Altai Krai (Baranaul):
Altai is a Region of South Central Siberia comprised of two Federal subjects: one, a krai (i.e., agricultural territory); and the other, a Republic. The major ethnic groups of this Region inhabit both; however, there are some major differences between the two Altai: the Krai contains some of Russia’s most important agricultural lands – and, that being the case, it is flat, very fertile, and steppe-like; while the Republic is almost completely mountainous, sporting two complete mountain ranges, the Altai and the Sayan.
But the chief difference between them is that the people of the Republic have kept more in touch with the traditional music and culture of the Altai Region, while the people of the Krai have adhered more to music that is classically and popularly based, drawing on influences from outside.
(So – for the good stuff – get to the Republic!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IknxKNZgxss&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLD0AD6A604DB89A02 Konstantin Scherbakov (Classical Pianist)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsGsj4zz4UA Julia Neigel (German singer born in Altai)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsUrIwu7HjI Famous Tenor Vladimir Galouzine – Turandot – Nessun dorma
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsRCidgRBSI Vladimir Galouzine – Pagliacci – Vesti la giubba
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAaSrxXjzXw Alexander Lokshin (soprano) – Symphony #1 ”Requiem’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT3NreSkc5c Cossack Music in the Altai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFt49zDXzSE Rap/HipHop in the Atai Krai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzSJoDHfL3Q Baranaul Electric Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn9dNF-lQwE Barnaul Musical Salon
*****Altai Republic (Gorno-Altaysk): (gets two extra asterisks)
Now, with our arrival here in the enmountained Altai Republic, we are entering upon a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY special cultural area of the world, musically. And even though one might come to it being already somewhat familiar with the music of neighboring Tuva, the native throat-singing and instrumentation here, in the Altai Region, will still hit one like a ton of bricks. It is just amazing.
I mean, it is deliciously good. At the risk of sounding like I am exaggerating, I would have to say that the music of Altai is, above all, ‘necessary.’ By which I mean that – once one has heard it, it starts to cross one’s mind that, if one were to have died without ever having heard it, one would have wasted, if not one’s whole life, then certainly one’s ears. The listening experience of this Region: maybe most like, opening a present – great on the outside; but gets even better inside. Because their songs start off in some exciting direction, and then they change, switching to something very different, wholly unexpected (but musically logical) – a bit like a story by O. Henry, maybe. Or (one might say) their music is like biting through chocolate candies that have some delectable center of unknown flavor hidden inside.
‘Tuva, Tuva, Tuva’ – if Tuva is the Brady Bunch ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha’ of Central Asia, musically speaking, Altai is the Continental Jan: an oft-overlooked ‘middle child’ sandwiched between two musical ‘star’ Regions on either side – and therefore living in the cultural shadow of its most-recently-discovered-by-American-ears neighbor – though really just as wonderful.
(Truth to tell, much the same could be said of certain other Siberian Republics, such as Khakassia and Sakha [aka Yakutia].)
More specifically, throat-singing is native to Altai, just as it is to Tuva. But the throat-singing here is called ‘Kai’ and is recognizably different: if you listen to both Tuvan and Altaian throat-singing styles, they are distinct – you can tell the difference between them pretty readily. Some of Kai throat-singing is similar to the whistling and deep sounds you hear in Tuvan music, but with Kai you get sounds that try to encompass more of the natives’ natural world – that seem even more expansive in their mimicry – than what is indigenous to Tuva. For example, Kai treats you to sounds of bird whistles; laughter; people talking, cranes walking, recreated on a Jew’s harp; and raven or crow noises (caw! caw!). While Tuvan throat-singing comes in a variety of sub-styles, each of which can be found listed as its own category, with Altai throat-singing, there seem also to be various sub-styles – but I cannot find any listing or account of it.
Altai makes a claim to being the home of the khomus, also known as the Jew’s harp — an instrument that can in fact be found all over Asia, parts of Europe, and of course in Appalachia. But whereas a lot of other places regard the Jew’s harp as kind of a pretty humble cultural fixture, the Altai Republic seems to have really taken the instrument to its heart and to take a special pride in this simple instrument’s being their own special invention. Whether the Jew’s harp did actually originate in the Region is of course not all that clear, but the people of the Altai do make a good case that indeed it might have.
As among some of the other instruments besides the Jew’s harp you would be likely to come across in the Region (per the links below), the other main one is the two-stringed topshur: similar to a guitar or banjo, the topshur looks a lot like a lute (and it makes an awful lot of music, given its limitation of only having two strings!). The Altai has something called an ‘ikili,’ their version of a long-necked fiddle you place on your lap and play. A shoor, which you also see in Tuvan culture, is a type of end flute (no holes along its length – one one at the end) that is played pointed downward. The shatra is a type of rattle; a shagur, a woodwind instrument with holes on the side. (And there is also a clay wind instrument called an ‘ungrek’ – but I don’t know that I can find examples of that.)
There are examples detailed below of the wind instrument made of birch bark that is called an Adishi-marok (which may, or may not, help them out with their bird whistles). Not to be confused with an Amirgi-marok, which is a wind instrument used to beguile deer. (Neat, huh?)
The artists from the Altai are not really touring out here among the rest of us, with the exception of Altai Kai and a very few others, but that could change. (In fact most of the musicians in the Region, both male and female, are not even known, in the sense of having been recorded/Youtubed, but I can list some of them for you: Alexi G. Kalkin (one link below), N. Ulagashev, P. Kutshiyak , Deley, while more modern vocalists include Aleksey Kalkin, S. Aetenov, Shunu Yalatov Tovar Tchetsiyakov,, Tanishpai Shinshin., and female singers Raisa Modorova, and Natalja Yenchinova
The group that seems to be the one that people do know about, and that does tour, is Altai Kai. As their name might tend to suggest, they favor the use of traditional instruments, and what I am listening to by them right now comes across as almost ‘tribal’: with a strong, rhythmic beat, and an almost-synthesizer tone, in the bass range – a sophisticated sort of effect they have evidently perfected from getting musically out and about, touring the world, and which leaves them sounding most pleasingly gothic and haunted. Galloping horses, rivers rushing sound through their music. They have a song not at all dissimilar from Queens’ ‘We will, we will Rock You’; but traditional, mind you.
They came very nearby and played somewhere in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, being joined in in improvisation by Appalachian musicians (link below – check it!). Some of Altai Kai’s throat-singers started in singing in the Appi Mountain rhythm – the melded traditions both being deeply rich and at least semi-ancient mountain ones (way cool).
Before Altai Kai, the best-known representative of Altai music was a guy called Nogan Shumarov (who also went by the name Nohon) — a noted throat-singer, playwright, and kamus-player. I list some links in which he talks about/plays the komus. The other main musical idol from the Region is the avant-garde Bolot Bayrishev — who goes into a trance when he sings his (rock) music (how mystique is that?).
This music is as rugged and as rough as the mountains that produced it. Both the Appalachians and the Andes are world-known for their musics; and that of the Altai ought to be classed with them.
(Capital: Gorno-Altaysk) Telengits Tubalars Chelkans Kumandins Shors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veoE6CfaYk8 Nomads Life
(Note there are other ethnic groups in the Altai: the Tubalar (the Tuba-Kizhi), the Tchelkan, the Kumandin, the Shor, the Teleut, the Teles, and the Telengit – found music on some – most are elusive – musicologists get out there!)
http://rtd.rt.com/films/telengits-altay-throat-singing/ The Telengits (with Native Music) http://rtd.rt.com/films/tubalars-chelkans-altay-cedar/#part-1 The Tubalars and the Chelkans (with Native Music – and unique food)
http://rtd.rt.com/films/teleuts-novokuznetsk-horse-breeding/#part-1 Teleuts with Native Singing & Cooking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7I3-zOvJlA Natalja Yenchinova and **Tandalai (modern female singer)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoihyw2zVzU A small part of the Maadai-kara (Great Altai Epic)
http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/15ii/3_harvilahti.pdf Altai Epics & Kai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBMtfXQTN6w Тандалай (Раиса Модорова) Raisa Modorova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X4SNN9J2CM Raisa Modorova #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR3cTbrCLU8 Altai Storyteller #1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohi9LSAtTZI Altai Storyteller #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVDUfx6btuU Group Tala www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmvcfBFsrbk Group Tala
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3XyUvBR3F8 Altai Komus (Jew Harp) master Nogon Shumarov
http://bolot-bairyshev.ru/ Bolot Bayrishev official WS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR9GS4P8s00 Bolot Bayrishev – Altai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuLwrI1Pt8s Bolot – Wanderer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2ZLmgvFoxw Bolot Bayrishev
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CckMv6-fL0 Male Bass Khomus Player
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkeAb58v5U0 Bezerk – Moscow Duo Turbodzen plays the Altai Khomus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPsMmBU69F8 Altai Tiaga Festival with Culkin (that’s what the Home Alone kid grew up to be!?!) actually it is Aleksey Kalkin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92tYvAk_mHU Female Altai Khomus Player -(makes horse sounds)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pSjoUgEfIM Altai female Khomus player with unusual high-pitched sounds
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30-oRvbGiTI Altai Kai come to the Blue Ridge (@ 4 minute mark – Altai music meets Appalachian music – Altai throat singer starts imitating the Appalachian rhythms & style)
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&u=http://etnika.su/&ei=aulpT-nzOJGnsAL8lPipCQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522http://www.etnika.su/%2522%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26prmd%3Dimvns Etnika.su Altai Musical instruments website (Translated English Version – Can order from it)
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&u=http://tantris.org.ua/board/gorlovoe_penie/4-1-0-1&ei=MPxpT7_yF8jWsgK434H7DQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CE0Q7gEwBQ&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522%25D0%25A8%25D1%2583%25D0%25BC%25D0%25B0%25D1%2580%25D0%25BE%25D0%25B2%2B%25D0%259D%25D0%25BE%25D0%25B3%25D0%25BE%25D0%25BD%2522%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26prmd%3Dimvns Nogan Shumar Bio
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rylii-HXDME&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=AVTGnpyrBl25yRSokPgF67Ogxyoq34-P5H YouTubes ***Top Tracks for Altai Kai (LISTEN TO EVERY SINGLE SONG – IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rylii-HXDME&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLC7AFE86F13B623CF Altai Kai Playlist #1 (first song is an ancient ‘kai’ song that has the same beat as “We Will Rock You”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3soo8IK5az4&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLBF46528F3C224AD6 Altai Kai Playlist #2 (LISTEN TO ALL OF THIS – ONLY 14 VIDEOS- 3rd video is the wonderful, haunting Alkystar – last two videos come from Chukotka and Buryatia)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AucfDer9DOU Altai Male Singing & Topshur Playing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA0JTe0qqPU Male Altai Throat-singing, singing & Topshur Playing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKEkPDlJIfg Female Altai Singing & Jew Harp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxNxch6DVTQ Chagat Uryankhai morning.wmv (with Native Altay singing & ‘kai’)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlZImVZp4Nw&list=UUz7STrBD5PjRn3g58ru4q8A&feature=plcp&context=C490c40eFDvjVQa1PpcFPDd6QKGTdX4qAbTxjJFfRrQuu3wnDc3nM ETNIKA.SU’s Altai Music Channel (ONLY 117 VIDEOS!!!)
