The drum (the “Stump”)
The skrabalai



The drum (the “Stump”)

Drums played an important role in the musical life of ancient lithuanians. They were festive, ritual and military instruments. More than once they were mentioned in the old writings of the Lithuanian historians, their popularity was witnessed by the folklore – songs, legends.
Two kinds of drums were popular with the people – single-headed drums and double-headed drums.
Eventually several ethnographical variants of ehese instrument had developed.
One of them, popular in Samogitia, was called the “stumo”. The barrel of this drum was made of a sound or rotten piece of wood, mostly from a stump. If a sound piece of wood was taken, it was hollowed out leaving 2 – 3 cm. thick wall. But most often for making “stumps” rotten trunks of willow, linden and sometimes birch were used. Both open ends were evenly cut and the thin end was covered with dog or goat skin, scraped but uncured, which was fastened to it with a hoop. The “stump” was 30 – 40 cm. high and 40 – 30 cm. in diameter. The “stump” was put on the ground at the player’s feet and beaten with one or two wooden drum sticks about 30 cm. long the end of which was covered with felt of cattle hair or tigthly wrapped in rough woolen cloth.




The skrabalai

The skrabalai are trapezoid-shaped wooden troughs of various size with one or two wooden or metal hanging small clappers fixed inside them. When the skrabalai is moved a clapper knocks at the wall of the trough which gives hollow but distinct sound. The height of the sound depends on the size of the wooden trough.
The skrabalai is gouged from a piece of hard wood – oak or ash. The size of troughs varies from quite small, 7 – 12 cm. long, 5 – 7 cm. wide and 6 – 7 cm. high, to larger ones. The walls are 2 – 3 cm. thick.
From ancient times the skrabalai was used by shepherds. They used to tie a wooden bell of this kind on a cow’s neck thus making it easier to find animals in a foresr when they strayed away from the herd.
Old people say that some musician – drum beaters in Samogitia – used to strike the skrabalai when playing for dances. If the skrabalai was with clappers the musicians used to hold it in the hand, if not it was tied to a staff stuck in the ground and played with dry wood sticks. Separate melodicrhythmic tunes were performed on the skrabalai.
The “Lithuania” Company employs 27 chromatic skrabalai (without clappers) with the sounding compass from c1 to e3, that are fastened to horizontal wooden bars on a special frame. The skrabalai has been coupled with the “stump” ( a kind pf kettledrum); for this purpose the legs of the frame are put into the holes made in the sides of the “stump”. The skrabalai are struck with two wooden sticks.

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