Slovakian Traditional Music and Instruments

Music has always been an important part of Slovak cultural life.  Folk music and instruments were popular in the early part of the 19th century.  This music has helped shape modern Slovak music.  An example is the Slovak national anthem.  The anthem is based on a melody from a folk song, Kopala Studienku.

These are five popular folk instruments:

The Accordion

The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument.  A person who plays this instrument is called an accordionist.  The instrument is played by compressing or expanding the bellows while pressing buttons of keys that cause the valves to open.  This allows the air to flow across strips of brass or steel called reeds. These vibrate to make sound.

The Cimbalom

The cimbalom is a concert hammered dulcimer made of a large box with metal strings stretched across its top. You play this instrument by striking two beaters against the strings.

The Fujara

The fujara originated in central Slovakia.  It is a large shepherd’s flute.  It belongs to the woodwind family.  There are three holes on the lower part of the instrument.  You blow into the top pipe while standing with the instrument held straight up.

The Koncovka

The knocovka is a flute without finger holes.  It was traditionally played by shepherds.  The koncovka is played by closing and opening the bottom hole of the flute.

The Ninera

The Ninera is a stringed instrument that makes sound by a crank-turned wheel rubbing against strings.  It functions similar to a violin or fiddle.  It has a sound board so you can hear the vibrations of the strings.  It is the Slovak version of the hurdy-gurdy.

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