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(a ditty), a literary and musical genre of Russian folklore; a short song usually having four lines and performed at a rapid tempo.

The chastushka, which became established as an independent genre in the last third of the 19th century, is historically related to traditional songs, especially those with a quick tempo. It achieved its greatest popularity in the first half of the 20th century. Composed primarily by rural youth, chastushki are performed in a series to a single melody; they may be accompanied by an ac-cordian or balalaika or sung a cappella. Chastushki are sung at parties and usually communicate an emotional buoyancy. They generally deal with love or everyday concerns, but even before the October Revolution there were topical chastushki, usually with satiric overtones. In the Soviet period the proportion of such songs increased, and the range of subjects expanded. A response to events of the day, the chastushka is generally improvised.

Chastushki, which are addressed to a particular person or to the audience as a whole, are characterized by their simple idiom, their concern with everyday reality, and their expressiveness. Written in a trochaic meter, they generally follow the pattern abcb, although sometimes paired rhymes or alternate rhymes are used. The melody, usually for one voice but sometimes in two-part harmony, either is sung or is partly sung and partly spoken. In recent decades the output of chastushki has declined somewhat.

Literary chastushki, influenced by folk chastushki, have been composed by such writers as D. Bednyi, V. V. Mayakovsky, and A. A. Prokofiev. Chastushki are often created by amateur arts groups. Although they originated in Russian folklore, chastushki subsequently spread to the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and other republics of the USSR.


Simakov, V. I. Sbornik derevenskikh chastushek. Yaroslavl, 1913.

Eleonskaia, E. N. Sbornik valikorusskikh chastushek. Moscow, 1914.

Chastushka. Edited, with introductory article and annotations, by V. S. Bakhtin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.

Vlasova, Z. I., and A. A. Gorelov. Chastushki v zapisiakh sovetskogo vremeni. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.


Gippius, E. “Intonatsionnye elementy russkoi chastushki.” In the collection Sovetskii fol’klor, nos. 4–5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Kolpakova, N. “Russkaia narodnaia i literaturnaia chastushka.” Zvezda, 1943, no. 4.
Lazutin, S. G. Russkaia chastushka: Voprosy proiskhozhdeniia i formirovaniiia zhanra. Voronezh, 1960.
Vlasova, Z. I. “Chastushka i pesnia.” In the collection Russkii fol’klor, vol. 12. Leningrad, 1971.
Burtin, Iu. “O chastushkakh.”, Novyi mir, 1968, no. 1.
Zyrianov, 1. V. Poetika russkoi chastushki. Perm’, 1974.


References in periodicals archive ?
Amirkhan Gurbanov, a 3rd-year student of the Faculty of Agrobiology and Land Resources, in the manner of his beloved KVN's grandmother, performed the authoritative chastushki about Shrovetide and his native university.
Like ensemble singing, chastushki were feminized, and today increasing numbers of women sing about romance, voice criticism of social ideas and practices, or challenge the norms and prohibitions of political hierarchies.
Reflections on chastushki, ensemble singing, and other forms of women's public performances, together with mentions of the relationship to popular music of third-generation women, furnish readers of this innovative study with an unprecedented appreciation of women's contributions to Russia's village life.
In addition to lyrical and folklore inserts, the playscript contains chastushki and a juvenile drinking song (both by Pushkin), the latter delivered by a wobbly crew of students on the Neva waterfront at dawn.
Music critics kept up a robust defense of "serious" music, despite evidence that chastushki were overwhelmingly the most popular form of music.
Chastushki, popular songs, and kolkhoz concerts were their preference.
In the Soviet period of Russian history the role of witty counter-text may have been filled by parodies circulating in student and intellectual 'folklore', in the form of chastushki (humorous quatrains).
Material on bawdy folk tales, lewd chastushki (four-line, rhymed ditties on a topical or humorous theme), verses, proverbs, sayings, puns and anecdotes, much of which had been collected in the nineteenth century, was published for the first time by ethnographers, folklorists and linguists.
48) In addition, there were hundreds of bawdy riddles (zagadki), chastushki and folk-songs still current in the nineteenth century.
and if there was a concertina we would dance and sing chastushki.
It was reported, for example, that rural Komsomol members invented lewd chastushki along the lines: 'God, oh God / What are you doing?
As in a large and friendly family, someone was baking pancakes, someone was building slides, someone wrote a script, someone was teaching chastushki so that today we all had fun together.