Far Eastern Federal District:
***Sakha Republic (Yakutia) (Yakutsk): Sakha, the world’s largest Republic/State/Province, is yet one of the least populous; home of the Yakut people; mostly comprised of permafrost, frozen earth, which if it were to melt via global warming, would render Sakha a vast swampland. The coldest place on earth with the coldest town on earth (Oimyakon),Sakha contains Russia’s abundant diamond reserves and the world’s largest collection of mammoth bones (which doubtless makes the local dog population very happy). (In Northern Sakha, there is scientific research center dubbed Plastocene Park which is trying to recreate the WoolyMammoth’s stomping grounds of how it looked millenea ago and hopes to bring back the Wooly Mammoth through cloning.
It’s easy to get stuck in the mire and lost in Sakha; the gravity there pulls you in, making you feel that you can never escape – just like the four geologists in the classic Mikhail Kalatozov film Letter Never Sent or (variously translated) Unsent Letter: off looking for Russia’s fabled Siberian diamond reserves in a locale that could only be Sakha/Yakutia.
Besides the diamonds and mammoth bones beneath, above the permafrost is a rich musical reserve. There can be a sexism with regard to female musicians, even in our culture, but not in Sakha, where female musicians (including the shamanistic actress/singer Stepanida Borisova, whose voice is supposed to have healed people) at times seems more dominant than those of the men – especially in purely vocal singing and in playing the khomus (which in Altai and Tuva is thought to be a sign of masculinity.
AayarKhaan, a female vocal/khomus trio, is the spitfire with an edge that makes foreign ears (like mine) say WTF. They sing in a traditional style called toyuk, which is a sort of heavy breathing that captures the spirit of sex, birth/motherhood, life, and death, with sharp quick pauses that imitate the sound of bird flight, sounds made by horses (of which they have their own beautiful breed), and other aspects of nature.
Olonkho is what they call the ancient Yakut artform of picturing and meshing together historical faith and spiritual understanding through epic style story-singing, an activity which can last as long as two nights. Dr. Eduard Alekseyev, a famed ethno-musicologist and native Yakut – and one of the musicologists noted for bringing the sounds of Tuvan music to the West — somehow managed to become a Moscow-trained classical musician now living in Boston and associated with Harvard. (Check out his field and video recording links below; if not, I will personally track you down and shoot you for wasting your life).
Diamonds are rock, so you might expect to find rock music there as well; garage bands have ‘surfaced’ in the past twenty years, most notably prog-rock band Cholbon, which seems to be influenced by Pink Floyd and (of course) the Stones. More along the traditional side are the Khatylaev family (headed by Klaydia and German) and Evenk dance and drumming ensemble Gulun.
Dolgans live in the far North, but they are just as impossible to find musical evidence of as they are in Krasnoyarsk. If you play around the links, you will find examples of Western-influenced music (besides rock of course), including techno, pop (MoonGirl), and saccharin (Dups). Sakha has its own musical instruments, including the rustic dramatic fiddle Kyryympa; the Appalachian-sounding stringed Tangsyr; the prominent bass Topsyr; the flat drum Dungur; the rattle Siksiir; the hunting horn Aiaan; and of course the Khomus (or Jew’s Harp).
There is a rising film industry happening in Yakutsk, most notably evident in Andrei Borissov’s By The Will of Genghis Khan, which was shown around the world including the US.
Sakha is the Diamond, musically and culturally, in the Rough – with the emphasis on ‘rough.’