***Buryatia Republic (Ulan-Ude):
(Shasha Baron Cohen likely took-off from its inspiration to coin ‘Borat’ — though of course Borat’s own Eastern European village-provenance (and arguably the entire film) was a social and aesthetic eyesore (did you see it? — talking about the Nude wrestling scene in the hotel of course between Borat & his hairy overweight manager); whereas Buryatia is where people live in harmony, are beautiful, and the rural countryside is correspondingly knock-out gorgeous.). Its magnetic spell will draw you, Orientalizing Pied Pier as it is, to this landlocked, hypnotic Bali-Hai.
So hurry along, Come! Come! Come to Buryatia: then relax, sit back, and enjoy the extreme scenery, the compelling music, and whichever human gender you prefer. (In my case it is the sexy women)
–Here, where Burats, Russians (for, yes, as you can see, here is conclusive evidence that Russians really are ‘Secret Asian Men’), the tribal Evenks, and the rare Soyots have been living in peaceful coexistence for centuries, in this Buddhist, Shamanistic enclave.
The TransSiberian Railway passes through here, of course (being that it is this romantic, it has to) – and over a decade ago I caught a documentary, on PBS, that offered a virtual excursion aboard the TSR. They stopped off in this Oriental-looking city that had dragon prayer-wheels. Turns out that city was Ulan-ude – and Xandu has been beckoning me ever since, with a hypnotic intensity that Coleridge could have instantly related to.
Buryatian Namgar Lhasa Ranova is a phenomenal musical force to be reckoned with. She started out with her folk-rock group Uragsha (not to be confused with the sexy [no, make that very sexy], female Burat quartet Uragshaa). She is now a self-titled ‘group,’ ‘Namgar.’
The Region’s traditional folk instruments are the banjo-like chanza, which sounds very similar to a balalaika, or (perhaps without too much of a stretch) a Spanish guitar; the Mongolian horsehead-fiddle, a morin huur (also with horsehair strings), i.e., a square box emitting plaintively wailing cello-like sounds; and that curious-looking zither, the yatag.
It’s no wonder a Lama died there years ago, sitting in lotus posture, and, instead of falling into decay, self-mummified in situ. That is kind of the effect Buryatia has on your soul: you’ve heard of ‘the city too busy to hate’? Well, this is the Region&people too serene ever to lose their ideal shape.
(An extra bonus – and speaking of Shangri-La – Buryatia is a place where Tantra has been practiced for centuries.)
This is the hidden place that hiders know.
This is where hiders go.
Step softly, the snow that falls here is different snow,
The rain has a different sting.
Step softly, step like a cloud, step softly as the least
Whisper of air against the beating wing,
. . .
Or you will never find in the lost field
. . . the marches of armed wrath . . .
This is where hiders live.
This is the tentative
And outcast corner where hiders steal away
. . .
This is the hiders’ house.
. . .
This is the quiet place.
(– From John Brown’s Body, Stephen Vincent Benet)
Some 200 miles to the Southeast of Lake Baikal, from which this great Region, meaning ‘TransBaikal,’ gets its name — somewhere uncertain, but close by — the the birthplace, the deathplace, the burial ground of the immortal Genghis Khan.
No buildings — no monuments, walls, or tombs — were left behind by his conquering Mongols. They lived mounted, simply making their way repeatedly back and forth, to and fro between their huts here in the homeland and each new place along their route of conquest; back and forth, forward and back, along ever-lengthening trails that eventually radiated out from Khan’s empty and isolated stronghold in every direction for thousands of miles.
When the time came, the burial of the Great Khan was top-secret and its site forbidden — and spawned tales that 800 horse-soldiers in his funeral train had killed every human and animal they encountered along the way for 40 miles; then trampled the grave to hide its location; then were killed in turn by other soldiers, who did not know the grave’s location; and then that those soldiers were killed by yet a third set – and finally (defeating the purpose perhaps? – but something we know to be historical fact) the area was sealed off – and dubbed Ikh Khorig, ‘the Great Taboo’ — for hundreds of square miles around — and soldiers stationed at the borders to kill any and every intruder – a policy and practice which stood for 800 years.
But that was only the body of Genghis Khan that was lost to history, at that time. According to Mongol belief, the soul of a dead warrior passed at death into his windblown, horsehair ‘Sulde,’ or Spirit Banner, that in life he always carried and kept with him as his own identifying ‘flag.’ Buddhist monks living by the River of the Moon, beneath the black Shankh Mountains, preserved Genghis Khan’s soul (i.e., spirit banner) until the 1930’s (!) – when Stalin arrived to destroy their monastery. But supposedly someone secretly managed to rescue the Great Khan’s soul-cum- Sulde (but from that time it disappeared).
But the secrecy of the place wasn’t done yet. In order to preclude its being used (mythically charged with legend as it was) to inflame nationalist spirit, the Soviet Government made it its own separate, secret, and barricaded ‘Highly Restricted Area,’ controlled directly by Moscow, one million hectares big – and (as if they were killing off successive waves of funeral soldiers) surrounded that with another ‘Restricted Area’ of another million hectares; used it to house an air base of MiG’s plus a nuclear arsenal – and then, as the piece de resistance, parked a tank base out front.
But, even following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when archaeologists were for the first time being allowed in, the secrecy surrounding this spooky place still wasn’t dead: the locals objected to their excavating on the grounds that it would disturb huge numbers of ancient Mongol graves. (One archaeologist commented, ‘They speak about more than 800 burial sites.. . . The burial places of Mongolian Khans are sacred and must be hidden in a very secret place.’) (By the way, have you noticed? We keep seeing the number ‘800’ here . . . tres mythic.)
So, while here be secrets, of Buddhist monks; secret and forbidden burial grounds; sealed and guarded precincts; dark epicenter of an intangible ancient Empire that dreamed of being as wide as their deity, the Eternal Blue Sky itself; White Heart of Darkness of an-all-too tangible Empire whose dreams were much the same – what we do not find is much of anything else – including music. (We do find a people known as the Semeisky, ‘Old Believers,’ sort of Russia’s Amish. Hardly surprising.)
And we find birds. (Trains as well)
The Territory today is basically a giant nature preserve, with some of the best bird-watching in the world. Those with the proper eagle-eye can see up to six species of crane at once, and a number of the species here are unique to the Region. It is also a migratory hub, where not just birds of a feather, but birds from all over the world fly to and fro, coming and going across and around the globe, all flocking together like little Russian ‘ethnic groups’ on the wing. (Or ghostly warrior-herder-horsemen nomads, their Spirit Banners flying, making their baleful, migratory rounds.)
The singer-musicians here are the birds. The ancient Mongols’ landscape would have resonated everywhere with bird-calls, morning and evening. Birds as evocative of the primal elements of music itself: of melody; of rhythm (marking the time of day and the season); of repetition and refrain. Birds as the progenitors and prototypes of human song in Central Asia; as the most aboriginal of ‘musical influences’ on humankind – since (per my discussion of the Altai Region) birds inspired throat-singing.
And of course frogs inspired throat-singing. Frogs, that – like this changeless, timeless Eden – are covered up in mystery. Frogs, who metamorph so dramatically, from tadpole to their adult form, that they must be under enchantment. Frogs, who therefore could turn into princes; frogs, who might have once been princes. Frogs, who sit on lily-pads unmoving; see without seeming to look – frogs who appear to be ‘meditating’ like great Eastern wisemen. Frogs, who can ‘turn to stone’ cryogenically – certain species being able to freeze and then thaw again in springtime – and therefore wielding magical power over death. (Remember the Buddhist monk whose corpse, caught in ‘lotus-posture’ at the moment of death, spontaneously mummified, that I told you about in an earlier section?)
IRKUTSK OBLAST (Irkutsk):
Less than a hundred years prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, there was a failed coup attempt, known as the Decembrist Revolt, that was staged in St. Petersburg on Tsar Nicholas I’s ascent to the throne following the Heir Apparent, Constantine’s, self-removal. This Revolt was spearheaded by intellectuals with the support to key military and even Russian royalty. When the five leaders were condemned to hanging in the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage Museum), the ropes being used to hang them broke. By Russian tradition, that (and it was an ‘accident’ that had clearly been arranged) should have meant that they were allowed to live. (However, Nicholas broke with tradition and had them re-hanged, anyway.)
The remaining revolutionaries were exiled to Siberia, some to the City of Chita in Zabaykalskyy; the rest to Irkutsk. That fact has meant that those areas were transformed from frozen Siberian wildernesses into cultural and intellectual hot-spots, as that group of exiled intellectuals got the opportunity not only to live out their lives as they chose, in freedom, but to reshape the area politically, economically, and educationally, as its Leading Lights. (They just had to be able to get through the winters.)
As a result, Irkutsk today, nestled near Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest, is a resort area. They have their own Philharmonic, and vacationers to the area can have a therapeutic massage; get comfy in their banya (a Russian spa); go for an invigorating Lake swim and then grill some fresh fish wrapped in leaves over a campfire. They might also spot a freshwater seal (possibly the world’s only variety) swimming around out there.
The area is the natural habitat of the Tofalar people, with their dying Tofa language and shrinking numbers, unfortunately, due to intermarriage with Russians and Buryats and the reluctance of the young people to keep up their native customs – which includes forms of singing and dance.
The most notable musicians in the area ar a classical-folk-jazz duo that goes by three different names: Bely Ostrog; its English translation of ‘White Fort’; and ‘Two Siberians.’ It’s like these two guys are their own orchestra. I can definitely identify them playing, respectively, electric guitar and a strange kind of violin (also electric, it would appear) that is new to me. Good sound, beautiful, in fact.
This is also the place of origin of Leonid Kharitonov, a prominent soloist for the Red Army Choir, and the filmmaker who did Russian Ark, whom I mentioned when I covered St. Petersburg. (His films are available online.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFSACwrMyg White Fort aka Two Siberians aka Bely Ostrog – Bernarda Alba
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoIpUC1pbew White Fort aka Two Siberians aka Bely Ostrog – Searching for Power
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B87ponEOJA8 *** White Fort aka Two Siberians aka Bely Ostrog is one of the performers in this exciting compilation of Russian music
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6EE15C044C6E60F3 White Fort Channel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi0Hp3rhIa0 Lydia Bolxoeva, a last speaker of Tofa sings
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF_d0DTgobA Lukeria Yakovlevna sings a Tofa song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuEXZjduF2w Varvara and Galina Adamova, last speakers of Tofa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-pLmJaack8 Tofa speaker Prokopij recites song lyrics ‘irgak kuuday’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsffmbcA4Uk [There is a cliff on the Volga (1965)] – Red Army Choir (soloist Leonid Kharitonov
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WQibvjYD0c Leonid Kharitonov & Alexandrov Choir – The Long-range Guns Keep Silent
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDdtLpPoXDw Leonid Kharitonov: Ivan Susanin aria (1988)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBdaf2xDEo0 Irkutsk Philharmonic Orchestra
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX5eZUGN1dc Irkutsk Philharmonic Orchestra – Della vendetta alfin giunge l’instante
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Alexander+Sokurov%22&num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&tbm=vid&source=lnt&tbs=dur:l&sa=X&ei=l7ZxT5-2Ko63twf1sMzODw&ved=0CAsQpwUoAw&biw=1024&bih=740 Full Films of Alexander Sokurov online.
Kemerovo Oblast (Capital: Kemerovo)
Kemerovo Oblast is the West Virginia/Appalachia of Russia – at least in certain respects. Now, I do realize if you’re not acquainted with the maverick, only-semi-visible State of West-By-God, that may not tell you a lot. But, if one looks at the thing, the City of Kemerovo, one of Russia’s main coal capitals, looks like Charleston, WV, from an aerial view, and its Tom River is very similar-looking to the Kanawha (which flows past Charleston): they both have a bridge across the river into downtown, with an island off sitting to the right.
And, continuing the analogy, in the Southern part of the ‘State,’where this Russian Region is the most hilly and isolated, there is a ‘hillbilly’-like tribe called the Shors, or, as they are also known, the ‘Blacksmith Tatars’ – descendants of the Turks (as, OK, West Virginians are not); but who are (like West Virginians) a people quite musical; and who, like the people of the Mountain State, are mostly doing their best to preserve their music, traditions, customs, and culture despite the incursion of pressures and influences from outside.
Unlike their Appalachian spiritual brethren, who have been recorded to the fullest extent, the Shors have hardly been documented. I was only able to find one ‘click’ for them online, featuring a young woman singing and plucking a stringed instrument (banjo?) and a young man playing a drum. We need to get these people recorded before it’s too late. (Ironically, the to-us-Oriental-looking Burats think that the Shors resemble the Chinese.)
Both areas are kind of either prehistoric relics of the Bronze Age or else ‘Lithic remnants (you know, Neolothic – Paleolithic – all those ‘Lithics’), surviving ragtag into the modern age. And where you get places like that, it’s like the Writing on the Wall: you kind of pretty well know what sorts of cultural expressions and outcroppings to expect.
Which is appropriate since Bronze Age peoples are typically into ‘Signs’ of what to expect: you know, like in meteorology or farming, ‘When you hear lots and lots of frogs, or the saber-toothed tiger ranges far, it’ll be a bad winter’ – stuff like that. ‘When you enter a Bronze Age-ish area, you are reprising the world of the beginning of things, and there will be a lot of writing on rocks along the roadside saying things like, “Jesus Saves,” “The Lord Is Risen,” “Hell Is Real,” and (not the Beginning but) “The End Is Near.” True, you see.
West Virginia had North America’s oldest Neolithic stone walls, built along the ridge across the river above Rt. 60 East of Charleston –all the way up until 19-something-quite-recent (when they were summarily strip-mined without notice). There forever – then gone in a twinkling.
A fossilized saber-toothed tiger could still be seen imprinted on the underside of a shelf of rock in Marmet, WV, near Charleston, until they put the ‘new road’ (i.e., Corridor G) through, preserved from a time when that area of Appalachia — not too far from us — was Siberia-like. Of course Siberia is still quite Siberia-like. In Kemerovo there is some o the oldest cave art in Russia – and caves are something else that Oblast shares in common with Southeastern West Virginia and Kentucky.
West Virginia’s natural landscape includes the deep, deep, deep ‘New River’ (an ironic name, given that either it or the Amazon in South America is the oldest river in the world), along steep, steep, steep riverbanks that support an ecological miniverse inclusive of numerous plant and animal forms that are either unique holdovers from high ancient or are simply unique – not to be found anywhere else in the world. (Another bizarrely archaic freak of nature in West Virginia is to be found in the form of its Cranberry Glade area.)
Such mythic places tend to foster legends and mythmaking – some of them true, some not, but predictable as a cultural feature. Also pretty predictably, Kemerovo and WV are both trying as hard as they can to capitalize on all this and be tourist meccas but are having trouble. So they fictionalize: Kemerovo’s latest ploy is to parlay the tourist appeal of non-existent monsters into visits, specifically by capitalizing on the supposed Yeti sightings in the area. (I met a dog by that name in West Virginia once.) As an improbably neatness, the Yeti is of course supposed to make its home and appearances in the same cave that has all the Bronze Age markings. Now we know: yetis can be assumed to have an archaeological, anthropological, and artistic bent.
Compare our sister State to the East, with its mythic ‘Mothman’ (a Parkersburg un-phenomenon) and ‘Flatwoods Monster’ (which I am myself convinced, after reading about it, were just a couple of innocent radio towers as viewed by two teenage boys camping out and high on grain alcohol). UFO sightings in the Mountain State have been legion since Rod Serling was on TV and being snared, with difficulty given the mountains, after prolonged futzing with housetop aerials.
A tourism strategy perhaps more sound lies in the renting out of offroad, exploration vehicles in the hilly South of Kemerovo to its visitors – again, much like the ATV trails, such as the ‘Hatfield,’ popular in Southern West Virginia.
If Charleston, WV could be twinned with the City of Kemerovo, the Region’s City of Novokuznetsk might be not unlike Ironton, OH, across the River from WV, and formerly one of the pig-iron capitals of the world. And, like Appalachians, citizens of Kemerovo are very into sport; but, instead of basketball or football, this Region is the ‘bandy’ capital of the world (bandy being a cross between hockey and rugby; i.e., hockey, only even more violent). (How can that be? you ask. Easy: you just make tackling legal.)
I mean, how many parallels can one come across here? Biscuits (for God’s sake) are big in both regions, although those in Kemerovo are more of the chocolaty, wafery kind. (‘Tudor’s Biscuit World’ is the definitive WV chain for cuisine centered around this indispensable and omnipresent staple – I mean, wow! a whole ‘World’ in biscuits! – those little suckers being impressed into service as the [inexpensive] cornerstone of three square a day.)
Not surprising, then, given all these common denominators, big and small, as between Kemerovo and the Mountain State, is that they both produce, as among their many people who are musically inclined, not only those who are very tradition-oriented, but, in extreme contrast, those who try to distance themselves from their roots as totally and completely as they can — on the theory that, the further from what they have come from they can get, the better the artistic result is going to be. Which leaves them (to my mind at least) not just rootless – but heavily plasticized, in fact. ‘Heavily plasticized’ precisely describes their pop singer Masha Rasputina (and by ‘heavily plasticized’ I mean sterilized in the full, Michael Jackson sense; i.e., actual surgery).
But nothing to apologize for are the Region’s famous Russian vocal bass Boris Shtokolov and its operatic mezzo-soprano Marina Domashenko.
The raven is a bird associated with both death and Appalachia; and like West Virginia, Kemerovo has seen its share of horrific mine (and other types of) disasters. But one can spot a raven in the form of a statue in the town of Yurga, where he’s happily playing a guitar.
http://dalje.com/tv/en/index.php?id=13818sa5dcd040486a6 The Shors of Kemerovo (with Throat-singing, stringed instrument, & Drum)
http://rtd.rt.com/films/teleuts-novokuznetsk-horse-breeding/#part-1 Teleuts Part 1 (with singing)
http://rtd.rt.com/films/teleuts-novokuznetsk-horse-breeding/#part-2 Teleuts Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y5Ap9QMDzg “Masha Rasputin”Filip Kirkorov i Masha Rasputina- Roza chainaya
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ko6mokVX5I Filipp Kirkorov-Mechta (i Masha Rasputina)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGmS0AVgTKc Masha Rasputina. Otpustite Menya v Gimalai 1991.flv
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4S3QNMC7KM Georges Bizet – Carmen – habanera – Marina Domashenko
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH7vFANg1rc Marina Domashenko – The Queen of Spades – I’ll sing for you
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKgb89hvdr0 Boris Shtokolov – Song of the Volga Boatmen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjHKskk850s Boris Shtokolov- Prince Gremin’s aria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id3rKjgpkrc Boris Shtokolov- Alone I Pass A Lonely Road
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EX7gd184n8 Boris Shtokolov – A Letter To Mother
Krasnoyarsk Krai (Krasnoyarsk): Krasnoyarsk Krai: the epitome of Siberia; and even though Siberia is considered anything East of the Urals, when you are talking about Siberia (or thinking about ‘Siberia’), chances are you discussing/thinking of Krasnoyarsk, because it is so massive – and is the ‘Heart’ of Siberia. (Much in the same way West Virginia is the Heart of Appalachia).
Krasnoyarsk is the second-largest Federal Subject of Russia, encompassing 903,400 sq mi – 13% of Russia’s total territory (Sakha [Yakutia] being the largest). That is massive, Man! Much of the land seems to be inhospitable (except to the multitude of mosquitoes, horseflies, and reindeer that live there); certainly it is enormous — hard for one to get one’s mind around. The Krai is composed of some of Russia’s most beautiful wonders, such as the Putorana Plateau in the Northwest, the Sayan Mountains in the South, and a multitude of lakes and rivers. It is a land that has not changed in millions of years but for some reason struck the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen as the Land of the Future (and he had the idea to start a mini-empire there, at a spot which is now near Yeniseysk – an attempt at a canal to China was even partly built).
What we do find here of Modernist ‘futurism,’ in the ‘Russian’ parts of the territory, is the former USSR ‘secret town’ of Zelengorosk – secret because uranium enrichment/bomb-producing; the ‘capital’ of bleak and hazardous mining towns of enormous deposits of coal, uranium, and nickel; or of former Gulag prison camps or places of exile.
The Heart of Siberia, capable in the 20th c. of spawning global cataclysm, has always been regarded as the End of the World. Nobody really ever went to Krasnoyarsk on purpose, so there are things here, remarkable things, that have gone un(der)investigated.
In a veritable early 20th-c. science fiction scenario, the Tunguska Event, or ‘Blast,’ of 1908 sent shock waves around the world, as a gigantic either meteorite or comet, the largest ever to strike Earth, hit here. (Had it landed in New York or LA, the City would have been totaled – but it landing here, where it did, luckily no one was killed.) Stil, this scientific landmark explosion was only reported in some scant number of Central Siberian newspapers, escaping any real scientific notice until twenty years later, when Leonid Kulik discovered the area near the settlement of Vanvara in Evenkia.
