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Any balalaika players out there?

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Help: Balalaika (7)
Russian balalaika (4)


McGrath of Harlow 31 Oct 99 - 07:18 PM
lalafro@aol.com 31 Oct 99 - 08:31 PM
John of the Hill 31 Oct 99 - 09:24 PM
DonMeixner 31 Oct 99 - 09:48 PM
Rick Fielding 31 Oct 99 - 10:04 PM
John in Brisbane 31 Oct 99 - 11:53 PM
KingBrilliant 01 Nov 99 - 03:33 AM
Pete Peterson 01 Nov 99 - 09:04 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Nov 99 - 01:32 PM
John of the Hill 01 Nov 99 - 09:33 PM
catspaw49 01 Nov 99 - 09:50 PM
AKS 02 Nov 99 - 04:29 AM
KingBrilliant 02 Nov 99 - 04:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Nov 99 - 02:13 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 31 Mar 00 - 06:28 PM
GUEST 15 Nov 08 - 05:23 AM
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Subject: Musical instruments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 07:18 PM

I've got a balalaika hanging in my wall. I'd like to be able to play it, and I'd be grateful if anybody could advise, or point me in the right direction.

I'd really like to be able to use it in Irish sessions sometimes - I think it could work, the same way the bazouki made the transition from Greece to Ireland. Getting some hints on how they play it in Russia and around would be a good start though. Unfortunately Babelfish doesn't have a Russian translate button, so I haven't tried searching over there yet. (I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that the kind of Russians who are into balalaikas are probably not into writing in English on the Internet, and vice versa.)


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: lalafro@aol.com
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 08:31 PM

rent the movie "Doctor Zhivago"...it is beautiful...to the sights as well as sounds...


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: John of the Hill
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 09:24 PM

If memory serves, Mel Bay Publications has an instruction book available. Check Elderly Instruments, Lark In The Morning, or Mel Bay directly. John


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 09:48 PM

I'm going way out on a limb here but. The only balalaika I ever played was tuned as if it were a fully chromatic dulcimer. I beleive it was in a minor tuning.

Don


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 10:04 PM

Don may be right. I think I played one that was tuned to a triad g,b,d. But now that I think about it maybe it was high G, D, low G. Ahh hell, someone will come by who can really help you.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 11:53 PM

And the one I played I thought was E e b (almost 30 years ago).


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 03:33 AM

I bought one from a charity shop a while ago & only recently started to try to play it. From what I could find out from various sources the tuning is (very bizarrely) A on the lowest string & the same E on both the other strings. Ie if you sit it facing you then you are looking at AEE. I have also heard that although you tend to get them with steel strings they are better if you put nylon strings on them (I haven't with mine yet tho). Not having a clue how to play it properly (and not wanting to lash out on the book just at the moment) I tried just working out some chord shapes by transferring the notes from the guitar strings onto the balalaika strings. The shapes you end up with seem surprisingly feasible, and I've been able to use it to accompany a few songs just for my own consumption. The drawback is that it is very unforgiving in that the notes bend a bit too easily - hence I'll need to practice a lot more before I take it out anywhere. BUT it is a nice sounding instrument & has a lot of potential. I've no idea whether AEE makes it suitable for celtic stuff - or would you need to adjust it to ADD? If you buy the Mel Bay book I'd love to know what its like.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:04 AM

I had the honor of playing (occasionally!) with Sasha Polinoff until he died last year at 91-- and confirm that the tuning is the doubled AEE previously mentioned. Best keys, therefore, are genetic: D and A. I would not have believed it possible to get so many things out of a three-string instrument had I not met Lorraine Lee Hammond some years before.


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 01:32 PM

Keep 'em coming. Yes, I've been trying out bazouki or guitar chords adjusted. But I've seen balalaika players on stage sometimes, and there's a different way of thinbkingtherers that I want to find out about. As Pete Peterson said, I'd never have believed you could get so many things out of three strings.


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: John of the Hill
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:33 PM

Does AEE coincide with any common mountain dulcimer tunings? John


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:50 PM

Yes

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: AKS
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 04:29 AM

Hi, a self instructor (by A. Dorozhkin I think it was, a fellow student gave me a photocopy of it some 20 years ago) published in Moscow 1957, gives the tuning EEA, E being lower in pitch. That does not of course exclude other tunings from existence, especially since there are (if me memory serves) several sizes of balalaikas. I've been too lazy to learn to play b, but what I have read and seen seems to prove that the Russian 'traditional' technique is to use the index finger and thumb of the right hand to pick or strum the strings, and also the thumb of the left hand is used a lot. Big ensembles like the Aleksandrov Red Army Choir & Ens. seem to use balalaika as a 'rhythm' instrument rather than solo, (which is mostly played on domra that has 4-strings and body shape of hemisphere - and that's about all I know about it). I think the 3-string (3 pairs that is) Greek buzuki is tuned in a similar way, isn't it?? Now that you've brought it up; yes, balalaika certainly would fit well at least to some Irish music, methinks.

AKS from Joensuu

ps some of the wintery scenes of Dr. Zhivago were filmed here just outside the town on the ice of Lake Pyhäselkä and some 50 km north, on Lake Pielisjärvi.


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 04:51 AM

McGrath - I have just embarassed myself severely by guffawing at that delicious typo. I shall smile all day now.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 02:13 PM

Yeah, balalaikas come in all sizes up to enormous double-bass versions. Mine is what I think is the basic size, about the same size as a small mandola, and with three strings (sometimes they have three course of two strings instead).

I have thought of trying to use mountain dulcimenr as a guide - but even if the tuning is the same, the approach to playing is radically different. (Though I know thgere are umpteen different ways of playing dulcimers.)

But is there noone out there who plays the balalaika themsleves? Maybe in Australia?


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 31 Mar 00 - 06:28 PM

Check out the following:

Rick and Steve's Balalaika Page Which I seem to post a reference to about one a month--You can find out all you want, including information on the Balalaika music camp and the Balalaika and Domra Association Convention--the website belongs to Steve Wolownik, who has started several of the most famous American Balalaika bands (and the best ones, too!!) and founded the association--


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Subject: RE: Any balalaika players out there?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Nov 08 - 05:23 AM

Hallo.
This is Dieter Hauptmann, hope you still need some help with balalaika. I am a virtuoso in Adelaide and teach at the Russian School how to play the instrument. As they didn'thave any, I built over 14 balalaikas in the last year. Nextsaturday my junior ensemble (10 strong, most under 12 years old) will play at their end of year concert and my senior ensemble (12 strong, most over 40years old) at the Russian Arts and Craft Fair here in Adelaide. There is almost nothing regarding Russian Folk where I couldn't help, check me out on Youtube oerforming with my wife Ally, who is a competent balalaika contrabass player.
Get in touch if you still need help, the instruction book mentioned by some other writers is from Mel Bay, author Bibs Ekkel in London, who is a good friend of mine. You can order it at Allans Music, I suppose there is one in Brissi.
Looking foreward to be of some help, long live the Magic of the Balalaika.
greetings   Dieter Hauptmann


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