(All instruments cited here are being demonstrated by the Khatylaev family)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/khomus.html Khomus (Jew’s Harp)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/kyrympa.html Kyryympa (Fiddle)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/tangsyr_s.html Tangsyr (Banjo-like instrument – sounds a little Appalachian)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/tangsyr.html Topsyr (Bass)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/dynyr.html Dungur (Drum)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/siksiir.html Siksiir (Rattle)
http://khatylaev.sakhaopenworld.org/aiaan.html Aiaan (Hunting Horn)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeDIVeYYOxY By the Will of Genghis Khan (Trailer)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGXfcwOT8h4 By the Will of Genghis Khan (German Trailer – look for the arrow in the mouth shot)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N9hoe9vFRk Letter Never Sent (Opening Shot)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSloFAFCqY4 Letter Never Sent Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U-_rgB30gs&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1 Letter Never Sent/The Unsent Letter (Get this!: FULL MOVIE)
http://video.mail.ru/mail/natashalashko/492/655.html Beauty of the Dolgan and Northern Tungus Culture (with Native Dolgan Music? – Sounds a little Tuvan.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bkZEr_LigU Evenk Dance by Gulun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCTtWK48W-Y **Dr. Eduard Alekseyev Interview #1 (life story)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e93hqZPzgMI **Dr. Eduard Alekseyev Interview #2 (life as a music folklorist/ethnomusicologist, expeditions, and experimental/perhaps controversial ways of recording, frustrations with Melodia)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAJAn9qCTnk **Dr. Eduard Alekseyev Interview #3-(On Olonkho)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iewLMZYgI6M Dr. Eduard Alekseyev Interview #4 (Book – In Russian only)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NUiqdezfRs Dr. Eduard Alekseyev’s Harvard Collection (in Russian only – with Audio Clip of ‘Song of the Horse’)
http://sakhaopenworld.org/alekseyev/ Eduard Alekeseyevs WebPage with Clips of Compositions
http://sakhaopenworld.org/alekseyev/audio.html ****Eduard Alekseyev’s Field Recordings Online
http://sakhaopenworld.org/alekseyev/video.html ****Eduard Alekeseyev’s Field Video Recordings Online
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJcQhN9dL1c Beautiful Yakut women with HipHop/Rap
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZexscimekdM **Yakut Song – Дьөһөгөй оҕото. Ysyakh (Yakut New Year)-2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qjD2IQOS0U Yakut wind instrument accompaniment Cuban ensemble!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo_YgFu-OsA Documentary on the Olonkho Epic Tradition
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqqZVIDZUK4 Theater of Olonkho: Kyys Djebeliye, Part I.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT1YXRiEw6w Theater of Olonkho: Kyys Djebeliye. Part II
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ee0EXY0q0g **Pyotr Reshetnikov – Olonkho Performance (52 minutes)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj79IRUJKTU Northern Rainbow Festival Singing (Female in Olonkho – Traditional Epic Style Singing)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCwqSYNNp8Q Northern Rainbow Festival Dances
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLXZ1eyohX4 Northern Rainbow Festival Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDzLpsugPlw Northern Rainbow Festival Part 2
http://diaspora.sakhaopenworld.org/nl.shtml Stories & Novels by Sakha Authors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TVUAnDcTC4 Olga Podluzhnaya ft ‘103’ Rock Band – Yakut Warriors. Khomus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuPsh5m120g **** Saham Sire (My Yakutia). By ‘103’. Rock from a little Siberian village of Khatassy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKxqQZ64w18 **’103′ Rock Band – Ohuokhai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=360J7gp-1Wk Serge (tethering-post). By the ‘103’ band. Rock from a little Siberian village of Khatassy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAS70WlQz2A AayarKhaan – Presentation Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pSa-_HEAkQ Ayarkhaan Elleyada
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M35tbAfb894&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL0AD7D5EADCF710D5 *** AyarKhaan – Playlist (4 Videos) ( Cuckoo, Devine Young Ladies, Daybir’s Song, Autumn Bird Migration)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWEzVIgEBq4 AyarKhaan – Song at Open World Center\
