Kazakh Dombyra kuis

Inexhaustible treasure

Direct successors of the ancient Turkic nomad culture, who had lived a life of nomads till the beginning of the last century, even though the lifestyle had being changed through times, the beautiful and mysterious heritage having remained its spiritual nature of the Kazakh nation- is the traditional music. One of the most notorious and professionally developed bounds of the traditional music is kui performed by dombyra.

Dombyra is a two string, played by plucking chordophone typed instrument that appeared in early times, changed and evolved through years.

Similar type instruments with resembling names are found in other nations like Tatar, Bashkurt, Uzbek, Altai, Kyrgyz, Turk, Mongol, Kalmak and Tajik. This could be seen as a proof of widespread of the above mentioned instrument throughout Central Asia. Yet Kazakh's dombyra is characterized by the soft sound that lies within 1.5 to 2 octave range with reach capabilities, also is known for different shapes to suit various performing styles and habitat areas. Long ago this instrument could be found in every household.

Because of its popularity, most traditional songs are being performed under dombyra's accompaniment. However, the genre that fully developed its timber and range was kui that had reached its peak in XIX century.

It's hard to say when kui was actually appeared. Some researchers sound an assumption that kui had been developed by early Hun and Turkic tribes, l here is also an opinion that in Middle Ages it turned into a common musical language for the people that habitat the area between Karakorym and Edil rivers. There are some kuis that support this last theory about its appearance before Islam by their topics, lexicon, structure, archaic character of the legends and religions described in kuis.

The word “kui” is used as ethnomusicology term in some Turkic nations. In general it has a psycho-emotional meaning like “wellbeing, mood”. Just,from the name we can emphasize the psychological nature of the kui. However we can not fully disregard kui genre's descriptive, narrative and creative abilities? What wc want to say is that despite kui's shorfcjtructure it bears deep thoughtful, meaningful, comphcated musical form and is well developed genre of instrumental play.

Kui as an art turned into Kazakh people's spiritual heritage, at the stage of development due to historical, cultural and geographical facts many various schools were founded based on performing techniques. In modem musicology these schools have being used the names of areas such as Batys (Western), Arka, Shygys (Eastern), Zhetysu and Karatau. Depending on kui's performing technique and form kuis divided into two groups: tokpe and shertpe. Tokpe is the type of faster in rhythm kui, slower kuis are shertpe. However this kind of differentiation is rather relative. For example, just within Western school there exists several types of kuis as per their feature and playing style. Same situation could be noted as well in Arka School.

Besides terms “tokpe” and “shertpe” were first used in the middle of the XX century when kuis were being studied from the scientific point of view. The relative nature of these terms could be seen from the fact that some tokpe kuis are slower in rhythm and at the same time some shertpe kuis are faster than they should be according to this classification. According to the performing peculiarities Western schools belong to the tokpe type, which are very in high emphasis and strong. And Arka, Alaty-Tarbagaty, Zhetisu, Ontustik, Karatu schools belong to shertpe type of performing, this type of kuis are always mysterious, lyrical and pensive. Despite existence of many genres and certain performers tokpe kuis are overwhelmingly in epic and philosophic manner, but shertpe kuis accumulated lyrical thoughts, singing and dancing arts also had their impact on this branch of kuis.

Development of traditional instrumental music lead to rise of schools at different regions of Kazakhstan and establishment of such schools was connected to certain individuals in history. We would not be mistaken, stating that any huge talent or famous person is a leader of a certain school or a musical branch. These famous names could prove our correctness: Kurmangazy, Tattimbet, Kazangap, Dauletkerei, Baizhigit Kozheke, Sugir With the introduction article for this anthology we don not wish to break any established classification rules, we just want to explain them a little deeper.

Before the school called traditional instrumental school of Bokey Horde (XIX century, region between Edyl and Zhayk rivers), is called now as Western Kazakhstan school . One of the founders of the Western school is our great ancestor kuishy and zhyrau Batyr Makhambet (1804-1848). Spending almost all his life within Bokey Horde, his kuis portray years of military campaigns together with Isatay. Amusing fluctuations of soul could be felt clearly through Makhambefs fascinating and sometimes sad kuis. Mrchless representative of this school kuishi Kurmangazy (1823-1889). He brougjiew meaning to Kazakh kuis in terms of melody, rhythm and structure; he truivas a composer of a world level. The most corimtex compositions of Kurmangazy are exelled in reach colors of the sound, flovof rhythm, unbounded sadness or tremendous happiness.

The brightest representative of the school established by Kurmangazy was Dina. Dina Nurpeisova (1861-1955) connected traditions of XX and XIX centuries; she also could manage both traditional delicate philosophy of Dauletkerei and Kurmangazy School's boldness. Renovations in genre and topic started by Kurmangazy could find their continuation in her compositions. She lived till the middle of XX century and died at age of 94; Dina was the witness of two centuries, and was the great teacher that brought past to the future.

