype # 2 - balalaika" Top 5 Page for this destination Russia Local Custom Tip by kris-t

Russia Local Customs: 157 reviews and 197 photos

by kris-t
  • Balalaika  - Russia
    by kris-t
  • Ivan with balalaika - Russia
      Ivan with balalaika
    by kris-t

The balalaika is a stringed instrument of Russian origin, with a characteristic triangular body and 3 strings (or sometimes 6, in pairs).

The origins of the balalaïka are not precisely known. Early representations of the balalaika show it with anywhere from two to six strings, frets on earlier balalaikas were made of animal gut and tied to the neck so that they could be moved around by the player at will.

Balalaika was very popular as a village instrument for centuries, particularly with the skomorokhs, sort of free-lance musical jesters whose tunes ridiculed the Tsar, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Russian society in general.
The first written reference to a balalaika was on an arrest slip for two serfs in 1688, accused of being drunk and disorderly outside the Kremlin in Moscow, playing the balalaika.

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  • Updated Mar 3, 2012
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