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFIQsNAuAu0 **Ayarhaan – Fireball on Jew’s Harp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1vxvw-7wSI Ayarkhaan Jew’s Harp from the Sakha Republic
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUnGFIZ4B4c Ayarkhaan Initiation into Sacred Knowledge
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KlD98Uwl40 **Ayarkhaan live at Sfinks 30-07-11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7xuM8Rk_eE **Ayarkhaan (FMM Sines 2011)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u76ZxXnldI AyarKhaan – ‘Awakening’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0-DeFGV30Y Ayarkhaan’s Saidyko Fedorova is playing khomus (mouth harp) in Yakutsk, Russia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flDeBjacgtE Ayarkhaan’s founder, Albina Degtyareva – The legend of the creation of the world
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heGcH5_hCf0 Ayarkhaan’s founder, Albina Degtyareva, at Women In Paradise 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGF7TS6IQpk Female Khomus player Kulichkina Maria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROhII5hDvgE Female Khomus Player Maria Kulichkina
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YeRnMecN10 Maria Kulchkina in Hungary
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_u1mNQRCxM Female Khomus player Fiodorova Natalia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6QTE9m1JD8 Female Khomus player Savvina Anna
http://vimeo.com/1192826 Stepanida Borisova & Pavel Fajt (Czech Percussionist)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9ANQbGjplE Create Account|Sign In Browse|Movies |Upload Shamanic music of Stepanida Borisova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq9JZDaPlBo Festival Artico II, concierto de Stepanida Borisova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_n6rw1pF9o Female Yakut signer Lena Spiridonov with chirping birds.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wgy3VqIruk Irina sings Psalm 67 as a toyuk (Style of Sakha singing)
http://www.purenaturemusic.com/#!ayarkhaan—female-ethno-group-from-republic-of-sakha AyarKhaan samples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za_ZcPX_DCI&feature=autoplay&list=FLH7jHLOZQZr4fukmxnP18Bg&lf=plcp&playnext=10 Ayarkhaan – Dedication to Kudai Bakhsy, the blacksmiths’ patron (on autoplay)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3CDATDkaxE Yakut Song by MoonGirl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_ecKpdLfCY Juliana (Юлияна) – Uhuktuu (‘Awakening’)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvxpWwfQC_8 Osuokhay, Sakha Round Dance Beyond Time and Space – ‘Mira Maximova’
Yakut Song by Mira Maximova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eHqMo4Ig9c Somewhere Over the Rainbow (cover), Mira Maximova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7-DCDI_lKw Indigo Song by Umira2 (Mira Maximova) (2003)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8fIOexiUzw Original Song by Mira Maximova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q755hsEn3LQ Mira Maximova & Rose Ushkanova – ‘Regeneration’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPCo9gbDxos** ‘We are the Champions!’ Performed by Yakut singers. (Legentei, the Khatylaevs, Albina Degtyareva, AyarKhaan, etc.); dedicated to Vancouver 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiLVJsZvAmQ Haunting Yakut Song w/ pictures of Sakha & its people
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK-BZX5xoB0 Kim Borisov (male) playing khomus at Kecskemét: Speed of Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9F3ti7LlLI Kim Borisov 7th International Congress Festival 2011 Yakutsk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdmBpDVOPm0 Kim Borisov at 1st Moscow Jew’s Harp Festival
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcAPkJ9ke88 Male Khomus Player Spiridon Shishigin playing Maultrommel Jofen
http://www.juzp.net/EdxMBPh1-uJel spiridon shishigin Спиридон Шишигин
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0murVqhy2M Spiridon Shishigin Спиридон Шишигин
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-03BpxU02s ‘Waltz’ on Khamus by Spiridon Shishigin, Yakutia
http://vimeo.com/26092592 Spiridon Shishigin Improv
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522idaboogie.ru/%2522%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26prmd%3Dimvns&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ru&u=http://idaboogie.ru/2011/06/berkakit-video/&usg=ALkJrhhwWhr6e7rCXu5Rqso3f6XqWP6eSg I Da Boogie – Berkakit Rock
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522idaboogie.ru/%2522%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26prmd%3Dimvns&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ru&u=http://idaboogie.ru/2011/08/im-so-tired/&usg=ALkJrhiKiuRdWTUSU723FxPIU4UFKcLPSg I Da Boogie – ‘I’m So Tired’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHh1ilqiJyY ***A little documentary on Klavdia and German Khatylaev and Sakha music.
***Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Anadyr)
In Chukotka the world comes full circle, North America and Asia almost touching each other, in a geographic ouroboros — a snake circling around and joining its head to its tail, eating itself: here, where Asia and the Americas gaze across the waters at each other from their most extreme points of East and West, the two continental landscapes start to look similar, with similar plants, similar animals – and even, with the Inuit, similar people.
This being an inaccessible and therefore exotic region of the globe, one knows so little about it (or that’s been true for me, at least). We all know about the barren, frozen wilderness the land is locked inside; and we know of gold rushes to Alaska — of the gold locked within the land.
Out of such mythic, empty terrains often pour stories of incalculable wealth that defies both the imagination and what one can see on the surface of poverty and harsh living conditions among the inhabitants. But any lucky adventurer who is going to be among the first to find gold, and strike it really rich, has to look past the dismal and unpromising surface of the place and brave the elements, the conditions, the heavy odds against surviving (not to mention against finding anything) — and just go out exploring. There’s simply no other way.
As for gold – well, you know me: couldn’t care less (or, well, you know what I mean). What I’M after is a different kind of wealth: world music, and the stranger and more exotic, the less well-known, the better, as far as I’m concerned.
So – IS there music here? WILL our search be rewarded? Who knows. But I’m game – how about you?
Great! OK, then, get your traveling gear – and log onto LMN’s website to follow along with sound and audio links at the web-version of this article that are posted there.
And now here we are! in the far reaches of the Northern Arctic, just across the Bering Strait from Alaska.
Our predecessors — explorers and outposters who’ve been here before us — include the famous Captain Cook, who visited Cape Schmidt (a secret bomber base during the Cold War) in 1778. Cook may have encountered a greater diversity of ethnic groups in his time than we will in ours – but what we will find is that we are in what is home not only to the native Chukchi, but also to the Inuit – a people who have spread from across Chukotka to the Canadian Arctic and then onward to Greenland.
The Yupik Inuit immigrated to Alaska at least 2000 years prior to the Arctic Inuit we know. Later, different Inuit came across the Bering Strait a thousand years ago in the form of medieval, iron-clad warriors known as the Thule, who used their harpoons in battle. Genghis Kahn’s defeat in Hungary had dried up the silk-road, leaving the Chukotkan Thule starving and iron-less – but they made it across the Bering Strait – and there met the progenitors of the Native Americans – gentle giants, apparently, who took in the Thule/Inuit and showed them their ways. We often think of the Inuit as being the ancestors of the Native Americans – but that is not true – they have different DNA – and these other, gentle-giant people were the First People in Inuit myth (not the Inuit themselves).
The Inuits treated their Native American benefactors in a fashion similar to how the Europeans later treated the Native Americans: i.e., swooped in, ‘befriended’ the Natives, learned their ways, took their women – and then either displaced or killed them. And the Thule did this on an even more brutal scale than the Europeans since the First People are essentially extinct in that part of the world – perhaps not completely genetically, but in terms of being an identifiable, separate culture.
Wow. It’s shaping up to look like the (hi)story was – the Americas ur-natives = gentle losers; the Asian ur-natives = pushy winners. And in fact the Inuit historically have been one of the few ethnic groups that other cultures could not defeat – they staved off the formidable Russian Cossacks (who settled for intermarrying with local Chukchi when establishing Chukotka as part of the Motherland). The Norse Vikings, of such fearsome reputation, had been living in Greenland peacefully until the Inuit came and drove them out.
(So — the Norse had been living in Greenland long before the Inuit – really? When studying history, expect the unexpected. All those tales about Europeans coming and driving the Native Americans out from their homes and disturbing their way of life – in Greenland it seems to have been the reverse. But, again, we know what to expect in regions like this: a lot of legends and myths it is hard to really know the truth of, one way or the other.)
