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Modern Ethnic Ukrainian Music


Traditional Ukrainian music is predominantly heterophonic: the same melody is distributed among different voice parts, with one leading voice, mostly in a middle register. The lead singer (zaspivoovach) determines the course of the melody and the other voices come in later. This heterophony group singing is often embellished by an independent voice in a very high register (vyvodtshyk).

The principle of heterophony allows the principal voice much space for improvisation, continuous variation and embellishment. It has also an effect on the lyrics, insofar as single words or phrases are lengthened with vocalisms or enlarged with additional syllables.

There is a rich repertoire of many famous Cossack songs and dance traditions. This music has its roots in a centuries old oral tradition of bylina (epics, heroic narrative poetry) and dumas, long lyrical ballads glorifying the exploits of the Cossacks.

This year’s Ukrainian Eurovision entrant, Ruslana, is a highly successful singer, producer, dancer and composer. With an extensive musical education under her belt, a strong vocal talent and unique style, Ruslana’s best-selling album, “The Wild Dances,” was the first ever to go Platinum in Ukraine.

Ruslana is signed to Comp Music, the Ukrainian arm of music giant, EMI. Her music is entirely unique and heavily influenced by Ukrainian ethnic styles. Her Eurovision song and performance of “Wild Dances” is inspired by the Carpathian Mountains and will be sung partly in Ukrainian and partly in English. Together with an innovative dance show and stunning costumes, it promises to be a show the like of which Europe has never seen before. 

Unpredictable and possessing a contagious energy, Ruslana is always experimenting and rejects standard approaches. She is all about a person with ‘wild’ energy.

Ruslana writes, produces and directs all her work, including her music videos. She has won several awards including the All Ukrainian Festival of Modern Songs, Best Performer, Best Song, Best Video, and Best Personality for two years’ running in 1999 and 2000. Her most recent album, “The Wild Dances,” has sold 170,000 copies to date.

She has performed at numerous festivals and has toured widely in the Ukraine. From 24 November 2003 to 4 January 2004, Ruslana toured in Ukraine visiting 25 of the country’s largest cities.

Wild Dances - The Album

In December 2002 Ruslana started work on a new album which she was invited to record at Peter Gabriel’s London ‘Real World’ studio.

The album -- “Dyki Tantsi” (“Wild Dances”) -- was released in Ukraine on 11 June 2003. By October that year, it had sold a record-breaking 100,000 copies and went Platinum. It was the first-ever album to do so in Ukraine and Ruslana received the award for this achievement at the 2003 Ukrainian Music Awards.

“Wild Dances” is a modern take on traditional Ukrainian ethnic music based on ancient Hutsul rhythms and dances.

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