Брэндон Стоун / Brandon Stone / ბრენდონ სთოუნი

March 20th, 2015

Восходящая звезда музыкального олимпа, гениальный молодой певец, композитор, пианист, аранжировщик и продюсер Брэндон Стоун написал более 250 произведений разных жанров и направлений.
Brandon Stone родился в Грузии в 1980 году. Уже в раннем детстве он был влюблён в музыку. С пяти лет играл в вокально-инструментальном ансамбле «Саженцы», которы был известен не только в Грузии, но и во всём Советском Союзе. В 15 лет он уехал за границу. Сначала судьба привела его в Америку, затем он переехал жить в Германию, где он заработал себе имя талантливого певца, композитора и аранжировщика.
В Америке продюссерами Брэндона Стоуна являются Harry Hinde и Joel A.Katz , которые продюссируют таких известных вокалистов, как Mariah Karey, Whitney Houston, Tony Braxton и т.д.
Brandon Stone записал несколько композиций в одной из самых известных студий звукозаписи «East Iris studios», как один из немногих молодых музыкантов. Там он и получил свой сценический псевдоним «Brandon Stone».
В Германии Брэндон Стоун закончил Берлинскую консерваторию по классу фортепиано (джазовое отделение).
Brandon Stone стал известным в Германии, как певец и продюссер. 2002 год Германия встретила с песней Брэндона «Peace to the world» ( «Миру мир») , посвящённую жертвам терракта 11 сентября в Нью Йорке, которую он исполнил перед многомиллионной публикой на Бранденбургских Воротах в центре Берлина. Он выпустил 5 синглов; его рождественский хит «Magic Christmas» в 2003 году занял верхние строчки европейских хит-парадов, а в Испании долгое время находилась на первом месте, подвинув с пьедестала Robbie Williams.
Сейчас Брэндон Стоун продюссирует известную представительницу германского шоу-бизнесса Kader Loth .
В апреле 2005 года Brandon Stone выпустил свой первый русскоязычный альбом «Случайный взгляд», в создании которого принимали участие многие талантливые музыканты и поэты: Лариса Машкевич, Дмитрий Геллер, Евгений Харьков, Лора Григ и один из лучших гитаристов Европы Франк Яуэрник. На одну из песен этого альбома («Моя мадонна») текст и музыку которой написала Лариса Машкевич, был снят видеоклип знаменитым грузинским режиссёром Зазой Орашвили.
В июле 2005 года Брэндон Стоун громко заявил о себе в российском шоу-бизнесе, приняв участие в самом престижном и популярном конкурсе «Новая волна» в Юрмале. Он оказывал помощь организаторам конкурса в подготовке конкурсантов,как музыкальный продюссер, написал песню, с которой участница конкурса Тина Кароль заняла второе место и получила специальный приз от Аллы Пугачёвой. Сам Brandon лидировал после первого конкурсного дня и занял призовое место. После конкурса, в соавторстве с Евгением Харьковым, он написал две песни для дуэта с Тиной Кароль, которые сразу стали хитами на Украине, после чего Brandon получил приглашение принять участие в съёмках телепередачи «Песня года». Так же в Берлине, на студии продюссерского центра «Brandon Stone Production», планируется запись нового альбома Тины Кароль.
География концертных выступлений Brandon Stone очень обширна: Лос-Анжелес, Нью-Йорк, Монте-Карло, Барселона, Берлин, Брюссель, Париж, Рига , и уже ждут его выступлений Киев, Минск, Москва и другие столицы и города стран СНГ.
Яркий талант и завораживающий голос Брэндона ставят его в ряд с немногими исполнителями, которые сохраняют и обогащают лучшие традиции популярной музыки, привнося индивидуальность и содержательность своего творчества.

Georgian Polyphonia

March 1st, 2015

Georgia has a unique tradition of polyphonic choral singing. Georgian traditional polyphony (music consisting of two or more related melodic lines) is not the result of any effort to create arrangements for the concert stage. On the contrary, it is the result of a creative process believed to have sprouted naturally and autonomously from the Georgian people before the Middle Ages, well before polyphony was used anywhere else in Europe. It has continued to develop orally from generation to generation and represents something very different from the traditional music of its neighbours, which has remained primarily monophonic (music in which melodic interest is confined to one line). Traces of archaism, which defy the conventions of harmony, counterpoint, and voice leading, are still present in Georgian folk music, and at times make the music seem very modern. Songs are predominantly sung in three-part harmony, in which all parts are of equal importance. The sonic result thus places more importance on the harmony than the melodic line. The folk music of Georgia is as widely varied as the geographical areas from which it sprang, and ranges from the intricate melismatic singing style of the east to the fierce, dissonant, and complex counterpoint of the west. Due to urbanization and displaced populations, however, Georgia’s traditional music in the rural regions is being threatened. With the help of NGOs, UNESCO, and a vibrant traditional musical scene in the capital city of Tbilisi, efforts are being made to reinvigorate the rural musical practices.