Italian scientists believe that a fragment of that ‘asteroid’ created Lake Cheko – a landscape feature which didn’t appear to exist a hundred years ago. Spinning theories less sound than that of Italian scientists, some loonies believe that this occurrence was caused by aliens, and it is on this that some science fiction stories, TV Shows (like The X-Files), and video games have based Russia’s Roswell mythos.
But, far from being exclusively and surreally science-fiction‘futuristic,’ this land is also something of a sci fi throw-back in time — a portal to the Unknown Lands of ‘unknown’ and genetically unique human enclaves. Native populations found especially in the Taymyr Peninsula (whose largest town is Dudinka); the Arctic town of Krasnoyarsk; and Eastern Krasnoyarsk may be almost as elusive as the ancient Pazyryk, Afanasevo, and Tagars who used t roam the Krai. These areas in fact used to be their own autonomous Okrugs (of Taymyr and Evenkia) until as recently as 2007, when they were absorbed into Krasnoyarsk. As a result of these exotic peoples’ antique and extended isolation, a lot of their culture, way of life, and music have not really been recorded (except in just a few areas).
Here are some of them:
Kets – The Ket people are one of the smallest ethnic groups in the world, with a rich language (which might die out in the next generation), especially in its description of their natural world’s flora/fauna/hunting/fishing, has much to tell the experts about how we are all related. The Kets look like a hybrid of Finns and Mongols, with Shamanistic beliefs similar to those of Turks and our Native Americans; whose language has similarities to that of both the Vietnamese and the Athabaskans of Western Canada and Alaska; and whose DNA shows similarities to that of the Tibetans, Burmese, and others from Nowhere Close. Where could such a mix, a people so unlikely and unprecedented, possibly have come from? Living south of the Taymyr and west of Evenkia (north of the Sun and the Moon), Turukhansk, famous as the location of exile of Josef Stalin and other Russian notables, is their nearest town . . ..
Evenks (not Ewoks) – live primarily in the large Eastern district of Evenkia: below the Taymyr (the largest town is Tura), but are not exclusive to Russia. These are the most adorable, forest-dwelling reindeer-herders imaginable, responsible for some of the world’s cutest babies, and living in chums (tepees), while carving some really interesting folk art. I guess they are a little Ewok-like after all. Found mostly in Russia, but also in Mongolia and China, they seem to have been culturally ‘adopted’ by the Chinese as one of their own Native Peoples. For that reason it is more common to find recordings of Evenk music and dance in China than in Russia.
The elusive Dolgans, Enets, and the Nganasans (along with Nenets, and the Polar Bears) make up most of residents of the Taymyr. Like the Kets, these folk are not really documented musically – but the Nganasans are the most filmed simply because their Shamanistic culture, chanting, convulsions, and drumming seem to provide a link between Turkic Shamanism (‘shaman’ taking its origins from the Turkish word ‘šamán’) and Native American culture. The Nganasan Shaman’s heavy-metal-bejewelled clothing, and beaded-hanging-over-eyes helmet-with-metallic-reindeer-on-top, kicks ass. Even with the Internet, it is so hard to find even a picture of the Enets, or (especially the) Turkic-Oriental-like Dolgans.
So the Heart of Siberia – the vast, snowy-whiten fortress of All the Russias – is a secret place. We started out our journey on a quest to dispel the conceptual ‘blankness’ with which we mostly tend to envision its unending impasse (in those famous words of Al Stewart, ‘And the steely Russian skies go on . . . Forever’); only to have those vaporous dreams themselves melt away, grown even more fully evanescent, as (if we don’t hurry and document and get to know) we find them largely coalescing back once more into those eternally aporetic impressions in which they have always been shrouded . . ..
Modern musicologists really need to do some serious recordings of the native peoples of Krasnoyarsk Krai because for the moment they are still largely an enigma. . . on their mystic way to vanishing from the planet altogether.
Krasnoyarsk has produced two of the world’s greatest male opera singers: Pyotr Slovtsov aka the Krasnoyarsk Nightingale (1886-1934); and the silver-haired, elfin, Days-of-Our-Lives-ready-looking Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who made the People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People list and incorporates Russian folk music into his Opera.
The Sayan Ring Festival is held annually, Siberia’s – possibly Russia’s – largest ethnic music festival, in the village of Shushenskoe. Otamay is a great, ethnic-based Khakas rock band from the Region – their lead singer kind of reminds me of Bjork.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKUKNAoD5MI Aidym (Otamay)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEG_ggveDE0 Oyim (Otamay)
http://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/research/enets.php Enets people and photos.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6050673836854498204 Ket People description by Dr. Edward Vajda (w/ Ket people)
http://video.mail.ru/mail/natashalashko/492/655.html Beauty of the Dolgan and Northern Tungus Culture (w/ Native Dolgan Music? – Sounds a little Tuvan.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4zz1owqeU8 Nganasan Shaman Demnime (1913-1980) and family in tent w/ drumming & chanting – filmed in 1977.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbVnsS4VuDI Old Documentary of Nganasan Shaman (with some music, drumming, etc)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUJWCKccBwQ Tajmyr song Nganasan song of the Taymyr
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-RPYV61whU Russian Documentary on the Taymyr and the Nganasan (drumming & chanting) (in Russian)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RsBBJmhwJk Evenk Child Singing (And Lots of Reindeer & Tale)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyDYv9XwPZo Pjotr Starkov -(Evenk Singing & Drumming) (Russian but sounds a little Chinese)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3DpybQeR3Y Evenki Song – The Sun Girl (Chinese Evenki)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sknMMCCCpYw Evenki Song (Chinese Evenki)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tD1D5stxJI Evenki Song – Memories
http://www.youtube.com/user/hobojordo/videos?query=evenki with The Evenki (9 parts) (Evenki way of life)
http://vimeo.com/13413834 Evenki Art & Dwellings
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np6vAuS0KNs Not Traditional Evenk Music.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oednQ6CUAmY&feature=plcp&context=C40d5698VDvjVQa1PpcFOaSM04mdlKfgW4Flz-lNppkIoaYlBFxLo%3D A tribute to the City of Dudinka, Russian band Shanson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF6f9A0cCNQ A Tribute to the Taymyr Peninsula by Shanson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x43xSgxFEU Another tribute to the Taymyr by Shanson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tudVC8NSDHw 1908 Mystery in Tunguska, Russia. Meteorite, caretakers, star ship intervention? (w/ some Evenki dancing & music)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1jd5OchZds X Files Tunguska Outtake Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y__mMmUtz_0&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL19EEF897A632C150 Secret Files of Tunguska Videogame Playlist
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/П.И._Словцов_радиопередача_2008_года.ogg – Radio Documentary and music recordings of Piotr Slovtslov
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xwX4iuqB_8 ***Very Rare. Russian tenor Piotr Slovtsov
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh9vLmjap_s Pyotr Slovtsov – Romance of the Young Gypsy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f7HaG86sjk Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Russian Folk Song (Nočenka)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbXRMZ_Bhxs Dmitri Hvorostovsky: I Walk Onto The Path Alone
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa_13xMhjkg Dmitri Hvorostovsky – Eugene Onegin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXNh_4K287g Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Dark Eyes
http://www.youtube.com/user/MarinaKatarzhnova/videos?query=Olga+Martynova Olga Martynova Playlist (Classical musician born in Dudinka in the Taymyr)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmsjwgBBips (Conceptual Artist Andrey Bartenev)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1T61vX4wm4 ‘Evgeni Plushenko’ – Sex Bomb (male figure skater)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fy-iobu0pE ‘Alexei Rogonov’ (male figure skater)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsDRWTBMFg4 Minusinsk Techno
http://promodj.com/djsips/videos/1513379/Gastroli_g_Sayanogorsk_Nochnoy_Klub_Infinity_Video_2 DJ Sips
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DctOI3Y6PI Helene Fischer (German Pop Singer born in Krasnoyarsk)
http://www.festmir.ru/index.php Sayan Ring Festival WS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tPjWEw-fsc *** Central Siberian Hare Krishna Song @ Sayan Ring
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sayan+ring+festival&oq=sayan+ring+festival&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=12&gs_upl=0l0l0l5130l0l0l0l0l0l0l0l0ll0l0 Sayan Ring Festival Web Search
***Novosibirsk Oblast (Novosibirsk): Kind of like something out of Dostoevsky, I feel at this moment the need to confess a deep, dark secret I have been harboring, for the good of my soul. And it is: that there is something about Moscow, after studying and cogitating upon it, that (almost) scares me. And I am somewhat confirmed in this impression after comparing it to other parts of Russia such as Novosibirsk. I have passed on to you all my very strong impression that in the past nobody really wanted to go to Siberia – a former place of exile and forced labor; or just some necessary evil because it was a place where you could go and find some way to make a living, either mining or in the oil fields.
All that about Siberia notwithstanding – how come citizens of other parts of Russia, including Siberia, somehow seem ‘freer’ to me, regardless of ethnic group, than people are in Moscow? Though ‘freer’ is the term that comes to mind when I try to figure out how to express what I mean, I do realize that that raises the question, ‘free from what’? And, again, words elude, but possibly it would be something like, ‘free from what people and society were like in the Victorian era, with the exception of being sexually repressed.’ Now, admittedly, I have never been to Moscow, and am only basing my impressions on its music – whether it is Muscovite Russian Classical, music of the Soviet era, or music of today (and as to the last category, I am speaking generally – what I’m saying doesn’t apply to Moscow’s contemporary music scene in all cases) – but Moscovite music seems to be about marching to conformity – to a disturbing, even gutturally frightening degree. Perhaps I am wrong; Russia is democratic – after all one can see how Russia loves Putin. (ie: 2000-2004, 2004-2008, ‘prime minister’ Dmitry Medvedev; just ‘re-elected’ recently.
Why am I rehashing the music of Moscow in Novosibirsk? Because even when it incorporates the Western musical styles, the music of Novosibirsk seems altogether free, artistic, and individual, and doesn’t try to conform to any certain performance style just to please the audience – rather, it sticks to trying to please the artist.
(BTW: Moscow & Chicago are sister cities: both are politically corrupt and sooner or later everyone will end up in prison — note: foreshadowing Putin’s end-life)
Novosibirsk – which is Russia’s 3rd-largest city and the capital of Siberia, and a major manufacturing and industrial center, is the first huge Russian city I have come across that I would like to visit – I think it’s the Spirit of the town (which may be comparable to our Wild West). I have heard of ‘smiles’ in the Gulag — a concept so idealistically out-there it seems to me far-fetched — but perhaps, ironically, there is something cathartically free about the people and land of untamed Siberia – which takes you (in a good sense this time) far away from Moscow.
To get an idea of what I mean, take a look at the ethnic Siberian Russian folk music played at the Novosibirsk Festival (marked in asterisks). If you do, you will find that Siberian ethnic Russians are altogether different from Western/European ethnic Russians – I don’t know quite how to put my finger on it except to say that it is their version of the differing regional Spirits in the US that give us New Englanders, Southerners, Midwesterners, ‘hillbillies,’ Westerners, Californians, Alaskans, Puerto Ricans & Virgin Islanders, Hawaiians . . ..
