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Mykhailo Tymofiiv

Ukrainian folklorist, conductor and composer
Living (by) art
Living (by) art
One thousand and one instruments of folklorist Mykhailo Tymofiiv

Lure of the Soul

Mykhailo Tymofiiv, a Ukrainian folklorist and musician, is laying his treasures out on a white canvas. If you take a careless look at the table, you can only see some sticks and figurines that seems like birds. But if you look closely, you notice that these are wind musical instruments. We do not yet see the whole picture, we do not yet feel what will soon appear in front of us, but in the hall of the museum the atmosphere seems to become lightsome and brighter,  as if a gentle breeze  hugged the audience on a hot summer day.

New types of wind instruments are appearing on the table, and soon Mr. Mykhailo will grow sheer woods  from them.

According to biblical legends, God breathed life into a person, just as Mr. Timofii breathes it not only into instruments, but also into the whole surrounding space. And then all this begins to move, develop, be filled with their own lives, feeling their own freedom and independence.

Not only birds, whose songs imitate wind musical intruments and lures, come to life before our eyes. Mr. Mykhailo very much preferred that the meeting with him take place in the Kolomyia National Museum of Folk Art of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya, where there is a piezze (stove) in the hall, that is hosting our meeting. It is decorated with Kosiv ceramics. And when Mr. Timofiiv starts playing the froyala, it seems that the scenes on the tiles come to life. That the Hutsuls and the beasts begin to move uncertainly at first, like the head of a listener involuntarily swaying to the beat of a tenacious rhythm, and later the heroes of those masterful scenes are already fully engaged in dance. If you look closely at the same stove you can see that some Hutsuls are also equipped with instruments: large trumpets, but also small, or the same pipes and froyalas that Mr. Mikhail brought with him. Hutsuls from the carpet behind him also begin to move and seem to wink. Images of mountains appears alive, and there is a small strip of white thick fog among them, inside of which the melody also seems to move. You may think that the bird lures are getting up from the table and sitting on the twigs and leaves that have been made by the froyalas, pipes and tylynkas, and Hutsuls are coming from the carpets and tiles and are dancing around them.

The reason is that the Hutsul reality is very alive, close to nature, because the instruments are folk, all these pipes and froyalas were made out of wood. Because the real magic seems to be that so many images can be extracted from someone else’s imagination by simply blowing into a piece of stick with a few holes. The more charming thing is that when everyone can get the sound from the flute, because there is a cork, you need to learn how to play the froyala. And the unknown attracts, as the sounds of a mouse from a lure attract foxes. Therefore, Hutsuls are drawn to this magical knowledge and skills from an early age. Because what is Hutsul life without songs, without melodies, singing and dancing? Without traditions and customs?

The artist says that the Hutsul region is the region of Ukraine that is the richest in various instruments. He comes from the village of Myshyn near Kolomyia, where there are 166 musicians. And his whole family, from his great-grandfather, who was nicknamed Dudchak because he played the bagpipe, was a virtuoso musician. Apart from the bagpipe, various of his relatives also played the dulcimer, but most often the violin and wind instruments. So it is not surprising that he not only started playing all these froyalas, didyks, jolomigs, ocarin cuckoos, ribs, pipes, tilinkas, drymbas and bird lures, but also improved these instruments and created on his own. Like him, he came up with the idea of ​​a chromatic froyala with ten holes, which allows you to perform complex classical music, not just folk melodies.

Mr. Mykhailo’s whole life is intertwined in those sounds. So, just as some artists can create such vivid folk images on carpets and tiles, putting their hearts and souls into their work, so music masters vivify by force of breath what has never moved or breathed, but had  that creative inner fire that was transmitted from the creator.

Author of the text Nazarii Zanoz
Photo author Serhii Havryliuk

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