Jarema's dumka (1879), a painting by Stanisław Masłowski in the National Museum in Warsaw.

Dumka (Ukrainian: думка, dúmka, plural думки, dúmky) is a musical term introduced from the Ukrainian language, with cognates in other Slavic languages. The word dumka literally means "thought". Originally, it was the diminutive form of the Ukrainian term duma, pl. dumy, "a Slavic (specifically Ukrainian) epic ballad … generally thoughtful or melancholic in character".[1] Classical composers drew on the harmonic patterns in the folk music to inform their more formal classical compositions.[citation needed]

The composition of dumky became popular after the publication of an ethnological study and analysis and a number of illustrated lectures made by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko in 1873 and 1874 in Kyiv and Saint Petersburg. They were illustrated by live performances by the blind kobzar Ostap Veresai, who performed a number of dumky, singing and accompanying himself on the bandura. Lysenko's study was the first to specifically analyse the melodies and the accompaniment played on the bandura, kobza or lira of the epic dumy.[citation needed]

A natural part of the process of transferring the traditional folk form to a formal classical milieu was the appropriation of the dumka form by Slavic composers, most especially by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. Thus, in classical music, dumka came to mean "a type of instrumental music involving sudden changes from melancholy to exuberance".[1] Though dumky are generally characterized by a gently plodding, dreamy duple rhythm, many examples are in triple metre, including Dvořák's Slavonic dance (Op. 72 No. 4). His last and best-known piano trio, No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, has six movements, each of which is a dumka; the work is often referred to by its subtitle, Dumky Trio.[2]


Major examples in the classical repertoire include:

Antonín Dvořák

Sofia Mavrogenidou

Leoš Janáček

Bohuslav Martinů


Pyotr Tchaikovsky



  1. ^ a b Randel: Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, p. 148. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978
  2. ^ "Antonin Dvorak". Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
  3. ^ Katalog skladeb Bohuslava Martinů