Bugotak (aka ‘Bull Mountain’), from Altai, is the standout band from Novosibirsk – as one Russian fan online describes it, ‘It like big sticky orgasm.’ Bugotak – part Altai, part Russian — is comprised of three members: the larger-than-life stage presence (who oftentimes seems like the sole member) George Andriyanov (aka ‘Father Gorry’), who seems to be half Altai-half Russian and dresses in traditional Altai costume. George mixes the altogether better than fifteen differing styles of Altai and Tuvan throat-singing (including the obscure Altai dzarin) into one big, guttural ‘kargyraa moan.’ The other two members are Tanya Romanova — doing vocals, khomus, guitar; and Dmitry Shvetsov – in charge of tungur and percussion. Bugotak takes all the Central Siberian folk musics (Altai, Tuvan, Nanai, Evenki, and even others) and insinuates it into Western-style Rock and Metal. Repeat: ‘It like one big sticky orgasm.’
Pelageya is the female Bugotak – the main stage presence that combines various Central Siberian folk styles with Western-style rock.
No conformity – just good music in Novosibirsk.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScxwVkTW9o8 Bugotak – Come Together
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhl5HMc9G6U Bugotak – Nothing Else Matters
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Caxnn1mXno Kozhung Of The Rising Sun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1bFdO59yzE bugotak – Bahat’dzarin (kind of Altai Folk Singing)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzhUgblNlwc Bugotak – Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM2ufUfy8yA Bugotak – Thunder Dance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPstTX0Uyak My Name Is Agdam Ynal – Bugotak
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsgg7edSd_g Bugotak on ProSvet Show (w/ Dmitry Dibrov) Interview and Evenki Song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg3arEDOMBs&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL9EA7BF5B17FCBF6B Pelageya (Playlist)
http://english.pelagea.ru/biography Pelageya WS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIUji-zYNaQ Yanka Dyagileva (haunted, depressed folk-punk artist who died in the River Inya under mysterious circumstances) – Na Cherniy Den’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcgS9MypGaA Yanka Dyagileva – Domoi
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgih8dwfPO4 Yanka Dyagileva – Polkorolevstva
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvkJkz4K5nY Yanka Dyagileva – Prodano
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjBUrOlfuEQ Kalinov Most (rock band) – Rodnaya
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU5rDgV9fFA ‘Белое движение’ Kalinov Most
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piQZn94Xogw Kalinov Most – Kamchatka
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK43FJdf-9A Hot Zex (English Speaking Alternative band) – Planets
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyDco_OB91Y Insecure – Hot Zex
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyDco_OB91Y Supersonic Future & Hot Zex ‘Falling’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucEMkv5L1IE Hi-Fi (Backdoor Boys like band, but still artistic) – Don’t Give Up
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vsUwgAWTnU HI FI – Chorny Voron
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mDNDtv9Lgo ‘Ne maneken’ Kristina Orsa & Mitya Fomin (Mitya formerly of Hi-Fi)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgG4NyDTyNs Eduard Artemyev (Hollywood Film Composer) (Burnt by the Sun Score)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDKN7AgHu30 Eduard Artemyev (Solaris Film Score)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZnKkvhe6hE Konstantin Shamray (Pianist) Pilbeam Theatre Friday 30 April, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMBUZCNQ6Sw Anton Mordasov (Pianist) – Liebesfreud by Kreisler/Rachmaninoff
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_F15yU4AYM Maxim Vengerov (Violinist) – ‘Playing by Heart’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt6nzIy66eQ Vadim Repin (Violinist as Boy)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFjieJmSY-M Evgeny Zarafiants – Scriabin 6 Preludes, Op. 13 – #1 Maestoso
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOMR_JwHa48 Mikhail Simonyan – Two Souls (moved to US as kid)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4_NHpU8WBA Irene Nelson (Russian-born German pop artist) – Sunrise
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-rtq6hGBe0 Stoyan si konche izvede (feat. Roman Stolyar – Jazz artist)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLhhD79m3zA **Central Siberian Horn at Novosibirsk Festival
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLD9oyw9EvU **Sandal Song at Novosibirsk Festival
Omsk Oblast (Omsk): Here, at the threshold of Omsk Oblast, we’re entering Russia’s really Dark Dark – as to the mood of the whole territory as well as of its music.
You may find yourself at something of a cultural disadvantage here – because probably you’re reasonably happy. It’ll take me a few minutes to drag your spirits down to the proper level, so that you can relate effectively to the place. But if you’ll just bear with me, I can think we can fix you up in a jiffy.
It provides us a great way in to the spirit of the Region if we just turn our attention to the fact that Omsk is best known as the place where the author Fyodor Dostoevsky endured four years in a hard-labor camp for refusing to spy or give information on his fellow writer, Belinsky, as well as for his association with the Socialistic Petrashevsky Circle, which the Monarchy at that time (even 60-70 years before the Russian Revolution) deemed a political threat.
Dostoevsky: whom we all think of as a renowned novelist (as of course he was). But whom we might not so much think of as (as he was) an alcoholic. An addicted gambler. Epileptic. Hypochondriac. Childhood victim of his father’s physical abuse. (See, you’re starting to feel more depressed already. And — though I would not want anyone to think I am sinking here into Schadenfreude – we’re just getting started.)
Fyodor’s problems started getting really bad when was arrested in 1849, at the age of twenty-seven, and, precisely eight months later, subjected to a mock execution that was designed to fuck him up psychologically (they stood him up against a wall; guns pointed at him, drums rolling; then everything brought to a halt while, amid appropriate fanfare, a decree was unfurled that condemned to hard labor in Siberia instead. Oh, joy).
He responded in a novel (forgive pun) way, devising as psychological defense-mechanism something along the lines of ‘. . . So if you can’t be with the one you love,//Love the one you’re with. Love the one you’re with. Love the one you’re with. (Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doot! doo-doot!) . . .’ (a song that, speaking personally, I always thought was inane).
Dostoevsky’s particular wrinkle on this concept was to decide not (as one might expect from his having lived in a labor camp) that Arbeit Macht Frei, but that suffering – the only prospect available to him — makes for happiness. (Yeah, I know — Go figure.) And, rightly or wrongly, he ascribed this to all the other Russians, as being their bent and lot in life, too.
As for Russia’s best hope for the future, Dostoevsky became persuaded, as a result both of his experiences in prison – where the guards were notable chiefly for their brutality and a lot of the ‘common criminals’ managed to exhibit a phenomenal degree of humanity — but also because of his epilepsy-induced religious visions, that Russia’s best bet lay not in overthrowing the monarchy and embracing Socialism in a strictly economic sense, but rather in all Russians’ uniting in a great brotherhood (so Socialism in a more strictly social sense).
So this universal banding-together he attempted, in his writings, to bring about. And did well with it: by the time of his death, at the age of fifty-nine, in 1881, he was at the peak of his popularity.
None of this is to say that he was not very deeply compassionate toward others’ suffering. He was. But he also thought that great good could somehow come out of all that pain in the end. Dostoevsky was a walking set of contradictions in this and in other ways. Despite his deep human understanding, he at the same time lived like his darkest characters. (Both his wives, for example, were really long-suffering.) He spoke out in his writings against militarism; his private diaries say different, and, once living free in Siberia, he joined up. And – anticipating, or perhaps paralleling, Nietzsche’s direction in philosophy (Birth of Tragedy did not come out until 1872), some people are of the opinion that little doubt that he did find murderers who were able to kill without guilt or remorse fascinating, and to a degree even sort of maybe kind of, in a way, admired them.
During his free years in Siberia Dostoevsky had access to books other than the Bible, the works he loved the most being those of Charles Dickens. Dickens had a profound effect on his writing; The Old Curiosity Shop,which provided Dostoevsky with numerous ideas for his work cheerfully entitled Humiliated and Insulted, was not only a special favorite but struck some chords near home. Borrowing from OCS, H&I has a heroine named Nellie, a thirteen-year-old orphan, whom a man named Vanya saves from an abusive household by taking her to live with him.
On a deeper level, Dostoevsky seemed to be the real-life mirror-image of Dicken’s character of the grandfather in Old Curiosity Shop. Both were addicted to gambling, and bad at it. Dostoevsky forced his second wife, a woman half his age, like Little Nell’s grandfather forced her, to travel around with him like a gypsy or a tramp.
Of course Victorians generally were deep into the cathartic rush of emotional intensities – Melodrama Is Fun kind-of-a-thing – and Dickens kept them weeping crocodile tears, month after month, as Little Nell suffered and wept and clung piteously to life and hung onto cliff-edges during the serialized installments of The Old Curiosity Shop. This taste of the times would have gone a long way to accounting for Dostoevsky’s entrenched belief that suffering not only ennobles – as well as toward helping him justify to himself how unhappy he kept his own family members.
But prison life blighted not just Dostoevsky’s family, but many from this area. So it is not surprising that the music of Omsk (no, that’s ‘Omsk,’ not ‘Angst’) reflects the psychological darkness of their prison labor-camp experiences. The songs of the Siberian Folk Chorus, a couple of whose titles are ‘I Was Making a Shirt’ and ‘What Is Burning, Burning’ and which was in fullest voice around fifty years ago, are darker and rougher than those of folk choruses for other areas of Russia.
So, in answer to a musician friend from LV who asked me if I thought the Gulag had affected the music and the musicians of Russia, I would have to say the answer is a half-yes. We see such effect here; more when we arrive in Magadan Oblast (Section VIII, coming up) – whose music and culture is the most terror-ridden and infamous of them all. There seems to be a harsh, altogether grim quality to the music from this part of the world that should make the Region a delight to Goth fans (see if you don’t agree); as if, among people who have been pushed to the brink, there is an I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, when it comes to expressing themselves. Another reason why, ironically, the music from Western Russia seems more ‘repressed’ than that of the people of black, White Siberia.
Grazhdanskaya Oborona, an 80’s punk band from Omsk, at times sounds almost Death Metal, spent their tour evading the KGB. Yegor Leteov (dead young, at 43), the band’s front man, was a case in point when it comes to free thinking within Russia – his attitude seemed to be, ‘We’re patriots, but not Nazis; all totalitarians, right, left, of all colors and stripes – fuck you.’ Something like Dostoevsky, he seemed to want there to be a united Russia, but was skeptical of all the methods that were being employed to try to run it.
I would conclude by saying that there seems to be a character of resilience, determination, and individualism that is unique to Siberia and differs very plainly from that of Western Russia. In certain ways Siberia even seems to be closer to the unbridled (Kentucky and) American spirit than what perhaps characterizes other parts of Europe or Asia (I could be wrong here). (Could it be all those horses?)