The traditional songs of Georgia are rooted in a bygone lifestyle of the country’s rural people. Work songs, healing songs, dance songs, lullabies, travelling songs, wedding songs, Christmas and Easter songs, historical songs, etc. were all an intrinsic part of everyday living. Now, however, because of great technological and political/administrative changes that have occurred in Georgia and throughout the world, many of these songs have lost their original meaning. For instance, work songs, whose rhythmic qualities improved productivity, have fallen into disuse today. But the songs have not entirely disappeared. Liturgical songs are once again sung freely in churches, and a vast range of Georgian traditional music can be heard on the concert stage, and also at the lavish Georgian banquets called supra.

If one is describing Georgian culture, attention must surely be given to the traditional Georgian supra. At first glance it would be described as a banquet at which there is much food, wine, toasting, and singing. However, this does not describe the spiritual side of a supra.

Whenever space allows, the supra is always held at one long table, or a makeshift table of many joined together end to end, running from one room to another, if need be. The table is laden with wine jugs which are always kept full of excellent Georgian wine, and copious amounts of food of all kinds, so much so that the table surface almost disappears.

Each supra has a tamada (the closest English translation is “toastmaster”) and is chosen by the host of the supra before the supra begins. Fulfilling one’s role as a tamada is an art form in itself. A good tamada is a poet/wit/philosopher/social commentator/orator/singer who creatively improvises a beautiful atmosphere of community, camaraderie and love through his toasts which introduce periods of tranquility and reflection amidst the extroverted energy of table conversation. Through an adroit choice of songs which are sung after every toast, the message of each toast is given more resonance.

The order in which the toasts are given is important. Throughout most of Georgia, the first toast is always to peace, followed by a toast to parents, to brothers and sisters, to those who have passed away (especially to any friend or relative of any person present at the table), to life (especially to the lives of the children of those who have recently passed away), and then to love and friendship.

After all these toasts have been made in this order, the tamada is free to choose his own additional topics, maintaining the established creative flow, usually relating these toasts to the people present or to the occasion which prompted the supra. The topics, to name a few, might be to ancestors, to mothers, to beauty, to creativity, to absent friends who are far away, etc. After any of the evening’s toasts, a guest, with the permission of the tamada, can add some thoughts of his or her own with another toast on the same topic. Starting a new topic without the tamada’s permission would be a social blunder. One important rule of the supra is that there should be no negative remarks or toasts, and it is the responsibility of the tamada to ensure that this rule is observed. Another rule of the supra is that one must not be drinking one’s wine unless a toast has just been made, and so it is the tamada’s responsibility to space out the toasts accordingly, so that everyone has a chance to imbibe, but not so often that people might become too intoxicated. In the hands of a good tamada, a supra is a beautiful, moving experience.

Tsiko-tsiko (Georgian Folk Instruments)

February 23rd, 2015

Tsiko-tsiko came to Georgia from Europe in the 1830s. Tsiko-Tsiko mainly accompanies dances.

Tsiko-tsiko as well as Garmoni became popular among folk musicians. Tsiko-Tsiko mainly accompanies dances. Only women play on it.

Traditional vocal polyphony

January 11th, 2015

Georgian folk music is predominantly vocal and is widely known for its rich traditions of vocal polyphony. It is widely accepted in contemporary musicology that polyphony in Georgian music predates the introduction of Christianity in Georgia (beginning of the 4th century AD). All regional styles of Georgian music have traditions of vocal a cappella polyphony, although in the most southern regions (Meskheti and Lazeti) only historical sources provide the information about the presence of vocal polyphony before the 20th century.

Vocal polyphony based on ostinato formulas and rhythmic drone are widely distributed in all Georgian regional styles. Apart from these common techniques, there are also other, more complex forms of polyphony: pedal drone polyphony in Eastern Georgia, particularly in Kartli and Kakheti table songs (two highly embellished melodic lines develop rhythmically free on the background of pedal drone), and contrapuntal polyphony in Achara, Imereti, Samegrelo, and particularly in Guria (three and four part polyphony with highly individualized melodic lines in each part and the use of several polyphonic techniques). Western Georgian contrapuntal polyphony features the local variety of the yodel, known as krimanchuli.

Both east and west Georgian polyphony is based on wide use of sharp dissonant harmonies (seconds, fourths, sevenths, ninths). Because of the wide use of the specific chord consisting of the fourth and a second on top of the fourth (C-F-G), the founder of Georgian ethnomusicology, Dimitri Arakishvili called this chord the “Georgian Triad”. Georgian music is also known for colorful modulations and unusual key changes.

Georgian polyphonic singing was among the first on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. Georgian polyphonic singing was relisted on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

Iavnana

December 27th, 2014

Iavnana (Georgian: იავნანა) is a genre of Georgian folk song, traditionally intended as a lullaby, but historically sung also as healing songs for the sick children. Some of the Iavnana lyrics are, however, of didactical or heroic character.

