Participants of this year's Counselor Training Camp (Vyshkil) whose motto was "Belief in One's Own Strengths" had a unique opportunity to experience something rarely encountered by most. Visiting the Ellenville, New York camp was a long time CYM member, Pavlo Danyliv, who for years has been manufacturing in his home "factory" a variety of musical instruments. Having heard about this year's camp program, Mr. Danyliv agreed to present his work to the campers. And those attending his talk were both surprised and astonished by what they saw… Despite being familiar with the names and sounds of the musical instruments on display, the physical characteristics were definitely anything but ordinary.
Pavlo Danyliv began by playing a short tune on one of his flutes (he not only makes instruments, but is a pro at playing them all as well). The instrument was not a traditional one made not of wood, but instead was constructed from a piece of plastic moulding, which is typically used in house construction. Earlier in the
week, Mr. Danyliv had played a flute duet with Bohdanna Volyanskyj, Vyshkil's Music and Song instructor. Ms. Volyanskyj had played her part on a flute which Mr. Danyliv had made out of an old discarded metal chair leg!
Although his instruments are made from unconventional materials, they are considered by music professionals to be of outstanding quality, producing rich tones and beautiful sound. And their variety is broad; on display was an instrument for everyone. Mr. Danyliv went on to display (and play) a flute made out of an engraved wooden hutsul smoking pipe. The next item was a walking cane, which can be used as a mobility aid, or turned and blown into to yield quite pleasant tones. For the musician who needs a challenge, a double
(parallel) flute was produced, and Pavlo Danyliv accompanied himself in a duet. And for the even more demanding musician, a triple flute, of which the middle instrument produces a constant tone, while the remaining two are used to play a duet. When a tennis racket appeared in Mr. Danyliv's hands, the momentary confusion was dispersed when he issued a lofty tune by blowing softly into the handle of the racket, from which yet another flute had been fashioned. Next was a potato masher, apparently for those who cook by day and play sweet melodies for their loved one in the evening. For a more "Ukrainian" variation, Mr. Danyliv played on a miniature bandura which had been expertly encompassed by narrow tubing, producing a bandura/flute combination. In all, the attendees saw dozens of flutes of various types, constructed of a variety of materials, most of which started out as discarded waste.
Pavlo Danyliv's favorite instrument is the jaw harp, or "drymba", as it is called in Ukrainian. When he retired, he began experimenting with drymbas, fashioning them using different methods and styles, in an attempt to achieve perfection. Earlier, while in Ukraine, he had often heard musicians playing the drymba.
Realizing that the there is no instrument on which one can learn to play in such a short time as on the drymba, Danyliv dreamed of forming a musical ensemble of drymba players. Although he has not yet realized this desire, the future may indeed hold such an orchestra!
Mr. Danyliv went on to mention that the drymba is not a uniquely Ukrainian instrument. Having watched a number of television Westerns, he indicated that American cowboys played such an instrument. However, he was quick to point out that the cowboy method of playing involves a finger motion directed away from the face, while the Ukrainian style of playing involves motion in the opposite direction.
Pavlo Danyliv's drymba collection is no less impressive than his flute collection. He even produces huge specimens, almost as large as a tennis racket, and multi-playing drymbas, like the quadruple drymba (which has four distinct tonal qualities, depending on which of its four sides is played). Mr. Danyliv went on to display a range of other instruments, all made from equally unconventional materials. A trembita made out of a plastic baseball bat. Wind pipes fashioned from plastic handles from disposable razors. Each instrument was more interesting than the next!
In the end, the Vyshkil participants went away with a deep appreciation not only for the instruments that had been displayed, but for this obviously deeply gifted individual, who has the ability to look at a seeming worthless piece of material or trash, and see in it a lovely musical instrument. The art produced by Pavlo Danyliv's truly belongs in a museum display, where the broader community can discover the originality and uniqueness of his work!