But while there is a kinship among all Russians that, I think, one intuitively senses, at the same time there does seem to be something of a gulf between Eastern and Western Russia. Those Russians with their roots in political exile may have never fully recovered or may never have reconciled themselves to the frustration of their original ideals.
And, despite the parallels that there might seem be between the Siberian and the American spirits, how starkly the two can be differentiated is evidenced, perhaps, in the fact that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when we were producing Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain and Will Rogers — humorists – they were producing Dostoevsky.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKZ9_67WnAg Siberian Russian Folk Chorus sings “I Was Making a Shirt”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SXVlSw1Vb0 “Siberian Russian Folk Chorus” – What is Burning, Burning
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCE-t7wTil4 Nyet bez lyesa – Siberian Folk Choir
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m94tRyvwVS4 Siberian Russian Folk Chorus sings “Age Old Pines”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gFC3n9lRRU “Siberian Russian Folk Chorus” – Taiga
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i5wjTskmqc **Siberian Russian Folk Choir – The Bear Dance
Crime & Punishment Documentary Part 2 of 8 (turn on CC ‘English AutoTranscribe and go to 5:54)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eeFMnN67jY Dostoevsky – Biography, History, Impact (Russian source)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8XmDvh_cDA clip from Russian Film on Dostoyevsky being saved from his execution at the last second.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKZ9_67WnAg Siberian Russian Folk Chorus sings “I Was Making a Shirt”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-OLO9_ULeM Omsk-Dostoyevsky Charity Ball Waltz (you can’t make this stuff up – am sure that Dostoevsky participated in many balls while he was in the Omsk Labor Camps).
http://www.youtube.com/user/CzarDodon/videos?query=%22House+of+the+Dead%22 (Czech Composer Leoš Janáček) From The House of the Dead.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIWOsZAMQdA Requiem for a Dream.Mikhail Vrubel`s Paintings (Painter form Omsk) (who sometimes combined European & Asian styles)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POo_uym6KlU Eduard Kunz (Classical Musician) Cliburn SemiFinal 2009 Performance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBi6_jzl5aU Eduard Kunz, Scarlatti: Sonata in B minor, K. 197
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faKVk2ha4YA Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Mertvye
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdvKQUA-oh0 Grazhdanskaya Oborona Dezertir
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K6N7HVadEk Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Nekrofiliya
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9utsHTAvoB0 Grazhdanskaya Oborona-Vpered! (original)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_zGG9L6Orw Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Horosho
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZTNUqp57Jk Grazhdanskaya Oborona – Bespolezen (1985)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOyfccNromE Grazhdanskaya Oborona – zoopark (based on American 50s doowop)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0dpip39DAI Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Гражданская Оборона) – Chelovek cheloveku volk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5VWxczsVHU Grazhdanskaya Oborona-Zombi 1986 (Siberian Omsk-Punk) (almost death metal)
Tomsk Oblast (Tomsk): Convicts, intellectuals, Decembrists, Bolsheviks and other Revolutionary-types, Polish rebels, 17th-c. Jesuits – the list goes on and on. Since 1638 the City of Tomsk (and the City of Narym – where Stalin was sent and sent people of his own) and Tomsk Oblast has been a place of exile, and that has only stopped in the last twenty to forty years (or has it?). In an odd twist, the raison d’etre of the place has imparted to this University town its flavor – from the building the City and the establishment of its institutions, much as in Irkutsk, in a sort of subterranean, unintended, and unacknowledged brain-drain out of Moscow.
What else is found in Tomsk, besides peat bogs, wetlands, and marshes? A.: Oil and gas reserves – plus another formerly-closed city, Seversk, got reclosed again in 1992, just a year after it was declared open by Yeltsin, because another really bad nuke disaster occurred there. Seversk, the former site of the USSR’s plutonium- and uranium-enrichment (read, ‘nuclear weapons’) facility, is the only place left in Russia, possibly, where one must still get permission and go through checkpoints to get in or out.
Still, I found a Youtube clip which had been uploaded by some of the City’s teenagers that shows them dancing around happily in the streets. (Ironically, one of the top ten nuclear disasters occurred in the City a year after it was no longer considered a secret City after a tank exploded after being cleaned nitric acid releasing a cloud of radioactive gas – also ironic since Chelyabinsk was made secret by the USSR after its explosion. The media under-reported this event anyway for whatever reason).
Further relevant to local levity, there are two statues in the Region that caught my eye: the first one of a cartoon wolf, which is unofficially titled ‘A Monument to Happiness.’ The wolf it depicts is a character from a 1982 short film called Once upon a Dog. The dog and the wolf form an unusual partnership in which each makes sure the other is OK; the dog because he has been thrown out for being clumsy and in-the-way. Starving in the woods, he meets the wolf, who takes pity on him, and they hatch a plan whereby the wolf kidnaps the dog’s former masters’ baby, so that the dog can make a show of rescuing the kid and come off a hero.
Then, in the dead of winter, while residents are making Christmastime merry, the wolf comes cold and hungry to the dog (who is now well-fed and warm). The dog sneaks the wolf into a Yuletide banquet and positions him under the table, where the wolf feed contentedly under he is discovered (whereupon the dog pretends to chase him out).
In the end these two bosom pals must part, and the wolf return to his forest solitude. But we are now in a position to appreciate that the film, and its title, are allegorical for life in Siberia: ‘Happiness Is’ when freezing exiles arrive and are befriended by the up-against-it-but-surviving locals, so that, courtesy the locals, everyone survives, but, returning the favor, the local scene gets massively improved by the new arrivals, and then both are now equipped to go their separate ways again, now happy . . .
There is a well-known composer, Anatoly Alexandrov, who comes from here. But the high-tone intellectualism of the place, and its strong scientific focus, appear to have qualified these folks more as enlightened enjoyers of music than as innovative musicians themselves. So, possibly ironically, if the exiles hadn’t come, we might see more of a signature music scene here, as we do in Novosibirsk, where the wolf and the dog don’t part at the end, but more thoroughly intermarry.
The Region’s other light-in-tone statue that seems especially worth mentioning is of a buffoonish, cartoonish, effete-snobbish, pompous caricature of (of all people) Anton Chekhov. It was erected in response to the fact that, when Chekhov visited the town, eh wrote that all the residents were dullard drunkards (the intellectuals included). You may or may not be aware that the City of Louisville had a parallel episode transpire, in which a famous other, than other than the celebrated Charles Dickens, visit our fair City and then publicly wrote disparaging comments about the Derby City and its residents. Instead of erecting a statue of Dickens, Louisville elected to put up a plaque honoring the asshole.
Also from the Region is Edison Denisov (the area’s descendants of exile name their children after Western inventors and other notables), a mid-20th-c. avant-garde composer who retains melodic elements – and in whose work giant pauses are so dramatically effective as to be like ‘notes’ in themselves. Some of his pieces would fit well in a horror-film score. My favorite composition of his is one in which he took a variety of sounds from live birdsong and edited them in such a way that the birds themselves were making classical music (no instruments added). It is entirely fitting that this should come from this hyper-lovely Region.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQeBOKDGivw Edison Denisov: Birds Singing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjtPg2RN_Hc Edison Denisov Requiem I (belongs in a 60s/70s/80s psychological horror thriller)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzL8Lh6xrI8 Edison Denisov: Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9b2jWG0RHc Edison Denisov Sonata for Clarinet Solo 2 mvt. Narek Arutyunian Clarinet
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP4SLT66_S4 Once Upon A Dog (1982) – Animated Cartoon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meHZIHYBXdk Alexandrov – Six Preludes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE-lCbaJ2ek Anatoly Alexandrov – Obsession passee Op. 6: I. Longing, Languido
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni3v97rMp3E Teenage Russia Dance From Seversk City
*****Tuva (aka Tyva) Republic (Capital, Kyzyl): Tuva is a ‘Rootin-Tuvan’ musical goldmine – a multitude of Scythian riches (the ancient Persian culture left some of the greatest archeological finds of gold and other treasures). I have given Tuva two extra asterisks for that reason (along with Altai Republic & Khakassia) (and as a result will be handling the links differently compared to those for the other Federal subjects: paragraphs and the multitude of links will be interconnected). Have known about Tuvan music since the days of the documentary ‘Genghis Blues.’ If the musical riches of Tuva are only started to be discovered and promoted, what other well-kept secrets might be hidden in this vast, musically-ignored, but prominent country?
One of the few prominent outsiders who did think of Tuva (the official geographical center of Asia) as his own country and did not want to conquer it was, ironically, Genghis Khan. In fact, his second-in-command, who was responsible for the sacking of Europe, was a Tuvan. Tuvans do not see themselves as Mongolians, although there is of course some relation; nor do they see themselves as Chinese, nor even as Turks (to whom they are also related – always those back-and-forth invasions from Europe to Asia to Europe . . .), but rather do they see themselves as their own separate culture/people, despite their having been tossed back and forth among Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian rule from one time to another. (Tuva was supposed to have been its own country from 1921 to 1944, but it was really controlled by the Russians.)
(Interesting that each of these cultures that has been mentioned has a real passion for the Horse.)
Speaking of passions, theoretical physicist Richard Feynman (with his best friend Ralph Leighton) was obsessed all his life with going to Tuva — Leighton wrote a book about their exploits in 1991 called Tuva or Bust (about the time Tuvan recordings were starting to reach our shores – and Feynman’s papers, giving him clearance to go from the USSR, arrived in the mail a day or two after his death). Feynman asked, essentially, ‘Tuva or not Tuva; that is the question.’ (Ironically, it would have been so much easier after the collapse – and especially today). In retrospect, Feynman’s infatuation over an isolated Russian Republic has resulted, over a twenty-year period, in turning it into a tourist destination and almost making its music mainstream.
