"Korobeiniki" (Russian: Коробейники, English translation: Peddlers) is a nineteenth-century Russian folk song that tells of a meeting between a peddler and a girl, in which they haggle over the price of goods in a veiled metaphor for courtship.
Outside Russia, "Korobeiniki" is widely known because of its appearance in Nintendo's 1989 version of Tetris and is often referred to as "The Tetris Song", or "The Tetris Type A Theme" (after the game mode it played in).
The song "Korobeiniki" is based on a poem with the same name by Nikolay Nekrasov, written and printed in the Sovremennik magazine in 1861. Due to its increasing tempo and the dance style associated with it, it quickly became a popular Russian folk song.
Korobeiniki were peddlers with trays, selling fabric, haberdashery, books and other small things in pre-revolutionary Russia. Nekrasov's poem is a sad story about the love between a peasant girl, Katya, and a young peddler. They meet each other in a rye field at night where he has promised her a good deal on the goods he carries, before they are sold in the market at day. Only the night knows what happens between them in the rye field, but she is not so simple and does not take any of the goods which he offers her. What is the point, she figures, to have all that without him – her first and only love? She takes only a small turquoise ring, as a memory, and he promises to marry her when he comes back from his commerce trip. He continues his journey and she waits for him with caution. His business goes very well and he makes a lot of money, but on the way back he is killed and robbed by a forest ranger whom he asks for directions. So he never comes back to marry Katya. The song is the beginning of the original poem; it only recounts Katya's first meeting with the young peddler when their relation is getting off to a happy start.
|Russian lyrics||Transliteration||English translation|
|1||Ой полным полна моя кoробушка
Есть и ситец, и парча.
|Oy polnym polna mоya korobushka
Yest' i sitets i parcha.
|Oh, my crate is so full,
I've got chintz and brocade.
Take pity, oh sweety,
Of this lad's shoulder
|2||Выйду, выйду в рожь высокую,
Там до ночки погожу,
Как завижу черноокую,
Все товары разложу.
|Vyydu, vyydu v rozh' vysokuyu,
Tam do nochki pogozhu,
Kak zavizhu chernookuyu,
Vse tovary razlozhu.
|I will, I will go out into the tall rye,
I will wait there till the night comes,
Once I see the dark-eyed lass,
I will showcase all my goods.
|3||Цены сам платил немалые,
Не торгуйся, не скупись,
Подставляй-ка губки алые,
Ближе к молодцу садись.
|Tseny sam platil nemalyye,
Ne torguysya, ne skupis',
Podstavlyay-ka gubki alyye,
Blizhe k molodtsu sadis'.
|I paid no small price myself,
So don't bargain or be stingy,
Bring your scarlet lips to me,
Sit closer to this fine lad.
|4||Вот уж пала ночь туманная,
Ждёт удалый молодец...
Чу, идёт! – пришла желанная,
Продаёт товар купец.
|Vot uzh pala noch' tumannaya,
Zhdyot udalyy molodets.
Chu, idyot! – prishla zhelannaya,
Prodayot tovar kupets.
|The foggy night has already come,
The daring lad is awaiting,
Hark, it's her! The desired one has come,
The merchant is selling his goods.
|5||Катя бережно торгуется,
Всё боится передать,
Парень с де́вицей целуется,
Просит цены набавлять.
|Katya berezhno torguyetsya
Vsyo boitsya peredat',
Paren' s devitsey tseluyetsya,
Prosit tseny nabavlyat'.
|Katya is haggling with care,
She is afraid to pay too much,
A lad is kissing his lass,
Asking her to raise the price.
|6||Знает только ночь глубокая,
Как поладили они.
Распрямись ты, рожь высокая,
Тайну свято сохрани!
|Znayet tol'ko noch' glubokaya,
Kak poladili oni.
Raspryamis' ty, rozh' vysokaya,
Taynu svyato sokhrani!
|Only the deep night knows,
What they agreed upon.
Straighten up now, oh tall rye,
And keep their secret scrupulously!
|7||Ой, легка, легка коробушка,
Плеч не режет ремешок!