The name of the genre comes from its refrain iavnana (or iavnaninao, nana naninao, etc.), which contains the vocable nana (ნანა), purportedly derived from the name of a pagan mother goddess. Some of its variants, e.g., iavnana vardo nana, combine the names of the two flowers violet (ia) and rose (vardi) which frequently feature in Georgian folklore and classical literature, and are commonly associated with feminine and masculine symbols, respectively.

Over sixty versions of “Iavnanas” have been recorded. Most of these lullabies are sung directly to the child, and are largely preserved in modern-day Georgia. Many of the Iavnana variants, however, were “healing songs” performed specifically in the presence of the sick child, but addressed to the “lords” (batonebi) or “angels” (angelozebi), the spirits who were popularly believed to have taken possession of the patient suffering from smallpox, measles, scarlet fever or other infectious diseases.

The Iavnana motifs have been exploited in their poetry by several Georgian poets such as Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, and Galaktion Tabidze.

Грузинский национальный балет [Sukhishvilebis Gundi]

November 4th, 2014

Suxishvili Ансамбль народного танца, аналогичный коллективу Игоря Моисеева или «Березке», создали в Грузии известные танцовщики Илико Сухишвили и Нино Рамишвили. В знаменитой тифлисской балетной студии Перини, которую они окончили, занимался и Сулико Вирсаладзе, будущий главный художник Кировского театра, наставник и соавтор Юрия Григоровича. В 1945 году, сразу по окончании войны, Сухишвили и Рамишвили начали возрождать грузинский танцевальный фольклор в старой нетопленой филармонии, а Вирсаладзе помогал им, лично расписывая костюмы из дешевой бязевой ткани. Уже в 1948 году ансамбль выпустили на гастроли в Европу. Концерты прошли с оглушительным успехом, и приглашения посыпались со всех сторон.

Cлава коллектива сейчас стала поистине мировой. «Восьмое чудо света» – именно так окрестила ансамбль “Сухишвили” международная пресса. «Грузинский национальный балет – это уникальный феномен, который хотя бы раз нужно увидеть собственными глазами», – пишет французская газета Le Figaro. «Во всем мире не найти лучшего ансамбля народного танца», – вторит французам The Washington Post. «Грузинские артисты балета – само совершенство. Это даже не танец, это – полет. Шторм прямо на сцене!», – таковы восторженные реплики журналиста австралийской Daily Mirror.

SuxishviliБалет «Сухишвили» стал первым ансамблем народного танца, который выступил на подмостках знаменитого миланского оперного театра «Ла Скала». После заключительного танца артистов трижды вызывали на бис. Занавес поднимался 14 раз и рекорд знаменитого тенора Энрике Карузо был побит – при нем занавес поднимался одиннадцать раз. Оглушительный успех встречал артистов во всем мире – во время гастролей на Бродвее выступление Грузинского национального балета было названо лучшим шоу года, а сам коллектив – лучшим балетом Бродвея. В коллекции “Сухишвили” – награда королевы Великобритании.

Теперь всемирно известным ансамблем, получившим статус «национального балета Грузии», руководит уже третье поколение династии Сухишвили—Рамишвили.

Salamuri (Georgian Folk Instruments)

October 23rd, 2014

Salamuri is widespread wind musical instrument in all regions of Georgia (especially in Kartli, Kakheti, Meskheti, Tusheti, Pshavi, and Imereti). Relics obtained from archaeological excavations prove the existence of Salamuri in Georgia from the ancient times. Among the relics found by an archaeological expedition in Mtskheta (Eastern part of Georgia), one thing very interesting for Georgian musical culture attracts out attention. This is a bone pipe, found in 1938 at the northern section of Samtavro’s sepulcher. This “Salamuri” is made of swan(shin) bone. It is unreeded and has only three small keys on the front side. The surface of the instrument is well polished. Its length is 19,9cm. The size of blowing part is 1,1cm and the bottom’s part is 1,8cm. It has been put with 14-15 year old dead boy into the grave. Many other things were also put there: earthenware, crockery, arms, clothes, a talisman and so on. It is worthy of note that there were sheep bones, bull’s head and feet bones there as well. On account of this the guide of the expedition the academician Iv. Djavakhishvili called it “The grave of a little shepherd”. The examination of sepulchre showed that it is dated back to XII-XI century B.C. and if we take into consideration the instrument’s well developed design, it should have been widely spread in Georgia a long time before the mentioned date. Bone-pipes (Salamuris) were also found in “Uphliscikhe” (monastery) among the things contributed to the God of Beauty.

At present this Salamuri is kept in “Simon Djnashia State Museum”. Researchers once have tried to make sound from it and have issued only four sounds. What they considered to be sufficient for their archaeological researches also have counted sufficient. It was understandable as no one expected anything greater. It is necessary to note, that the researchers did not pay adequate attention to these four sounds. This instrument has an absolutely perfected and correct tetra chord that outstrips by thousands of years Greek tetra chord formation. But this Salamuri keeps much more secrets in itself! It appeared, that it is possible to issue 10 sounds from it not by the over-blowing, but by inclining the instrument under different angles, and in this way we get seven different tetra chords that, as the final result, it represents sound system.

