Ukraine is famous for its musicality, several Ukrainian folk songs are widespread in the world. The Ukrainian music can trace its roots in the centuries-old oral tradition of Bylina (epic, heroic narrative poems) and 16th century dumy (duma in singular, sung epic poems). Ukrainian music is richly embedded in ancient traditions; at the frescos of the Saint Sofia Cathedral, visitors can see pictures of ancient Ukrainian musicians.
Folk music in Ukraine
The most distinctive Ukrainian musical instrument in the Kobza, an approximately 7th invention used to play folk music; starting in the 15th century, itinerant musicians referred as Kobzars travelled from village to village performing epic tales, known as dumy. The minstrels accompanied themselves on a Kobza. The Kobza grew more and more complex, adding strings and switches for varying tonalities. Unhappily, the Kobza, and the Ukrainian music in general, suffered great repression under Soviet domination.
Later, the bandura, a Ukrainian plucked string folk instrument, replaced the kozba in the 18th century. Bandura soon became the national symbol of Ukraine.
Certain ethnic groups within Ukraine are known for their own unique music, for example, the Hutsuls who inhabited the Carpathians Mountains make use of unique musical instruments such as the trembita (an alpine form of horn made of wood.), the fife (a variety of transverse flute), the duda (a traditional bagpipe), the drymba (Jew's harp), and the tsymbaly (a kind of hammer dulcimer). The music of the Ukrainian winner of the 2004 Eurovision song contest Ruslana Lyzhichko is heavily influenced by Hutsul music style.
Traditional Ukrainian music makes use mainly of the heterophony, which is when two or more musicians perform a little different versions of the same song, with the principal voice, mostly in a middle register; this style was mostly developed by the baroque composer and theoretician Mykola Dylets'kyi; and used by talented classical composers of the 18th century such as Artemy Vedel (1767-1808), Maksym Berezovsky (1745-1777) and Dmitry Bortniansky (1751-1825).
The first Ukrainian opera, Zaporozhets za Dunayem (A Zaporozhian Beyond the Danube) was written in 1863 by the Ukrainian composer and singer Semen Hulak-Artemovsky
Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory, a pianist, and a musical ethnographer, is probably the best known Ukrainian classical composer; he is considered the father of the Ukrainian music.
The Ukrainian songs developed by Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921), Oleksander Koshyts (1875-1944), and Kyrylo Stetsenko (1882-1922) are also widely popular.
In the early 20th century, many Ukrainian immigrants, especially Pawlo Humeniuk (1884-1965), became famous in the United States for performing their own traditional music.
The 20th century Ukrainian music is represented by Levko Revutsky (1889-1977), Borys Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968), Stanyslav Lyudkevych (1879-1979), Vasyl Barvinsky (1888-1963), and Mykola Kolessa (1903-2006).
Dance is also a major part of the culture in Ukraine, these mainly originated in rural Cossack villages, traditional dances include Kozachok, Hopak, Holubka, Metelytsia, Kolomyjka, Bereznianka, Dubotanets, Hutsulka, and Arkan. These dances vary by rhythmic figures, sequence of steps, region.
Classical ballet in Ukraine
Ukraine has a strong tradition of opera and classical ballet. The Kiev Ballet is one of the best in the world. Some of the most famous Ukrainian opera stars include the singer Fyodor Stravinsky (1843-1902), soprano Solomiya Krushelnytska (1872-1952), baritone Igor Gorin (1904-1982), tenor Ivan Kozlovsky (1900-1993), bass-baritone Andrij Dobriansky (born in 1930), and singer Paul Plishka (born in 1941). Contemporary composers include Myroslav Skoryk (born in 1938), Lesia Dychko (born in 1939), and Volodymyr Huba (born in 1938).
The use of the Kobza and Torban is facing a revival in recent years, there has also has been a resurgence of Cossack songs, dance traditions and song poetry. Many Ukrainian bands and musicians are dedicated to preserve the traditional sounds of the Ukrainian music. Western pop and music have become widely popular also, though Ukrainian musicians always try to introduce their own Ukrainian folk traditions in their music.