Danube Virtual Museum

Musical instruments

The Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, since it was formed in 1901, has gathered a valuable collection of traditional musical instruments. The collection comprises about 450 copies of the instruments divided into four categories - brass (aerophones), string (chordophones), percussion (membranophones) and idiophones (sound devices, "instruments" that produce sounds by themselves).

The most common are wind instruments which consist of a variety of flutes – frula, dvojnice, bagpipes, melody pipes, whistles, twin pipes, ocarina, sopillo, zurla. The following string instruments are also common- a variety of lutes - lirica, liјеrica, ćеmаnе, kеmаnе, several types of tambura - a type of lute used in orchestra. Gusle – a traditional instrument of the Balkans also belongs to string group of instruments, although their string is made of around sixty horse-hairs – usually of a white horse and preferably a stallion, tied with a strong thread, stretched from top to button over the headstock. Percussion instruments consist of various types of drums - gоč, tаpаn, dаrаbukа, instruments made of clay with an animal membrane, tambourine, def, and ćup - begeš.

Folk musical instruments do not have a special attachment to the Danube, but some of them are very interesting and reflect the peaceful and wide way of life in some way, as well as the areas on the Danube flow through Serbia on its was to its final destination. Examples of typical instruments are - two-piped three voices bagpipes - gajde from Banat (Banat, Vojvodina, Slavonia, Baranja), where the air is not blown but pumped in the bag using a wooden bellow tied around the arm. The bellow is pressed with elbows pumping the air into the bag. This instrument was usually used in folk dances - kolo, but even singing was not unusual. Tambura orchestras, indigenous to the Pannonian area, play both lively and sad music, sometimes resembling the nap of young dancers, while sometimes a depression of wide flat plains, with a sound that lingers over this great and wide river.

Another interesting instrument is ćup bеgеš – a type of pot instrument. It was used as an accompanying instrument of tambura orchestras, instead of a double-bass or "begeč". It was a plain not enameled ceramic pot, without a bottom, while the mouth of the pot was covered with a lamb or goat skin, a sheep or pig's bladder. The leather was called ira and it had a hole in the middle with a piece of cane or sorghum stalk. When played, it was hung around the shoulders or tied around the waist. The tone was made when a player with his fingers previously soaked in vinegar or wine slid up and down the sorghum.
(Text: Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade)