balalaika băləlī´kə [key], Russian stringed musical instrument, with a triangular body and a long fretted neck fretted instrument. Usually there are three strings, which are generally plucked with a pick. The balalaika is made in various sizes, and several may be combined to make a band or orchestra. A similar instrument, the bandura, is found in Ukraine and Russia, and other types are to be found in the countries of the Middle East, where the balalaika almost certainly originated. The instrument did not appear in Russia until c.1700. Like the guitar, it has been much used to accompany folk songs and country dances.
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