Folk Music from the Slovak Mountains

The fujara is the largest member of the overtone flute family. It developed in the seclusion of the Slovakian mountains, and, until recently, was barely known outside Slovakia. Even today, only a small number of traditional musicians play the instrument, and only a handful of craftsmen know how to make it. However, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the fujara has been “discovered” by the rest of the music world, and an increasing number of musicians and listeners are embracing this magnificent “Queen of the flutes.” The fujara’s imposing size, (up to six feet long), and the intricate decorations on the flute’s surface draw immediate attention, but listeners only begin to understand the true uniqueness of the fujara after hearing the first tones of its editative, soulful, and overtone-rich voice.

The fujara was originally developed and played by Slovak shepherds. Its unique voice was used to play slow, lyrical, melancholic folk melodies, which the fujarist played in alternation with sung lyrics about various topics: shepherds’ daily routines and hard lives; love; the beauty of nature; and the adventures, capture, and execution of forest outlaws. In this presentation, Bob Rychlik will demonstrate the fujara’s versatility by playing examples from the traditional repertoire as well as classical and contemporary music, including several of his own compositions.

This lecture/performance was presented by Bob Rychlik in conjunction with the American Musical Instrument Society Annual Meeting and in cooperation with the Music Division, Library of Congress.

Speaker Biography: Multi-instrumentalist Bohuslav “Bob” Rychlik was born in Czechoslovakia, where he fell in love with the acoustic guitar, and later, the 5-string banjo. He taught classical guitar, studied various folk and blues finger-picking guitar styles, established several country and bluegrass groups, and organized musical gatherings and festivals even prior to moving to America in 1984. He received his first fujara as a gift from Slovak friends in 1999. After mastering the instrument, he started sharing its beauty with others. He has played the fujara with the modern dance troupe CityDance, and has given over 70 fujara and overtone flute performances at folk festivals and Czech and Slovak events. Bob became the first foreign member of the exclusive “Fujarasi” guild in Slovakia, recorded his first CD, Ideas with Fujara, and was featured on Czech and American TV and Czech and Slovak radio

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