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Music of Russia
Genres classicalfolkpsytrancepophip hopauthor songrock
History (Timeline and Samples)
Awards Pesnya Goda, MTV RMA, RAMP, Silver Galosh
Charts Zvukovaya Dorozhka MK, Chart Dozen
Festivals Grushinsky festival, Nashestvie
Media
National anthem "Hymn of the Russian Federation"
Regional music
AdygeaAltai - Astrakhan - BashkortostanBuryatiaChechnya — Chukotka — Chuvashia — DagestanEvenkia - IngushetiaIrkutskKaliningradKalmykia — Kamchatka — KareliaKhakassia — Khantia-Mansia - Komi Republic - Krasnodar — Mari El — MordoviaNenetsiaOssetiaRostovEthnic RussianSakha — Sakhalin — TatarstanTuvaUdmurtia

Ethnic Russian music specifically deals with the folk music traditions of the ethnic Russian people. It does not include the various forms of art music, which in Russia often contains folk melodies and folk elements.

Contents

Ethnic styles

Soviet postage stamp depicting traditional Russian musical instruments.

The performance and promulgation of ethnic music in Russia has a long tradition. Initially it was intertwined with various forms of art music, however, in the late 19th century it began to take on a life of its own with the rise in popularity of folkloric ensembles, such as the folk choir movement led by Mitrofan Pyatnitsky and the Russian folk instrument movement pioneered by Vasily Andreyev.

In Soviet Russia, folk music was categorized as being democratic (of the people) or proletarian (of the working class) as opposed to art music, which was often regarded as being bourgeois. After the revolution, along with Proletarian "mass music" (music for the proletarian masses) it received significant support from the state. In Post World War II Russia, Proletarian mass music however lost its appeal, whereas folkloric music continued to have a widespread support among the population, inside and outside of the Soviet Union. However the authentic nature of folk music was severely distorted by the Stalinist drive to 'professionalise' performers, regardless of the genre they worked in: thus all folk singers were obliged to both learn Western-style classical notation, and to learn to perform classical repertoire - or else risk losing their right to perform as 'professionals'.[1]

In the 1960s folk music in Russia continued to receive significant state support and was often seen as the antithesis of Western pop music. The fact that numerous Soviet folkloric ensembles were invited for foreign tours raised the prestige of the folk performer to that of academic musicians, and in some cases even higher because access to the West and Western goods was very desirable.

Ethnic (folk) music in Russia can often be categorized according to the amount of authenticity in the performance: truly authentic folk music (reproductive performances of traditional music), folkloric and fakeloric performance.

Russia is a multi-ethnic country with some 300 different ethnic groups, many of them non-Slavic, living within its borders. This article deals specifically with just Russian ethnic music.

Authentic folk music

This music is closely tied in with the village life and traditions. It was usually not performed by music professionals. From the Central Committee's resolution of 1932,[2] which prescribed musical literacy (in parallel to the drive to industrialise the Soviet Union), there has been a marked decline in authentic folk performance practice. Festivals, competitions and the work of ethnomusicologists have made attempts at preserving what has survived. In recent times there has been a movement by musicologists to study and reproduce authentic folk music in an authentic performance style on the concert stage. This movement in Russia is spearheaded by members of the Faculty of folk music at the Moscow conservatory under the direction of Dmitri Pokrovsky (Russian: Дмитрий Покровский)

Folkloric music

This category includes music by groups led by music professionals, past and present, who have taken authentic musical material, and then arranged and performed it in a manner formulated by Vasily Andreyev and subsequently refined under Stalin's regime, yet widely accepted as 'authentically Russian' by Western audiences (conditioned, for instance, by performances by the Red Army Song and Dance Ensemble). The category includes many of the regional folkloric ensembles and dance companies popular in the Russian Federation. Often these folkloric ensembles specialize in collecting and maintaining the folk music traditions of the area of their origins which they service. They perform in stylized stage costumes based on the authentic costume designs used in the village but modified for stage use. Most inauthentic - but widespread - was the practice of performing so-called Cossack prisiadki (low-squatting dances) in perfect synchronization; as Professor Laura J. Olson observes, 'this situation did not reflect actual Cossack traditions so much as it borrowed from the traditions of Russian ballet that dated to the late nineteenth century'.[3]

Fakeloric music

Includes music composed by city intelligentsia and professional composers in a folkloric manner. Some 60-80% of contemporary Russian folk music marketed to the West is not "authentic" and can be loosely labeled as Fakeloric. Much of the music of the Russian folk instrument orchestras can also be categorized in this group as it is based on academic music traditions and playing techniques only taking a folk element as its inspiration.

In recent times music professionals who have completed diplomas in noted conservatories performing on Russian folk instruments are now questioning their "folkiness" when they perform, as none of their music was never really performed originally by the (village) folk. Some now refer to their music as being academic folk music which to many academic musicians is an oxymoron.

