What is a ditty? Definition, types and examples of ditties

In Russian folklore there is such a genre as chastushki. They are ideal for performing under the balalaika or harmonica. Performed them at parties, get-togethers. Singers such as Lydia Ruslanova, Olga Voronets, enriched Russian culture, performing their favorite chastushkas.

From the article it becomes clear what a ditty. Why is it considered a source of information about the history of Russia?


what is a ditty

Chastooshkas are short rhymed couplet songs that are created for public speaking. They are most often not sung, but shouted. That's what ditties.

The concept of a similar genre was introduced by the writer Gleb Ouspensky. These songs received their popularity in the late nineteenth - early twentieth century. People called them differently, for example, choruses, tarator or short. There are other names.

In order to understand what a ditty is, we should mention the signs that are characteristic of this folk genre of musical and poetic creativity:

  • short songs;
  • content lyrical, satirical, humorous;
  • topical issues;
  • poetics is aphoristic and laconic;
  • roundness of the musical form;
  • designed for public speaking.

The performance of Russian ditties is usually taken to be supplemented with elements of theatricalization, namely, dancing, lively facial expressions, wide gestures.

The history of the emergence and development

couplets funny

As an independent genre, ditties were formed by the middle of the nineteenth century. The most widespread they are in the youthful and youth environment. From this they have a special fervor, and their subjects are close to the younger generation.

As sources for Russian ditties can be identified:

  • choruses are energetic and cheerful companions of dances, which existed in ancient centuries;
  • buffoons - tales that were played by buffoons;
  • Kolomyyki - Ukrainian comic elements of folklore.

At first, chastooshkas were not recognized as an artistic genre. In the twentieth century, their melodiousness attracted the attention of composers. Modern ditties occupy an important place in the national song culture of Russia. However, they did not take root on the Don.It was connected with the special culture that the Cossacks brought with them. The word is not translated into foreign languages, they are called chastooshkas in Russian style.


In order to fully understand what a ditty is, it is necessary to understand its artistic form, that is, poetics. The language of the work is based on colloquial speech, which is distinguished by simplicity and liveliness. It is permissible to use invented words, for example, a girl who is getting married is called a “self-propelled gun”.

There are also folklore epithets in the ditty: “white swan”, “pretty darling”, “clear falcon” and others. They came from lyrical songs that were traditional in Russia.

It is imperative that the rhyme be present in the work. Usually even strings are matched. The rhythm depends on the musical melody. In this they are very diverse.


chastushki for children

Chastooshkas developed among the workers and peasants. They differ from each other. There are the following types:

  • lyric- called choruses, these are four-line pieces on various subjects;
  • dance- have a special rhythm that accompanies the dance, the lines of these choruses are shorter than those of the lyric (type “apple”);
  • suffering- two-line works about love, performed in length;
  • "Semenovna"- two-line works with a plaintive rhythm, formed the basis of many cruel romances of the first half of the last century;
  • "Matanya"- in the work very often the word “matanya” sounds, which is an appeal to the beloved.

Themes of folk art is quite diverse. Many works are devoted to the relationship between a girl and a guy. However, ordinary people sang not only about love.

On the subject should be the following options:

  • love and domestic;
  • village and collective farm;
  • socio-political.

With the advent of the Bolsheviks, the topic was filled with Soviet propaganda. However, sexual orientation persisted all the time. Often in the works you can find profanity.

Over time, chastooshkas for children. It should be understood that they were written by adults, but in their content they are designed for children.

Baby couplets

Russian ditties

Short funny poems that were sung to a special rhythm were not only liked by young people. Their love and children. Subject ditties for children differed. However, they had a share of sarcasm. The works created for the younger generation, make fun of laziness, stupidity, greed, untidiness and other vices. They cause laughter, and this is what attracts children.

Chastooshka can rightly be called the most popular genre of folk art among children. They are quickly remembered, carry a smile, are performed in a simple and understandable language.

folk folk songs

Today there are many funny and instructive ditties. They will appeal to children, especially younger ones. They can learn and sing to the accordion or guitar. This will allow to diversify the everyday life of the child and develop his memory.

History of Russia through chastushki

The content of folk art was determined by life. Everything that happened in the country was reflected in the ditties. In the pre-revolutionary works painted the life of the village. Much attention was paid to the recruitment service, when young people were taken away "like sheep."

The theme of the war is traced due to the Russian-Japanese clash of the early twentieth century. Folk art has created many works that are filled with satire, ridicule of power, hatred of the existing system. The refrain of 1917 reflected the expectation of change.

The civil war led to the proliferation of the famous "Apple". There were ideas in the songs that people no longer needed a king. Revolutionary-minded people sang Lenin, sometimes Stalin.In these harsh years, a short song became a “living newspaper” that reacted sharply to current events.

Lyrical works appeared with the beginning of World War II. Women lost their loved ones and sang about it. Post-war construction was also reflected in the creations of youth. A special theme is the development of virgin lands.

One of the researchers called chastooshkas verbal cinema, which depicted the life of the masses.

Nature of performance

modern ditties

Funny chastooshka and other choruses have a special manner of performance. In most cases, they are sung loudly and intensely. They sounded often on the street, so it is important that the vocals were medium or high.

However, the words themselves are not clearly pronounced, they seem to be encrypted. This is due to the fact that most of those present know the content of the work, and they do not need to listen. Much more important is to create a mood for the public. This applies to funny ditties.

In another way, suffering is performed, that is, lyric works. They require a soft, modest and trusting system of performance.

Often dance choruses sing in a shrill female voice in the highest register possible.


Folk ditties appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century. Associate their development with harmonics. Created works mainly rural youth. Over time, they began to reflect the social and political realities of their time. Therefore, by ditches, you can trace the main stages in the history of Russia over the past hundred years.

Chastooshkas can still be found in the repertoire of folk groups and individual folk performers.

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