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Safekeepers of Uyghur Culture: Diyar Pop Music Band

28.11.2014 2368
Studying the forming and development process of the music culture of the Kazakhstani Uyghur community provides an opportunity to discover the folk and professional artistic highlights of the given ethnic group.

Studying the forming and development process of the music culture of the Kazakhstani Uyghur community provides an opportunity to discover the folk and professional artistic highlights of the given ethnic group.   For their art is an evidence of high professionalism which has adopted centuries-old artistic traditions to be perfected in live practice by each generation.

Research data suggest that certain works are mostly stored in the memory of professional folk singers, who present their own interpretations.

Thus, Uyghur folk songs presented in Kazakhstan are remarkably diverse in terms of musical patters. The academic relevance of this study is largely determined by the fact that folk music parallels represent the active ethnic development of various communities.

Its essential quality is quite obvious – it has an utterly tight connection to the community’s everyday life, every aspect of the routine. Its high variability is evidence to the enormous musical gift which the Uyghurs enjoy.

Studying Uyghur wedding music involves historical, ethnographical, philological, and music-related issues. A study by S.Malov presents a broad analysis of the Uyghur history, while ethnographic data, which primarily concern family everyday rituals, are presented in works by G.Iskhakov, N.Katanov, and A.Tilivaldi.  Issues related to the music and poetic solutions for the wedding cycle, its genre systematization, and specific features of the musical and poetic language are tackled in studies by K.Kirina, T.Alibakiyeva, A.Alakhunova, M.Aliyeva, and R.Khasanova.  It is a common fact that dancing is an essential part of wedding ceremonies for many Turkic-speaking ethnic groups. For instance, G.Saitova’s thesis on Uyghur stage dance contains a chapter about wedding folk dance in Uyghur communities.

Founded in 2003, the Diyar pop band enjoys a unique composition of ethnic musical instruments (sattar, tambir, dutar, ravap).  The band consists of Nurum Akhmetov (leader), Rustam Niyazov, and Velakhun Nasyrov.  All of the show a masterful application of Uyghur folk instruments. By analyzing the development of folk music instruments in the Uyghur community, we can form a deeper understanding of the complex forming process of the national music culture and musical instruments in general.

“What makes the band unique is that they are both a pop band and Uyghur folk ensemble.”[1] The mixture of folk instruments and the 21st century modern electronic sound   is the band’s hallmark. Through its many years’ history, Diyar has been actively participating in youth aesthetic education. Their repertoire is diverse enough to attract audience of all ages.

Every musician of this professional band is a master of traditional Uyghur instrument. Fr instance, Nurum Akhmetov, the bandleader, is an ex-musician of the Yerkent Bulburili ethnic folk band who is famous for his professional folk improvisation and virtuoso performance. His many years’ previous experience adds much to his repertoire. He is one of the most masterful experts in Uyghur folk art across Kazakhstan and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.   His impressive handling of the tambir ever fails to astonish the audience.  He provides professional music adaptations for the band. Rustam Niyazov, who is not only a singer but also an expert in the ancient Uyghur instrument, the sattar, is responsible for the voice part. Besides, Rustam Niyazov composes music for his band as well as for young Uyghur beginner singers.  He is a most gifted singer and is primarily famous for his traditional repertoire. He has a mellow velvet voice, which is both extraordinary and diverse. In terms of vocal skill and technique, Uyghur folk songs require professional approach intonation and approach to grace notes so that old folk songs can acquire color, which Rustam Niyazov, the lead singer of the Diyar band, copes perfectly well. The fruit of the band’s long career is a CD album titled Aziz Diyar (2005). On November 17, 2013 a concert was held to celebrate Diyar’s 10th anniversary. The musician played to full house. The new mixed repertoire of dance and songs presented at the concert impressed the audience immensely.


 Kh. Domullayeva

Master of Art Studies,

Junior Research Officer,

Department for Music Studies,  

M.Auezov Institute for Literature and Arts, RK MES

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