А всего взяла зазнобушка
|Oy legka legka korobushka
Plech ne rezhet remeshok
A vsego vzyala zaznobushka,
|Oh, my crate is so light;
The strap is no longer cutting into my shoulders!
And all my lass took
Was one turquoise ring.
|8||Дал ей ситцу штуку целую,
Ленту алую для кос,
Поясок – рубашку белую
Подпоясать в сенокос...
|Dal ey sittsu shtuku tseluyu,
Lentu aluyu dlya kos,
Poyasok – rubashku beluyu
Podpoyasat' v senokos...
|I had given her a whole piece of calico,
A scarlet ribbon for her braids,
A little belt—the white shirt
To strap on while haymaking.
|9||Все поклала ненаглядная
В короб, кроме перстенька:
«Не хочу ходить нарядная
Без сердечного дружка!»
|Vse poklala nenaglyadnaya
V korob, krome persten'ka:
"Ne hochu hodit' naryadnaya
Bez serdechnogo druzhka!"
|The sweet one put everything
back into the box, but for the ring:
"I do not want to go around dressed up
Without a fiancé!"
|10||То-то, дуры вы, молодочки!
Не сама ли принесла
Полуштофик сладкой водочки?
А подарков не взяла!
|To-to, dury vy, molodochki!
Ne sama li prinesla
Polushtofik sladkoy vodochki?
A podarkov ne vzyala!
|Oh, you foolish young ones!
Did she herself not bring
The half-flask of sweet vodka?
And she did not take the gifts!
|11||Так постой же! Нерушимое
На Покров домой приду
И тебя, душа-зазнобушка,
В божью церковь поведу!"
|Tak postoy zhe! Nerushimo
Na Pokrov domoy pridu
I tebya, dusha-zaznobushka,
V bozhʹyu tserkovʹ povedu!"
|So stay right here!
An unbreakable promise I give:
Once I empty the crate,
I'll return home,
And you, my Sweetheart,
To God's church I will lead!
|12||Вплоть до вечера дождливого
Молодец бежит бегом
И товарища ворчливого
Нагоняет под селом.
|Vplotʹ do vechera dozhdlivogo
Molodets bezhit begom
I tovarishcha vorchlivogo
Nagonyaet pod selom.
|All through the rainy night,
The young man runs,
And catches up to a grumbling comrade
in the village.
|13||Старый Тихоныч ругается:
"Я уж думал, ты пропал!"
Ванька только ухмыляется -
Я-де ситцы продавал!
|Staryy Tihonych rugaetsya:
"Ya uzh dumal, ty propal!"
Van'ka tol'ko uhmylyaetsya -
Ya-de sittsy prodaval!
|Old Tihonych swears:
"I really thought you were gone!"
Vanka only smirks-
I sold the chintz!
Tetris arrangements and modern cover versions
| "Korobeiniki" (help·info)
as featured in Tetris in MIDI format.
After arrangements of "Korobeiniki" first appeared in Spectrum Holobyte's Apple IIgs and Mac versions of Tetris, the song was re-arranged in 1989 by Hirokazu Tanaka as the "Type A" accompaniment in Nintendo's Game Boy version. It has since become closely associated with the game in Western popular culture. In 2008, UGO listed the song as the 3rd best videogame music of all time.
Other versions include:
- Doctor Spin's 1992 novelty Eurodance cover (under the name "Tetris") reached #6 on the UK singles chart.
- The string quartet Bond included a version on their 2000 debut album Born called Korobushka which they often perform at their live concerts.
- American rock band Ozma released a rock version on their 2001 album The Doubble Donkey Disc, used in 2013 on the movie Kick Ass 2.
- Norwegian trance producer 2PM released a version in 2003, though unlike its predecessor “C’mon” it failed to chart.
- German trance group Scooter sampled it in 2007 in their song "Whistling Dave" from the album Jumping All Over the World.
- An Italian house remix of the song was featured in the 2005 compilation album by Gigi D'Agostino, Disco Tanz.
- It was also performed and recorded by the California-based vocal ensemble Chanticleer on their 1997 album "Wondrous Love" under the name "Oy, Polná, Polná, Koróbuskaha".
