Ukraine is an Eastern European country, formerly part of the Soviet Union. Ethnic Ukrainians live in the countries surrounding Ukraine, especially Russia, as well as further abroad, in countries like the United States.
The most distinctive musical instrument unique to Ukraine is the bandura, a circa 7th century invention used for folk music. Starting in the 15th century, traveling musicians (kobzars) used the bandura for epic folk tales (dumy), while the secretive, blind kobzari invented their own bandura music. The instrument grew more and more complex, adding strings and switches for changing tonalities. During Soviet domination, the bandura was repressed as was all distinctively Ukrainian culture.
Ukrainian culture has many similarities to its Carpathian neighbors, especially Poland and Romania. Early in the 20th century, Ukrainian immigrants to the United States became famous for their fiddle music, especially Pavlo Humeniuk. American musicians, especially from the Cleveland area, became especially well-known and, in many ways, preserved Ukrainian traditions more than those in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus was especially important in this development.
The Hutsuls, Carpathian mountain folk, are known for their trembita, a form of horn, and their multiple varieties of the flute (sopilka). Hutsul folk melodies, rhythms and dance moves were effectively used by the Ukrainian winner of the 2004 Eurovision song contest Ruslana Lyzhichko. Elsewhere in Ukraine, vocal polyphony is popular but has seen a decrease in acceptance in recent years as Western pop and rock became popular.
In the very late 1980s, Ukrainian pop music arose with the popularity of groups like Radoslav.
- Kochan, Alexis and Julian Kytasty. "The Bandura Played On". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 308-312. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0