This category can also include singer songwriters such as Zhanna Bichevskaya, Bulat Okudzhava, and Vladimir Vysotsky who are often inaccurately portrayed as "folk singers" in the singer songwriter style reminiscent of the American folk revival of the 60's.

Vocal music

Authentic Russian folk music is primarily vocal. Russian folk song was an integral part of daily life in the village. It was sung from morning to night and reflected the four seasons and significant events in a villager's life.

Authentic village singing differs from academic singing styles. It is usually done using just the chest register and is often called "white sound" or "white" voice. It is often described as controlled screaming or shouting. Female chest register singers only have a low diapason of an octave to 12 notes.

Chest register singing has evolved into a style used by many of the Folk Choirs in Russia and neighbouring countries. It was first pioneered by Pyatnitsky and Ukrainian folk choir director Demutsky in the early 1900s.

Notable ensembles include: The Pyatnitsky Russian Folk Chorus, The Northern Russian Folk Chorus, The Omsk State Russian Folk Chorus, The Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Soviet Army and the Moscow Military Area Song and Dance Ensemble.

Instrumental music

Instrumental music for a long period was suppressed in Russia. In 1648 Tsar Alexis I of Russia under the influence of then-prevalent views in the Russian Orthodox Church banned the use of all musical instruments. At that time it was stated that instruments were from the devil. As a result instrumental music traditions disappeared and did not have a fertile ground for development in Russia for many years. No musical instruments are used in Orthodox churches in Russia.

In the late 19th century Vasily Andreyev, a salon violinist, took up the balalaika in his performances for French tourists to Petersburg. The music became popular and soon Andreyev had organized a club of balalaika players. This club grew into an orchestra, which in time grew into a movement. From a simple unsophisticated three stringed instrument this movement led to the development and implementation of many other Russian folk instruments.

The Russian folk instrument movement had its resonance in the cultures of other ethnic groups within Russia, the Soviet Union and the Soviet Block countries. Folk instrument orchestras appeared in Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan,Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and Romania.

Traditional instruments

Chordophones

  • Balalaika, a three-stringed, triangular sound-board, played with the fingers. It comes in many different sizes. Prima, Secunda, Alto, tenor, bass and contrabass). Two of the strings are tuned alike in prima, secunda and alto balalaikas.
  • Domra, small three or four-stringed Russian variant of the mandolin with a rounded soundboard, plucked or strummed with a plectrum. Also made in various orchestral sizes.
  • Gudok (also hudok), a three-stringed, pear-shaped Russian bowed instrument tuned in 5th which is usually held vertically.
  • Gusli, one of the oldest known Eastern Slav musical instruments, described by the Greeks as early as the 6th century CE. Many different varieties of this plucked string instrument exist.
  • Kolyosnaya lira,[4] a Russian version of the hurdy-gurdy usually made with a violoncello body.
  • Semistrunnaya gitara (Semistrunka), a seven string version of the acoustic guitar with its own preferred method of construction and unique open G major tuning.

Aerophones

Idiophones

Ethnomusicology

Further reading

  • Maes, Francis, translated by Arnold and Erica Pomerans (2001). A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21815-9. 
  • Abraham, Gerald E. (1988). Studies in Russian Music. Reprint Services Corp. ISBN 0-317-90761-1. 
  • Ralston, W. R. (1970). Songs of the Russian People: As Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life (Studies in Music, No 42). Haskell House Pub Ltd. ISBN 0-8383-1224-1. 
  • Veryat, I. (1994). Russian Songs: Text in Romanized Russian, English, and Music. Aspasia. ISBN 1-882427-23-8. 
  • Abraham, Gerald E. (1976). On Russian Music. Scholarly PR. ISBN 0-403-03757-3. 
  • Ho, Allan and Dmitry Feofanov (eds.) (1989). Biographical Dictionary of Russian/Soviet Composers. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-24485-5. 

References

  1. ^ Laura J. Olson, Performing Russia: Folk revival and Russian identity (2004), pp. 58-9
  2. ^ Olson (2004), p. 58
  3. ^ Olson (2004), p. 164
  4. ^ "Kolyosnaya Lira (hurdy-gurdy)". Mitya Kuznetsov. http://kuznya.ru/en/instruments/lira.php. 

