Traditional Ukrainian music is easily recognized by its somewhat melancholy tone. It first became known outside of Ukraine during the 18th century as musicians from Ukraine would perform before the royal courts in Russia and Poland. Ukraine’s music history spans back many years and remains popular today.
The bandura is commonly heard in Ukrainian music particularly those of the folk and semi-classical genres. A musical instrument from the 19th century, the bandura’s forerunners were the kobza and torban. The use of these fascinating instruments is facing a revival in recent years. During the 15th century Ukrainian musicians, referred to as kobzari would sing epic poems whilst accompanying themselves on the kobza. A professional guild was established for the kobzari and was called “Kobzar Guild”. Sadly the kobzari suffered great losses during Stalin’s rulership, but the guild is once again very active in Ukraine.
Early on in the 1900s, Ukrainian musicians in the USA were able to keep traditional music from Ukraine alive when it almost disappeared in its homeland. One fiddler who gained great fame in USA was Pavlo Humeniuk. In previous decades, polyphony was a common sound in music from Ukraine and certain groups have kept it going. However, today, pop and rock seem to be taking over the scene.