Generally speaking, many cultures produce music based on the beating of a particular rhythm. Some do this with their hands, while others do it with plates, sticks, drums, or percussion instruments. Ordinary wooden spoons were transformed for Slavs into one of these percussion instruments, which were utilized for both entertainment and rituals or hunting where rhythm and tempo were required.
Since there was no written history, spoon players have existed. Early ceramics dating to the fourth century and prehistoric rock art portray dancing figures holding curved blades. Concussion idiophones are a group of instruments that includes spoons. The earliest instruments that humans are aware of fall under this broad category. Since spoons were invented at the same time that spoons were, spoon players have existed since the beginning of time.
Russian Spoons or Lozhki
Russian musical spoons sometimes referred to as Lozhki, are typically the exquisitely carved and embellished wooden spoons that are well-known in that region of the world. Russian players frequently play three or more silver spoons and use both hands, as opposed to American players who normally use two silver spoons in one hand. Additionally, they can use extra spoons as additional drumming surfaces by placing them in their pockets or on their clothing.
Eastern Slavs have employed percussion instruments for thousands of years in ceremonies, combat, and hunting, as well as in singing and dance. The usage of such instruments is comparable to the rhythmic actions that all peoples of the world have been familiar with since antiquity, such as handclapping and foot stampeding. The earliest written accounts of spoons being used as musical instruments are from the late 18th century, which shows how common they were among peasants. According to certain studies, Russian percussion spoons are copies of Spanish castanets. However, as evidenced by lubok images from the 18th and 19th centuries, the instrument was in use far before the end of the 17th century.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, folk music ensembles and song choirs frequently performed extravagant stunt spins with spoons. During that time, spoon playing as an art form reached its pinnacle. Spoon players participated in a variety of ensembles, played alone, and accompanied by singing and dancing.
However, using spoons as musical instruments is not a novel idea. It is well known that during celebrations, other objects besides spoons, such as pans, washbasins, stove shutters, samovar pipes, pots, forks, and other items, would also be set in motion. The scythe and the saw, among other household items, developed a consistent musical function.
What Lozhki Spoons Looks Like
Although they are constructed of tougher woods, music spoons look very similar to regular wooden tablespoons. Additionally, the handles of music spoons are longer and the stroking surfaces are polished. Jingles are occasionally affixed to the handle. Two, three, or four spoons of medium size and one larger spoon might be included in the playing spoons package. The gradation of sound pitch is suggested by the various spoon sizes.
How to Play the Lozhki Spoons
There are many different spoon-playing methods and tricks. In essence, one player employs three spoons. While the third one is held in the right hand, the other two are placed between the fingers of the left hand. The third spoon strikes the first two spoons like an anvil. With the left hand’s fingers, I slam the two spoons together after sliding from one spoon cup to the next. The result is the creation of delicate polyphonic rhythmical patterns.
A musician may block up to two, three, or even four ladles at a time while performing while seated, and the ladles may also be repeatedly stroked or moved by a spoon.
Spoon playing demands practice and persistence to master. To achieve movement automatism, a learner must first carefully master this or that rhythmical pattern. The strategy indicated above is simple, but it is not the only one. Virtuosos deftly and creatively alternate the right hand’s strokes on the left hand with the left hand’s strokes on the knee or shoulder, blending it with the slamming of the ladles. One of these remarkable experts is the spoon player V. S. Morozov, a member of the renowned Pyatnitsky Orchestra, who was honored as a Russian Artist of Honor for his distinctive playing of the spoon and other folk instruments. Even in this ostensibly absurd situation, mastery must be highly valued.
Today, Who Plays Spoons?
Spoons are frequently taught to children in kindergartens and schools because playing them helps them to develop fine motor skills, a musical ear, and a feeling of rhythm. Even the former president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, is said to have been an expert spoon player.
Today, there are also Lozhkari ensembles in addition to Russian folk orchestras. They beat to the rhythm while sitting on special chairs and using spoons painted in traditional craft methods. Additionally, some performers employ variously shaped metal and plastic spoons and they perform more modern music in addition to folk tunes. Furthermore, though music has changed over the years, spoon playing has been part of musical history ever since.
Playing Spoons Internationally
There is a place for spoon playing in music throughout the world, although it is most prevalent in Europe. In traditional music in Great Britain, the spoons are frequently played alongside a violin. Sylvester McCoy, a well-known British actor best remembered for portraying the 7th Doctor Who, was a skilled spoon player. He didn’t just play spoons on Dr. Who; he also did it for King Lear. However, British reggae singer Duncan Campbell is the only spoon player currently listed with the United Kingdom Musicians Union. A tradition of spoon playing exists among French Canadians.
Crafted out of a single piece of wood and using connected wooden spoons. In this area, an accordion or fiddle is frequently accompanied by the playing of a spoon. The two main traditional percussion instruments were clogging and spoons. Spoon playing is a tradition in Greek folk music. Kautalakia, the name for the instrument of spoons, is frequently used in folk dance. In wedding ceremonies, spoons are frequently employed.