Małe Instrumenty was founded in 2006 by Paweł Romańczuk. Over the following years he was joined by Marcin Ożóg, Maciek Markowski, Tomasz Orszulak, Jędrek Kuziela, Maciek Bączyk, Magdalena Nekanda-Trepka, Iwona Sztucka, and Magda Lipniewska. They had their debut at the Era New Horizons Festival in 2007 and since then they haven't stopped inventing new things and surprising their audience.
Their main focus is searching for new ways of implementing professional instruments of small sizes, toy instruments, their own peculiar inventions and a whole bunch of little items which make any kind of noise, into their music. The outcome is unique. Sometimes it is just beautiful and ingenious, exposing a wide spectrum of musical colours. Sometimes it is surprising and exploratory. Sometimes it reveals the modest potential of simple instruments and makes you laugh at their inability to imitate their bigger versions.
Małe Instrumenty has collaborated with, among others, Jerzy Armata, Mariusz Wilczyński, Alexander Sroczyński, Polish Audiovisual Publishing House / National Audiovisual Institute, Arka Theatre, Entropia Gallery, Zamek Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art, Audio Art Festival, Capitol Theatre, Jean-Marc Zelwer, Marek Chołoniewski, Maciej Stuhr, Monika Kuczyniecka, Kraków Philharmonic, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, National Culture Centre, Polish Radio, Akuku Sztuka, the Crossroads Centre for Intercultural Creative Initiatives, the Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations Centre. The band has also performed with such artists as Ghedalia Tazartes, the band Księżyc, Piotr Kurek, Margaret Leng-Tan, Phonos Ek Mechanes, and Jan Gaca’s band.
In 2008, they won the prestigious Stage Songs Review in Wrocław with their sound performance Sound Power Station. In 2009, they performed with Pierre Bastien at Era New Horizons Festival and toured the United Kingdom in the beginning of autumn. In 2010, they composed music for silent films by Georges Melies which they then performed live at Animator Festival in Poznań, as well as at Kody Festival in Lublin, where the premiere of the Wyliczanki Polskie project took place.
Their legitimate phonographic debut came in 2009. Małe Instrumenty recorded an album entitled Antonisz. It comprises of 11 compositions taken from the films of Julian Józef Antonisz, which he made between 1967 and 1987. Soon after the release of their debut they were invited to record a soundtrack for an audiobook, based on the novel The Secret Life of Dwarves in the Huge Hats by Wojciech Widłak. Their next recording, Little Instruments Plays Chopin, was published in 2010 alongside the book Fenomen Toy Piano.
In 2012 Małe Instrumenty’s recording activity was huge. They started with a release of a limited series of only 99 CDs of Moich 8 Słów (8 Words of Mine). They then went to France to record La Fabrique a Comptines, an album based on French counting-rhymes.
Eventually they came up with an ingenious Katarynka (Hurdy-gurdy) – a karantella non pasticcio in 19 pieces, written for 63 hurdy-gurdys and little instruments. The CD was released with a real hurdy-gurdy and a score, so that every listener could play alongside the recording.
In 2013 came Selfmade (Samoróbka), an album which was sold along with a book and a self-made instrument, both being reminiscent of the instrument building workshops organised by Małe Instrumenty.
Later that year Bôłt Records released Kartacz, an album inspired by the Polish culture of the 1960s and 1970s, notably the cinematography of that period and the music made by artists connected with the Polish Radio Experimental Studio. Walce w Walce (2015) consists of 13 waltzes composed by Paweł Romańczyk and other artists (including Jean-Marc Zelwer). Material for their next album Gruppo di Construzione (2017) was based on sound experiments conducted during open workshops called Samoróbka (like their album from 2013). This time the wooden cover of the CD was an instrument itself. Tango (2018) had the longest period of preparation of the band’s projects. It was released on a vinyl LP, the cover of which can be easily transformed into a cardboard gramophone.
Małe Instrumenty have performed in Poland and abroad, taking part in events such as Era New Horizons (Wrocław, 2007, 2008, 2009), Unsound Festival (Kraków, 2009), Ferlitizer Festival (London, 2009), Kody Festival (Lublin, 2009, 2010), Bruno Schulz Festival (Drohobych, 2010), Audio Art (Kraków, 2009, 2010), Skiff Festival (St. Petersburg, 2010), Animator (Poznań, 2010), Avant Art (Wrocław, 2010), Supersonic Festival (Birmingham, 2010), Unidram (Potsdam, 2010), Opener (Gdynia, 2011), Festival d’ile de France (Paris, 2011), Fatif (Rabka, 2011), Nancy Jazz Pulsation (Nancy, 2011), New Music Days (Gdańsk, 2012), Warsaw Autumn (Warsaw, 2012), Theatre Confrontations (Lublin, 2013), OFF Festival (Katowice, 2015), New Jewish Music Festival (Warsaw, 2015).
Band's website: www.maleinstrumenty.pl
Originally written in Polish by Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, March 2011, translated by W.O., 29.01.2014, updated by MG, September 2019.