In Georgia, there are two kinds of Salamuri preserved till the present day: reeded and unreeded Salamuri. These two kinds of Salamuri differ in their timber, form, sound range and resonance. The unreeded Salamuri represents a pipe of approx. 380-400mm in length. It has 8 front keys and sometimes one key on the back side. The first front key is placed 13cm. apart from the head, but the other 6 front keys are separated by equal distance (3cm). It is often made from cane, apricot-tree, reed and elder. It becomes slightly narrower towards the end, to blow in comfortably. The unreeded Salamuri has a diatonic scale of one octave. By overblowing, its compass increases. The unreeded Salamuri is mainly used in parts of east Georgia (Kakheti, Kartli, Meskheti, Tusheti and Pshavi). But the reeded Salamuri represents a wooden pipe of 23-36cm. in length with a cut-off head. As usual, it has 8 front keys and one back key (between front first and second keys). The reed of Salamuri is a small tap (1,2-1,5cm) inside the pipe. Reeded Salamuri is more often made out of walnut and apricot trees. Despite the fact that the reeded Salamuri is smaller than the unreeded one, its technical abilities are considerably higher (richer sounding and larger sound range). It is more difficult to design the reeded Salamuri and requires master’s experienced hand. The salamuri has a diatonic scale of one octave. By overblowing, its compass increases. The wood material for Salamuri should be proportionally grown up, straight, carefully cut down and drilled from the beginning to the end. The hollow and surface should be well polished. Then they would cut the pipe’s head and attach the instrument’s reed to this place. On the surface, the area of reed is a bit cut off. Only from this air way the air should be emitted, that is why the blowing part (neck) is entirely closed. Then they cut 8 oval front keys along the instrument’s reed. They should be separated from each other by equal distance (2cm). The 9th key is cut out on the opposite side of the pipe (between first and the second keys). Thus, Salamuri is divided into three parts: the head or neck part, body or the key part and the ending. Each of them has its own size and a certain interrelation. The closer the first key is to the reed of the instrument the more high-pitched sound is produced. Men usually play Salamuri. Reeded Salamuri is widely spread all over Georgia. Salamuri started its existence in pastoral atmosphere. Consequently, Salamuri’s repertoire mainly consists of shepherd melodies. It was often accompanied combined with “Doli” (drum). The reeded Salamuri seems to be originated a bit later than the unreeded one and it was the widest spread folk instrument all over Georgia. That is made evident not only by the legends but also by the monuments of classical literature. According to the people’s belief, the sorrows of human being were the reason of creating Salamuri. The legend says that when the first reed grew up on the orphan’s grave, the wind blew and the reed moaned in a sad voice. Salamuri was an inseparatable close friend of a farmer that cheered him up in times of sorrow and sweetened his merriments. According to people’s belief, nothing can destroy a reed pipe; even fire cannot damage it. The parents’ faces are seen through its ashes and even the broken parts emit sweet tunes. According to some of the legends, people were presented with this instrument by God. That is why it is considered to be a divine musical instrument.

Georgian people, when creating each musical instrument tried resemble the nature’s sounds with them. For instance, Salamuri’s tunes sounds like birds’ song. According to the legends, Salamuri’s tunes cheered people up, tamed animals, makes birds sing, its sad tunes relieved human sorrows. According to one tale, Salamuri’s sad tunes could even make the grass cry.

Professional Salamuri players say that there is a difference between techniques of performance on these instruments: the reeded Salamuri is more difficult to play than the unreeded one. However, one can play any melody he/she wants on reeded Salamuri. The technical abilities of unreeded Salamuri are limited.

When designing Salamuri, masters take into account with which instrument it is going to be played. According to this, they define the octave range of the instrument. The masters can design two kinds of Salamuri: I-part and II-part (deep-voiced Salamuri is also produced).

Today this instrument has a stable place in Georgian folk ensembles. It has been traveling all over the world together with the spirited Georgian dances and has been spreading the sweet tunes of Iberian Salamuri.

When covering Salamuri by our fingers while slightly blowing we get C of the first octave. We pronounce the sound “T”. When lifting one low finger completely we get the sound D and if we lift the finger partly from C we get C. If we lift a finger from D completely we get E and lifting finger partly from E we get E. Then comes F when completely lifting the finger from E and when lifting a finger partly from F we get F. The G comes, partly lifting G, then A, B, completely lifting, H- lifting partly. When covering by all the fingers and blowing strongly we get C of the second octave. The sounds of the second octave we can get by lifting the fingers and blowing stronger.

Georgian Urban Musical Folklore

October 9th, 2014

Georgian urban musical art is an important part of national musical folklore. This artistically independent layer was born as a result of the synthesis of different cultural traditions and survived up to the 20 th century in two major branches – Eastern (one-voiced) and Western (multi-voiced) urban folklore.

