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Classical Sprouts: The Music of Ukraine

Polyphony Project Vocalists
Polyphony Project

From Eurovision to overtone flutes, Ukraine is home to a vast array of rich musical traditions.

Ukraine is known for its many cultural groups and position as a crossroads between European and Asian countries, so it's not surprising that its music is so diverse!

It's hard to imagine a country where folk songs aren't important, but for a country not quite the size of Texas, Ukraine's more than 200,000 documented folk songs make the genre a cultural cornerstone.

Ukrainian folk musicians have honed special techniques specific to the region; many Ukrainian folk singers, for example, use a vocal technique called "white voice," which almost sounds like controlled shouting.

Visit Polyphony Project's archive of Ukrainian folk music below to listen to more of this vocal style and explore the folklore and history behind thousands of Ukrainian folk songs.

Instrumental music is an important part of Ukraine's musical heritage, too, and it's often played on traditional instruments unique to the country.

Traditional Ukrainian ensembles usually perform as trios, and they don't always need to read music; they often improvise.

Ukrainian musicians have used music to promote solidarity through the Russian invasion, too.

The Shelest Duo, for example, re-released an album of Ukrainian music called Ukrainian Rhapsody in light of the conflict.

Traditional Ukrainian music has also gained attention through Eurovision, the famous international song competition.

Last year, the winner was Kalush Orchestra, a Ukrainian group that dedicated their winning song, "Stefania," to all Ukrainian mothers as the conflict with Russia heightened.

Their song showcased their pride for Ukraine and its arts and culture with traditional instruments, a set inspired by Ukrainian folk art, lyrics entirely in Ukrainian and even quotes from a traditional lullaby.

Check out the band's finals performance below.

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".