- Inna D. Nazina
Generic term for folk clarinets or hornpipes found throughout Belarus and Russia under several specific names (e.g. pishchik, charotka, and dudka). Each name reflects certain essential characteristics of the instrument—acoustical, structural, functional, etc. The word zhaleyka is derived from Slavonic zhal (‘sad, sorrowful, mournful’), also the root of zhalnik (‘a grave’). Inhabitants of northern Belarus remember that the zhaleyka could be heard during burial ceremonies in the 1930s. The term golos (‘voice’) as applied to Belarusian instruments is related to the belief that some instruments arose from trees growing on the graves of murdered children. The soul and voice of the child were thought to move first into a sacred tree, then into the instruments made from its wood. Thus, an instrument with an extraordinary and distinctive voice is an integral feature of ancient Belarusian burial rituals. The types of zhaleyka differ in shape, size (typically 10 to 36 cm long), material (e.g. wood, straw, goose quill, reed, horn), construction, and the presence or absence of fingerholes (normally four to 12) and a bell (often of birch bark, horn, or wood). Generally it has an idioglot reed and a loud, shrill sound with a distinct nasal undertone. Typically it plays a diatonic scale spanning a 6th or 7th beginning from ...