The interference of Eastern tunes in Georgia started in the 16 th –17 th centuries. The Eastern branch of urban folklore is also called Ashugh art. It was born in Samstkhe-Javakheti and Kartli-Kakheti as a result of the Muslim settlement. The popularity of Ashugh art is associated with the names of Sayatnova and Besiki – poets and musicians at the court of King Erekle II in the 18 th century. Sayatnova, an Armenian by origin, spent almost all his life in Georgia. He wrote poems in three languages – Georgian, Armenian and Persian and sang them in Persian melodies. Besiki, a Georgian poet, could perfectly play the saz and tar. He introduced the forms typical of oriental poetry – baiati and mukhambazi, into Georgian poetry. These forms gained a foothold in the 19 th century Tbilisi and laid foundation to the Tbilisi musical folklore. Eastern art was of syncretic character, because the elements of music, poetry and theatre were organically merged in it. Ashughs were the people gifted with the talent of poetry and music, and the ability of improvisation. They occupied a distinguished place in the cultural life of Tbilisi. The ashughs Satara, Saginashvili, Shamchi-Melko, Evangula, Chipr-Dalakishvili, Hazira, Yetim Gurji and others were especially popular.

Lyrical-intimate, eulogic, patriotic and social themes are leading in their creative works. Among the most famous samples of Tbilisi folklore are Akhal Aghnago Sulo, Mukhambazi, Akh Mtvarev, Avar-Avar, Patara Bichi, Kekeljan, Shenda Sheqramdis, etc.

Georgian urban one-voiced songs bear a clearly expressed Eastern colouring. They are characterized by melismatic ornamentation of basic pitches, harmonic major and minor descending tetra-chord with augmented seconds, alternation of meter, etc.

Eastern instruments represent organic part of the urban folklore’s eastern branch. Generally, singing was accompanied by non-Georgian instruments duduki, zurna,saz and others. The ensemble of eastern instruments was called dasta.

This flow of urban folklore was broadly used by the classics of Georgian music, especially in romances and operatic lyrical arias.

Urban folklore of the western manner is a phenomenon of later times; it became popular in the second half of the 19 th century and its origin is associated with the activity of the Italian opera group in Tbilisi from 1851. The synthesis of Neapolitan songs, Italian operatic arias, Russian romances, students’ songs and Georgian traditional multi-voiced singing created a new type of polyphony, based on the major-minor functionality. These songs are performed by two or three voices with the accompaniment of a guitar. National colouring together with the intonational structure is also enriched by specific glossolalia. Many urban multi-voiced songs of this branch are closely connected with Georgian poetry. They were especially widespread in the towns of Kutaisi and Zestaponi in Imereti. The most popular songs are Tsitsinatela, Aghmart-Aghmart, Santelivit Chavkrebi, Morbis Aragvi, Mesmis-Mesmis and others. Multi-voiced urban song, in its turn, had great impact on the lyrical nature of Georgian professional music in the 1940s.

Joseph Jordania – Distribution of Vocal Polyphony among the World’s Musical Cultures

August 6th, 2014

The University of Melbourne, AustraliaThis article is designed to give a reader general picture of the distribution of vocal polyphony in different regions of the world. Due to the large number of polyphonic cultures the reader will not find the specific details of different local polyphonic traditions here.

Before the actual information about the distribution of vocal polyphonic cultures it is appropriate to discuss few important points.

“What is polyphony, or how should we define it?”

Polyphony is usually defined as a type of a music, where there is more than one pitch heard at the same time. Generally agreeing with this definition of polyphony, I believe this definition is one-sided and does not take into account a very important social aspect of vocal polyphony. I believe we must distinguish two equally important components of traditional vocal polyphony: social and musical. Socially polyphony implies active musical interaction within the group of the people. Musically polyphony implies having more than one pitch during the performance. It is clear that traditional definition of the polyphony is based on musical component only and does not take social component into account.

Social and musical aspects of polyphony do not always go together in various cultures. For example, the phenomenon of unison (/octave) singing socially represents polyphony (as group singing), although musically it is a monophony (only one pitch). On the other hand the unique overtone singing of some Central Asian cultures musically represents polyphony although socially it is not polyphony.

Social polyphony is distributed extremely wide across the world musical cultures. Most of so-called “monophonic cultures” (such as Chinese, Australian Aboriginal, or most of American Indian music cultures) have traditional forms of social polyphony (group singing). Arguably, there is no culture without some traditional forms of group singing. One of the true universals of human musical cultures – the antiphonal dialog between two parties (between soloists, two groups, and particularly between soloist and a group) represents the most basic and widespread form of social polyphony.

Our review mostly represents cultures where vocal polyphony is represented by both – social and musical – components. Regions where multi-part singing is represented by musical component only (without social component) are marked as having “elements” of vocal polyphony. Cultures with social polyphony only (unison or octave singing) are not discussed in this article, but readers should remember that there is hardly a culture without social polyphony.

“Where should we put the “dividing line” between multi-part (or polyphonic) and one-part (or monophonic) singing?