More recently the fighting has more been done over the native populations by strongman third-parties. Another ‘Eskimo’-type group, called the Inupiat, who live at this latitude on both sides of the Strait, and who used to live on the Diomedes Islands only 28 miles from the US, were removed during WWII to Chukotka by the Russian Government so they wouldn’t be assimilated by the Americans.
Then Russia had to fight off claims from both the USA and Canada, who tried to get the Island for themselves as late as the 1930s. From the late 20s/early 30s there was a settlement on Wrangel called Ushakovskoye, that lasted only until 2003. I guess maybe because both the conditions and the people there continue to be pretty harsh: there was a string of grisly rapes and murders during the 30s, where the killer turned out to be the Governor of the Island.
Can’t get far in a wilderness like this without knowing something about the plants we can eat and the animals we’ll have to rely on and for game. So what’s here?
Great! – there’s an abundance of safe forests; berries of different varieties; surprisingly fertile soil (for anybody who wants to do some farming); lots of little cute forest critters for hunting; and even a wealth of walrus tusks and whale and mammoth bone for carving (if one wants to have something to do) (and even something to sell). Chukotka is actually the walrus tusk-carving capital of the world; Whale Bone Alley is a Yttygran Island tourist destination. (Love the online images of the hundreds upon hundreds of walri resting on top of each other on the Chukotka coastline with their tusks sticking out chaotically everywhere – no wonder they often accidentally kill each other if there is one of those mad dashes into the ocean that they make).
And I’d just be willing to bet there are an abundance of mosquitoes, blackflies, horseflies, and deerflies. Still – there have been people who headed for Chukotka to try to give peace a chance: it was the jumping-off place for Russian Hippies during the Sixties to try to escape to the West and raise families (and arctic pot?).
Up here the sun does not set in August, which makes for all-day fishing (if you are any sort of a bass master). And there is one part of Chukotka where all of this great wildlife exists, but without the dangerous animals like polar bear and whale that you get in other areas – sort of an Arctic Shangri-La.
But perhaps most important for us as explorers-without-portfolio, Chukotka is the home address of the Siberian Husky (the ‘official dog’ of the Chukchi). Now, this was an import we successfully spirited away to the US – and nearly all of it was their own doing: the Soviets decided for some reason to kill or imprison the wealthy Chukchi dog owners at the very moment the Americans were discovering the breed – which essentially mostly transferred it wholesale from Russia to the US during the 20th c.
But it’s not as if we’ve never given them anything in return. There is, now, among the Chukchi and Inuit of Chukotka, as one of their most famous iconic images, a carved impy, grinning man, a symbol of luck, called a billiken – that was (somehow) imported from Kansas City (the creator was a someone named Florence Pretz).
Although the billiken was only introduced into the remote regions of the Arctic slightly over a hundred years ago, it has already become a staple of Chukchi and Inuit culture, with the purpose of absorbing bad karma, and is regarded as if it has been part of these cultures for thousands of years. Billikens are similar to the Kewpie, which was a commercial good luck charm and a common design for American commercial crap a hundred years ago – but which was good luck only for the businessmen who made money off of it. The (in-this-respect luckless) Chukchi and Inuit of Chukota and Alaska took the design and adopted it into their walrus tusk-carving and whale bone carvings (as practiced in Uelen, in the easternmost, tippy-tip District of Chukotsky) – and claimed it was an ancient, native symbol of luck to gullible tourists.
But this is only one of the two-legged species of fortunehunters that have been known to prowl Chukotka over the years, bringing both good and ill luck.
Chukotka, though undeniably one of the poorest regions in all the Russias, with in the not-too-distant past no roads going into it so that it was almost impassable, has always been famous as a place of wealth, where gold, platinum, and silver could be mined. As a result its once-isolated Anadyr is, I think, currently one of ex-Russia’s ten richest cities. And now the Okrug has also struck it rich, mainly thanks to former Governor and multi-gazillionaire Roman Abramovich (born in Saratov, orphaned, and raised by an uncle – who, as luck would have it, is the primary owner of Millhouse Capital and the Chelsea Football Club). Abramovich put his own money into turning the region from Down on Its Luck and God-Forsaken to Blessed by Fortune in a matter of years. Places that did not have electricity ten or fifteen ago now have Internet; and I would also the roads and infrastructure are also greatly improved.
