As for the instruments now symbolizing Russian folk music - balalaika and bayan (accordion) - they were spread in Russia only in the 19th - 20th cc, as well as mandolin and guitar, originating in Western Europe, strange as it may seem. The worst of all were the attempts to 'update' folk art and make it serve the state cultural policy.Reviving traditions The first collections of folk songs were published in Russia in the late 18th century. They resulted in the official image of folk art moulded under the pressure of totalitarian state.Majority of still alive folk songs have pagan roots bearing the impact of Christian rites.Song Genres Russian folk songs and dances were formed in two cycles: one of them is associated with calendar rites (sowing, harvest, etc.), while the other has to do with family rituals (wedding, birth, burial, etc.). The epoch of Old Rus is characteristic of heroic ballads sensing the praises of noble princes and instrumental music (pipes, horns, tambourines and kettle-drums).It included Finno-Ugric, Turkic and other prototypes besides Slavic ones.
The Old Russian chronicles also mention military trumpets (book miniatures picturing them go back to the 15th- 17th cc), hunters' horns (the same epoch) and tambourines (12th c). On the one hand they declared rapid blossoming of folk art, and on the other hand layers of traditional folklore proved of no use for the Soviet state: in the 1930s folk art was treated as remnant of pre-revolutionary kulaks culture, ideologically hostile to the new communist consciousness and an obsolete hindrance in the way of reaching the 'radiant communist future'.The most complicated genre as to music is lyrical song and its highest type - drawling song - supposed to have formed in the 16th - 17th cc in Moscow Russia.It is associated with the appearance of the famous folk multivoiced singing of polyphonic or heterophonic types with participation of solo voices.A strong, straightforward and stately woman, she was the symbol of Motherland for her compatriots, when her voice encouraged soldiers during the Great patriotic war and later, when she withstood the pressures of Soviet authorities and terrors of Stalinist reprisals.Undoubtedly she contributed much to preservation of Russian folk songs, a lot of which are alive in the people's memory as performed by Ruslanova: 'Valenki', 'Mezh vysokih khlebov', etc.