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    The musical cultures of Central Asia can be divided into two major groups. Uzbekistan and Tadjkistan share a common culture with Western Asia and Azerbaijan, whereas Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan are nomadic cultures. Turkmenistan possesses characteristics of both cultures. It resembles Western Asia in its use of the Iranian musical instrument called gidzhak, the form of its poetry, and the use of microtone (quarter tones and other intervals smaller than a half tone), whereas the almost complete absence of percussion, the polyphonic performance technique using the longlute are traits shared with nomadic cultures.
    This is a recording of musicians who came to Japan for the concert, "A Musical Voyage Along The Silk Road VIll, under the title of Epic Ballads from Afar", which was held in March and April of 1993.

 * Program:

    This is an album of solo performances on Turkmenistan's three most common instruments. After becoming part of the Soviet Union many new pieces were composed, but this album is exclusively of traditional music.
    First to appear is the kargy-tyuidyuk, a kind of long, narrow flute. Sometimes called simply tyuidyuk, it was originally an instrument of shepherds. It has six finger holes, uses no reed, and is much like the Japanese shakuhachi. The sound of this instrument also resembles that of the shakuhachi. Its repertory includes melodies taken from traditional folk songs.
    The second intrument is the gidzhak, a three-or four-stringed bowed instrument, with skin stretched over its small round body, Here, Ataev is using a three stringed instrument. Like the kokyfi of Japan it is held vertically, and played by turning the instrument to meet the bow, while the bow is drawn along one plane. The same sort of instrument is found in Iran and Azerbaijan.
    The last of the three instruments, the dutar, is the most popular in Turkmenistan. Similar instruments are common throughout Central Asia. "Du" means "two," and "tar" means "string." It is a long lute which has a small pear-shaped body, a long neck, and which is played by plucking its strings with the fingers. Thirteen metal frets are tied around the neck, and its two strings, which were originally made of silk, are nowadays made of metal. The characteristic sound of this instrument derives from the fact that one of its two strings functions sometimes as a drone, while at other times is used for playing the melody in parallel fourths. This instruments is also commonly used by singers who accompany themselves.

1) Menzer (a girl like the moon)
    An old song of Turkmenistan, it tells of a girl who is beautiful like the moon. In the Middle East a woman's beauty is often likened to the moon.

2) Zulpun (long curls)
    A song about a girl with long curly hair.

3) Yok Menim (I have no friends)
    A single stanza from destan Shasenem". Destan (or dastan) is a ballad poem com mon throughout the Middle East. It contains many stories of heros and love.

4) Novgul (New flower,persian)
   Novgul is the name of a woman. This song tells of her beauty.

5) Novai
    Novai was a famous 15th century poet, thinker and politician who was active in Herat. He wrote poetry in turkish and Persian. He is known as Navoi in Uzbekistan.

6) Begler
    A song about brave feats of trick horsemanship.

7) Sallana
    Content and meaning of this song are uncertain.

8) Saltiklar
    Saltiklar is the name of a man from Turkmenistan who lost his eyes while doing military service in Iran. While in Iran he thinks about his lover, and upon returning to Turkmenistan writes down his thoughts in the form of this song. It is said that when his lover heard this song she immediately knew that he was its composer.

9) A Bichare (despair)
    An old song of Turkmenistan. It depicts the figure of a man, whose life has been a total failure, who is mourning that he cannot go on living.

10) Gyzyl Boruk (gold colored hat)
    A song in praise of the mother country, often played at weddings.

11) Garry Saityk (old Saityk)
    The Saityks comprise one of the ethnic groups of Turkmenistan. This piece is the last of five variations on this theme.

12) Gyzy1 Inzhik
    The title is the name of a bird. It is a song about love.

13) Khazhygolak
    "Khazhy" is a person's name, and "Golak" means missing both hands. Long ago in Turkmenistan there lived a famous dutar player named Khazhy. Hearing of Khazhy's reputation, the king of Uzbekistan tried to persuade Khazhy to become his court musician by offering treasures and beautiful women. Not wanting to leave his homeland, however, Khazhy turned down the offer. Enraged that Khazhy's disregard for his authority, the king brought Khazhy to the palace and force him to play. Afterwards, he cut off both of Khazhys arms and set him free, saying, "Go and play wherever you please." The night before going to the king's palace, Khazhy had a premonition of danger. He stayed up all night writing this piece, which he entrusted to his apprentice.


Dzhumaev Charyyar (Kargy-tyuidyuk)

    Studied at the National Music School of Turkmenistan and the National Educational Institute of Arts of Turkmenistan. Presently, in addition to performing activities, he teaches dutar and kargy - tyuidyuk at the National Ovezov Music School. Countries in which he has performed include Cambodia, Hungary, Turkey, Afghanistan.

Ataev Allaberdi (gidzhak)

    Was a member of the Folk Music Ensemble for two years starting in 1979. From 1983 to 1986 he was a member of the Turkmen Republic Folk Instrumental Ensemble. He now belongs to the group with which he came to Japan, Nurmuk-hamedova Dzemel Ensemble. Countries in which he has performed include Turkey, Jordan and Syria.

Annamuradov Annaseiit (dutar)

    After graduating in 1981 from the National Ovezov Music School he became a teacher of dutar there. He is active as a soloist. His father is also a famous dutar player.

    translated by Larry Richards




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