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The Music Heritage of Expatriate Communities in Kazakhstan: Origins and Modern Day

28.11.2014 3002
Kazakhstani musical scholars have finally pioneered in a complete study of the music culture of ethnic communities inhabiting the country, which in unprecendented in domestic art studies.

Kazakhstani musical scholars have finally pioneered in a complete study of the music culture of ethnic communities inhabiting the country, which in unprecendented in domestic art studies. Sporadic reports on the work of cultue centers, articles occurring in mass media and on websites ver occasionally, and brief summaries of  works by selected musicians appearing in bookson the history of ethnic-specific music present fragmentar data and prevent us from forming a wholistic idea of the communities. The high topicality of the issue and its scarce scientific representation constitute a ground for a new research, which is described in the present article.

The study is essentially a research into the heritage of composers representing various expatriate communities in the context of the establishment and progress of Kazakhstani music art. It included collecting, listing, and searching for documental evidence of  the basic reasons and motives behind various nationalities’ migration to the territory of Kazakhstan,  studying authentic characteristic features and nationality-specific genres in music by Russian, Uygur, Korean, Kirghiz, Tatar, Karakalpak, Dungan, Nogay, and Azerbaijani composers as well as those representing other communities within Kazakhstan,  identifying the spiritual values of various ethnic groups inhabiting the republic, which combine to form a many-hued cultural environment. Besides, each community’s individual contribution to the national system of artistic trends and styles was estimated. The holistic, all-round approach to the multiethnic art of Kazakhstan, the phenomenon of nationality-specific color and  genre diversity, based on a variety of methods including those characteristic of ethnography, ethnic music studies, culture studies, and folk music studies, in the context of the tolerance and union idea introduced by the Republic’s first President N. Nazarbayev determine the academic novelty of the research.  

In the article titled “The Key Implementation Stages of the Music Art of the Ethnic Communities of Kazakhstan Scientific Research Project», which was published by the International Newspaper of the Akhyska RK Turkish Center for Ethnic Culture on June 28, 2013, we shed light on certain aspects of the implementation of the present project.  Nowadays, people working in our music studies department have offered solutions to many issues concerning expartiate community music research in Kazakhstan, including “Traditional and Modern Music of the Russian Community of Kazakhstan” by the RK Academy of Sciences Corresponding Member, Doctor of Art Studies, Professor S. A. Kuzembay, who is famous nationwide for her research on the contemporary issues of traditional Russian folk culture in Kazakhstan, in which she identified the forms and genres of folk music, provided an overview of religious holidays and festive customs related to Svyatki, Maslennitsa, Saint Cyril and Methodius Day, Russia Day, Pushkin Day, etc., analyzed lyrical, ceremonial, and calendar songs as well as folk choir traditions. The works include “Native Cradle”, “Maslennitsa”, “Ducks Flying”, “Over the Hills”,  “White Blossom on the Stone”, such humorous songs as “Valenki” (felt boots), “Oh Mother”, “Oh Girls”, the wedding song “It’s High Day Now”, the ritual song “Kupala Wreaths”, and many others. The dominant idea of te study is that of a Russian spiritual revival witin the republic, the community’s willingness to restore the basis of the Slavic culture and contribute to its further development, being part of the nation of the Independent Kazakhstan.

The Folk and Professional Music by Kazakhstani Koreans section by Associate Professor G. Musagulova, Candidate of Music Studies, illustrates the 2013 research on the diverse traditions and customs of the Korean community. Various types of ceremonial folk culture, such as the first birthday and coming of age ceremonies, wedding, internment, and sacrifice offering. Various types and forms of art produced by the ethnic group were also studied, including ceremonial and ritual songs as well as ancient vocal genres. Besides, the creative profile of such representatives of the Korean community as Ten Chu, Doctor of Philology, professor and composer, and composer A. Strigotskiy,   was analyzed. Meetings, discussions, and interviews with those composers of the Korean community who had made a contribution to Kazakh professional music studies were arranged. An analysis of works by Ten Chu, which have a distinct  national color of Korean folk melos as well as a unique harmony and polyphony presented in the orchestral texture. They include the Pyongyang Cantata, a symphonic poem titled “The Land of Morning Freshness”, the Dramatic Suite, The Feast of Harvest Suite, numerous songs, and the 5-section dramatic suite for symphony orchestra titled “11.09.1937 17:30 STALIN” was performed. The 5 parts of the composition, titled “The Order and the Stirring”, “Despair”, “Memories of Motherland”, “Grievance”, and “Cry”, were analyzed as well.

During the previous period, the interrelation of the instrumental music of the Kazakh and Kirgiz communities as well as the differences between their instruments were explored by A. Kaztuganova, Candidate of Music Studies, in the Қазақ және қырғыз халықтарының аспапты музыкасының сабақтастығы section. The preserved and reconstructed ancient fretted instruments, the komuz and the dombra, were found to be essentially similar; the difference of their tune, tone series, and shape was analyzed. Besides, the origin and history of such popular instruments as the ooz komuz and the shan kobyz were studied. A comparative analysis was performed; their origin, development, promotion and preservation were traced. Kyuys composed for shan kobyz and ooz komuz by such musicians as Adamkaly Baybatyrov (“Tagyldyr Too”), Karolmodo Orozov (“Nasikhat”), as well as Kyrghyz folk kyuys titled “Zhastar”, “Kerbez”, etc., and Kazakh folk ones titled “Kyz Ozatu”, “Kyz zary”, “Kyz muny”, “Shankobyz tolgaui”, and others were deciphered and analyzed. Their characteristic music features (melody, rhythm, tempo, and form), the story behind them, their genre and style, and such characteristic qualities as pitch, tone series, and the relation between voice (bourdon) and instrumental party were described and analyzed.

