Tag: streaming audio (page 3 of 4)

Memory, Poetics and Living Musical Tradition in Iranian Khorāsān: The Stephen Blum Collection

A new finding aid from the Archive of World Music provides the opportunity to explore and listen to music and sung poetry from northeastern Iran.

Kamancheh Player, Kermanshah by indigoprime, on Flickr
Kamānche player,
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by indigoprime

The Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān at Harvard University: original ethnographic sound recordings, 1968-2006 contains audio from ethnomusicological fieldwork conducted in the northern part of Iranian Khorāsān. Included are about 50 hours of field recordings made in 1968-1969 and 1972, with an emphasis on sung poetry in three languages: Persian (Farsi), Khorasani Turkish (Torki), and Kurmanji Kurdish. Musical genres in the collection include both lyric songs (chārbeiti, ghazal, and gharibi) and narrative pieces (naqqāli, dāstān, and others), performed as solos or accompanied on instruments such as the ney, a kind of flute, the kamānche, and the dotār, both types of lutes. The performers are the subjects of Blum’s Ph.D. dissertation, Musics in Contact: The Cultivation of Oral Repertoires in Meshhed, Iran.

In this representative recording from the collection, made in the city of Mashhad in 1969, the naqqāl Heidari – a solo singer – performs an excerpt from Firdawsī’s 11th century verse epic, Shāhnāmah, the Book of Kings: Haft khwān-e Rustam (Seven exploits of Rostam). The hero Rostam, accompanied by his horse Rakhsh, battles monsters, demons, sorcerers, and temptation, in order to release the king Kai Kavus and his army from captivity.

Dr. Blum has been deeply engaged in the scholarly exploration of Iranian musical culture since the late 1960s, and he completed his doctoral studies under the direction of Bruno Nettl, a leading ethnomusicologist. Blum has also been instrumental in the field, not only with his scholarly work but as the founder of the ethnomusicology concentration at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he has taught since 1987. Among his many publications are chapters on Central Asia and Iran in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music.

Following the Revolution of 1979, Dr. Blum was unable to return to Iran until 1995, when he donated copies of his earlier recordings to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and made additional recordings in Khorāsān as well as in the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran. He began to make more frequent visits in 2006, and remains in close contact with Iranian students and colleagues. Recordings from these visits consist largely of conversations, with occasional performances, which are being digitized for future inclusion in the finding aid. The collection also includes notebooks and printed collections of verses intended for singing, along with a street guide to the city of Mashhad.

Earlier this fall, Dr. Blum visited Prof. Richard K. Wolf’s seminar on classical Iranian music and its relationship to poetry and narrative in vernacular traditions, and used performances from the collection to illustrate these relationships.

The finding aid to The Stephen Blum Collection is part of the OASIS catalog, Harvard’s Online Archival Search Information System. The reel-to-reel tapes from the collection have been digitized, and audio files of the recordings are available through the finding aid to anyone, anywhere in the world. (Make sure you have Real Player installed to play the files.)

– Donna Guerra and Kerry Masteller

Voices of Indigenous Siberia – The Musical Culture of Yakutia

A new finding aid from the Archive of World Music provides the opportunity to explore and listen to the music of the Yakut people. It features freely available online audio content with the download of RealPlayer.

Bruce Gordon and Eduard Alekseyev at work in the Audio Preservation Studio, 2009

Bruce Gordon and Eduard Alekseyev at work in the Audio Preservation studio, 2009

The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection of the Musical Culture of Yakutia, 1969 – 1990 contains audio and video that documents traditional religious and ritual cultural expressions. Sakha (Yakutia) is the largest sub-national entity in the world. It is a circumpolar region, half of which lies above the Arctic Circle. From the 1960s through the 1980s, publication of materials about the rituals of indigenous cultures was suppressed, due to the Soviet policy of the times. The Yakut language is part of the northern Turkic linguistic family, and is considered a “vulnerable” language, according to the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

Eduard Yefimovich Alekseyev (b. 1937, Yakutia) resides in Boston and is a well-known ethnomusicologist and researcher of traditional Yakut music. He is the author of more than 100 publications in Russian, including such books as A Study of the Origins of Modality with Regard to Yakut Folk Songs (1976) and The Pitch Nature of Primitive Singing (1986).  Alekseyev worked very closely with Ghilyana Dorjieva (another scholar of indigenous musical culture in Russia, in particular, of the Kalmyk people) to identify and describe the materials in the collection.

Khomus by Nathan Hamm, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License
Khomus by
Nathan Hamm

The collection includes original field recordings made by Alekseyev between 1969 and 1990; most were created in a fieldwork setting, but some were made during concerts, or at festival events of Ukrainian people in Kiev and Crimean Tatars in Simferopol. The main genres found in the collection are the olonkho (epic song and recitative), ohuokai (round dance), shamanic ritual and mystery performances. Frequently heard musical instruments are the khomus (jaw or jew’s harp), the diungiur (shaman’s drum), and the bayan (button accordion).

In this video, Eduard Alekseyev speaks about the olonkho genre and its transformative purpose as well as its change as a genre over time.

Audio Preservation Studio engineer Bruce Gordon has worked closely with Alekseyev to digitally preserve the polyester and acetate audio reel tapes in the collection — the end result of their work is the streaming content available in the finding aid, such as this recording of Vasiliy Osipovich Karataev performing the “Song of the Horse” from the olonkho “Erbekhtei Bergen.”

– Donna Guerra

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