Serbian Traditional Music and Musical Instruments

Serbia has had a long tradition in music.  This music includes a variety of bagpipes, flutes, horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals.  The kolo is a traditional folk dance.  The singing of epic poetry has been a part of the Serbian music for hundreds of years.  Usually a fiddle is played while someone sings the songs about history or mythology.

The gusle is a stringed musical instrument with a round wooden back and a skin belly. It has one horsehair string at the top of the neck held to a peg. It is played in a vertical position, with a deepl curved bow. The gusle has no fingerboard. The string’s vibration is stopped by the sideways pressure of the player’s fingers.

The frula is a Serbian flute which looks like a small recorder.  But, it is held vertically. It is usually made of wood with six holes and it is held vertically. The frula is a traditional instrument of shepherds and farmers who would play this instrument while tending their flocks.  The double frula is made of two connected instruments – pipes, made parallel of one piece of wood. Each frula has a mouthpiece for blowing air inside and holes for fingers.

The zurla is an oriental wooden instrument which most likely came to the area from Turkey and Persia. The pipe is shaped like a cylinder but it is very wide at the end.  Zurlas are often played in pairs with the accompaniment of large traditional drums.  The sound from a zurla is very loud and so the instrument is usually played outdoors.

Shargia is a plucked string instrument of 4-12 strings. The name comes from the Turkish word sarki which means “The East”. The tune is played on the highest string and the other strings are used for the accompaniment. This instrument was used for folk songs and folk dances.

The kaval is a flute that is open from both sides. It is usually made of one piece of decorated ash wood and is played by blowing on the sharpened edge of one end. Once only played by shepherds, it is now used as an instrument for folk songs and for folk dances.

The gaida is an instrument that uses reeds that you blow to build air up in a bag. The gaidunitsa is a kind of a pipe with eight holes for the fingers. The instrument is held under the arm (the bag should be inflated from time to time). The gajda is used during special occasions for folk songs and dances.

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