Vladimirskiy Rozhok

Name: Vladimirskiy Rozhok.
Type: Aerophones > Trumpets.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 423.121.12
Country: Russian Federation.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The Vladimirskiy rozhok [in Russian: Владимирский Рожок] also called Vladimir horn, is an ancient Russian wooden trumpet, a relative of the cornett, which has remained in continuous use until the present day. The rozhok is known by a variety of names shepherd’s, Russian, or song rozhok.

History: The origins of the instrument date to before AD 1600. The tradition of playing the rozhok in an ensemble probably dates to a much earlier time. It is possible that the name rozhok was used for the instrument later, and that in the earliest written sources it was simply called a pipe. 

At the end of the 19th century, the name Vladimir was added to this instrument’s name, due to the success of a chorus of rozhok players under the leadership of Nikolai Vasilyevich Kondratyev from the Vladimir region.

Varieties: The sound of a rozhok is strong, but mellow, having a range of about an octave, or a little more. There are several types of rozhoks: the shortest one, having the highest sound is called vizgunok [squeaker], typically in F# or G.

The longest and thus the lowest one is called bas [bass] in F# or G an octave below, while a mid-size instrument is called a polubasok [half-bass] typically in C. It is polubasok instruments that are most frequently used for solo playing. Rozhok ensembles usually consist of just vizgunok and bas instruments in the ratio 2:1 twice as many high-pitched horns.

Construction: A rozhok is a conical straight tube with the six playing holes: five on top and one underneath. The total length of a rozhok ranges from 320 to 830 mm [13″ to 33″]. A mouthpiece is cut in the form of a small cup, and the lower end of the tube is shaped like a conical bell.

A rozhok is usually made of birch, maple, or juniper. Musicians say that rozhoks of juniper have the best sound. In the past they were made in the same manner as a shepherd’s rozhok, in which two halves are fastened together with birch bark; today they are turned. As of 2015, rozhok ensembles exist in Moscow, Vladimir and Nerekhta. In addition, rozhoks can sometimes be heard in Russian folk orchestra concerts.

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