Whether Roman Abramovich’s motives are pure or if he’s just doing it in order to exploit the area’s natural resources is not clear. He has been accused of engaging in many illegal activities in connection with his business practices, such as blackmail, bribery, loan fraud, illegal share-dilution, antitrust violations, and even of having ties to the Russian mob. (He is a typical Russian millionaire in other words.)
Also, it is unclear what the negative environmental impact on the region will be like in ten years’ time. What is clear is that Abramovich is still very popular (almost becoming mythic in local culture): beloved by the Chukotkan people because, as Governor from 2000-2008, he single-handedly created a better life all-around for a lot of people and took a lot of them out of abject poverty.
The ourobos devours itself and eats its own tail. Resources are tapped; resources depleted. Depression goes to Boom . . . then on to Bust. Already, despite Chukotka’s vastly-improved GDP, there have been boom towns, formerly with large populations, that are now being dismantled and liquidated due to the fact they have exhausted their excavation of mineral wealth.
Only 51 miles from the American shore is Cape Dezhnev — home to one of the most brutal gulags ever to exist – not really. The definitive book about it, As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me, by Austrian WWII soldier Cornelius Rost (as told to author Josef Martin Bauer), chronicles his internment there, his escape and temporary adoption by the Chukchi, and his subsequent odyssey on foot across Russia through Central Asia and Iran, and finally home. (I would have gone 51 miles in the other direction, but that is just me.)
This epic tale has been turned into two films, so far – but I am not sure but that it might only be a tall tale – a hoax. By Chukotka-invading golddiggers. For there was no concentration camp in Cape Dezhnev (ah ha see!) and neither is there any documentation that he was rescued.
But as for us — after all our journeying across all this frigid ice and snow – is there any music here, or is it all just fable? And if there is any music to be found here — will we get lucky enough to be able to locate and then get some out?
Ergyron: the official State professional music and dance ensemble in Chukotka – a sure-enough vein that we can mine, ongoing. It is not only dedicated to keeping the musical spirit of the two main ethnic groups – the Chukchi and the Inuit – alive; but also that of the Koryaks, the Chuvans, and the reindeer-herding Lamuts.
The Chukchi have strong female musicians from more than a single generation: Galina Tagriny (whom I would assume is no longer alive); Olga Letykai, a middle-aged woman who travels around the world demonstrating Chukchi music and dance (and then posting her demos on YouTube); and Veronica Usholik (who looks from online to be in her thirties), who not only performs Chukchi traditional music and dance but also incorporates it into her Rock band Gubernator. Usholik has the additional interesting talent of being able to sing ventriloquially while playing the jew’s harp. Not all of the singers are women – there is elderly throat singerAlbert Ragtuvje.
I almost forgot to talk about the Ergyron ensemble – the official touring ensemble of the Chukchi Okrug. They not only sing music & dance from the Chukchi and Inuit, but also the lesser known ethnic groups such ast the Koryaks, the Chuvans, and the reindeer-herding Lamuts, etc. They have a really haunting song called Nunlingran which is a town in the Providencia District of Chukotka.
Chukchi and Inuit singing/throat-singing incorporates imitations of a widely-varying bunch of sounds: animals, seagulls and other birds, other kinds of wildlife, various sounds of nature (and what sounds like sex). Very gritty, primal stuff — but Chukchi music can also be very harmonious and melodic. The Inuit use high-pitched-squeals and throaty-deep sounds – I cannot tell the difference when it is a male singer or female singer since they have the same vocal style – although there seems to be more female musicians than men.
