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The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 23, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What if Marco Polo had owned a tape recorder? And what if his epic travels along the Silk Road had taken place not at the end of the 13th century, but at the beginning of the 21st? Far-fetched conjectures to be sure, but our compilation The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan offers a glimpse of the rich musical life that an intrepid and curious traveler like Marco Polo might find in the lands of the Silk Road today.

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"What if Marco Polo had owned tape recorder?" This intriguing concept is raised in the liner notes to this impressive two-CD set, which wanders along ancient Asian trade routes known as the Silk Road. The first disc, Masters & Traditions, deals with formal styles performed by and for sophisticated connoisseurs. Meanwhile, the music on Minstrels and Lovers is played by amateurs who are part of daily life and thus reach a wider audience. The imaginary caravan passes through Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and Afghanistan, encountering nomads, mystics, and bards along the way. The instruments are scratchy, pungent, and/or serene, while the singers weave a potent spell out of a millennium's worth of slow-changing rural and urban vistas. In the opening essay, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the project's artistic director, pleads for intercultural communication and empathy. This compilation provides an exotic, brave, entertaining first step in that direction. --Christina Roden

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Mahur (Iranian) - Bruno Caillat
  2. Fakhri Havasi (Azeri) - Edalat Nasibov
  3. Balbyraun (Kazakh) - Aygul Ulkenbaeva
  4. Dance Of Tamir Agha (Armenian) - evorg Dabaghian
  5. Dilkash (Azeri) - Elshan Mansurov
  6. Uchun Dur (Uzbek/Tajik) - Jurabek Nabiev
  7. Choban Bayati (Azeri) - Mailik Mansurov
  8. Mokhalef (Iranian) - Hoseyn Qavami
  9. Shushtari (Iranian) - Hasan Kasa'i
  10. Lullaby From Itsuki (Japanese) - Kojiro Umezaki
  11. Ker-Tolgoo (Kyrgyz) - Samara Tokhtakunova
  12. Xiao Yue Er Gao ('High Little Moon') (Chinese) - Wu Man
  13. Jiu Kuaang ('Wine Mad') (Chinese) - Yao Bingyan
  14. Kharagay ('The Pine Tree') (Khakas) - Svetlana Chebodaev
  15. Ilme ('Hook') (Kazakh) - Aygul Ulkenbaeva
  16. The Gallop Of Jonon Khar (Mongolian) - Baterdene
  17. The Nightingale (Kyrgyz) - Ruslan Jumabaev
  18. The River Herlen (Mongolian) - Baterdene
  19. Nava (Uzbek) - Turgun Alimatov
  20. Woy Bala ('Hey, Kid') (Uyghur) - Nur Mahammat Tursun
  21. Meskin II (Uzbek) - Abdurahim Hamidov
  22. Ufar-e Bayat (Tajik/Uzbek/Bukharan Jewish) - Barno Is'hakova
  23. Chabbiyat Tazi Marghul (Uyghur) - Uyghur Muquam Ensemble
  24. Shawm And Percussion Band (Chinese) - Gongxiao Dasha Ensemble

Disc: 2

  1. The Nomadic Sound: Jew's Harp Melody (Kazakh) - Edil Huseinov
  2. The Nomadic Sound: Khai (Khakas) - Evgeni Ulugbashev
  3. The Nomadic Sound: Tepen Kok (Kazakh From Mongolia) - Kelek Kumaqay
  4. The Nomadic Sound: Kogmen (Khakas) - Slava Kuchenov
  5. The Nomadic Sound: Excerpt From Alpamish Epic (Uzbek) - Jaule Bakhshi
  6. The Nomadic Sound: Beyish Namasi ('Meoldy Of Paradise') (Qaraqalpak) - Qalbeke Uzaqbergenova
  7. The Nomadic Sound: Terme (Kazakh) - Almas Almatov
  8. The Nomadic Sound: Lament (Turkmen From Iran) - Dordi Torik
  9. The Nomadic Sound: Mashq-e Javanan (Tajik/Uzbek) - Sirajoddin Juraev
  10. The Nomadic Sound: Kuu (Kyrgyz) - Nurlanbek Nishanov
  11. Traditions Of Festivity: Sanam (Uyghur) - Abdurashid Nadirev
  12. Traditions Of Festivity: Charzarb (Tajik) - Abdullah Nariev
  13. Traditions Of Festivity: Mizghan-i Siyah ('Black Eyelashes') (Afghan/Tajik) - Muhammud Rahim Takhary
  14. Traditions Of Festivity: Love Song (Azeri From Iran) - Ibrahim
  15. Traditions Of Festivity: Qara Olu (Kazakh) - Edil Huseinov
  16. Spiritual Music: Kertolghau (Kazakh) - Sayan Aqmoldaev
  17. Spiritual Music: Dargilik (Tajik) - Khodapanah Berdov
  18. Spiritual Music: Madh (Tajik) - T. Soltan Qalbov
  19. Spiritual Music: Zikr (Uyghur) - Naqshbandi Afaqi Brotherhood
  20. Spiritual Music: Kyrgyz Wisdom Song (Kyrgyz) - Akli Sekebaev
  21. Spiritual Music: Allah Madad (Iranian/Afghan) - Abdollah Sarvar Ahmandi
  22. Spiritual Music: Alevi Song (Turkish) - Ashiq Faizullah Chinar
  23. Spiritual Music: Sufi Hymn (Turkish) - Jarrahi Dervishes And Others


