Russia is a large and extremely culturally diverse country, with dozens of ethnic groups, each with their own forms of folk music.
During the 19th century, Count Uvarov led a campaign of nationalist revival which spawned the first professional orchestras with traditional instruments, beginning with Vassily Andreyev, who used the balalaika in an orchestra late in the century. Just after the dawn of the 20th century, Mitrofan Pyatnitsky founded the Pyatnitsky Choir, which used rural peasant singers and traditional sounds. By the time of the Soviet Union, however, it had become one of many groups playing sanitised folk music, now often called fakelore.
In the 1960s, Vyacheslav Shchurov organised concerts featuring folk singers from across Russia, beginning in 1966. Shchurov thus inspired a wave of singing ethnomusicologists who appeared among the urban intellectuals and recorded rural folk musicians. Perhaps the most important group to follow in Shchurov's wake was the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble. A group of musicians called bards arose at the same time. Generally ignored by the state, bards like Vladimir Vysotsky helped lead a popular return to traditional music.
By the 1980s, popular folk-oriented groups had arisen. The Cossack Kazachy Krug and Pesen Zemli became most popular.
Shamanism remains an important cultural practice of the ethnic groups o Siberia and Sakhalin, where several dozen groups live. The Yakuts are the largest, and are known for their olonkho songs and the khomus, a Jew's harp.
Tuvan throat singing, or xoomii, is famous world-wide, primarily for its novelty. The style is highly unusual and foreign to most listeners, who typically find it inaccessible and amelodic. In throat singing, the natural harmonic resonances of the lips and mouth are tuned to select certain overtones. The style was first recorded by Ted Levin, who helped catalogue a number of different styles. These are include borbannadir (which is compared to the sound of a flowing river), sygyt (similar to whistling), xoomii, chylandyk (likened to chirping crickets) and ezengileer (like a horses trotting). Of particular international fame is the group Huun-Huur-Tu.