Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Alexei Arkhipovskiy: Balalaika Varna

For this Traditional Tuesday, my brother’s recent interest in our ancient ancestry of the Kievan Rus has blossomed into an awareness of Ukrainian and Russian music. He is in the market for a balalaika – an interesting instrument I fell in love with when I saw Dr. Zhivago as a preteen. The shape alone was a fascination to me.

I bought my balalaika at Steel City Pawn in Braddock, Pennsylvania in about 1977; however, I never spent much time playing it. I think I paid $45.00 for it at the time – a little more than it was probably worth at the time – but I really wanted it.

Recently in our move, I pocketed the bridge and lost between our old house and our new one. Needless to say, I will need to get another bridge before I can fool with it again. I may even refinish the painted neck and use some fretboard ebony stain that I bought to use on my fretless bass a while back.

One would think that a three string instrument tuned E-E-A would have much potential, but you then haven’t heard Alexei Arkhipovskiy yet. By amplifying the balalaika, it comes alive and Arkhipovskiy shows that he is the Russian Paganini. The song featured in today’s video is балалайка Ваня or translated as Balalaika Varna.

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