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Encyclopedia > Russian guitar

The Russian guitar, a seven-string acoustic guitar tuned to the Open G tuning, arrived in the beginning of the 19th century in Russia, most probably as a development of the cittern, kobza and torban. It is known in Russia as the semistrunnaya gitara (семиструнная гитара), which translates to seven string guitar or affectionately as the semistrunka (семиструнка). For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation). ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... A woodcut of a Cittern The cittern is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance, having evolved considerably since that time. ... Kobza (Ukrainian: ) is a traditional Ukrainian stringed musical instrument, from the lute family, and more specifically a relative of Central European mandora. ... The torban or teorban is an Eastern European musical instrument that combined features of the Baroque lute with those of the psaltery. ...

A version with two necks was also popular, with an 11 or 12-string set-up (one with seven fretted strings, and another with four or five unfretted strings). There are also some rare specimens that were built with an oval body.

Its invention is attributed to Andrei Sychra, who also wrote a method for the guitar, as well as over one thousand compositions, seventy-five of which were republished in the 1840s by Stellovsky, then again in the 1880s by Gutheil. Some of these were published again in the Soviet Union in 1926. Andrei Osipovich Sychra (Sikhra, Sichra, in Russian Андрей Осипович Сихра) (born 1773 (?1776) in Vilnius; died November 21/December 3, 1850 in St Petersburg) was a Russian guitarist, composer and teacher, of Czech ancestry. ...

This type of guitar has been called a 'Russian guitar', as it has been primarily played in Russia and later the Soviet Union.

The Russian version of the seven-string guitar has been used by professionals, because of its great flexibility, but has also been popular with amateurs for accompaniment (especially Russian bards) due to the relative simplicity of some basic chords and the ease of playing alternating bass lines. Bulat Okudzhava, a pioneer of the Bard genre For other meanings of the word, see Bard (disambiguation). ...

The Russian guitar is traditionally played without a pick, using fingers for either strumming or picking.



Andrei Osipovich Sychra (Sikhra, Sichra, in Russian Андрей Осипович Сихра) (born 1773 (?1776) in Vilnius; died November 21/December 3, 1850 in St Petersburg) was a Russian guitarist, composer and teacher, of Czech ancestry. ... Vladimir Vavilov (5 May 1925 – 3 November 1973) was a Russian guitarist, lutenist and composer. ...


For many years, the seven string Russian guitar was far more popular than the regular six-string Spanish guitar, the latter was a rarity in Russia before the revolution of 1917. The Russian guitar gained significant popularity in the latter half of the 19th century with the increasing popularity of guitar oriented "city romance" songs. For other uses, see October Revolution (disambiguation). ...

During the early Soviet eras of Lenin and Stalin, all guitar music fell in the disfavor of the Soviet government which had branded the instrument (together with the violin) as "bourgeois", favoring mass orchestration instead. However, the old Russian school of classical guitar continued to exist, continuing the seven string tradition. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a... Iosif (usually anglicized as Joseph) Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин), original name Ioseb Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ჯუღაშვი&#4314...

The six string first came to serious prominence in the Russian classical guitar world when Andrés Segovia toured Soviet Russia in 1926. Possibly looking for something new and exciting to give life to their repressed craft, many Russian classical guitarists began making a switch to the six string and EADGBE tuning. Classical guitarist Piotr Agafoshin made the switch, and wrote a Russian book on six string technique that remains a standard to this day. Andrés Torres Segovia, marqués de Salobreña (21 February 1893 – 3 June 1987) was a Spanish classical guitarist, and later nobleman, born in Linares, Spain who is considered to be the father of the modern classical guitar movement by most modern music scholars. ...

The Russian guitar remained the standard for popular musicians until the 1960s, with the emergence of a strong underground interest in jazz and Western rock groups such as the Beatles and Elvis Presley. The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 as part of their first tour of the United States, promoting their first hit single there, I Want To Hold Your Hand. ... “Elvis” redirects here. ...

