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Karakalpakistan: The Voice of Ancestors

Music of the world

Karakalpakistan is an autonomous republic of Uzbekistan (one of the five post-Soviet states of Central Asia), with its own history, people, language and more generally culture. Discovered by the general public in the eighties because of the Aral Sea ecological disaster, this vast region (170 000km2) has a rich, varied culture. Indeed, the Karakalpaks (1,6 million people) have kept alive a large corpus of cultural traditions in literature, epics and music. This heritage, both original and closely connected with the neighbouring cultures, notably Kazakh and Turkmen, conveys nomadic concepts developed in the steppes, along with sedentary values. This CD aims to present this culture both age-old and alive, with talented young bards and musicians expressing, today, the voice of ancestors. Among the remarkable traits of the traditional Karakalpak culture is the diversity of the epic genre (dastan). Over a hundred epics have been listed, some of them reaching more than eighteen thousand stanza. The epic genre has deeply nurtured all the Karakalpak vocal and instrumental repertoires. Karakalpakistan’s music instruments are common to other peoples in Central Asia. The kobyz fiddle was once the most favoured instrument. Today, the Karakalpaks’ favourite instrument is the dutar, a lute with two strings (du=two, tar= strings) whose neck is fretted. Alongside these two emblematic instruments, the Karakalpak musical culture is also based on traditional vocal and instrumental melodies (with no referenced authors/composers). It is precisely in their relation to daily and ritual life that one can appreciate the resonance and natural beauty of these melodies that have been passed on from one generation to the next. They thus convey, in their own fashion, the voice of ancestors. CD Bonus: besides the 23 audio tracks, the CD includes a .pdf document with the song lyrics in Karakalpak, French and English + DVD bonus