Drevo brings back to light old traditions of Ukrainian folk music
steeped in its own harmonies, scales and techniques. One thousand years ago with the ward of Christianity to Ukraine the culture on these Slavic grounds did not begin anew, but its new page was opened. Alongside with the partially kept prior archaic layers and on their basis, the Christianity has formed other original forms of culture, genres and styles.
The influence of these processes on Ukrainian folk music was especially expressive.
In pagan times the Ukrainian Christmas music- Kolyadkas (Ukrainian Christmas carols) (tracks # 1,4,5,7-11,14,16,18,20,21) and Shchedrivkas (Ukrainian Christmas carols) (tracks # 2,15,17,19) were a component of sacramentals related with New Year Day and vernal equinox. In later time Kolyadkas and Shchedrivkas (Ukrainian Christmas carols) became a symbol of Christmas time and other biblical dates and events. Obviously, such reassess of function has served as the reason of a semantic and stylistic variety of Ukrainian Christmas carols, represented on the disk. The content of spiritual verses is always Christian. Their musical stylistics can inherit ancient epic singing-narrative tradition of east Slavs (¹6). The closest relation with Orthodox Church Christian religious doctrine and ideology, and also with Church service music is observed in folk canticles (¹3,12,13) and polychronions (¹20,22).
The biblical characters (Jesus Christ, The Theotokos, apostles Peter and Paul, saint George and saint Basil, Herod the king and others), and also place of events in folklore musical compositions as though they are passed through a prism of representation of the Ukrainian peasant consequently get typical features of Ukrainian everyday life.
The stylistics of the folk music, represented on the CD, shows different stages of traditional Ukrainian folk music history. Besides it is caused by the certain regional tradition. The heterophone Ukrainian Christmas carols from Polissia (North Ukraine) are the most archaic. The manner of their performance is especially ceremonial, and reminds a wail (¹2,8,11). In other regions of Ukraine such manner of singing is of rare occurrence (¹15). The characteristics of the later stylistic features are: adding of an independent top voice to a song melody (¹9,14,17,18); expansion and enriching the canvas with additional voices (¹1,12). So it forms chord-harmonic canticle style of 17-18 centuries (¹3,4,5,7,10,13,16,20,22) and change vocal manner to church singing (¹5,16). Dniper Livoberezhzhia singing (¹3,7,13) is noticeable for its extended, polyphonically wide style. It is very close to local lyrical singing tradition. In Polissia the singing of winter ceremonial songs could be traditionally accompanied by a violin (¹8,21).
This disk represents only small part of a unique musical folklore heritage of Ukrainian people. Tunes were recorded on an audio tape in 1978-1999. All of them were performed by singers from villages of three regions of Ukraine - Pripyat, Polissia, Poltavshchina and Cherkashchina. Ensemble "Drevo" has kept features of local musical stylistics (canvas , characteristic sound, a melodic variation, ornamentation) and a language dialect.
The ensemble "Drevo" (founded in Kiev in 1979) has begun the movement for authentic reproduction of traditional Slavic peasant folk music. The art director is an ethnomusicologist, the candidate of an art criticism, senior lecturer of National musical academy of Ukraine Eugeny Efremov. The ensemble consists of the young scientists, who collect and investigate traditional village music of different regions of Ukraine - mainly Polissia, Podillia and Livobverezhzhia - for many years. "Drevo" recovers the material gathered in ethnographic expeditions without additional art processing, keeping its natural, original form.