However, the parallel emergence of Russian bard music (which relied heavily on popular Russian guitar technique used for "urban romances") kept the seven string relevant. Actor Vladimir Vysotsky, arguably Russia's most prominent bard, retained his monogamous relationship with the seven string up to his death in 1980. Pioneering bard Bulat Okudjava switched to the six string in the early 90's, but continued tuning in open G (skipping the middle D). Bulat Okudzhava, a pioneer of the Bard genre For other meanings of the word, see Bard (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Vysotsky. ... Bulat Shalvovich Okudjava, or Boulat Okoudjava, or Bulat Okudzhava (1924 - 1997, ru: Булат Шалвович Окуджава) was one of the founders of the Russian genre called authors song (see Bard). ...

Thanks to the "bard boom" and cheap factory production, a Russian guitar could be owned new for as little as 12 rubles in the 1970s. Soviet factories continued to manufacture the seven string exclusively for quite a long time before making a gradual switchover to accommodate six string demand in the mid to late 1970s. Prior to that, western pop and rock oriented guitarists had a tradition of modifying cheap factory made Soviet seven string guitars to six strings (or sometimes to bass guitars) and retuning them to EADGBE. ISO 4217 Code SUR User(s) Soviet Union Subunit 1/100 kopek (копейка) Symbol руб kopek (копейка) к Plural rublya (gen. ...

Conversely, Russian emigre guitarists living in western countries where only six string guitars were available have been known to modify six string (and sometimes twelve string) acoustic guitars to seven string instruments, in order to better play their favorite Russian songs.

Recently, the repertoire for the Russian guitar has been treated to new scholarly examination and performance in the work of Dr. Oleg Timofeyev, who has unearthed and recorded works by the composer Matvei Pavlov-Azancheev (1888−1963).

Russian tuning

A Russian seven string is tuned differently from the Spanish guitar. It is tuned in thirds instead of fourths, resulting in a G major chord as follows: D', G', B, D, g, b, d'. This tuning is thought to have derived from that of the torban, a Ukrainian variety of theorbo, as one of its tunings was also based on major triads. The torban or teorban is an Eastern European musical instrument that combined features of the Baroque lute with those of the psaltery. ... Theorbo A theorbo (from Italian tiorba, also tuorbe in French, Theorbe in German) is a plucked string instrument. ...

The A major chord can be played most easily as a barré on the second fret, the B major as a barré on the fourth, C major on the fifth, D major on the seventh, and so on (although other, more involved major shapes are employed as well for a variation in voicing).

Image:RussianSevenStringTuning.jpg Image File history File links RussianSevenStringTuning. ...

Although the Russian guitar has seven strings versus six, a fair amount of open G chord shapes use six or five strings which requires the player to mute or not play certain strings (see chords below).

Perhaps the most audible difference between the Spanish and Russian tunings is in the ability to play chords with a more tighter, piano like voicing on the latter. For example, an E minor chord on a Spanish guitar (as 022000) is usually played in the order, from low to high, of E (root), B (fifth), E (root), G (flat third), B (fifth) and again E (root). On a Russian guitar it is possible to play the E minor (2002002) as E (root), G (flat third), B (fifth), E (root), G (flat third), B (fifth), and E (root) - or to play it with the same voicing as the six string E minor (using 99X9989).

This tighter voicing is particularly audible with seventh chords, including the root-less seventh chord (seventh chords without a root note, often used as a diminished chord). A seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chords root. ... The root (basse fondamentale) of a chord is the note upon which that chord is perceived or labelled as built or centered, the root of a chord in root position or normal form. ... Generally speaking, a diminished chord is a chord which has a diminished fifth in it. ...

