Embroideries, dolls, wood work, ceramics, tin work are all tangible things. Most have both a utilitarian and a decorative function. Many also have a magic function and protect either the people who made them or the people for whom they were made. Abstract things of beauty come closer to the definition of art. Ukrainians tell stories and sing songs. Stories entertain and they also teach. They offer instruction to the young. For adults, they are a means of expression, a way to deal with frightening things like ghosts or upsetting things like the loss of a suitor. They also confirm social norms. Telling stories and singing songs is done for pleasure, though songs can serve the same function as rushnyky during in a wedding. In other words, they help insure that the marriage will be a good one. Songs express emotion and help people deal with sadness and disappointment.
Here is an excerpt from video of a women’s singing group in the village of Ploske. This village is in Central Ukraine. Next is a song performed by a women’s group near Lutsk in Western Ukraine.
Ploske, Central Ukraine
Volyn, Western Ukraine
Pavlo Suprun is a blind minstrel, a bard like the kobzari of old. He lost his sight as a child. He, his brother and their friends were playing with unexploded grenades and one went off, killing several boys and blinding Suprun. Suprun plays an instrument called the bandura. He takes his art very seriously and composed a duma (epic song) about the Chornobyl disaster. He now performs near St. Michael’s cathedral in Kyiv. This video shows Suprun outside St. Michael’s.
Mykhailo Koval was a school teacher in the village of Velykii Khutir up until his retirement. He loves music, a love that he shares with his wife and his mother. He taught the children at his school to sing and ran a children’s choir. He is a recognized artist who has performed in Ukraine and Canada. One of his songs was featured on Eurodisk. The following videos show Koval performing solo and also with his wife and mother.
Pavlo Suprun in Kyiv
Koval with his wife and mother
A selection of Ukrainian songs, short folktales, and legends (stories about things that are supposed to be true such as ghosts) were put up on a crowd sourcing website and volunteers transcribed and translated many of these items. To hear the original song, story, or legend and to see the transcription and translation, go to
Ukrainian Folk Audio. Some items still need transcription and translation. We welcome your volunteer work.