External links

State Academic North-Russian Folk Ensemble / www.sevhor.ru


Music of Russia
Genres classicalfolkpsytrancepophip hopauthor songrock
History (Timeline and Samples)
Awards Pesnya Goda, MTV RMA, RAMP, Silver Galosh
Charts Zvukovaya Dorozhka MK, Chart Dozen
Festivals Grushinsky festival, Nashestvie
Media
National anthem "Hymn of the Russian Federation"
Regional music
Republic of AdygeaAltai - Astrakhan - BashkortostanBuryatiaChechnya — Chukotka — Chuvashia — DagestanEvenkia - IngushetiaIrkutskKaliningradKalmykia — Kamchatka — KareliaKhakassia — Khantia-Mansia - Komi Republic - Krasnodar — Mari El — MordoviaNenetsiaOssetiaRostovEthnic RussianSakha — Sakhalin — TatarstanTuvaUdmurtia

Ethnic Russian music specifically deals with the folk music traditions of the ethnic Russian people. It does not include the various forms of art music, which in Russia often contains folk melodies and folk elements.

Contents

History

The roots of Russian folk music can be dated as far back as to the first millennium AD, when Slavic tribes first settled in the European part of what is presently Russia. In Greek chroniclas state that in 591 the Avar khan sent Slav's were captured who had musical instruments (kitharas often thought to be gusli) players.

Ethnic styles in the Modern Era

File:1989 CPA
Soviet postage stamp depicting traditional Russian musical instruments.

The performance and promulgation of ethnic music in Russia has a long tradition. Initially it was intertwined with various forms of art music, however, in the late 19th century it began to take on a life of its own with the rise in popularity of folkloric ensembles, such as the folk choir movement led by Mitrofan Pyatnitsky and the Russian folk instrument movement pioneered by Vasily Andreyev.

In Soviet Russia, folk music was categorized as being democratic (of the people) or proletarian (of the working class) as opposed to art music, which was often regarded as being bourgeois. After the revolution, along with Proletarian "mass music" (music for the proletarian masses) it received significant support from the state. In Post World War II Russia, Proletarian mass music however lost its appeal, whereas folkloric music continued to have a widespread support among the population, inside and outside of the Soviet Union. However the authentic nature of folk music was severely distorted by the Stalinist drive to 'professionalise' performers, regardless of the genre they worked in: thus all folk singers were obliged to both learn Western-style classical notation, and to learn to perform classical repertoire - or else risk losing their right to perform as 'professionals'.[1]

In the 1960s folk music in Russia continued to receive significant state support and was often seen as the antithesis of Western pop music. The fact that numerous Soviet folkloric ensembles were invited for foreign tours raised the prestige of the folk performer to that of academic musicians, and in some cases even higher because access to the West and Western goods was very desirable.

Ethnic (folk) music in Russia can often be categorized according to the amount of authenticity in the performance: truly authentic folk music (reproductive performances of traditional music), folkloric and fakeloric performance.

Russia is a multi-ethnic country with some 300 different ethnic groups, many of them non-Slavic, living within its borders. This article deals specifically with just Russian ethnic music.

Authentic folk music

This music is closely tied in with the village life and traditions. It was usually not performed by music professionals. From the Central Committee's resolution of 1932,[2] which prescribed musical literacy (in parallel to the drive to industrialise the Soviet Union), there has been a marked decline in authentic folk performance practice. Festivals, competitions and the work of ethnomusicologists have made attempts at preserving what has survived. In recent times there has been a movement by musicologists to study and reproduce authentic folk music in an authentic performance style on the concert stage. This movement in Russia is spearheaded by members of the Faculty of folk music at the Moscow conservatory under the direction of Dmitri Pokrovsky (Russian: Дмитрий Покровский)

Folkloric music

This category includes music by groups led by music professionals, past and present, who have taken authentic musical material, and then arranged and performed it in a manner formulated by Vasily Andreyev and subsequently refined under Stalin's regime, yet widely accepted as 'authentically Russian' by Western audiences (conditioned, for instance, by performances by the Red Army Song and Dance Ensemble). The category includes many of the regional folkloric ensembles and dance companies popular in the Russian Federation. Often these folkloric ensembles specialize in collecting and maintaining the folk music traditions of the area of their origins which they service. They perform in stylized stage costumes based on the authentic costume designs used in the village but modified for stage use. Most inauthentic - but widespread - was the practice of performing so-called Cossack prisiadki (low-squatting dances) in perfect synchronization; as Professor Laura J. Olson observes, 'this situation did not reflect actual Cossack traditions so much as it borrowed from the traditions of Russian ballet that dated to the late nineteenth century'.[3]

Fakeloric music

Includes music composed by city intelligentsia and professional composers in a folkloric manner. Some 60-80% of contemporary Russian folk music marketed to the West is not "authentic" and can be loosely labeled as Fakeloric. Much of the music of the Russian folk instrument orchestras can also be categorized in this group as it is based on academic music traditions and playing techniques only taking a folk element as its inspiration.

In recent times music professionals who have completed diplomas in noted conservatories performing on Russian folk instruments are now questioning their "folkiness" when they perform, as none of their music was never really performed originally by the (village) folk. Some now refer to their music as being academic folk music which to many academic musicians is an oxymoron.

