Lesson 1: Eastern Europe and the Baltics–Instruments

If you love brass instruments, like many people do throughout Eastern Europe–trumpets, tubas, trombones and more–you may want to book your ticket to Serbia for the annual Guča Trumpet Festival. There, 600,000 visitors, several hundred thousand of them who bring the brass, descend on an otherwise sleepy Serbian village to jam. (There is no sleep in Guča during this festival.) If the notion of being trapped in a Serbian village with 600,000 trumpet players sounds less like fun to you than a punishment for something awful you did in a previous life, you may want to find out the weekend of the festival and book a ticket to literally anywhere else.

Guča aside, horns are far from the only instruments that Eastern European bands use to make us move. There are violins aplenty, played not daintily and carefully, but with the fire of triumph over a long, hard-fought life, and there are many–so many–accordions. And of course if you’re going to make music that gets people out onto the dance floor having a drum or two in hand sure can’t hurt. In most Eastern European musical genres drums play second fiddle, in a word, to fiddles, and to brass instruments (especially in the Balkans), to the accordion and to other string and woodwind instruments like the balalaika and the clarinet. Still, percussion instruments play an essential role in keeping even the most rhythmically tricky Eastern European songs moving along in proper time.

Explore these instruments from Eastern Europe and the Baltics:

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