A scientific expedition resulted in records of wedding ceremonial, burial, and labor songs, terme recitative songs, instrumental ooz komuz pieces, and works by known authors recorded with the help of Aktau Kyrghyz community representatives. Moreover, information concerning national clothing, decorative art, and events and fests arranged by the Ala-Too Kyrghyz Ethnic Culture Center was systematized.

Within the Traditional Music of Kazakhstani Karakalpaks Scientific Project by B. Turmagambetova, Candidate of Music Studies, information concerning the zhyrau and baksy traditions of the ethnic group was presented. Works by performers of heroic (baksys singing to kobyz music) and love dastans (those singing to dutar music) were analyzed along with 25 Karakalpak songs from the compilation titled “Songs of Various Nationalities”   by the famous ethnographer A. Zatayevich. Other sources, such as “Karakalpak Folk Music” (1959, Volume 8), “Karakalpak Folk Songs” (1959), “Karakalpak Folk Art” (multi-volume, 2007), “The Pre-October Music Culture of the Karakalpaks” (Т. Adambayev, 1967), etc., were used for the study.

A scientific expedition to Aktau was undertaken to make audio records of Karakalpak folk music. The kosyks (songs) by Berdak Baksy titled “Bozatau” and “Dembermes” were analyzed; such folk and lyrical music pieces as  “Kyz ben zhygyt aitasy”, “Meiman-dur”, “Otersen”, “Bolmasa”, and others perfromred by informants were deciphered; the Aydynlar kosyk by the outstanding Karakalpak composer M. Zhyyemuratov was notated. Besides, information concerning the community’s customs and traditions, national clothing, and festive activities was recorded and arranged systematically.

The Stable and Mobile Elements in Music by Azerbaijani People Living in Kazakhstan Section by Z. Kasimova, Candidate of Music Studies, is focused on the key stages in the development and establishment of music art, its genres, historical origins, basic intstruments, the characteristic features of works by cerain outstanding musicians,  and the general theoretic base underlying the Ayerbaijani music stylistics.

Besides, the art of ashugs, that is, signers presenting folk legends and poems, as well as vocal-instrumental ensembles and bands performing traditional and contemporary Azerbaijani works, their peculiar music language consisting of characteristic mode, harmony, beat, rhythm, timbre, and  conceptual imagery.

The Scientific Researc Project section titled The Present State of the Music Art of Kazakhstani Uygurs by Kh. Domullayeva, Master of Art Science, centers on the contemporary Diyar vocal-instrumental band and its activity in Kazakhstan as well as the present state of the music art of Uygurs living in Kazakhstan. The author provided information concerning certain outstanding art workers representing the Kazakhstani Uygur community.  They included A. Burkhanov (Chief Director, K. Kuzhamyarov Uygur Theater), G. Saitova (ballet-mistress), such people of enormous natural talent as Z. Kibirova (Malabay Village, Chiliksk District), A. Rozakhunova (Chundzha Villge, Uygur District), and others. The research into the creative heritage of the Uygur band resulted in an electronic record of the ensemble’s full repertoire, which consists of both traditional and modern works. Selected works, such as “Toy”, “Aziz Diyar”, “Omur shundak otidu” were notated.

Thus, studies on the music art of Asian, Slavic, and Turkic-speaking ethnic groups and major ethnic culture centers helped us estimate the contribution to the progress of Kazakhstan made by the abovementioned ethnic communities  and to identify ways in which the traditional folk heritage and the unique culture of each of them can be  preserved. In this respect, the Music Art of the Ethnic Groups of Kazakhstan Scientific Project by the Music Art Department of M. O. Auezov Institute for Literature and Arts is of nation-wide topicality, academic novelty, and political significance.

Issues related to the preservation, promotion, and functioning of the multi-genre and complex folk music heritage of ethnic groups inhabiting the multi-ethnic Kazakhstan as well as enriching the national culture through cooperation with the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan constituted the core of the research project.  Since the Music Art Department has completed the abovementioned grant, a collective monographic study is expected to appear within the current year. We believe continuity to be of fundamental importance when it comes to exploring such highly relevant, interesting, and greatly significant though way-out field. Studies related to the cultures of the numerous expatriate communities presently living in the Republic will make a certain contribution to the progress of music art in the Independent Kazakhstan.            


Musagulova, Gulmira Zhaksybekovna

Candidate of Arts,

Associate Professor, Head of Music Studies Department,

                                                                                         M. O. Auezov Institute

 For Literature and Arts

                                                                       Member of the Composer Union of the Republic of Kazakhstan


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