The duda

The duda is a lovely old instrument. It is a type of bagpipe that has almost completely disappeared from our area. But not so long ago the duda was played in Bilogora, Moslavina, Posavina, Turopolje, Podravina, Međimurje and Croatian Zagorje. The duda is very similar to bagpipes, but it is distinguished by the number of reeds in the chanter, by the final sound, and by the manner and technique of playing. There are three or four reeds in the duda pipe made of elder tree wood or reed. Bagpipes have only two reeds. Because of the greater number of reeds, the sound of the duda is richer and very specific. The duda is most often made in the key of F, although there are dudas in the keys of E, G, and even in the key of A (although this is very rare). In Croatia there are two types of duda: four-part and five-part dudas, the latter found in Podravina. The difference between them is in the number of reeds in the pipe, and therefore, also in the playing technique.

A blowpipe was used for centuries to blow air into the bag of the duda (just like all other old instruments with bags). Air was blown into the bag through the mouth. However, about one hundred years ago an additional bag began to be used (laktača, sufla, or sufra). In time, the laktača became a trademark of the duda, although there were also bagpipes that were played having a laktača and duda into which air was blown via a blowpipe. The main difference between bagpipes and dudas is in the number of reeds in the chanter and in the way of playing, not in the manner of blowing air into the bag. The advantage of using a laktača was that the duda player or piper could play and sing at the same time, which was a way to compete with the very strong advances being made by other attractive instruments of that time (violins, tamburas, accordions, etc.).

The duda is a very old instrument, deeply rooted in the tradition of Croatia’s Kajkavian regions. A four-part duda made in 1869 is shown in the photos to the right.

Throughout the world there are many instruments that belong to the class of bagpipes, but none are as unique and so rich in sound as Croatian bagpipes and dudas.