Sergey Balakin - Zelen Holm - traditional Russian musical instruments.
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Sergey Balakin - Zelen Holm - traditional Russian musical instruments.


 

 

 The song "Gamayun" is performed by the gusli duet "Zelen Holm"

The "Gamayun" is a prophetic bird of Russian folklore.
It is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge and lives on an island in the east, close to paradise.
The Gamayun is normally depicted as a large bird with a woman's head.

 

Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia

 

Sergey Balakin is one of a few Russian craftsmen
who create the traditional Russian musical instrument GUSLI [ˈguslʲɪ].

From one hand, it is not difficult to make the gusli:
it would seem, just hollow out the through, glue up the soundboard, string and you can play,
as it is known that in the past the gusli was made within one day.

On the other hand, it is not easy at all: the gusli is a musical instrument in full,
in order to get the sound characteristic of the gusli only the craftsman needs experience,
has to know plenty of nuances and feel the musical sound.

In general the process is the following: take the well seasoned spruce or pine for the body,
the resonance spruce for the soundboard, maple or beech for the outer details.

The wing or the rosette can be decorated with the traditional woodcarved patterns –
the woodcarved details are made by Sergey himself, but earlier he used to turn to professional woodcarvers.

The next stage is to cover the gusli with lacquer or wax.
The last stage is to string the gusli.
The strings are metallic; it is known that they started to call gusli sonorous
when the metallic strings replaced the gut ones.

“Every gusli I make as if I would play it myself” – tells Sergey.
It means that he is very attentive and painstaking in each stage of the gusli manufacturing –
the wood body making and the sound production both.

“The gusli sound is very special, sincere and healing.
It appeals directly to the soul, awaken memories of something bygone and forgotten and plunge you into the antiquity.
Only when I manage to get such a sound, I am sure that the instrument is perfect”.
Many of those have heard the gusli say that its influence is magic.
It is not accidental that the gusli was a ritual musical instrument in Ancient Russia.

It is quite natural that Sergey is so attentive to the sound: he is not only the craftsman, but the musician as well.
Together with his wife they have been giving concerts playing the gusli and in 2006 they founded the folk duet “Zelen Holm” (“Green Hill”).

Many people in Nizhniy Novogorod know their regular performances in theme festivals and folk celebrations.
“Zelen Holm” plays their own songs,
which are based on characters and scenes of the Slavonic mythology and Russian folklore. 

 

Artworks:
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Gusli - helmet-shaped and sonorous

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Gusli - helmet-shaped and sonorous

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Gusli - wing-shaped and sonorous

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Gusli - helmet-shaped and sonorous

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