Name: Torban.
Type: Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.5
Country: Ukraine.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The torban [in Ukrainian: торбан torban] also teorban or Ukrainian theorbo. It is a Ukrainian musical instrument that is a combination of the theorbo and psaltery. The Тorban differs from the more common European Bass lute known as the Theorbo in that it had additional short treble strings.

These additional short treble strings are called prystrunky. It appeared ca. 1700, probably influenced by the central European Theorbo and the Angelique which Cossack mercenaries would have encountered in the Thirty Years’ War. although the more likely possibility is that Tuliglowski, a paulite monk, was its inventor.

The Torban was manufactured and used mainly in Ukraine, but also occasionally encountered in neighbouring Poland and Russia; only 3 luthiers could be identified from the surviving instruments. There are about 40 torbans in museums world wide, with the largest group of 14 instruments in St. Petersburg. The term “torban” was often misapplied in the vernacular in western Ukraine to any instrument of the Baroque Lute type until the early 20th century.


Literature: The surviving printed musical literature for torban is extremely limited, notwithstanding the widespread use of the instrument in Eastern Europe. It was an integral part of the urban oral culture in Ukraine, both in Russian and Polish [later Austro-Hungarian Empire] controlled parts of the country, after the split.

To date the only notated examples of torban music recorded are a group of songs from the repertoire of Franz Widort; collected by Ukrainian composer and ethnographer Mykola Lysenko and published in the “Kievskaya Starina” journal in 1892, with a collection of songs by Tomasz Padura published in Warsaw in 1844.

Citations: Roman Turovsky “Torban” (in “Die Laute in Europa” vol.2) N. Prokopenko “Kobza & Bandura” Kiev, 1977; Marcin Ludvicki “Teorban”, Warsaw 1999; Piotr Kowalcze, “Sympozjum: Teorban w polskich zbiorah muzealnych” Warsaw 2008; Roman Turovsky “Torban” K.Moszinki, “Kultura narodowa slowianska” 1934; V.Dutchak “Bandura in scientific studies of Polish researchers”.

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