According to my attitude towards the definition of polyphonic singing, there is no clear borderline between polyphony and monophony. Strictly speaking, I do not believe there is any purely monophonic culture in the world, the one without any elements of social/or musical polyphony.

Both social and musical aspects of polyphony should be present in a tradition to qualify as polyphonic. Cultures with a tradition of group unison singing (without multi-part singing) are in the group of cultures with social polyphony only. This is a huge group of cultures comprising about the half of the world musical cultures. These cultures (without musical aspect of polyphony) in my classification represent the group of cultures traditionally known as monophonic cultures. Tradition of overtone singing, on the other hand, represents the tradition where musical aspect of polyphony is present, although the social aspect is not. Some singing styles (particularly unison-heterophonic singing) are in a position of a “transitional phenomenon” between polyphonic and monophonic singing styles.

“Is there such a thing as “polyphonic musical culture” and “monophonic musical culture”?

Despite my own belief that there is no strict division between polyphonic and monophonic singing traditions, and that there are no purely monophonic cultures in the world, some cultures could be viewed as “polyphonic” and some as “Monophonic”. Being polyphonic or monophonic is one of the most important and basic characteristic features for most of musical cultures. For the representatives of so-called “polyphonic cultures” (where both – social and musical components of polyphony are widely represented) it is quite usual to view even one-part melodies as a part of multi-part texture, or to sing an accompanying part to the unfamiliar melodies from their own or other cultures. For polyphonic cultures co-sounding of different parts is often more important than the melodic development of each part. Musical texture is often based on repetitive short melodic phrases, and songs may not be based around the ‘main melody of a song’. From the social point of view during the process of the performance society usually is not divided into “performers” and “listeners”, as in polyphonic cultures all the members of the society are usually performers and listeners at the same time.

On the other hand, in so-called “monophonic cultures” linear development is paramount and songs usually have well defined and complex melodic structure. The role of the individual performer is crucial. The importance of individual performer in monophonic cultures leads to the professionalisation of musical culture. The role of musical instruments (particularly string instruments) is much more important in monophonic cultures, and the instruments are often technically more elaborated than in polyphonic cultures. Professionalisation of individual performers in monophonic cultures often leads to the creation of complex theoretical systems of scales and modes. Unlike the polyphonic cultures where the process of the performance often does not divide the society on “performers” and “listeners”, in most of the monophonic cultures the roles of a “performer/performers” and “listeners” are clearly defined.

We should also remember that musical culture of some countries consists of both – polyphonic and monophonic types of traditional music, and the singing practices of certain region/regions of a country could be very different from the singing practices of the other regions of the same country.

“What is the relationship between vocal and instrumental forms of polyphony?

There is no doubt that there is an intrinsic intimate relationship between vocal and instrumental forms of polyphony (and generally music) in any given culture. At the same time this relationship is often more subtle and does not necessarily mean that instrumental and vocal music will have the same forms of monophony or polyphony. For example, some of the Central Asian countries combine vocal monophony with quite developed instrumental polyphony. Generally speaking, instrumental polyphony is geographically spread much wider than vocal polyphony. Cultures with the vocal forms of polyphony usually have instrumental polyphony as well, but at least some cultures with monophonic singing traditions have instrumental polyphony.

One of the most interesting aspects of relationship between vocal and instrumental forms of music is that different types of traditional instruments within cultures show different links with their own vocal music. Blown instruments seems to have much more intimate relationship with the vocal tradition rather than string instruments (this could be the result of breathing – common feature for both singing and playing on blown instruments). This general closeness of the vocal music with the blown instrumental music allows us (to some extend) to reconstruct the presence of vocal forms of polyphony in some ancient civilizations where polyphonic blown instruments (e.g., double polyphonic flutes) were widely spread.

“What are the origins of vocal polyphony – did it come from the further development of the initial one-part singing tradition?

Strictly speaking, this question has nothing to do with the actual distribution of vocal polyphony in different cultures. At the same time this important question often affects the way we are looking at the historical dynamics of the distribution of vocal forms of polyphony in different regions of the world. The initial common belief of musicologists and ethnomusicologists that polyphony came as a late (and natural) development of the initial monophonic singing tradition is outdated. Numerous examples of wonderfully developed vocal polyphony from the most remote and economically undeveloped regions of the world suggest that polyphony could be extremely ancient integral part of human musical culture. During the last 20 years in my publications I argued that the origins of human group singing and vocal polyphony goes back to the beginnings of the evolution of hominids. According to this model, there are close historical links between the origins of human part-singing and the evolution of human intelligence, language and speech.

Before we start discussing distribution of vocal polyphony in different regions of the world we should note, that polyphony is truly a world phenomenon, and it is spread (in different forms and different quantities) on every continent of our planet. Primarily because of such a wide distribution and complexity and diversity of styles, the detailed map of polyphony is as difficult to create, as the detailed map of the entire world musical styles. Our article, as it mentioned before, does not go into the details and does not (and can not) represent the whole richness of the world of polyphony.

