Tafiychuk Family - Hutsulshchyna: Music of the Carpathian Mountains
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Tafiychuk Family
Hutsulshchyna: Music of the Carpathian Mountains 2 volumes
Koka Records (www.koka.terra.pl)

cd cover The Tafiychuk Family has been playing the music of their ancestral village of Hutsul, in the Ukrainian Carpathians, for generations. On this two volume set, they give a sampling of some of the widely varied traditional sounds of the mountains. Volume one focuses primarily on wedding music, with songs sung at the wedding table, game songs, dances, and songs to be sung as the bride leaves her house. Vocals are accompanied by fiddle, flute, and cimbalom. The instruments swirl around each other in a loose, clattery cacophony. The melodies are short and repetitive, with subtle variations to each repeated phrase. "Kutsulka," referred to as just an "old dance," is a twenty-one-minute-plus musical marathon. Sounding like an endurance competition between musicians and dancers, it whirls along without flagging. Just when it sounds like the musicians can't hold up anymore, they'll stop for about a micro-second and launch into another key. These wedding celebrants know how to party.

Volume two is more bucolic, highlighting the simple Carpathian flutes. The instruments, while similar in construction and size, each have a distinctive sound and purpose. The five-holed sopilka, with its bird song like sound, is used by shepherds. The reedy six-holed floiara is used to accompany harvests and funerals. The telenka, a breathy overtone flute, is also a shepherding instrument. Both discs begin and end with pasture signaling played on horns and trembitas, an instrument similar to the alpenhorn.

Mention must be made of the sweet packaging of these discs. Printed on rough brown cardboard with what looks like hand-typed text, each disc has a different swatch of embroidered fabric adorning the front. It's all perfectly in keeping with the rustic, homespun music inside. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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