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Do we really need Turkmen singers in Eurovision?

Written by on Monday, 29 October 2012
Culture and History, Turkmenistan, Videoblog
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As I intimated in my last post, Turkmen music in general, and Pop in particular, is still very much at the imitation stage of development, as our singers “borrow” famous songs illegally, adapt them, then sing them as though it were their own. It’s thievery, yes, and it’s a pity our regime’s actions have compelled them to such acts, but precisely for that reason, I cannot condemn them. Besides, it’s fitting somehow to our tradition of the master-disciple (halypa-shagirt), as the neophyte learns from the experienced singer.

Still, the resultant music can sometimes be hilariously bad – badly mixed, badly lyricized, etc. Yet, again, sympathy’s in order: we should not forget the old maxim, “A rough diamond evolves into a polished diamond by getting trimmed and trimmed.” People learn by making mistakes; the successful are those who both survive and learn. Eventually, Turkmenistan shall have a full-fledged Pop scene; the question is when, not if.

I think there’s a temptation among our nation’s young to use the Eurovision song contest as a measure of whether a nation’s Pop scene has “emerged” and consolidated. This can be misleading. Turkmen singers have not been unsuccessful. If we look back to the Eighties, Atabay Charygulyyew’s albums were listened to and bought in Europe, and he won various competitions there (what’s particularly interesting about Charygulyyew is that he accomplished this by composing real Turkmen music, not by trying to be something he wasn’t, i.e., a Westerner). On the one hand, he’s an example of what our nation can eventually accomplish on a larger scale like the Eurovision; at the same time, on the other hand, he disproves the myth that Eurovision is the best marker of success.

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