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 23, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • ASIN: B000063NDQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,905 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful two CD set of music covering the traditions of the Silk Road. Althugh it includes pieces of Chinese, Persian, Turkish, Azeri, Japanese and Armenian origin, this CD's focus remains strongly tilted towards the musical traditions of Central Asia; Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Uzbekestan, Turkestan, Mongolia and so forth. This is very much the tradition of steppe nomads, merchants and traders. While listening to the CD, you can see as much of an influence from outside sources such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese and Indian traditions, as you can from traditional Central Asian sources. After all, for many centuries the Silk Road provided a trade route between the West and East, so this should not come as any surprise.
The first CD fouses on traditional, classical styles. In it, we are presented with some truely beautiful and emotional pieces. The Dance of Tamir Agha is truely exotic and seductive. Uchun Dur is majestic and inspiring. The Lullaby from Itsuki and Jiu Kuang express the calm, melodious sounds of East Asia. Mokhalef and Shushtari give wonderful examples of how wonderful Persian music is. And the River Herlen is just magnificent. All of these songs are positively breath taking. The second CD continues this, giving examples of folk music and religious music. Tjeresa Kazakh Jew's Harp melody, which is simple but intrigueing; part of the Alpamish Epic, which is a mournful but beautiful song; and several other examples of Nomadic folk singing. Then, we are treated with several examples of music from festivals, including "Mizghan-i-Siyah", an Azeri love song and "Charzarb". Finally, it rounds out with religious music, combining steppe nomad's animism with mystical Islam.
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This is the ultimate World Music collection. It features authentic sounds from vastly diverse cultures, assembled in such a way that they don't clash, they flow along like a caravan journey. If you're looking for familiar tunes, this isn't for you. But if you'd like to expand your musical horizons, I highly recommend it.
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This anthology is an outstanding survey of the northern section of the so-called Silk Road, taking us from Turkey, Azerbaijan,and Iran, through Uzbekistan, southern Siberia, China, and finally to Japan, but not in order, as the CD set is organized instead by category of musical function and the localities seem random. Although there are significant gaps in the styles, and I particularly miss the sweet lyric songs of Kyrgyz women, the powerful mugham voice of Qasimov of Azerbaijan, and more examples of the kylkobyz fiddle of Kzakhstan, the set provides a fine introduction of the musics of inner Asia and particularly the instruments. A glossary of instruments is provided, but unfortunately their images are often lacking. All the examples are short by necessity, when many traditional pieces are far longer in duration. For the uninitiated, it will take repeated listening to distinguish the uniqueness of timbre and rhythm from one land to the other; but this similarity of sounds helps demonstrate the role of the trade routes in sharing instruments and styles, such that the Japanese biwa, the Chinese pipa, and the Arabic oud all are related. If you want to attain some feel for the musics of inner Asia, then certainly these disks will meet the requirement.
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When I needed music from the Middle East and Asia, this was the perfect purchase. I especially appreciated the detailed descriptions in the booklet that accompanied the 2 CD set. It was so colorful, informative, and well done! There is vocabulary, maps and pictures from all over Asia.
What a fabulous compilation of musical goodness!
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Its rather difficult to review this in the regular like it/don't like it way. This is the endemic music of the people along the silk road the runs across Asia. Some of it sounds very strange compared to Western music, like study for an Anthropology course, while some of it very enjoyable.
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WHEN I WAS LOOKING FOR SOME "NEW SOUNDS" TO ADD TO MY MUSIC CATALOGUE, I FOUND A REVIEW FOR THIS ALBUM AND LIKED THE CONCEPT OF THE PROJECT, I WAS HAPPY TO RECEIVE THE PACKAGE SOONER THAN EXPECTED AND THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IMMERSING MYSELF IN THIS ALBUM EVERY TIME I HAVE LISTENED.
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Viewed the Boston Pops and Yo-Yo-Ma at Tangle-wood concert on PBS and this just didn't match up. The PBS performance was a marvelous jam session of all these unusual instruments and artists. This is a good recording but not Tangle-wood!
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I love the second disc. The first disk was not the best and seemed to consist entirely of the same type/meter of music. This is an ethnographic collection, however, so I understand that they are sampling all sorts of musicians from the same general (actually huge) geographic area, many of which share the same musical roots.
To return to disc 2 - wonderful variety and worth the price just for it. The first 4 songs are especially wonderful and contain mongolian throat singing - track 4 has got to be my favorite.
The vast majority the songs are string instrument/percussion based, with a few flute songs thrown in. There are no longs in english, so don't buy the connection if you want to understand the words! To me, that is part of the charm!
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