Another great representative of western kui – Dauletkerei Shygaiuly (1820-1887) has contributed a lot to Kazakh instrumental music. Kuis composed by him are called “tore kuis” among people. Dauletkerelkkuis are distinguished by their restrain and composure. His kuis are imially intellectually deep and philosophical type of kuis. Kui “Zhig«F is considered to be one of the magnificent compositions in Kaffekh instrumental music.

One of the Kurmangazy's follower Mamen (XIX) was a peculiar kuis* His complex compositions were brought to us by his equally skill', students. Famous kuishi Kali Zhantyleuov was one of the students wh could learn directly from him. Saitek was also an author of several kuis and was called “Bokey Horde's dombyrashy”.

Mangystau Kui School

This was established separately and was known for its typical performing and composing methods.

Two famous kuis of the region “Abyl” and “Naratu” were recorded by A.V. Zatayevich by performance of G. Mukhitov and published within the collection “Kazakh's 500 songs and kuis”. “These kuis have a great meaning to Kazakh instrumental art” stated the competent researcher.

Abyl, Kartbai, Esbai, syr, Kulshar, Konyr, Oskenbai, Shamgul, Alkuat, Murat are all famous kuishis of Mangystau. Abyl Tarakul (1820-1892), who has been moving forward Mangystau's traditional kui, learned kui under another great kuishy Koshkar. Abyl's kuis represent unique sound and technique of Mangystau traditional kui. Abyl has taught very talented artists such as Espai, Altyani, Saulebai, Kulshar. Abyl's student Kulshar is one of the famous aitys kuishy of the West. Once while traveling he had to compete at one of the households with an old woman and her daughter. This story is known to all. Kuslhar's kuis are performed just along with its legend. In XIX century seven masters had lived a life of an artists together,side by side. People used to call them “zheti kaiky”. Murat Oskenbaev (1904-1997) is a son of famous singer and zhyrshy Oskenbai, who was one of “Zheti Kaiky”. His repertory included almost 300 kuis.

Many of the Mangystau kuis were preserved till modem days thanks to Murat kuishy.

Kazangap's creations gave a lot of support for the development of kui branch in Syr and Yrgyz region and took a special place in XIX-XX century's Kazakh instrumental music. He was bom in Akbauyr located at the seaside of Aral . While growing up he could learn kuis from such masters as Toresh, Orynbay and Usen. People still remember a legend about competition held between young kuishy and Usen tore. Thanks to Saduakas Balmagambetov's efforts Kazangap's kuis were transferred to notes, recorded onto tapes and brought to our days.

There is a saying that only Kazangap could perform fully sixty two “Akzhelen”. Akzhelen is the name of a full cycle with open sound palette, trembling rhythm. These cyclic kuis are connected with sixty two veins in human's body. A breath of ancient magic could be felt through one legend that says “When one kui is played, one vein is opened”.

Number of Kazakngap's kuis are connected with his love story to a girl named Balzhan. Overall, Kazangap's kuis are full of philosophy and deep emotions.

It is possible to get acquainted with the kui tradition of this region through works of such masters as Alshekei, Aryngazy, Akbala, Kurakty Doszhan and Myrza.

Karatau kui school

Karatau kui school is strongly connected with the traditions of Arka and legacy of Tattymbet, Toka and Dayrabay. The main figure of Karatau kui school was master of shertpe kui, individual that left a great mark in history of instrumental music - kuishy Sugir Aliuly (1882-1961).

Even though he lived till the middle of the last century there no confirmed details about his life. None of the kuis performed by him were recorded onto tapes. If we accept stories told by people as truthful, Sugir never performed in front of a big audience.

From most of his kuis one can listen tune of kobyz. It is known that his teacher was Ykylas – master of kobyz. Ykylas had a great affect on Sugir and as a result a new school was born where shertpe kuis merged with kobyz melodies. This school established by Sugir is called “Karatau tradition”. Modern artists (dombyra performers) have stated that tokpe kui techniques are being also used by Karatau traditions. Eminent kuishi TolegehiMombekov (1922-1996) managed to master Karatau tradition and deviled it further. Kuis composed by Sugir “Bozyngen”, “Zholaushynyn pBroldy konyry”, Karatau shertpesi”, “Kertolgau” recorded onto tapes by performance of Tolegen – are unique pieces of Kazakh music.

A school that was established in the East of Kazakhstan is known for its archaic style. The brightest representative of this school is legendary Baizhygit kuishy (1705-nn). People still remember that he was a musician of Horde under Abylai Khan. It is said that he composed more that 300 kuis. His kuis “Kokbalak", “Kaiyn saugan”, “Shandy zhoryk” carefully depict wars of those days. Another his kui “Erke atan” stays in memory for its sorrowful story. Bayzhigit's kuis are classified as shertpe kuis, however its rhythm and techniques are unique.

Zhetysu kui school

Although instrumental music of this region is reach in style and overall is interesting was omitted by researchers till our days. Traditions of Zhetysu are alike to ones in West Kazakhstan. Similar landscape, it can be seen that neighboring populations shared same culture in the area of long range mountains between Altai and Alatau. Magnificent epresentatives of this kui tradition like Rakysh, Shanya, Razdyk used to ive in Sin-Zhan region of China.

