ABOUT
INSTRUMENTS

Balalayka double-bass

This instrument holds a specific place in the balalayka family. Is it the biggest in size, and in dynamics and sound it is the most powerful and deep. Its functional peculiarity, basis of any chord, is bass. Sometimes bass transforms into organ point, sometimes turns into fragments of thematic material, but it never loses its basic function. Bass is its backbone, its origin.
Like all other balalaykas, it has three strings, but their scale is different - E A D. This scale expends the instrument range (from E contraoctave to G small octave). Contrabass is played by a big leather plectrum, which softens the sound, makes it more tender and deeper. Sometimes pizzicato is played by thumb, this is required for compositions with light texture to make the sounds soft, transparent, weightless. The instrument size and form require from the musician to play it in standing position. A metal pin is attached to it from below, which abuts against the floor. So neither the instrument body nor its sounding-board touch the performer's dress, and this causes great resonant effect, resulting in powerful, long and deep sound.
Timbre peculiarities of balalayka-contrabass enable to reflect the deep abyss of ocean storm, as well as jingle of raindrops, clutter of horses' hoofs and many other "shades".
Sometimes a performer has to possess exceptional power. Instrument's deep scale implies thick twisted strings, and it is rather hard to make them sound. To make the string sound well, one should press the strings correctly and tightly by one-two fingers of the left hand, and strike with the right hand softly, but deeply and with strength.
It should be noted that there have been no considerable changes since the time of V.V. Andreyev, but the playing technique is being constantly developed and improved. And now balalayka-contrabass is attracting the attention of soloists, as well as practicing instructors, who are developing the contrabass playing school.


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