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Illustration for Nekrasov's poem "Peddlers", 1902 lithograph

"Korobeiniki" (Russian: Коробе́йники, tr. Korobéyniki, IPA: [kərɐˈbʲejnʲɪkʲɪ], lit. 'The Peddlers') is a nineteenth-century Russian folk song that tells the story of a meeting between a peddler and a girl, describing their haggling over goods in a metaphor for courtship.

Outside Russia, "Korobeiniki" is widely known as the Tetris theme tune, from its appearance in Nintendo's Game Boy version of the game (titled "A-Type") as arranged by the Japanese composer Hirokazu Tanaka in 1989.


The song "Korobeiniki" is based on a poem of the same name by Nikolay Nekrasov, which was first printed in the Sovremennik magazine in 1861.[1] Its increasing tempo and the associated dance style led to it quickly becoming a popular Russian folk song.[2]

Korobeiniki were peddlers with trays, who sold fabric, haberdashery, books and other small items in pre-revolutionary Russia.[3] Nekrasov's much longer poem tells the story of a young peddler who seduces a peasant girl named Katya one night in a field of rye. He offers her some of his wares as gifts in exchange for a kiss and, as it is implied, sexual favours. She rejects all but one of his gifts, a turquoise ring, reasoning that having his wares but not him would be unbearable. The next morning, he pledges to marry her when he returns from selling his wares at the market. The song's narrative ends here; however, the poem concludes with the peddler being robbed and killed by a forest ranger whom he asks for directions while returning home with the profits made during his successful day at the market.


 \relative a' {
 \time 4/4 
    e4. gis8 b4 gis8 e8    a4. c8 e4 d8 c8    b4. c8 d4 e4    c4 a4 a2
    \repeat volta 2 { 
    f'4. g8 a4 g8 f8    e4. f8 e4 d8 c8   b4. c8 d4 e4    c4 a4 a2 }


Russian lyrics Transliteration English translation
1 Ой полным полна моя коробушка
Есть и ситец, и парча.
Пожалей, душа-зазнобушка,
Молодецкого плеча.
Oy polnym polna moya korobushka
Yest' i sitets i parcha.
Pozhaley, dusha-zaznobushka,
Molodetskogo plecha.
Oh, my crate is so full,
I've got calico 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
Бирюзовый перстенёк.
Oy legka legka korobushka
Plech ne rezhet remeshok
A vsego vzyala zaznobushka,
biryuzovyy perstenyok.
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 — for the white shirt
To strap 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 maidens!
Did she herself not bring
The half-flask of sweet vodka?
And she did not take the gifts!
11 Так постой же! Нерушимое
Обещаньице даю:

Опорожнится коробушка,
На Покров домой приду
И тебя, душа-зазнобушка,
В божью церковь поведу!"
Tak postoy zhe! Nerushimoe
Obeshchanʹitse dayu:

Oporozhnitsya korobushka,
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 for Pokrov,
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.
Up until the rainy evening,
The fine lad 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![4]
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 was selling the calico!

Critical reception[edit]

The official Tetris website wrote that Korobeiniki was "memorable enough on its own as both a poem and folk tune", independent of its adaption into the Tetris theme.[5]

Other arrangements of the song[edit]

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[6] as the "Type A" accompaniment in Nintendo's Game Boy version 1.1. It has since become closely associated with the game in Western popular culture. In 2008, UGO listed the song as the 3rd best video game music of all time.[7]

Though The Tetris Company holds a sound trademark on this variation of the song for use in video games,[8] the song has appeared in Dance Maniax 2nd Mix under the title "Happy-hopper".