That doing for an intro, I want to get right to the music. (Who wouldn’t?) If you find yourself clicking on every single link, I wouldn’t be surprised (for Paragraph on Tuvan Instruments – see after first set of links):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2gkSXRCZfk Scythian Archeology in Tuva
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPSKkZjpn7s Tuvan Postage Stamp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mifi5iPzd8&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLF52C598B5CC0F5D4 Richard Feynman – Quest for Tannu Tuva Playlist (Five Parts)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZCCekUbPs8 Tuva or Bust Play
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrS3BtGhn-Y Tuvan Shamanistic religious ritual
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha1dFpiVe58 Tuvan epic tale of the f-to-m transgendered hero epic Boktu Kirish
The Region of Tuva is of course famous for its distinctive throat-singing, which often overshadows their wonderful musical instruments, integral to Tuvan music. So, let’s explore them first. Many of the instruments, like throat-singing, are designed to imitate the natural music we all like, meaning, nature, birds, brooks, wind, and horseback riding. Their basic musical instruments are no different than in any other culture: guitar/banjo-like instruments, fiddles, drums, zithers, and simple noise-making instruments like bells. Best way to explain each one is through a brief description and links:
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_doshpuluur.htm Doshpuluur (three-stringed, plucked, square instrument comparable to the banjo – their guitar) (single- or double-necked)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQdCUKdUE80 Chanzy — video only (guitar which is similar to ours)
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_chanzy.htm Chanzy — description only
Bichii chanzy (a mini-Chanzy with a higher sound – no link found)
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments.htm Igil (horsehead fiddle) – info & audio example
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_byzaanchy.htm Byzaanchy (bullshead fiddle) (a type of fiddle whose playing is described as milking a cow; the word ‘Byzaanchy’ is rooted in the Tuvan word for calf )
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_chadagan.htm Chadagan (zither)
Yat-kha (a long. Korean. gayageum-like zither – no link found) (Yat Kha is also the name of a throat-singing rock group)
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_kengirge.htm Kengirge (large frame drum) and Shyngyrash (bells placed on top of drum)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1cGZHzPI8A Dungur (Native American-like drum used for Shamanistic purposes)
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_xomus.htm Xomus or Khomus (Jew’s Harp)
http://www.alashensemble.com/instruments_murgu.htm Tuvan Wind Instruments (murgu [end-blown flute with no holes], shoor (long, end-blown flute similar to a quray), limbi (side-blown flute with holes), amyrga (hunting horn that imitates Siberian red deer) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOS3rq-IsKI Shoor Flute video
Ediski (birchwood bird imitator)
Xapchyk (dried bull’s scrotum rattle with knuckle bones from sheep – wonder how on earth that sounds? but, no luck — no links found)
The instruments with no individual audio or visual representation probably feature in some of the music links below – and, um,– there is plenty of it!)
And I’ve dug up this really intriguing tidbit on just how demanding throat-singing really is, technically: while a regular singer sings only one, the Tuvan throat-singer is singing a multitude of tonal styles simultaneously, which could well be in opposite ranges (one deep, one high-pitched, in other words), with whistling or humming added to the mix. Impressive, right? Or is ‘I would have thought such a thing was flatly impossible, never EVEN could have envisioned it, let alone TRIED it,’ more like it?
Beyond that, what do you want me to say regarding the different styles of Tuvan throat-singing – it is fucking bad-ass! Just read the descriptions and watch the links below – rather than my attempting a lame description of the various styles that cannot possibly convey, I would rather want the uninitiated reader to be ‘hit’ with this music and to experience it as I did when I first heard (of) it. If you still do have your throat-singing cherry, what an experience you’re now in for ! You’ll never be sorry you clicked on these links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNWMPhnGp9M Ensemble Tuva – The 5 styles of throat-singing
Khorekteer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZn3e4UvZKs (hardest to find example of – term could also be used to refer all styles)
Khomeii http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfeAKC3307k (the most common style; the raspy, froggy drone – the backbone of throat-singing) (done here by an American, by the way, who appeared on one of those awful reality talent shows – and was shamelessly ridiculed by the shameless producers [no, not Americans this time], who, unbeknownst to themselves, were only demonstrating their own cultural gaucherie)
Sygyt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d92-hEhPTok (the famous quavering, whistling sound)
Kargyraa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4rppeqXjsc (deep, earthquake sound with high-pitched, whistling undertones – singing very deep and very high at the same time) two types – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihLEmRG7v7I the deeper mountain Kargyraa and the raspier, higher-pitched steppe Kargyraa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-qzpqOt8oQ
Borbangnadyr http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eittJ0DPPs mimics streams/brooks – recorded with a stream in the background.
Ezengileer-style singing (with doshpuluur accompaniment) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DrZ6GOaWAA mimics the sound of horseback riding
Chylandyk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjEIb_ck6bw mixes Karyraa and Sygyt simultaneously
Dumchuktaar (mixed in with other styles) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqRdGXuCsT8 throat humming
http://rt.com/news/prime-time/interview-with-olga-masalkova/ Opera singing & Tuvan throat-singing
(Wow! It’s all here! Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp . . .)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsSenMfLc_s Tuvan throat-singing (referred to in another link, above) on ‘The English (and One Canadian) Judging/Humiliating Americans For Their Own Financial Gain On American TV’
Before I get into the musicians themselves, I want to briefly describe the three periods of Tuvan throat-singing which have so mightily impacted worldbeat music in the past 20 years – there is: 1/ pre-collapse of Soviet Union; 2/ late 80s to Genghis Blues; 3/ after Genghis Blues. In the days of postage stamps and ‘Tuva or Bust,’ when Tuvan throat-singing was only a figment of one’s imagination, a musical unicorn heard only by a lucky few who were picking up USSR radio stations occasionally, perhaps rarely, that were playing the music on ham/short-wave radios (blind bluesman Paul Pena discovered it this way, but am not sure of the time period – he seems to be the first non-Tuvan or American to imitate the music out of love and sincerity). In Tuva itself, there really weren’t any groups that I am aware of – except for Oktay, a children’s ensemble, which still exists, founded in 1985 and dedicated to singing ‘Russian’ music.
All that dearth of exposure started to change with the first well-known group to tour the West, which was known as the Tuvan Ensemble and was founded one year before the collapse. The 90s marked the first boom-wave of Tuvan music; there was an explosion of groups and individual performers making recordings in this time-period, not only traditional groups, but also the first Smithsonian folkways recordings, as well as groups who wanted to incorporate Western-style music. And it happened all it once. This period also marked the first time Westerners got to see Tuvan musicians perform – it is when the first wave of touring artists came through. (This is how Paul Pena first met the master Kongar-ol Ondar in San Francisco, who invited him out to Kyzyl to perform in the annual symposium talent show – Tuva’s Got Talent!?!). Every single, known superstar of Tuvan throat-singing came from this period: Kongar-ol Ondar, Sainkho Namtchylak, Chirgilchin, Huun-Huur-Tu, Yhat-Ka, et al., as well as recordings from masters like Tumat Kara-ol, the controversial Vladimir Oidupaa Oiun, aka Oidupaa, and others.
When Paul Pena, dubbed ‘Earthquake’ by his friend Ondar, first performed in the symposium and won his style-division’s ‘Kargyraa’ (the prize was – right — a horse; just the thing for a blind American), with a documentary crew filming him, he and the crew were the first Americans many Tuvans had seen – (and this was almost a decade after Richard Feynman passed away). What struck me about the documentary was how sincere the Tuvans seemed to appreciate that an American would be fascinated enough to imitate Tuvan music and go to the trouble of participating in their national contest. Pena was self-taught, and he was the first non-Tuvan that Ondar heard sing Tuvan music (I believe). (Now there are Westerners every year participating in the Symposium.) The film was released in 1999 and has since acquired a cult following (especially among white males, who started imitating it – most notably Sean Quirk, who moved to Tuva, married a Tuvan, and now manages Alash). The film release, coupled with the fact that Tuvan throat-singing took off via YouTube, as well with the availability of all of these CDs on Amazon, has made Tuvan throat-singing so now kind of mainstream that it gets mentioned on TV shows like Big Bang Theory and True Blood. Twenty years after Feynman, it is much easier for an American to travel to Tuva (and vice-versa) than it was for him – and both cultures can ‘trade’ via exposure to the Internet.
I think that Tuvan music will continue to evolve and will handsomely repay those who continue to watch it. We have yet to see what might develop as Tuvan music undergoes continuing exposure to other cultures and as other ethnic groups (mostly us) start to incorporate the Tuvan style into their music (as the Asylum Street Spankers have). Tuvans have always have been able to keep their culture intact (thanks to their former relative isolation), but at the same time their musicians have been not afraid to experiment with other styles, which they have managed to do without losing their musical identity. What I hope doesn’t happen is that Pop erodes/weakens the Tuvan cultural music as it has elsewhere.
Too bad Feynman didn’t get to live to see Tuva (Leighton did) and the wealth of info about Tuva that has emerged to the world in the past two decades. Even in the 80s, travel books on Central Siberia avoided talking about the place, whereas now one can see an aerial view of the country anytime one wishes via Google Earth.
