Ten Things about Chalumeau

Ten Things about Chalumeau

Martin Mešša

“A chalumeau is a large wooden, extremely low-tuned flute used by shepherds from Podpoľanie – an ethnographic region of Slovakia. Due to its large size, the stream of air has to enter the instrument through an additional air tube. The chalumeau has a unique sound and musical characteristics that with their specifics of interpretation can be engaged in simple or more intricate play.

With its whispery, soft decent sound, broad range of melody and rhapsody-like sound, it is a unique instrument for mountain solitude and is a bearer of musical dialogue between humans and nature. It is an instrument for musical contact between shepherds on mountain meadows, an instrument of human relaxation, as well as providing calming and protection for the flock.”

Those are introductory words from the exhibition Ten Things about Chalumeau with the subtitle … about a folk musical instrument in the culture of Slovakia. The exhibition presented original musical and sound instruments as well as other museum collections, photographs, iconography, notes and film documents. By these and by reproducing the sound on the chalumeau, the authors used this as an opportunity to have the chalumeau included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage list and introduced the folk musical culture of Slovakia into which this musical instrument undoubtedly belongs. The exhibition was presented in July in the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, and in October 2006 it will be shown again at the UNESCO seat in Paris.