Chalumeaux used in Lithuania fall into the following
- the straw chalumeau,
- the goose feather chalumeau,
- the wooden chalumeau with a goose feather mouthpiece,
- the willow bark chalumeau,
- the alder tree chalumeau with a reed-tongue of the
- the wooden chalumeau with a separate mouthpiece,
- the wppden chalumeau with a tied reed,
- the ožragis with a fixed chalumeau mouthpiece,
- the small horn a wooden chalumeau with a cattle
The prototype of the chalumeau employed by the Lithuania
Company is the small horn. Its tube was wooden, 25-30
cm. Long, with 5-7 holes and a tied reed-togue. Its
bell was made of a ram, ox, cow or kid horn. The timbre
of the small horn was of two kinds: blowing softly
very sweet and pleasant, reminding that of the cor anglais,
whereas blowing fard sharp and penetrating. The compass
of an instrument depended on its length as well as the
number and position of holes. The first octave sounded
best of all. While blowing the little horn one could
produce various song and dance melodies, sutartinės
and improvisations trills.
A keen interest in the chalumeau as a potential instrument
was displayed when it had almost disappeared from folk
music yielding to the clarinet and the concertina. The
chalumeau was blown then only by shepherds and old people
who remembered the end of the 19th century when a great
many folk musicians performed on the chalumeau folk
dances, songs, sutartinės and other melodies.
In the 20s and 30s of the 20th century the chalumeau
was used by enthusiasts in small-scale musical ensenbles.
It was there that the chalumeau was gradually perfected
to meet the requirements of stage performances; and
finally it became a diatonic instrument with the compass
of the small decima. This is how it came to be adopted
by the folk instrument orchestra.
Performing folk song and dance melodies arranged for
an orchestra on the diatonic chalumeau with the c1 to
e2 compass was rather difficult because of its limited
possibilities. Thats why with the further improvement
of the diatonic chalumeau other types of chalumeaux
(in C, in D, in G) and also the bass chalumeau sounding
from C to d1 and the double bass chalumeau from D to
c have been made. In this way a chalumeau ensemble has
been created, the possibilities of which have considerably
However, soon it turned out that even these chalumeaux
did not meet fully the requirements of a folk ensemble
one couldnt perform on them a great many new musical
pieces specially written by our composers for an ensemble
where chromatic scale and modulations where employed.
In 1950 the folk instrument maker P. Serva and the musician
of the State Song and Dance Company P. Samutis made
the high-tone chromatic chalumeau sounding from a to
These werw the main stages in the way of the chalumeau
from its folk prototype to the instrument employed in
the orchestra of the Lithuania Company.
The high-tone chromatic chalumeau is built in three
sections: the ebonite mouthpiece, the tube of maple,
apple or some other tree on the top end of which, according
to the tradition of the folk prototype, a finely polished
cow horn is put on. Ten holes and only one (octave)
valve makes it possible to produce chromatic sound covering
two and a half octaves. Semitones are made by various
fingering. The lower register of the chalumeau sound
soft and rich, the middle register reminds of the timbre
of the clarinet or the oboe.
In 1953 P. Kupčikas, a folk instrument master, made
the chromatic tenor chalumeau with the compass from
H to g2 instead of the diatonic chalumeau in G, and
the chromatic double bass chalumeau with the Fis-e1
compass instead of the diatonic chalumeau.
The tenor and double bass chalumeaux not only fully
satisfy the need for the lower register instruments
in chalumeaux ensembles and folk instrument orchestras
but at the same time sound beautifully, with a very
pleasant timbre, as solo instruments. In general construction
the tenor chalumeau reminds of the high-tone one, only
it is much longer. Its middle joint is also made of
wood and a saxophone reed-tongue is tied to its ebonite
The middle joint of the double bass chalumeau is made
of metal while the mouthpiece of ebonite. On the end
of the middle joint a big horn is put on. While blowing
this chalumeau the musicians hang it on the neck like
a saxophone or a bassoon. The double bass chalumeau
has two registers: the lower reminding that of the contrabassoon
and the upper reminding of the clarinet.
In North-East Lithuania near the towns of Biržai
and Vabalininkas at the beginning of this century
the instruments called daudytės were widely used. They
were straight wooden tubes, 140 230 cm. long, on which
two players used to perform sutartinės. Daudytės differ
from horns because each of them can produce not one
but 4 5 sounds.
Like trumpets, daudytės were made of ash. An ash-tree
trunk was cut in such a way that two thirds of its length
were only 3 4 cm. thick and the other end would gradually
expand. Then the piece of wood was split in two and
a hole gouged with the diameter of 2 cm. at the beginning
and 10 12 cm. at the end. The wall was 1 1.5 cm.
thick, and, when put together, both sides were fastened
with birch bark. The mouthpiece was cut at the thin
The lumzdelis is a xood-wind instrument widely spread
in lithuania. Most often it was made and played by shepherds
at a night watch of horses at grass. On festive occasions
and other folk entertainments even elderly people blew
The lumzdelis was made of broom or willow bark and wood.
The bark lumzdelis was usually made in spring from broom.
Due to the natural shrinkage of bark they were short-lived.
The wooden lumzdelis was made of a trunk of ash-tree
burning out or boring an oblong hole of 1.5 cm. In diameter.
The length of the lumzdelis varies from 20 to 30 cm.