There is a well-known Chukchi reindeer-slaughtering festival, held annually in the inland town of Amguema, called Vylgynkoranymat, that features singing and dancing; that sounds pretty fascinating — but I can’t find any video of it. (So no gold for us this time. But we’ll keep looking.)
There seems to be a very tiny music scene (one of the bands seems to be called CHE_тыре стула) and some clubs in the town of Provideniya (where the Yupiks, who are among the descendants of the ferocious Thule, live). This local music seems to have sprung up due to the fact that this town became the tourist mecca of choice for American visitors from Alaska after global warming (the political kind) first melted the icy tensions of the Cold War.
In this particular region of Chukotka, around Provideniya, the music seems more Western Russian and American (and the Native Chukchi and Inuit seem to be on a distant glacier). Uh-oh. Bummer. Snake-eating-tail here. All this journey – all this way – all this native tradition, for God’s sake all throughout this huge, magnificent region of the world – and it’s in danger of getting devoured by contemporary, same-old, same-old Western stuff from just a few more miles to the East – where we started out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0F6sbkvE-s&feature=plcp Chukchi Dance (Ergyron)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv0dMcUWFDY&feature=plcp Chukotka “The Ergyron Ensemble” Fribourg 2008 part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2m_6LwMjc4&feature=plcp Chukotka “The Ergyron Ensemble” Fribourg 2008 part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=xbCHlf7ygvg **Jewish Songs in the Chukchi (There were Jewish prisoners in the Gulag and more on Jewish Music when we explore Jewish Oblast)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWzJcBnQIoY Chukchi Lullabies
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dhttp://www.ergyron.ru/%26num%3D100%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26prmd%3Dimvns&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ru&u=http://www.ergyron.ru/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Dcategory%26layout%3Dblog%26id%3D57%26Itemid%3D116&usg=ALkJrhh4WGbKZP1cVQZ5KyH-ThqXVNHKNA ** Ergyron & Gailna Tagriny, Lullabies, cranes, reindeer, etc.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsKtNogKw0U&feature=plcp Kuthk & the mice (music: Ergyron) (1985′ animation movie based on the ancient Chukchi legend “Tale about raven Kutkh”. -”who knew that the Chukchi telling of the formation of the world is essentially a Tom & Jerry cartoon?”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zirlJ38APqE&feature=plcp Chukotka Dance Troop performs at Tchir Tchayan, Part II
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoIrHh30Nug&feature=plcp Chukotka on Internationaal Salland festival
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbhRtULkSOQ&feature=plcp Olga Letykai , Alissa Csonka, Ugnugnu (throatsinging (very sexual like and jew harp)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve47GW5UuEc&feature=plcp Olga Letykai “La danse du feu”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh05FMAQX2c&feature=plcp Browse|Movies |Upload Olga Letykai Csonka “Pour Toutes Les Mamans”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltkuamG9l0U Young Chukchi Throat-singer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEhH82bYCBc&feature=plcp Колыбельная (beautifully haunting)
http://www.youtube.com/user/letykai?feature=results_main YouTube Channel of Olga Letykai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKRSQr4n7vw&feature=plcp Olga Letykai (throatsinging & jew harp)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a22TIO38iA&feature=plcp Olga Letykai (throatsinging, chanting & drumming)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVNtg4x-iNw&feature=plcp Albert Ragtuvje Enmelen Chukotka Russia (beautiful high and deep throaty)
(Note: Emmelen is a Russian town with both a Chukchi & a Yupik population in the Providencia District)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cDqk-z66kY **Enmelen by Larisa Tnanaut
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7rUbTk3EW8 Enmelen A. Raqtuwie, Larisa Tnanaut, Olga Letykai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_OfUTvyz4E&feature=plcp ** Olga Letykai Csonka Chukotka chukchi people enmelen 2.MOV
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2B_fimdBfk Verinica USHOLIK (leader of Gubernator)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3OelDhYBy4 Verinica USHOLIK @ Art Arktic Festival 2007 Afterparty
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IzvqdJdWG4 Female Chukot Throat-singing similar to Native American