This duda belongs to a group of bagpipes that have a contra pipe in addition to the chanter and drone. At its bottom end the contra pipe has a single finger hole. When this is uncovered, the pipe sounds the tonic of the scale; when it is covered the pitch drops a fourth to the dominant. In dance music pipers alternate both tones to mark the rhythm. But the contra pipe can also have a melodic or harmonic function. Most often the chanter and contra pipe bores run parallel to each other in a common chanter piece, but they can also be two separate pipes joined into a common yoke.  At its bottom end the contra pipe has an extension that often ends in a bell. All pipes have a cylindrical bore, and are provided with a single reed.

Contra pipe bagpipes are or were predominantly found in the territories of the former Kingdom of Hungary, dissolved by the Treaty of Trianon (1920), and also in some neighbouring areas. After 1920 they were still played in Hungary and Slovakia, the Banat (in northeastern Serbia and southwestern Romania), eastern Serbia, western Transylvania (Romania), Slavonia and around the Sava river (Croatia), among the Csángó population in Romanian Moldavia and among the Hutsuls in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Amazingly, some two thousand kilometers west of this central European distribution area, another contra pipe bagpipe is known: the boha, the bagpipe of the Landes of Gascony in southwestern France. This remains an enigma to ethnomusicologists. Nothing is known about the origin of the contra pipe with any certainty. However, it is generally assumed that it goes back at least to the early 18th century.

This bagpipe was made by Mykhaylo Tafiychuk (°1939), a Hutsul musician, instrument maker and blacksmith from the mountain village of Bukovets (Verkhovyna district, Ivano-Frankivsk province) in the Ukrainian Carpathians. In 1992 Mykhaylo Tafiychuk was visited by Hubert Boone, curator at the mim, who was on a field recording trip in Ukraine. Boone took the opportunity to commission two flutes (dentsivka and dvodentsivka), and this duda for the mim. These three instruments are permanently exhibited in the museum.

In the summer of 2008 Mykhaylo Tafiychuk was visited again by a mim curator, Wim Bosmans, who asked him a hundred and one questions about Hutsul musical instruments.

Mykhaylo Tafiychuk told him this story about his beginnings as a duda maker:

'When I was young, I only knew two duda players. There was one in the neighbouring village of Yaseniv, who was called Ivan Martyshchuk. The second one was Ivan Mykhaylyuk, who also made bagpipes. I played the flute, the fiddle and the trembyta (alphorn). But when I was twenty-five, I was a bit ashamed I still could not play the bagpipe.  I thought up a cunning plan. I plucked my courage and went to see Ivan Mykhaylyuk: 'Could you make me a duda? A very plain one, without carvings or inlay. As cheap as possible, for my own use.' When the instrument was ready, I had all the measurements of all the parts. Now I could make one myself, I thought. But it still took me half a year. Being a blacksmith helped a lot, as I could make my own reamers and other tools. Actually, I had already done so for Ivan Mykhaylyuk. My first bagpipe was absolutely hopeless, and I burned it. I sold my second one. With my third one I went to Mykhaylyuk, but I didn't show it at once. Mykhaylyuk gave me one of his instruments to play on. But in the corridor, out of his sight, I started playing on my own duda. Mykhaylyuk then took over my instrument and tried it out. He had a close look at it, said nothing, and just grinned. I asked him: 'What's wrong? Is it bad?'. 'Not at all,' Mykhaylyuk answered, 'but I couldn't possibly make one as good as yours.'

The bag is made of the skin of a one-year-old goat, turned inside out. After cutting the head, forelegs and hind legs off, the skin is peeled off, like pulling a sweater over one's head. The skin is only cured with  kvass, a fermented, mildly alcoholic drink made of rye bread. At the back end the bag is firmly tied up. The chanter is inserted into the neck hole, whereas the blow pipe and the drone go  into the front leg holes. The woodwork is decorated with carvings, inlay of little synthetic beads and rings in bakunt, a white alloy of copper and silver.

Mykhaylo Tafiychuk is the last of the Hutsul bagpipe makers. He is afraid the instrument will disappear with him.

In the recording he sings:

            And the little duda played nicely,

            And the little duda was blowing.

            And the Hutsul woman is worrying,

            Because the Hutsul is dancing.


            And the little duda played nicely,

            And the tsymbaly (dulcimer) bam bam.

            Come, come, little girl,

            I will give, give you something.

(With thanks to Roman Pechizhak and Ivan and Halyna Yusypiuk for the translation.)

duda 1994.008
chanter of duda 1994.008
Mykhaylo Tafiychuk, 2008 (© Ritteke Demeulenaere)
Parts of a duda by Mykhaylo Tafiychuk, 2008 (© R. Demeulenaere)