- The American instrumental power metal band Powerglove recorded their own version of the song, simply entitled "Tetris", on their debut EP Total Pwnage (2005).
- In 2009, a crust-folk band from Portland, Oregon called the Dapper Cadavers covered the song, titling it "Korobushka" on their EP, The Fall of the Dapper Cadavers.
- British dubstep producer Doctor P made a remix of the song, which was released in 2011.
- A trance cover arranged by Ryu* is featured on the Exit Trance release Exit Trance Presents FamiTrance EX (EXIT TRANCE PRESENTS ファミトランス EX EXIT TRANCE PRESENTS Famitoransu EX?, 2009) under the title "Korobushka". The song was later included on his album Ageha as "Korobushka (Ryu*Remix)".
- The PlayStation Portable title Ape Escape Academy (Ape Academy in Europe) also features this song in one of the 'Camp-Side Fire' mini-games (essentially a short rhythm game-like sequence), also under the title 'Korobushka'.
- Ronan Murray has recorded an arrangement of the tune for pipe organ
- A sung version is included as the opening theme in the Borat Sagdiyev TV series.
- Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Ewan Dobson performs an acoustic guitar version of the song on his first album.
- In 2010, the British novelty band Pig With The Face Of A Boy used the melody for their recording A Complete History Of The Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris. The English language lyrics superimpose the game Tetris upon Russian history from the days of Imperial Russia before the Russian Revolution of 1917, to the years of the Soviet Union, to the present day Russian Federation. The band has produced a video of the song that, as of 10 December 2014, has had over 4.8 million views on YouTube.
- The Timbers Army sings this melody with altered lyrics during Portland Timbers games, usually accompanied by a simple dance with a large visual effect.
- Lowell, Massachusetts metal/video-game music band Vomitron covered it on their latest release "No NES For The Wicked"
- In the anime Hetalia: Axis Powers (based on a Japanese webcomic about anthropomorphic countries), the instrumental part of Russia's version of the ending theme has a very folkloric rendition of Korobeiniki.
- The Electronic Live PA act Muzik 4 Machines also performs a live version of the theme on several YouTube videos.
- Smooth McGroove has released a version of the melody in the acapella style for which he is famous.
- The song is sampled in Gucci Mane's 2012 song "Get It Back" featuring 2 Chainz, taken from Gucci's mixtape, Trap Back.
- Canadian electronic music producer Brado Popcorn released two versions of the song, entitled "Obi One I Kirk (Korobeiniki) Instrumental" on his "A Tribute to the Music of Tetris" album, released in 2014.
- YouTube personality Hank Green used the tune but added his own lyrics in the song "The Man Who Throws The Tetris Piece". The song was then covered in a rock style by Bill Martin (aka Doctor Noise) and his band at the time, Hang 'Em High. Hank subsequently collaborated with the band and the YouTube community to create a music video for the rock version. 
- Cornwell, Neil (1998), "Reference Guide to Russian Literature", p. 574
- Lane, Christy & Langhout, Susan (1998), "Multicultural Folk Dance Guide", pp. 19-22
- Lincoln Fitzpatrick, Anne (1990), "The Great Russian Fair", p. 99
- "Николай Некрасов: Коробейники". Nekrasov.niv.ru. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Square Enix Music Online, Hirokazu Tanaka: Brief Profile
- Rosenberg, Adam (2008-01-11). "Tetris – 'Korobeiniki,' as inspired by the original Russian folk song – Best Video Game Music of All Time". UGO.com. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval, Latest Status Info. Accessed 2009-03-13.
- "Amazon.com Ewan Dobson Track Listing".
- Video of A Complete History Of The Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris by Pig With The Face Of A Boy
- "Tetris - Theme 'A' Acapella". YouTube. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "iTunes - Music - A Tribute to the Music of Tetris by Brado Popcorn". Itunes.apple.com. 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "October 17th: The Man Who Throws The Tetris Piece". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "The Man Who Throws the Tetris Piece". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Korobeiniki" by the Red Army Choir of the Soviet Union. Soloist: V. Shtefouts (Vasily_Ivanovich_Shtefutsa)
- Barynya performance[dead link]
- Sheet music
- Sheet music by Michael Gluck