It is fairly common for Russian guitar players (particularly those accompanying themselves singing, such as bards) to bring the tuning up or down several steps as desired, either to accommodate the voice or for varying string tension. Vladimir Vysotsky often tuned down a whole step, sometimes even a step and a half to an open E. Also, variations in the open G tuning were fairly common, i.e. Bulat Okudzhava would use the tuning of D'-G'-C-D-g-b-d' to play songs written in C, while bard Sergei Nikitin tuned his guitar to a minor open G: D'-G'-C-D-g-b flat-d' For other uses, see Vysotsky. ... The album of songs from the movies shows an iconic image of Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (also transliterated as Boulat Okudjava/Okoudjava/Okoudzhava; Russian: , Georgian: ბულატ ოკუჯავა) (May 9, 1924 – June 12, 1997) was one of the founders of the Russian genre called authors song (авторская песня, avtorskaya pesnya). ... Cover of CD With Music of Vivaldy by Tatyana Nikitina and Sergey Nikitin Sergey Yakovlevich Nikitin (Russian: , born March 8, 1944) is a prominent Russian bard, composer and a biophysicist. ...

There are more than 1000 different chords for standard Russian 7-string open G D-G-B-D-G-B-D (low to high) and plenty of different schools for left hand (vibrato) and right hand (fingerstyle playing) and enormous classical music musical transposition archives and music composed for Russian 7-string guitar for 200 years in Russia nowadays.

7-string guitar appeared during the second half of XVIII century.

First school for 7-string guitar ever was published in St.-Petersburg, Russia in the year 1798, December, 15th. (15.12.1798) This school belongs to Ignatz Geld (1766, Chezh Republic - 1816, Russia). It seems impossible to find some paperback schools for 7-string guitar, published before the year 1798.

Spanish 6-string guitar have minor key E tuning on open strings, while Russian 7-string have G-major key tuning for open strings. After all, D-G-B-D-G-B-D tuning for Russian 7-string was invented specially for arpeggios, since it have adopted for 7-string guitar harp tuning from the very beginning. In Spanish 6-string guitar only 4 open strings can create chord, while in Russian 7-string guitar all 7 open strings create a chord. Standard Russian tuning was invented by Sikhra to adopr harp tuning for guitar and since that date Russian 7-string guitar sounds like harp.

As it was said above standard Russian seven-string major key tuning since 1798 is D-G-B-D-G-B-D (low to high) Also named Open G tuning in Europe or USA.

"big guitar" G-C-E-G-C-E-G

1/3rd guitar F-A#-D-F-A#-D-F

Three more alternative tuning for Russian 7 string guitar - (strings from 1st to 5th is the same, than in standard Russian tuning) - from 7th to the 1st




The only one unique Russian seven string minor key tuning D-G-C-D-G-A#-D

Six string adaptations

A common practice for six string guitar players of Russian romances and bard music is to retune their guitars using variations of the seven string tuning, such as: G'-B-D-g-b-d' (no bass string, also known as "Dobro open G"), D'-B-D-g-b-d' (no low G), D'-G'-D-g-b-d' (no low B, the standard six string 'open G tuning' used by bard Alexander Rozenbaum), D'-G'-B-g-b-d' (no middle D, used by Bulat Okudzhava in his latter years when he adopted a six string), and so on. the russian tuning is pretty fucked up

See also

Seven-string acoustic guitar as it is used in Brazilian choro music. ... LGM 8 string electric guitar A eight-string guitar is a guitar with eight strings instead of the commonly used six. ... // After Narciso Yepes had already achieved international fame, he reached the point where the 6-string guitar no longer sufficed for his needs. ... Ranaldos Moonlander, Yuri Landman, 2007 The Moonlander is a biheaded electric guitar with 18 strings, 6 normal strings and 12 sympathetic strings. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Playing Guitar Russian Style (3736 words)
Players who wish to get the real Russian sound but are not about to search for a new instrument or modify an existing one can get by very well using the Russian tuning on their six string.
The seven string guitar made itself known in Russia in the 19th century thanks to Andrei Sychra, of Czech ancestry, who had written over a thousand pieces of music for the instrument (he is also considered by some to be the inventor of the seven string).
Russian chord shapes often call for the use of the thumb, which is sometimes shifted from string to string and fret to fret when doing an 'alternating bass'.
  More results at FactBites »



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