minstrel: Balalaika - period or OOP?

Dave McKinstry d-mckinstry at ti.com
Tue Dec 23 06:51:25 PST 1997


Can anyone tell me whether the balalaika existed before 1600, and if so how
different it is from the modern balalaika?

I'm finding tantalizing tidbits in all of the research books I've checked
out that imply that the balalaika pre-dates the lute, but it's also
described as having frets and attaining popularity in the late 19th century.
Unfortunately, the books I'm getting from my local library are giving me no
more than tantalizing tidbits.

I have a strong suspicion that this Russian instrument was played, without
frets, before 1600, somewhere in Europe.  It's described as being something
along the lines as the model for the lute, or a branch off from the lute, or
some such.  Maybe it's just in the same family.  I need some leads on this,
since I'm looking forward to owning one in the near future and would like to
know whether I can get away with playing it at events.

Thanks for any details or references anyone can provide.

-Lark



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