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Social change VS. music of Tajikistan. Part II: Where is the way out?

Written by on Saturday, 27 April 2013
Culture and History, Tajikistan

In this article I would like to talk about the way the disappearing traditional music genres may survive  in the situation of economic stagnation, social insecurity and absence of politics’ interest. I have started the discussion in one of me previous articles “Social change VS. music of Tajikistan. Part I: The Son of the Tomb”.

Here I would like to present one concept that can possibly help the situation. As an example for the concept explanation I will take the traditional music genre Madoh  (Maddoh in Tajik; literary means “glorification” ) – music of religious, mystical character. Let the ethnomusicologist not abuse me as it will be more correct to call madoh not a genre but a song cycle. Madoh is spread in mountainous Badakshan (East of Tajikistan) and  mostly performed during different religious practices and during  mourning.  Madoh is played by men from the sunset till late in the night during several days after a person death. A madoh song is usually accompanied with traditional music instruments, such  as daf (traditional drum), rubab and setor (string instruments).

In the video provided to the present article you have a unique chance to watch the public perfomance of the genre. The point is that the genre has a quite  narrow practical application in the society, bears sacred character. Madoh is not “for the general public use”, but for the “home use” only. You may rearly witness such a performance in public.

The uniquness is in the fact, that in our case the none-public genre is becoming public; played at the concert and attended by the general audince that bought tickets for the concert (or received invitations).

I would mention that madoh is not one of the genres that are at danger of disappearing. Madoh is actively practiced, and it is playing its social, or better to say, religious function.  But taking the concert as an example, we may see the concert that is bringing the music genre in the public sphere, when the genre  is becoming actual out of its original frame.
Such a concept can be effectively used in the cases of other genres that are “going out of the trend”, but still having esthetic or even social potential.  Trying to preserve traditional music in such a way, we risk influencing its initial aim. But actualization of such genres may be the only way out for them.

The concept may even not  solve the problem of the disappearing genres because even this method requires certain intellectual and financial resources for its realization. But local implementation of such a concept may artificially continue the live time of some genres till some favorable conditions (political, social, and economic) will allow to give the genres second live.

(Photos and video by Loki, from the concert of traditional Pamirian music, at Zabuniso cinema. Dushanbe, December 2012))



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  • [...] have already written about Pamiti music in my previous posts. In one of them I was talking ablut maddoh. This time i want to show you the video of “dafbazm”. Such compositions are played on [...]

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