< Traditional Arts
Bulgarian Folk Music Toys

In the Bulgarian folk tradition already from very young the boys learn in the family - from their grandfather or father, how to create various kinds of musical toys. This was a favourite pastime of children in villages and towns. The sound is produced by blowing, rubbing or hitting. Sound toys made by children are very diverse in form and material. Many of them are made from plant materials, which are available in different seasons. Therefore, their sound can be heard from early spring to late autumn. Some children's sound toys are made from the stems of baldaran, corn, cane; others can be created from the branches of the willow or the leaves of grass, onions and etc.


Made of a small, thin, dry and flat board, tied to a long string up to 70-80 cm. Swung in a cycle this toy produces a sound which depends on the speed of movement. The sound has indefinite height, as well as it can vary in height - from low to high tones, in dynamic: of "p" /quiet/ to "f" /highly/, in duration - from long and short sounds, but also in timbre. With the bramkalo can be produced interesting sound "pictures" like wind blowing or howling animals.


It is usually made in the spring when the tree branches are juicy with a diameter up to 3 cm. The willow whistle has the shape of a bird's beak and is long up to 12-15 cm.
The bark and stem are cut at a depth of 5-6 mm, and then the bark is beaten with a hard object and stripped. A part of the bare wood surface is cut around the „beak“– the part used to create sound and the willow bark is put back on. The timbre is sharp and the sound is loud.


Resembles the willow whistle but inside it is placed a grain of peas. As the pea moves, it creates a specific tone similar to a sport whistle.


This music toy is made from the stem of maize, ending on both sides at the maize stem knees. Longitudinally it is split into two "bands" that are lifted up with chopsticks. The bow is also made from maize, having similar form. Bow instrument like „kemenche“ produce a squeaking often obscure sound.


The kids make this sound toy from maize stem, by splitting it lengthwise in 3-4 incisions up to the stem knee. When moving, the thinner parts hitting each other and produce a clap sound. The timbre can change by the size of the instrument, by the material qualities depending on whether it is wet or dry and by the impact of swinging and hitting.

Bulgarian folk sound toys made by children only with the help of their family, allow to form in the youngsters not only a primary interest and love for music instrument, but also the abilities to play them and to create own melodies. The manufacture of these toys develops new skills by the children and makes the small "musicians" feel as "masters" of the folk musical instruments.

Krasimira Dubarova, curator in the department "Ethnography" in Regional Burgas Museum.

References: Emilia Nikolova, "Bulgarian folk music and children's musical education in kindergarten," S. 1990.
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