The chalumeau
The daudytė
The lumzdelis
The ožragis
Wooden trampets
The skudučiai



The chalumeau

Chalumeaux used in Lithuania fall into the following groups :

  1. the straw chalumeau,
  2. the goose feather chalumeau,
  3. the wooden chalumeau with a goose feather mouthpiece,
  4. the willow bark chalumeau,
  5. the alder tree chalumeau with a reed-tongue of the same tree,
  6. the wooden chalumeau with a separate mouthpiece,
  7. the wppden chalumeau with a tied reed,
  8. the ožragis with a fixed chalumeau mouthpiece,
  9. the small horn – a wooden chalumeau with a cattle horn resonator.

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. That’s 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 expanded.
However, soon it turned out that even these chalumeaux did not meet fully the requirements of a folk ensemble – one couldn’t 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 d3.
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 mouthpiece.
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.




The daudytė

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 end.




The lumzdelis

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.
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

The ožragis is made of a goat’s 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 Landlay’s Scolding” and others.




Wooden trampets

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 instrument.
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 be found.
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

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 polyphonic music.
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.

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