In the upper side of the lumzdelis from 3 to 8 holes
are burned out or cut. While playing they are covered
and uncovered with the fingers of both hands. The timbre
of the lumzdelis is soft reminding that of the piccolo.
The low tones sound sonewhat faint, the high ones are
loud and sharp. Each hole of the lumzdelis produces
two tones a ground tone and its octave ehat is produced
by overblowing. The compass of the instrument is from
c1 to f 4.
The folk melodies of the lumzdelis players abound in
various adornments and embelishments.
The ožragis is made of a goats horn, 30 40 cm.
long; its inside is cleaned, the pointed end is cut
off and a mouthpiece is gouged. In the side of the horn
at the thick end 4 5 holes are burnt with the help
of which 4 5 tones can be obtained. One needs great
power to blow the ožragis, therefore the sound is very
strong and penetrating.
The ožragis was exceptionally an instrument of elderly
herdsmen and shepherds, and it was found in all the
territory of Lithuania. Old people say that at the beginning
of the 19th century an orchestra of country musicians
consisting of the concertina, the violin, the small
drum and the ožragis used to play at various entertainments
and wedding parties.
The repertoire of the ožragis consisted of special trills,
small-scale song and dance melodies. Ožragis music is
characterized by vivid tempo as well as by flexibility
and variety of melody. Two compositions are worth mentioning:
The Shepherds March a melody to drive cows back
from a pasture, The Landlays Scolding and others.
The horn another instrument of trumpet family
also enjoyed considerable popularity. Its general construction
is similar to that of the trumpet, but its sound is
essentially different. The trumpet is usually blown
by one musician, whereas the horn is a group musical
Horns as well as trumpets were made of hard wood ash,
maple, elm or birch. They were from 50 to 100 cm. long;
the mouthpiece was cut in the thin end. Some masterz
used to make their instruments from a crooked tree so
that they would resemble an animal horn. Horns with
holes in the barrel for changing the timbre can also
4-5 horns make up a set. Each of the horns produces
only one sound (tone). The long ones can two tones of
the quint interval.
The height of the horn note depends on the length of
an instrument. The tuning is rather relative. Musicians
tune them up in the same way as the skudučiai by blowing
some well-known note and listening to its sound.
In olden times horns, like trumpets, were used on different
festive occasions. Later they entered the everyday life
of peasants. Horns were blown by night watchers of horses
at grass. They were also blown on Palm Sunday, Midsummer
day, at hay-making, harvest time, common tasks and so
on. On a Saturday or some other festive evening horn
blowers would go to the end of a village or some barn
porch and atarted blowing horns; soon they were echoed
by the horn blowers of other villages.
The repertoire of horns is similar to that of skudučiai.
Compositions performed on horns had special names, e.g.
The Little Duck, The Cat, The Radish and others.
The skudučiai (a kind of panpipes) is an old field
musical instrument that was quite popular as far back
as the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of
the 20th century it gradually fell out of use remaining
somewhat longer in North-East Lithuania, the land of
sutartinės: the towns of Biržai, Vabalininkas, Pandėlys,
Kupiškis. Earlier the skudučiai was known in a much
larger area in all the Highland region of Lithuania.
Still, they had not been found in Samogitia and the
land of Suvalkai.
The skudučiai is a set of pipes of various size, each
stopped at the bottom, tuned in a peculiar way and palyed
by a group of performers.
The skudučiai is made of young ash wood, some 2-3 cm.
Thick and 7-15 cm. Long. In one end a cylindrical cavity
is bored or burned out leaving 2-3 cm. Thick walls and
a 2-3 quely in this way the mouth-hole of the skudučiai
is made. The skudučiai is blown keeping it in a vertical
position. The mouth-hole is pressed to the lower lip.
The skudučiai have ancient and original folk playing
traditions. A set of the skudučiai pipes are not tied
together and, as a rule, they are blown not by one player
but by a group of them. In this way polyphonic music
of original harmony of seconds can be produced.
Special compositions were performed on the skudučiai:
besides, they used to accompany the sutartinės songs
or other misical instruments.
The ancient skudučiai music is exceptionally of the
sutartinės type. It is based on the consonances of seconds
and is composed by repeating the fourth and eighth rhythmic
figures. The metre is usually of two fourths. Although
the main element of skudučiai music is the rhythmics
based on syncopes, the various and rich melodics of
skudučiai music is similar to the melodics of the sutartinės
sung by the Lithuaniain people.
Players used to distribute a set of skudučiai among
them-selves in such a way that every musician had several
skudučiai of different tone height. Observing the main
rhythm, strictly keeping to necessary rests ant their
own rhythmic figures, musicians used to create expressive
Before playing the skudučiai was tuned up by playing
some well-known melody. It was tuned by ear in large
and small seconds. To make the skudučiai produce higher
notes peas or pebbles were thrown into it or some wax
dropped in, whereas for obtaining lower notes its bottom
was bored. Later on,having adapted the skudučiai to
the demands of the stage, it was tuned up by moving
a mobile bottom. In 1940 the skudučiai together with
the chalumeau and the Lithuania psaltery were included
into the folk instrument orchestra of the Company as
one of its principal sections.
The skudučiai became an important component of the folkinstrument
orchestra of the Company firstly because of its expressive
sound which gave a peculiar colouring to the performances
of the Company; besides , by this time, due to the efforts
of folk music enthusiasts, it had already gained wide
popularity as a perspective stage musical instrument.