The Music of Uzbekistan
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The Music of Uzbekistan (The Deben Bhattacharya Collection) [Explicit]
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Uzbekistan was the half-way point of the fabled Silk Road from the Mediterranean to Xian in China. The music, which was recorded in 1970 in Tashkent by ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya, recalls the ancient oriental beauty and mystery. Traditional instruments: chang (dulcimer), rubab (lute), dutar (lute), ney (flute), doira (frame drum) and more.
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Yesterday I reviewed my other cd from Uzbekistan and I mentioned this disc in that review. In trying to be brief I think I sounded a bit harsh against this cd. To explain... this disc was recorded in 1970 when Uzbekistan was under Soviet rule and travel by foreigners was problematic. Due to that, Deben did not have the wide-ranging musical access that he often enjoyed elsewhere. His solution? Record the National Folk Music Orchestra of Uzbekistan for at least some of the tracks. That has its ups and downs. As I mentioned yesterday, for me, sometimes the effect is that of a folk-music repertory company. The radio orchestra often does not have the gut-punching emotional immediacy that the true folk musicians possess. In American terms, it's kind of like the difference between the stylized "folk music" (as a genre) by the Kingston Trio, vs. the real, and emotionally haunting power of, say, Clarence Ashley or Dock Boggs at their best. It's two different worlds.
Having said that, it's not as if the orchestra tunes are fluff. I love the melody of the first track, and in the case of the final track, every time I hear it I close my eyes and it's as if a documentary of one of those gigantic Soviet-era military parades is flashing through my mind. No narration or anything, just images of all that weaponry and all those thousands of soldiers in formation, marching through the streets.
Hammered-dulcimer (chang), various lutes (rubab, dutar, tanbur etc), flute (ney), drum, spike-fiddle (gidjak), etc... styles are all included here.
I do indeed prefer this disc to the Bukhara disc I reviewed yesterday. For one thing, all the various lute tracks here are unmatched by anything on that disc. Also, I just prefer this style of music. The Bukhara disc is a hybrid style of music created by the intermingling of Jewish and Muslim culture specifically in Bukhara. The music on this disc is of the more pure, widespread Muslim (I am assuming) music of Uzbekistan. I say I am assuming Muslim because although that would seem the natural choice to me (given the stylistic aesthetic of this music), there is one track where the singing reminds me of some of the Armenian singing I have heard... specifically, it makes me think of a choral version of Richard Hagopian's style of singing. Being that Christianity was part of the reason that the Armenian's suffered so dearly in the early 1900s, I just assume Richard is Christian, though I'm not positive and never memorized the liner-notes to his albums.
I'm no expert on this music, but if sounds from Uzbekistan are what you're looking for, I do recommend this disc over the Bukhara disc. My first-place recommendation would be for you to check out the Afghanistan Untouched 2-disc set that I absolutely love for its Uzbek music by people living in Afghanistan, as well as its wealth of great musics by other ethnicities in Afghanistan.