The biggest representative of this school Kozheke was bom in 1823 in arkara region and died in 1881 in China. He was an author of more that j00 kuis. His father Nazar was a famous musician of that area. Kozheke's son Rakysh and his grandchild Shanya saved great ancestor heritage and passed it on to the next generation.

Also names of great musicians as Baiserke, Boltirik, Sybankul were, Tmown to the people of Zhetysu region. Sybankul's kuis were preserved by kuishy Omarhan Kerimkululy. Baiserke was an incredible kuishy of his time diis name was well-known in Shu. From his kuis “Kosh toktatkan”, lipa-Kalysh”, “Uran kui” are noted the established traditions and a feeling of an authors touch.

Academician Akhmet Zhubanov had noted the musical compositions of Baiserke and included them into his monograph “Gasyrlar pemesi” llFefituries' string). Names of the noted representatives of Zhetisu kui tradition, performers on dombyra such as Temirbek Akhmetov, masterly performer, the famous composer Nurgisa Tlendiev's farther Tilendi are also widely known.

There are many kuis between Zhetisu and Eastern kuishilik traditions being performed commonly. For example, kui such as “Shynyrau”, “Kara zhorga’’, «Anshynyn zary» etc. are archaic kuis being performed in both regions, not subject to be belonged to one of a certain school. Therefore, it would be considered that number of kuis of these schools had been common before to all Turkic nations, then to ancient Kazakhs.

The founder of the Arka kuishlik school which is named after the wide-spread region in Central Kazakhstan is Tattiinbet Kazangapuly (1815-1860). 

His historical image has been created not only on a base of his kuis (compositions), but also on a base of legends, tells, certain facts, and the respect rendered towards him.

By improving the shertpe kui technique, Tattimbet finally founded the tradition of art, considered to be the sacred possessions of the population settled between Arka and Karatau. He is the really incomparable lyrical kuishi, who imbibed the breath of living in to Kazakh kuis through trembling pulsation of his heart, whose authorship is certainly being recognized from each according to his composition (kui). We would not be mistaken stating that all the representatives of Kazakh lyrical kui genre had being taught at Tattimbet's school. And all of them were outstanding individuals. Having keen ear, absolute pitch and heart of gold they properly passed Tattimbet's kuis on to a new generation. Nevertheless, among this group of performers one could state the magnificent kuishi-performer Abiken Khasenov (1895- 1958),who had managed to protect Tattimbet's kuis from Soviet repression in the first half of twenties century and entrusted them to our days.

While reminding the Tattimbet's teaching one remains first the name of famous kuishi Toka (1830-1914). As per kin belongings he was nicknamed as “Saidaly Sary Toka”. In spite of that he was younger for 15 years than Tattimbet, was his companion in art and took classes of masters. Toka passed acquired knowledge on to his followers as Ykylas, Kyzdarbek, and Baubek. There are many kuis composed by Toka passed on up to days. Amongst the cycles of kuis widely spread among the inhabitants as “ Tokanyn tort tolgauy” are being passed on by the dombyrashy (performer on dombyra) Mukhamedzhan Tileukhanov.

And also we can state such composers as Aidos, Kyzdarbek, Sembek, Abdi, Akkyz, Ashimtai, Dairabai, who were joined to Arka kuishilik genre with their unrepeatable peculiarities. They all proceeded the cycle of “Kosbasrlar” prolonged by Tattimbet. “Kosbasars” composed by Kazdarbek (1850-1822), having such definitions as “Otkinshi” , “Mun” are one of most mysterious compositions of shertpe kui school. Those composers who had reached the Soviet period were persecuted. Abdi and Sembek had been shot.

Kuis composed by Kyzdarbek, Abdi, Sembek were not being available to audience for a long time. Now their kuis are being performed by the kuishi -performers such as Apike Abenova, Dauletbek Saduakasov, Manarbek Sagynbekov, Oral lsataev.

One of the mysterious kuishi from Arka who managed to depict the twinkling of a nature through kui is Ashimtai (1808-1903). The single kui

left by him is called “ Konyr kaz”. Also there left only one kui by the famous kuishi Dairabai ( 1860-19370),which is called after his name.

These two kuis having the particular meaning among the art of kuis were passed on to a generation by the famous kuishi Magauya Khamzin (1927- 1998).

Dombyra kuis – being differentiated by the time of appearance, location, genre, performing peculiarities having numerous colorings and melodies are being streamed down to one channel which is called great Kazakh traditional music and really are our invaluable heritage. Certainly, to collect, investigate and protect of the national genre of kui is due to future generation. It is not just duty but is the sacred honor goes from heart of the Kazakh nation. The Kazakh kuis have not yet learned thoroughly. The only one fact about that the real number of given heritage is still remaining unknown. Not the number “more than 1 000” stated by the famous academician Akhmet Zhubanov, who made enormous contribution into genre of kui, nor “about 5 000”, latterly noted by the musicologist Kairolla Zhuzbasov are just conjecture.

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