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Buben, or Russian Tambourine
May 20, 2008 23:27


Buben is a hand percussion musical instrument in the form of a rather narrow round frame with a membrane usually of rawhide or man-made material stretched on one side of it. Inside the frame there may be little bells, as well as pairs of jingles in slots of the frame.

Various peoples have frame drums similar to buben: Uzbek doira, Armenian, Azerbaijani and Tajik def, shamans’ tambourines with a long handle spread in Siberia and the Far East. A lot has been written about shamans’ tambourines and we would like to tackle upon the history of buben in Russia.

From time immemorial Eastern Slavs have used bubens. These powerful instruments were most widely exploited by warriors and skomorokhs (wandering minstrel-cum-clowns). Back then all sorts of percussion instruments with drumheads were called buben. So, when Russian chronicles refer to “buben” it may be also understood as the instrument that later came to be called baraban (i.e. drum in English).

One of the remarks mentioning bubens with trumpets as military music instruments dates back to the 10th century (the 960s) and is part of the description of campaign of Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich. The number of bubens in the army determined its quantity and strength. Buben served as a sign of honour and drummers were at direct command of detachments’ heads.

 

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Military buben was a caldron with a skin membrane stretched over it. In the olden days a whip with a woven ball at the end was used to beat the drums. Military bubens were used both by infantry and the guard. There were two types of them: tocsin and tulumbas.

 

It is supposed that Russian tocsins were of huge size, four horses used to transport one of them. Eight drummers at once would produce the sound, or to be more exact, the thunder of it. With the help of prearranged buben signals Russian troops could communicate with each other and perceive various commands. During a battle drums accompanied with trumpets and surnas performed thrilling rattle to scare the enemy.

In later days buben came to be widely used by skomorokhi (wandering minstrel-cum-clowns) and bear tamers. Skomoroch buben looked more like the modern tambourine. It was a wooden round frame with a skin drumhead, little jingles and bells. The membrane was now beaten with fingers and hands. At that time tambourine players often performed together with balalaika or accordion players or simply accompanied singing of dashing songs.

Besides, buben was used as a solo instrument. This is how this instrument performance was described: “Folk virtuosos playing buben exercise all sorts of tricks: toss it up and catch it in the air, bang it onto their knees or head or chin or nose even, beat it with their hands, elbows, fingers, perform tremolo and howling, and what not”.

Buben was widely spread in Ukraine and Byelorussia, where it was mostly used in dance music. Nowadays a few folk musicians still play this ancient instrument of amazing emotional impact, but it has found major application in orchestras of Russian folk instruments.

Read more about russian Music Instruments... 

 

Sources:
 folkinst.narod.ru


Tags: Russian Music Instruments     

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