Monday, October 08, 2012

Rubin Museum

Up next: playing Central Asian, Himalayan, South Asian and other musics at the K2 Lounge in New York City at the Rubin Museum of Art. Please come through and enjoy drinks and small plates and the exhibits at the museum (entrance is free) while I play a mainly chill, atmospheric kind of set.

Although my set ranges pretty widely across anything that could be considered Himalayan and central Asian, I thought I'd mention that it's been a pleasure to explore what little I have so far found out of the Central Asian music scene.

One of the names that reached me most easily is Monâjât Yultchieva (Munadjat Yulchieva is one alternate spelling among many). Womad, the international festival circuit, BBC world music curators and the like have contributed to the forces that bring her music to people like me poking around online for gorgeous voices. She sings classical Uzbek and Persian-language music, including some sufi poetry.

I'd love to know more of this music, and more of the pop music from the region as well. Through this gig I have been lucky to meet some very nice Tajik/Uzbek people, folks who come up when they hear the music I'm playing .. it's really lovely to see people get happy to hear music from home that that they associate with family and history and something positive.

Sadly Uzbek people at home are currently facing many terrible political, social and economic struggles (that the US and the West are not separated from aw heck the US has actively supported) and I don't pretend to have much useful to say about that. But it reminds me why it's important to be thoughtful about context: when you pull out the music, sometimes the history comes with it.  I was reminded, in researching Uzbek music just a little, why it is important to do the research.

As someone who loves music and wants to use music to connect to people and welcome them, the more I know about the music the better, so I can be more sure I'm doing what I want to be doing with the music. Just last week a blogger for the Atlantic posted a video of a pop song performed by "Googoosha" who apparently is the daughter of the president of Uzbekistan. The video looks pretty cool, it takes place in Bukhara and features some acrobatic Parkour among other things. But as some very polite commenters point out, the woman who is featured as the artist is possibly the most hated woman in Uzbekistan, who profits greatly and continually from her father's violent, corrupt, secretive, regime based on government-forced child labor. I wouldn't want to play music that valorized or reminded folks from there of that aspect of Uzbekistan, if I had the choice. (Actually I'm now wondering about all that beautiful Ikat patterned fabric that is part of the "tribal patterns" rage these days -- although it looks like a large percentage of the world's raw cotton is produced by government-forced labor in Uzbekistan..) So anyway I'm leaving out Googoosha from my sets. I'm glad there seems to be a lot of other beautiful sounds to choose from.

I don't know so much background on Yulchieva, only what's out there in English or easily translateable French, but she seems to be linked to a classical tradition that many people feel good about within and outside of Uzbekistan. The other pop, for the most part, I can't find much context for, but at least no explicit links to any regime (as far as I can tell without being able to understand the languages, of course). Here are some tunes that I have been enjoying playing.. feel free to add more context or links to music or places to buy it or download it in the comments!

More pop sounding to me is Go'zal Shaydo,  I like this one especially.

And many of the musics and languages seem to overlap. Shaydo sings some songs that are identified as "Tajik song by Uzbek singer" Here's a Tajik song (apparently) I quite like too..

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