Adaptions and versions[edit]

Doctor Spin[edit]

Other versions[edit]

  • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra has recorded and performed versions of the song under the title "Peddlers" (sometimes ベドラーズ "Pedorāzu") since their eponymous debut EP in 1989.[9] Most recently it can be found on their "Ska Me Forever" (2014) album.[10]
  • 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.
  • An Italian house remix of the song called "Cammino Contento" was featured in the 2005 compilation album by Gigi D'Agostino, Disco Tanz.
  • A remix of Korobeiniki plays during High Rank of Tire & Ice level in Crash Tag Team Racing.
  • A version of the song is used for the Nintendo Wii's video game Super Smash Bros. Brawl, in a part of the game related to Tetris. Arranged by Yoko Shimomura.[11] The song is retained in later versions of Smash Bros. as well.[12][13]
  • 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'.
  • In 2006, Jablay, sung by Titi Kamal for original soundtrack of Mendadak Dangdut samples and slightly modifies Korobeiniki on chorus part.[14]
  • Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Ewan Dobson performs an acoustic guitar version of the song on his first album.[15]
  • The Timbers Army sings this melody with altered lyrics during Portland Timbers games, usually accompanied by a simple dance with a large visual effect.[16][17][18]
  • The German Techno Band Scooter used the melody for it in their song Whistling Dave from the 2007 album Jumping All Over the World.
  • A version by the duo Pig With The Face Of A Boy, known as "A Complete History of the Soviet Union as Told by a Humble Worker, Arranged to the Melody of Tetris", details a simplified telling of the tale of the Soviet Union, along with the two ending verses to the tune of the Game Over screen in Tetris.[19]
  • British folk-punk band The Mechanisms sample the song's melody on the third-to-last song of their first album Once Upon A Time (In Space), "No Happy Ending".[20]
  • A version of this song was arranged for the game The End Is Nigh titled ??? – Korobeiniki (Russian Folk 1861) by video game composer team Ridiculon (Matthias Bossi and Jon Evans).
  • The music was rearranged by Vitali Klatschkov and Diana May for a promotional session by Ortel Mobile in 2021.[21]
  • German band dArtagnan both used the music for their song Trink mein Freund and released a folk rock version of Korobeiniki (in Russian) in their 2022 album Felsenfest.[22][23]


  1. ^ Cornwell, Neil (1998), "Reference Guide to Russian Literature", p. 574
  2. ^ Lane, Christy & Langhout, Susan (1998), "Multicultural Folk Dance Guide", pp. 19–22
  3. ^ Lincoln Fitzpatrick, Anne (1990), "The Great Russian Fair", p. 99
  4. ^ "Николай Некрасов: Коробейники". Nekrasov.niv.ru. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  5. ^ "The History of the Tetris Theme Music". Tetris. Retrieved 2021-06-22.
  6. ^ Square Enix Music Online, Hirokazu Tanaka: Brief Profile
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (2008-01-11). "Tetris – 'Korobeiniki', as inspired by the original Russian folk song – Best Video Game Music of All Time". UGO.com. Archived from the original on 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  8. ^ Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval, Latest Status Info. Accessed 2009-03-13.
  9. ^ "Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra – Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (1989, Vinyl)". Discogs.
  10. ^ "Ska Me Forever". Amazon.
  11. ^ Tetris: Type A – Super Smash Bros. Brawl. GilvaSunner. 2011-01-13. Archived from the original on 2021-01-30. Retrieved 2021-08-11 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "List of SSB4 Music (Nintendo series)". 7 December 2021.
  13. ^ "List of SSBU Music (Other series)". 12 December 2021.
  14. ^ Jablai. Various Artists. 2019-04-10. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2021-08-11 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "Amazon.com Ewan Dobson Track Listing". Amazon.
  16. ^ Williams, Meagan (August 25, 2011). "Timbers Army Tetris dance". Portland Pulp. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  17. ^ "Portland Timbers release free custom, web-based video game, 'Set Piece'". Portland Timbers News. June 15, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  18. ^ "Tetris / Korobushka Chant: PT Songs". FanChants. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  19. ^ Complete History of the Soviet Union, Arranged to the Melody of Tetris. pigwiththefaceofaboy. 2010-07-13. Archived from the original on 2021-07-30. Retrieved 2021-08-11 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ The Mechanisms – Once Upon a Time [in Space] – 14 No Happy Ending. The Mechanisms. 2012-08-04. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2021-08-11 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "Vorhang auf für die nächste mitreißende Ortel Connect Session".
  22. ^ dArtagnan - Trink mein Freund (Offizielles Video), retrieved 2022-07-23
  23. ^ Korobeiniki, retrieved 2022-12-30