The balalaika is a stringed instrument that comes from Russia. It has three strings and a triangle shaped body. The instrument was popularized by the film Dr. Zhivago which used the balalaika in its theme song.
Photo: Three stringed balalaika (Creative Commons: Arild Storaas).
Balalaika Performance: Lara’s Theme
Video: The State Orchestra of Folk Instruments of the Tatarstan Republic performs Lara’s Theme. (source: YouTube).
Origin of the Balalaika
The balalaika goes back to 1688 when it is first mentioned in historical records. The instrument is likely to have evolved from similar instruments in the Caucasus, Kazakhstan or Mongolia.
The instrument usually has three strings, but variations do occur. There are many versions of the balalaika. These versions vary in size, shape and pitch.
Although it was played solo, today it is commonly part of a larger orchestra.
The song Lara’s Theme was written for the movie Dr. Zhivago in 1965. The songwriter was Maurice Jarre. The movie and song were a success. Lyrics were later added to the theme song and it was released as ‘Somewhere My Love.’ That version of the song produced by Ray Conniff rose to number nine in the Billboard charts.
Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills
Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. When you are done, click the box below for a list of main ideas.
How did you do? With practice, you should be able to identify many of the major ideas. You may even discover some important ideas that aren’t listed.
Russian Traditional Music Instruments, Russia IC.