Basetlya [basolya, bas]
- Inna D. Nazina
Bass fiddle of Belarus and Ukraine. Some are the size of a cello; others are as large as a conventional double bass. The three or four strings are tuned in 5ths and 4ths. The three-string type is commonly used in the southwest of Belarus, while four-string basses are endemic to parts of the west, central, and northern regions. Both are used in folk instrumental ensembles that perform mainly dance music and wedding marches. In southern ensembles the basetlya typically accompanies one or more violins and a double-headed drum; in central Belarus it traditionally joins a violin, a dulcimer, and a frame drum; in the north it plays with a violin, a clarinet, an accordion, and a double-headed drum. The basetlya first appeared in the 18th century, when professional orchestras (‘capellas’) were developed at the courts of Belarusian-Polish magnates. Both sizes of basetlya were made locally by general woodworkers, not by specialized luthiers; hence their construction, appearance, and tone vary widely....