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Shepherd’s Instruments of Volyn and Polissia: A Systemic-Ethnophonic Aspect

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The authors of the publication:
Tovkaylo Yaryna
Bibliographic description:
Tovkaylo, Ya. (2021) Shepherd’s Instruments of Volyn and Polissia: A Systemic-Ethnophonic Aspect. Folk Art and Ethnology, 1 (389), 120–131.


Tovkaylo Yaryna

a teacher of the highest category (sopilka (pipe) class) at the Children’s Music School no. 28 in Kyiv. orcid:


Shepherd’s Instruments of Volyn and Polissia: A Systemic-Ethnophonic Aspect



The preservation state of Volynian and Polissian traditional sopilka (pipe) music is much worse than that of the Carpathian one. Nevertheless, it is here that a unique method of making pipes, which is not found in other Ukrainian regions, has been preserved and recorded: splitting and twisting of wood.

The aim of this study is to consider the sopilka tradition of Polissian and Volynian regions in the context of pastoral culture: types of instruments, methods of their making and playing, common and distinctive features in comparison with other Ukrainian regions and neighbouring countries, as well as iconic figures and creative portraits of performers / bearers. Comparative, historical- instrumentological, and ethno-organophonic methods were instrumental in achieving the goal and implementing the research tasks.

Pastoral tunes, in-door performance (music for oneself, music for listening, music for singing, etc) performed by pipers can be still heard. Signal musical attributes of the pastoral tradition, such as shepherd’s trumpets, horns, small horns, vabyky (birdcalls), have generally fallen out of use by Polishchuks and Volynians in our time. Their descriptions are contained in the works of Oleksiy Oshurkevych, Klyment Kvitka, Mykhaylo Khay, Viktoriya Yarmola, and other researchers, and mentions of them can still be recorded from local old residents. This should form the basis of modern surveys of the region following in footsteps of the aforementioned scholars in order to determine the dynamics of the pipe‑playing tradition extinction throughout the period of late XXth to early XXIst century.

A photo of a long shepherd’s trumpet taken by V. Maslov during a 1935 expedition is another proof that it also existed in the eastern part of the Polissia region as a signal shepherd’s attribute.

Folk aerophones of the pastoral tradition, music performed in this tradition, household and intangible spheres of the tradition in Polissia and Volyn have much in common with their Belarusian, Lithuanian, and Polish counterparts. Polissia is not limited to the borders of the Ukrainian state, so in future studies, it is worth paying attention to studying this region as a whole.

Based on the parameters described, as well as a manufacturing technology, and information obtained from the bearers of the Polissia-Volyn pipe tradition [pipe‑kolianka, pipe‑vykrutka, (penny‑whistle)], and varieties of shepherd’s trumpets pes and horns, we can better understand the role, place, and significance of their use in the everyday life of the people of the region under study.



Volyn, Polissia, sopilka (pipe), pipe-vykrutka, dudka-kolianka, vabyk (birdcall), shepherd’s trumpet, signal instruments.



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