Held July 21, 2015, in Ottawa, Canada, Pokrova Master Class Series welcomed Alexandra Baczynskyj of Toronto to teach the art of singing in the “Bilyj Holos/Village Voice” style.
Member of “Mokosh” specializing in Eastern European and polyphonic folk music, Alexandra is a multi-talented visual and performing artist. She is also a member of the Dixieland, trad jass, swing punk group “Candy Apple Jazz Band”
The “Bilyj Holos” (literally white voice) or Village Voice is a hallmark singing style founded in traditional, rural Ukrainian and Eastern European and Balkan folk music. This highly sophisticated, difficult to master, technique consists of exploiting the chest register to sing with an open throat. The sound formation uses the upper palate and nasal cavity as the natural resonators. As a result, the vocal range of “bilyj holos” is somewhat restrictive and usually in a lower tessitura – being the range within which most notes of a person’s natural vocal range fall. The breathing technique used encourages a booming, un-phrased sound with no vibrato. Done properly, the technique stretches the range of the chest voice, thereby helping to smooth the natural break of the voice.
“Bilyj Holos” was used by village folk tending to livestock in large open spaces and mountain valleys to communicate. This style of singing/calling was developed so that sound could travel long distances without straining the voice of a caller. Songs sung were often associated with nature’s seasons and connected rituals, folklore and fieldwork. Very often they were sung by women gathered together to work on some communal or neighborly task such as sewing, basket weaving, cooking, baking or processing feather for pillows and duvets.
In the mid to late 20th century, the most popular Ukrainian singers of this style included Nina Matvienko and Raissa Kyrychenko and the choir Veriovka. In the early 21st century, the folk ensemble of Kyiv, Ukraine, Rozhyanytsya, is considered to be the premier group reviving this ancient form of vocal performance.
Pokrova Network is proud to share the unique Ukrainian tradition of “Bilyj Holos” in Ottawa, Canada.