On the “Instrumentation” in Skomorokhs’ Fairy-Tales from the Collection of G. Naumenko


This paper deals with the art of skomorokhs — professional Russian folk musicians and actors. The texts from the collection of G. Naumenko, in which skomorokhs speak about themselves from the first person, are considered as a special kind of documents which can give an idea of skomorokhs’ world “from within”. This type of narrative is the first reliable criterion by which one can recognize skomorokhs’ folklore. The second criterion is associated with the genre of fairy-tale with songs, in the genesis of which there is a triple syncretism: narrative, singing, and instrumental playing which accompanied songs or dances. In the light of the theory of influence of instrumental playing on narrative and song melody the author tries to reveal some elements of instrumental thinking in verbal texts and song melodies of the spoken fairy-tales. The discreteness of syntax, overcoming of melodiousness, predominance of motoric even-accentual dance rhythm denote the influence of accompanying instruments. Examples of melodies having the character of improvisation indicate the influence of virtuoso forms of instrumental playing. The instrumentation of verse, verbal picturesqueness, kinetic art, onomatopoeia (of nature voices and instrumental timbres), syllabic imitation of instrumental sounds, examples of implementation of fairy-tale plots in song melodies — all these features demonstrate the specific type of thinking which the author of the paper calls “instrumentation-thinking”. “Figurative instrumentation” of the text (“speaking string”, “psaltery is my thought”) also belongs to its characteristic features.