Secondly, this article discusses vocal forms of polyphony only. We will be mentioning instrumental polyphony only in the context of its links with the vocal forms of polyphony.
And finally, we should remember that our article represents not the distribution of polyphonic singing among the contemporary populations, but rather the distribution of polyphony among the ideally represented “indigenous” populations of the world. For example, discussing American continents we will mostly concentrate on distribution of polyphonic singing among different American Indian tribes of the North and South America. Distribution of polyphonic styles in relatively new European, African and other populations of Americas will be briefly mentioned. I will also try (wherever this is possible) to convey the information about the distribution of polyphonic singing in earlier epochs. We have such a possibility because of the richness of literary and archaeological evidence from some regions (such as North Europe, North Africa, West Asia and Central America).

My comments will follow the continents and the large sections of the continents, generally accepted in contemporary regional studies in different disciplines. We will start with Africa, followed by Europe, Asia, Americas, Australia and Oceania.

A F R I C A. Starting with Africa is justified by the fact, that African continent represents the biggest and the most active region of the distribution of traditional forms of vocal polyphony.

African continent is traditionally divided into two big regions: (1) North Africa and (2) Sub-Saharan Africa. This division has its merits for understanding of the distribution of vocal polyphony in Africa, although the distribution of traditions of polyphonic and monophonic styles makes good sense to actually distinguish three big regions in Africa: (1) sub-Saharan Africa, (2) North Africa, and (3) Sahara.

Sub-Saharan Africa represents arguably the largest region of distribution of vocal polyphony in the world. Representatives of all language families in Africa enjoy singing in groups. Responsorial singing is ubiquitous. The main compositional principle used in African polyphony is parallel movement of parts. Parallel movements of parts in African polyphony are obviously connected to the tone character of African languages. According to the influential work of Gerhard Kubik, the main principle of traditional polyphony in Central and East Africa is parallel movement of parts together with the principle of “skipping the neighboring note”. So in case of the full diatonic scale we will have parallel thirds all the time. In case of the hexatonic scale (and in its most popular version – major scale without the 7th grade) we will have mostly parallel thirds with occasional fourths, and in case of pentatonic scale we will have mostly parallel fourths with an occasional third. Consonants (particularly thirds and triads) are the basis of the vertical coordination of different parts, and the drone is almost completely absent in sub-Saharan African polyphonic traditions.

Crucial importance of the polyphony and harmony for the African music led one of the first native African musicologist George Balanta to declare famously (and rather controversially) that “All African melodies are constructed upon harmonic background…”

African traditional music is among the best recorded of the World. This led Alan Lomax to declare that Africa was “the best recorded of the continents”. Hugh Tracey, who valued African music primarily for its esthetical value, arguably did the largest number of recordings of African music.

One of the most important and influential polyphonic traditions in Africa comes from Central African Pygmies and San from South Africa. Tradition of yodeling is extremely developed among San and particularly among pygmies (reaching sometimes the complexity of eight different yodeling parts singing in interlocking texture). Ethnomusicologists agree that music of large number of Central and southern African tribes were strongly influenced by Pygmy polyphony. Some scholars (Grimaud, Rouget, Lomax) suggested that Pygmy and San music (particularly their traditions of vocal polyphony) have common roots.

Solo polyphony (overtone singing) is also present in Africa in two isolated cultures: among Xhosa in South Africa and Wagogo in Central Tanzania.

New African music, based on the use of European musical instruments and the elements of tonal harmony together with the traditional forms of polyphony and principles of the vertical coordination of the parts (including the prevalence of the parallel thirds) is developing dynamically. After the first isolated attempt of Rycroft in 1958, the study of popular music in Africa gained momentum after the 1980s.

African component played a crucial role in the development of many musical cultures in North, Central and South Americas. Brought as slaves during the 17th-19th centuries mostly from the west coast of the sub-Saharan Africa, African populations brought the active tradition of multi-part singing together with them to their new countries, often becoming the leading element of the newly established musical culture.

North Africa consists mostly of so called “monophonic cultures”. Culturally and linguistically they are part of the bigger Arabic world and have close relationship with the cultures of the Near East. North Africa is one of the most monophonic regions of the World, with the highly developed traditions of solo professional musicians, wonderfully developed musical instruments and well established theoretical knowledge about the system of modes.

Sahara. Although this region culturally and geographically is sometimes perceived as a part of the North Africa, musically is quite distinct from both North Africa and from sub-Saharan Africa. This region is very sparsely populated due to the harsh environment of the World’s biggest desert and mountains. Sahara is the home of indigenous Tuareg and Berber tribes who once were covering the most of the North Africa up to the Mediterranean Sea. Pushed southwards into the desert and mountainous regions by the invasions of Arabs, Berbers and Tuaregs preserved many unique features of their culture. Tradition of vocal polyphony is one of the most important features of Berber-Tuareg musical culture.

Vocal polyphony of Berbers and Tuaregs do not have close relationships with the rich polyphonic traditions of sub-Saharan African populations. On the other hand, traditional polyphony of Berbers and Tuaregs demonstrates links with the polyphonic traditions of northern (European) side of the Mediterranean Sea. Wide use of the drone both in European Mediterranean polyphonic traditions and among Berbers and Tuaregs is the most salient feature shared in both regions.