This category can also include singer songwriters such as Zhanna Bichevskaya, Bulat Okudzhava, and Vladimir Vysotsky who are often inaccurately portrayed as "folk singers" in the singer songwriter style reminiscent of the American folk revival of the '60s.

Vocal music

Authentic Russian folk music is primarily vocal. Russian folk song was an integral part of daily life in the village. It was sung from morning to night and reflected the four seasons and significant events in a villager's life. Its roots are in the orthodox church services where significant parts are sung. Most of the population was also illiterate and poverty stricken meaning that resources for instruments could not be had and notation of any kind, which is more relevant for instrumentals than for vocals, could not be read.

Authentic village singing differs from academic singing styles. It is usually done using just the chest register and is often called "white sound" or "white" voice. It is often described as controlled screaming or shouting. Female chest register singers only have a low diapason of an octave to 12 notes.

Chest register singing has evolved into a style used by many of the Folk Choirs in Russia and neighbouring countries. It was first pioneered by Pyatnitsky and Ukrainian folk choir director Demutsky in the early 1900s.

Notable ensembles include: The Pyatnitsky Russian Folk Chorus, The Northern Russian Folk Chorus, The Omsk State Russian Folk Chorus, The Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Soviet Army and the Moscow Military Area Song and Dance Ensemble.

Instrumental music

Instrumental music for a long period was suppressed in Russia. In 1648 Tsar Alexis I of Russia under the influence of then-prevalent views in the Russian Orthodox Church banned the use of all musical instruments. At that time it was stated that instruments were from the devil. Not easily verifyable today, but some historians also believe that travelling minstrels singing disrespectful songs about the Tsar to balalaika accompaniment, could have been the real reason. As a result of the ban, instrumental music traditions disappeared and did not have a fertile ground for development in Russia for many years. No musical instruments are used in Orthodox churches (in Russia).

In the late 19th century Vasily Andreyev, a salon violinist, took up the balalaika in his performances for French tourists to Petersburg. The music became popular and soon Andreyev had organized a club of balalaika players. This club grew into an orchestra, which in time grew into a movement.

From a simple unsophisticated three stringed instrument, combined with an awakening 'Russianness' in the last phases of the Tsarist Empire, the movement led to the development and implementation of many other Russian folk instruments.

The Russian folk instrument movement had its resonance in the cultures of other ethnic groups within Russia, the Soviet Union and the Soviet Block countries. Folk instrument orchestras appeared in Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and Romania.

Traditional instruments

Chordophones

  • Balalaika, a three-stringed, triangular sound-board, played with the fingers. It comes in many different sizes (Prima, Secunda, Alto, tenor, bass and contrabass). Two of the strings are tuned alike in prima, secunda and alto balalaikas while the basses are tuned E-A-D (highest).
  • Domra, small three or four-stringed Russian variant of the mandolin with a rounded soundboard, plucked or strummed with a plectrum. Also made in various orchestral sizes. Originally they were all three-stringed (E-A-D). The four-string variety was developed by in the early 20th century and became popular in Ukraine.
  • Gudok (also hudok), a three-stringed, pear-shaped Russian bowed instrument tuned in 5th which is usually held vertically.
  • Gusli, one of the oldest known Eastern Slav musical instruments, described by the Greeks as early as the 6th century AD. Many different varieties of this plucked string instrument exist.
  • Kolyosnaya lira,[4] a Russian version of the hurdy-gurdy usually made with a violoncello body.
  • Semistrunnaya gitara (Semistrunka), a seven string version of the acoustic guitar with its own preferred method of construction and unique open G major tuning.

Aerophones

Idiophones

Ethnomusicology

Further reading

  • Maes, Francis, translated by Arnold and Erica Pomerans (2001). A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21815-9. 
  • Abraham, Gerald E. (1988). Studies in Russian Music. Reprint Services Corp. ISBN 0-317-90761-1. 
  • Ralston, W. R. (1970). Songs of the Russian People: As Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life (Studies in Music, No 42). Haskell House Pub Ltd. ISBN 0-8383-1224-1. 
  • Veryat, I. (1994). Russian Songs: Text in Romanized Russian, English, and Music. Aspasia. ISBN 1-882427-23-8. 
  • Abraham, Gerald E. (1976). On Russian Music. Scholarly PR. ISBN 0-403-03757-3. 
  • Ho, Allan and Dmitry Feofanov (eds.) (1989). Biographical Dictionary of Russian/Soviet Composers. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-24485-5. 

References

  1. ^ Laura J. Olson, Performing Russia: Folk revival and Russian identity (2004), pp. 58-9
  2. ^ Olson (2004), p. 58
  3. ^ Olson (2004), p. 164
  4. ^ "Kolyosnaya Lira (hurdy-gurdy)". Mitya Kuznetsov. http://kuznya.ru/en/instruments/lira.php. 

External links








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