Fujara flute – an instrument of shepherds & sheep …

Fujara flute – an instrument of shepherds & sheep …

Fujara flute is an instrument of Slovak shepherds. Formerly, the Fujara flute was mostly played by the shepherding.

Martin Sanitar (famous Slovak Fujara flute maker and player) said:

“when I was 10-12 years old, I did shepherding. I did not milk, this my father did. But I had to tend the sheep. We paid a lease to local community for an area where cows could not go, and there we went with sheep. I was going one way and Jozo Vyboch (his friend and shepperd) the other side of the hill. And Jozo has already played at that time and he played Fujara flute rather beautifully.”

Walachian style of Fujara flute play

If we imagine the life in a shed in the past, we will find out that in the summer there was no time for playing. In the morning shepherds had to wake up to milk the sheep, sour the milk, prepare the cheese and zincica (special drink made by Slovakian shepherd’s) and by the time the cheese was smoked, the noon was there and everything had to be repeated.
Therefore, the best was to play by shepherding. Allegedly, the Fujara flute sounded most beautifully when it had been played behind the sheep, just step by step. The Fujara flute’s soft voice and its slow melody calmed the sheep and they could better and peacefully nibble. Today, the experts for ecological (alternative) farming would say that a “welfare effect” was achieved, which means that an additional comfort for animals was reached manifested in their vitality and better utility.

K. A. Medvecky in his famous monograph states that the shepherd by playing his Fujara flute tended the herd, the sheep were more gentle, more quiet, and better sticked together. This was later confirmed also by the older Fujarists stating that the shepherds played the Fujara flute heading their herd. Juraj Kubinec (famous fujarists) added to this “Fujara flute is with the sheep very useful, when Fujara is played, the sheep stretch to the side and go in line, one after another”. Today I personally know, that this is very important while the grass is nibbled evenly and the pasture is thus better utilized.

The melodies played by shepherding were mostly slow and dragy, without trills and decorations, utilising simple blowing only, over-blowing to overtones and vibrato. Some suggest, that walachians hands were worked out and hard and therefore their fingers were less flexible.

A rural style of Fujara flute play

However, Fujara flute was also played in a rural environment. Usually, Fujara flute has been played “in the evenings”, resp. “at the evening parties”. Just then youths accompanied each other and often one of them has played under the window of his girlfriend. Often, the lover revealed himself to his dear by a specific cipher.

Martin Sanitar (famous Slovak fujarists) also states, that the Fujara flute used to be played by recruitment.
In one fujara song from I. Weiss it is singed:
” I would not , I would not, join the army, would my father, begged the lords. But my father didn’t want to beg the lords, so I must go and carry a sword. “