(Paragraphs on individual artists and corresponding links come after these links):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky7WflOknrU PTASHKA -Oktay
http://www.purenaturemusic.com/#!oktay—russian-old-believers-children%27s-choir Oktay samples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-F-RxvXPB0 Tuva Ensemble – Performance by Gennadi Tumat
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t3myy1Hb2k Throat Singing – Tuva Ensemble – Ögbeler
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwtkqzaB9s8 Tuva Ensemble – Vancouver Folk Festival – Performance – 1992
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t3myy1Hb2k Throat Singing – Tuva Ensemble – Ögbeler
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnrAfFmyMLg Tuva Ensemble – Khomus Performance by Anatoli Kuular 1992
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8Lr_27MkzA *** Genghis Blues (Full Movie) w/ Paul ‘Earthquake’ Pena and Kongar-ol Ondar
http://movie.subtitlr.com/subtitle/show/129252 Genghis Blues Full Transcript
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0if2T0atID4 Tuvan throat-singer with Guitar and possibly Western folk-influenced (Paul Pena perhaps)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh3o1_whqu4 Tuvan throat-singing by the Asylum Street Spankers on Bob & Tom
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-RsB4a4ogc Tuvan Throat Singing on Big Bang Theory
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arWNPor5AEw Tuvan Throat Singing in True Blood
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tuvan+throat+singing+tutorial&oq=tuvan+t&aq=3&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=69524l72073l0l75314l11l11l2l0l0l0l164l977l5.4l9l0 multitude of videos of White Dudes giving Tuvan throat-singing lessons (WTF!??! – boy, aren’t we arrogant – most Tuvans hone their skills through childhood & adult life, like practitioners of flamenco and other similarly demanding art forms)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbpslQD080Y Japanese man doing Tuvan throat-singing
Here are the first guys who were played on Russian radio or were released on the first Tuvan recordings. These guys should be regarded as legends of throat-singing in the West, as I am sure they are remembered in Tuva – but names like Tumat Kara-ol, Oleg Kuular (the first Tuvan to sing in the US), and others are already starting to be forgotten – probably due to lack of internet, touring, and recording presence. The one possible exception, ironically, is black-sheep Oidupaa, whose style of singing was banned from the symposium for many years. He spent more than half his life in the prison work camps (33 yrs.) and was considered to be a rabble rouser by the Soviets and was not really liked by his own people. He is the Leadbelly of Tuvan music, in other words, and, much like Leadbelly, he lived in his world, playing in his own style with the accordion. He took his native art’s traditional form and made it personal, unique, and artistic. (More musicians after links):
http://www.amazon.com/Tuva-Voices-From-Center-Asia/dp/B000001DGS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1331769404&sr=1-1 Tuva / Voices from the Center of Asia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3Vj7WGWMGg&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL0475DA6890B3FB87 ***Oidupaa Vladimir Oiun Playlist (Divine Music from Jail)
Tumat Kara-ol – the forgotten legend (no links – but is featured in Genghis Blues – was Paul Pena’s idol along with Oidupaa)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tObL2t_DGQ Sygyt — Mergen Mongush
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO9eJBx13mM Anatoli Kuular: Borbangnadyr
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-qzpqOt8oQ Steppe Kargiraa – ‘Fedor Tau’ & Mergen Mongush’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuNPVQ_Yrg8 Oleg Kuular
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnjGKTgE2iw Balgan Kuzhuget’s Jew’s harp set to a woman on a toilet!?!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuNPVQ_Yrg8 Oleg Kuular
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEJZZLz7e-Q Igor Koshkendey — Dingildai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD2HP7PJOjA Oidupaa – Only You
Kongar ol-Ondar: this venerable dude is the Modern Master of Tuvan throat-singing and educator – his personal goal is not only to be an ambassador of Tuva and throat-singing around the world, but also to teach young children so they can have the same opportunities he has had. He is the one responsible for bringing his American friend Paul Pena and the documentary crew of Genghis Blues to Tuva. His impact on Tuvan music cannot be understated. He has performed with a variety of musicians, ranging from Bela Fleck to Willie Nelson to Randy Scruggs to Native American singer Bill Miller (whose singing style resembles Tuvan Shaman) – and has performed on Letterman! (More musicians after links):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD-VGQGPpZY ***Different Styles of Tuvan Throat Singing with Kongar ol-Ondar (& Bela Fleck)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVyyhHFKI8E ‘Kongar-ol Ondar’ on David Letterman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgnud6S5m9A Tuvan Jingle Bells – Kongar-ol-Ondar & Bela Fleck
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoR23_308Q4 Where Has My Country Gone? – Kongar ol’Ondar & Willie Nelson.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MleqbNfYa64 Kongar-Ol Ondar and Bill Miller (Native American type Shamanistic singing) – Alash Khem – Back Tuva Future
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugeyOCrs_4M&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL800C364E5D4533D3 Kongar-ol-Ondar Playlist
Sainkho Namtchylak – This lady is the Diva of Tuvan throat-singing and, like Madonna, she rises from the ashes. Very successful since the early 90s, she was beaten (and raped?) into a coma in 1997 (which lasted for several weeks) by jealous thugs on a return trip to Tuva (there is some sexism directed toward women with regard to throat-singing though attitudes have greatly improved in recent years – thank God). Doing Tuvan throat-singing set against music against modern pop, electronic music, and experimental jazz – this Vienna-based artist infuses nature, traditional, and her own style – and at times reminds me of Yoko Ono, but I love her anyway. Personally, she was one of my all-time favorite musicians regardless of genre and location. Sainkho surpasses boundaries both personally and creatively. Boundaries are nothing to Siankho.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXI0HcC1VRk&feature=autoplay&list=PL61EDFBD62020A06F&lf=results_main&playnext=2 ***Sainkho Namtchylak Playlist
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MATlEKqauvk&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL11FF845FFDC448BF ***Sainkho Namtchylak Playlist #2
Tyva Kyzy (headed by Choduraa Tumat) is an all-female throat-singing ensemble, and of course they have toured the world. Despite a lot of people’s preference for the male singers, and despite the fact that men can perform a lot of throat-singing technical feats the ladies can’t, female Tuvan throat-singing has always had an edge over the men’s to my ear.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_3wvsBvL2g&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL0AF3E794215DD729 Tyva Kyzy Playlist
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJr5aCVNjzk Choduraa Tumat
Chirgilchin! This touring group features one of my favorite Tuvan performances of all time – they are notable for having a female throat-singer who sings along with the males, making a bold (in their culture) statement against sexism. Chirgilchin has performed with Laurie Anderson.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZvYPxWExuc Chirgilchin Darlaashkyn – Freedom Song.wmv
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkrH7rrefgA Chirgilchin – Mongun-ool Solo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPUqSgKi0PI Chirgilchin – Goats
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qqS5zO9S7k Chirgilchin – Lonely Man
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lrWaMGSeyk *** Chirgilchin – Chirgilchin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adTyJKq2FS4 Chirgilchin & Laurie Anderson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgJhrZn8o-s Chirgilchin – Khoomeige Yoreel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK4SwWn0UMk Dembildey – Rock Version – Chirgilchin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5Zx5xxQXxU Chirgilchin 8-minute long, fantastic performance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXh5_G9NjJI ***Chirgilchin – Daglarym (one of my favorite throat-singing performances of all time)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7VEKSYP9JE Chirgilchin throat-singing with peacocks
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJWaVlGc31k Chirgilchin in Wales
Alash Ensemble, a popular touring group, now managed by American-Tuvan transplant Sean Quirk, are, like K. Ondar, traditional but not afraid to perform with other Western musicians of other styles. They have performed with Western performers ranging from Sun Ra Arkestra to Bela Fleck.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsQQxSKFa44 Alash-Ensemble, Ene-Sie ‘Shaman’s Prayer’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQuSo0VL8q4 Alash Ensemble w/ Bela Fleck – Jingle Bells
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5xwPSWqUw0 Alash Ensemble & Sun Ra Arkestra – ‘Amazing Grace’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIaTlQpja6I Alash Ensemble ‘Dyngyldai’ – Arts Council of Princeton
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avPX-4wTB0E Bela Fleck and Flecktones, Alash, and Casey Driessen – ‘What Child Is This?’/Dyngyldai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vdw8RB9xEI Alash Ensemble ‘The Reindeer Herder’s Song’
Olchey is a newer touring group which appears to have either European or American members: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO42AVg6SeM
Yat-Kha (named after the zither) was formed at around the same time as these other, more traditonal groups, and in some cases earlier (1991). Despite their being mostly Tuvan, they formed in Moscow, and they mix Western-style music (rock & metal) into their music and kick ass. They have their original songs but are more known for their covers ranging from Joy Division to Motorhead. I love them: they are like a musical bad-ass teddy-bear.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_8CPhfTxyU Yat-Kha – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6DP1aFeHbs Yat Kha – Black Magic Woman (Santana cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5FqWPeDZM8 Yat-Kha – When the Levee Breaks (Led Zepplin cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBkRI_aDFKo Yat Kha – Orgasmatron (Motorhead Cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2ZVpFL8uqk Yat Kha – In A Gadda Da Vida (Iron Butterfly cover)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQxahlynNOE Yat Kha – Ahoi
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bJKnXhPnS8 Yat Kha – Eki Attar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykeTkyVgUVY Yat Kha – Coming Bhudda
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qClXtvkxsVA Yat Kha: Yenisei Punk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKeDseoUZXg Yat Kha – Kaa-Khem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUqpShR8WcY Yat Kha – Toccata
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4IwxzU3Kv8&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL5071FEBAE29D16AB Yat Kha Playlist
Of all the Tuvan bands that have gained a cult following here and helped to make the Region’s music famous was Huun-Huur-Tu – and I think the reason why may be because they brought a sense of fun to their music. They performed with a variety of different performers, perhaps more than any other Tuvan artist, anyway: Frank Zappa, Angelite (the all-female Bulgarian choir), Kronos Quartet, Moscow Trio, Carmen Rizzo, The Chieftans, bluesman Johnny Watson, the Japanese Kodo drummers, and Hazmat Modine).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bDntRWfL70 Huun Huur Tu – Chiraa-Khoor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsVzm-rgS-w Huun Huur tu – Kongurei
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBP3Dq2UXJY Huun Huur Tu & Hazmat Modine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRC7fiCNZCY Angelite (Bulgarian Female Choir) & Huun-Huur-Tu – Fly, Fly My Sadness
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIejNvRVU_A Angelite & Huun-Huur-Tu w/ Moscow Art Trio
Khakassia Republic (Abkhan):
The music of Khakassia has always been traditional but inventive and blends well with modern music. How to wrap the mind around Khakassian music? The first thing I notice is that there are a lot of female musicians. And, although there is throat-singing, it is not the main aspect of the Region’s music. Its two principal traditional instruments are the homys, which is a two-stringed banjo with two giant tuning pegs that look like they belong on a weaving apparatus of some kind; and the chathan, which is a kind of lap zither.
You may have heard about music-writer Nick Tosches (Where Dead Voices Gather, et al.), who was also the biographer of the legendary Emmett Miller: the minstrel-cum-falsetto-yodeler-cum-jazz artist from Macon, who was at the height of his career in the 1920’s. Tosches had wanted to write about Miller all his life, but when the moment came – what he found was that there was almost nothing to be found, in terms of Miller’s personal history and early life. So instead he had to cover just Miller’s plethora of styles and the mega-giants he influenced: people like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard, Van Halen, Bob Wills, and Leon Redbone. (As for the mark he made on jazz, he gave Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Gene Krupa their training in his backup band.) So Miller was sort of a musical Yeti: big footprint – but little ‘Miller’ to be found to go with it.
If he wanted to, Tosches could have a field-day in Khakassia: enigmatic emergences of musical figures, effecting startling new musical hybrids, but who subsequently disappear – but NOT leaving no trace. Leaving big trace. One such figure of Khakas music would be the rock group Kaigji (from some decades past). Another is the mysterious Tom Sibday, who first materialized on the scene – then dissipated, like mist – after first Russian-musically inscribing ‘Kilroy Was Here’ for all those coming after to find.
I also love modern Irenek Khan. (It’s great to know garage bands exist everywhere.)
I don’t know if any Khakas folk groups or bands have toured the US as of yet, but hopefully that will change, and some will come to our shores so we can sight them. One possible contender here is Ulger, author of Khakas folk music and traditional dance that strikes me much like modern (rock). And, as if that weren’t enough, Western-style Valdiswar Nadischana appears on the surface to be ethnically Russian but grew up four hours away from Abakan. He is an amazing man who invented the dzuddahord, a three-in-one, combinatory instrument: mandola, guitar, and gusli all in one. This now Berlin-based artist plays over a hundred instruments, in fact, especially the folk instruments of vast Siberia – a land so big (5.1 million sq. mi.) that, were it independent, it would be the largest country on earth. (So I guess they need over 100 instruments, to fill all that space.)
Ah, immense tracts, originating at points now invisible, stretching to infinity and leading us who-knows-where along the way! Kakash culture, music, and people are as heaven.
http://nadishana.com/ Nadishana WS
http://hang.su/ http://nadishana.com/ http://www.framedrums.net/hang-cd Nadishana’s Personal Playlist.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lByxFUvkBpo Siberian shamans: ancient magic in the modern world
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR58fDl6jRs Russian Esoteric Academy of Happiness (Siberian Shamanism)
Khakas Anna Burnakova, Sergey Charkov, Slava Kuchenov, Aleksandr Samozhikov, Yevgeniy Ulugbashev. Folk music ensembles include Aylanys, Sabjilar, Ulgher, Khyrkhaas.
http://www.purenaturemusic.com/#!sabjilar—folk-music-from-khakassia Sabjiilar samples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLmEBvFBnFo Russia Music on a Khakassian Bus