(May to October 2017)
This contest is dedicated to the reconstruction of historical jew’s harps (from the 10th to the mid-20th centuries), found on the
territory of the modern Russian state and correlated with the Russian population. The replicas have to be based on photographs
and other historical data. The task of the competition is the historical and musical reconstruction of the instrument, and restoring
it to working order. The instruments were appraised by the jury under strict maintenance of the makers’ anonymity. All
instruments were judged by the jury equally according to their musical qualities and the craftsmanship employed. The jury used
a point system that took into account the following features:
1. Appearance and technology (slightly less than half the score). The reliability of the shape of the frame, the texture of the
surface, the accuracy of sizes and proportions, the materials, the appropriateness of the technologies used, the conformity of
work quality with the original and the prototype, etc. are evaluated. This the historically significant part of the assessment.
2.Musical properties (a little more than half the score). The sound of an old jew’s harp cannot be reproduced with historical
certainty. Since we do not need a fictitious "pseudo-historical" sound, we set for the contemporary makers a task that would
probably have been faced by the old masters as well—to make a jew’s harp for playing traditional Russian folk music. We do not
know how it was played in former times, but the old (sometimes very old) music of the people is well preserved in its traditional
music. Therefore, we played traditional tunes on the harp to evaluate the sound quality. The purpose of a vargan is the
performance of traditional music of the Russian people in different styles, depending on the ideas of the performer.
needed judges who could play in several styles at once, not only improvisations, but also melodies, who were good at several
national styles. The members of the "Baikal Jew’s Harp Ensemble" were appointed as contest judges, as they have great studio
and stage experience and have performed in different national and international styles.
The rules of the competition: the competition was anonymous, and the makers sent their instruments by mail to a special
secretary. They were then forwarded to the judges with tags on them which only bore identifying numbers. The jury evaluated,
by the techniques outlined above, the form and accuracy of the vargans and their musical properties.
All participants received
exclusive souvenirs. Jew’s harps of this competition become prizes for the next one of the Internet forum. A prize fund was
founded by best harps of this competition for the next event of our online forum: a contest of Russian musical performers on the
I Place – Dmitry Babaev (Saint Petersburg, Russia) https://www.facebook.com/harpsfrombabai/
II Place – Alexandr Dernovoi
(Kharkiv, Ukraine) https://www.facebook.com/alexandr.dernovoi
III Place – Viktor Demin (Vladimir, Russia)
Congratulations to the winners and participants! We thank the jury members for their marks and
very useful comments.