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Country of Hundred Thousand Songs

    Country of Hundred Thousand Songs
    Chuvash Music
    
    The art of music was a subject of special love and pride of Chuvash people from immemorial times. In its consciousness singing, playing music take the first place among cultural wealth. Of it convince aphoristic plots of ancient songs. For example, lines from a popular song follow:
    
    Specially I came to sing here,
    And shall come here some day
    To have a talk...

    
    So, the dialogue through singing is put above verbal dialogue. It makes us feel the essence of chuvash national aesthetics, and it is as well the source for a popular expression about Chuvashia as of the country of hundred thousands songs.
    
    You may ask, what are main qualities of the Chuvash musical art? And we ask if it’s possible to describe music in words so that it becomes clear to you what makes folk songs, and national school of composers of the chuvash so exceptional and unusual, which is obvious when you hear it. Well, you can only feel the spirit of a culture. However, there are ways to describe the language in which the spirit expresses itself. A highest organization of music-poetic system of the Chuvash folklore can be of great help in understanding that. The beauty and flexibility of the Chuvash melodies is combined with rather strict “rules” of their composition.
    
    Laws of Chuvash Harmony and Rhythm
    
    First of all, it concerns the system of the musical sounds used in the Chuvash music. There are five of them by the rules, which gives this scale the name pentatonic (Greek penta - “five”). But for the Chuvash music five tones are quite enough to create the melodies embodying an emotional atmosphere of any holiday or a ceremony.
    
    So, the musical atmosphere of family-household ceremonies is rather various. So cheerful do the penatatonic tunes sound in chorus of “new matchmakers“ at a meeting of relatives after wedding. The song alternates with dancing whose melody is simpler, but is based on the same pentatonic scale. Entirely different mood is embodied with a lyrical song of an orphan girl, reflecting alone on her destiny. The tune of this sad song is still based on the same five tones.
    
    And even the chuvash composers, who adopted and developed European traditions in their music, sometimes aimed at resolving the problem of composition that would not be beyond archaic national sound system, i.e. using in their partita only five different tones. So are the folk songs which were processed for a chorus by Stepan Maksimov (1892-1951).
    
    There are also certain rules of rhythm in ancient Chuvash song melodies. Free from the dancing beginning and other displays of muscular motority, they are developed under laws of addition of short and long note-to-syllables. This principle is very simple, but unusual for modern European music. Music scholars call such rhythm quantitative. Chuvash singers show an amazing ingenuity in construction of rhythm. If we go back to the melody of the orphan girl song these combinations of short and long syllables are found in each pair of notes. In other cases brief and long syllables as though gather successively: in the beginning of lines only brief, in the end - only long.
    
    From the point of view of European song or household music, and also classical style music such rhythms are represented as rather complex. So, calculation of rhythmic combinations in a wedding melody of Anatri (Lower) Chuvash people gives a picture of amazing beauty of frequent and whimsical changes of rhythmic groupings. When you listen to each couplet, the account should be conducted in fast rate either up to two, up to three, or up to six. It may look as follows:
    
    222/22 + 232/26 + 232/26 + 232/26
    
    But for Chuvash folk singers these formulas do not make any problem. They feel it intuitively, easily and harmoniously sing all together. They can’t imagine, that such rhythms would be hard to perform from the notepad for even professional vocalists or students of conservatories.
    
    So do look the most basic and strictly observed rules of construction of ancient Chuvash harmonies and rhythms. They lay in the base of unique spirit and colour of national intonations. They also performing manners of chuvash singers. But to say that these are the only aspects that outline the originality of authentic ancient chuvash song is just inexact...
    
    M. G. Kondratyev
    
    M G Kondratyev photo and the article in Russian

 
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Last edited by: reflejo, 2005-12-13 20:39:25. Views 5384.
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