Musical culture of the Ancient Egypt does not offer as much historical and archaeological evidence as ancient civilizations of the Middle East of North Europe, but there are interesting indications that polyphony was not alien to the musical culture of Egypt. In his attempt to interpret heyronimic musical signs, Hickmann suggested that Ancient Egypt had two-part polyphonic music based on drone. This suggestion is supported by the richness of polyphonic traditions of Mediterranean peoples and the earliest population of North Africa – Tuaregs and Berbers (mostly based on drone).

E U R O P E. Europe is another very important region of the distribution of vocal polyphonic traditions. Unlike sub-Saharan Africa, Europe does not represent a single and almost unbroken region of distribution of vocal polyphony. On the contrary, quick glance at the regions of the distribution of vocal polyphony in Europe reveals that polyphonic cultures are clustered here in few isolated geographic areas.

Mediterranean Region with the adjacent territories comprise major part of European polyphonic cultures. Most of the polyphonic cultures are concentrated around two types of natural environment in Europe – mountains and islands. Corsica and Sardinia have particularly rich polyphonic traditions among the islands of the Mediterranea. All the mountain ranges from the Pyrenean Apennines through to Alps, Balkans and Caucasia represent chain of isolated regions of distribution of traditional forms of vocal polyphony.

Most of the European traditions of polyphony have obvious traces of the influence of European professional music, with its system of harmonic progressions, chord structures and melodic development. Even all those regions which regained their older forms of traditional polyphony – Balkans, Caucasia, and to some extend – Alps, still have the more recent layers of vocal polyphony based on the influence of European professional music and harmonic system.

Despite the large number of isolated regional styles of vocal polyphony, earlier layers of European traditions of vocal polyphony have few important shared features. Two of the most salient features are (1) wide use of drone, and (2) coordination of vocal parts on dissonant intervals.

The same features are represented in most part-singing traditions of East and North Europe. To name only the few, these traditions include: Latvian drone singing with the small range repetitive melodies, unique Lithuanian Sutartines with the chains of seconds, Balkan part-singing with the inventive use of seconds and fourths, Polesye and other Slavic regions with long drones and small range melodies, Mordovian wide range drone-based polyphony and Caucasian two- three-four part polyphony (the latter is found only in Georgia) also based on drone.

Regions of North Europe from Scandinavia to Iceland through British islands and array of other smaller islands are known as another important region of distribution of vocal polyphony, although some of these polyphonic traditions are known to us more from the historical sources than contemporary ethnomusicological recordings. These sources include the written monuments from the Icelandic Sagas to the medieval manuscripts, describing in detail (including the names of the parts) the existing North European tradition of singing in different parts.

A S I A. The largest continent, comprising two thirds of the World human population, with the immense geographic, climatic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, Asia is traditionally divided into several sub-regions. Major parts of Asian musical traditions belong to monophonic cultures, traditions of vocal polyphony are represented in several regions of this huge continent.

One of the largest areas of distribution of vocal polyphony in Asia is South-East Asia. This region does not represent the uninterrupted region of vocal polyphony, but rather many isolated regions (mostly in mountains) where part-singing is still practiced. These regions include up to 25 Chinese ethnic minorities from the southwest of China through to the ethnic minorities in Central and North Vietnam mountains. Polyphonic traditions are also present in several of Indonesia’s islands (particularly on Flores). Taiwan aboriginal tribes Ami, Bunun, and Paiwan are another very important part of polyphonic cultures of this region.

Polyphonic singing of Ainus, the first inhabitants of Japanese islands, living today in North regions of Japan and in adjacent territories of Sakhalin and Kuril Islands, is possibly the most isolated part-singing tradition in the world. Ainu polyphony is often based on extensive use of canons.

Isolated vocal polyphonic traditions are also distributed in different parts of India – most notably in the Northeast region (Asam) and among South Indian tribal populations, as well as in small pockets in mountainous regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Dwellers of the eastern Afghanistan – Nuristanians are another interesting isolated region with interesting forms of vocal polyphony.

Unique solo polyphonic singing style of Central Asian peoples is often called “overtone singing”. The original Mongolian name for this style of singing – khoomii translates as “throat” (hence the ambiguous English term “throat singing”). In overtone singing singer produces a specific tense drone, and using it as a fundamental pitch, on top of the drone produces a melody using the selected series of overtones, avoiding non-pentatonic overtones. This singing style (actually, consisting of several different techniques of voice-production) is particularly widely spread in western part of Tyva (or Tuva), in western Mongolia and adjacent territories (particularly – Altay mountain ranges), Khakassia, Bashkiria, Uzbekistan. Distantly resembling although different singing techniques (using overtones) is also known to exist in Tibetan Buddhist chant, among the Khosa in South Africa and Wagogo in Central Tanzania. Specific “vocal games”, making use of overtones (although this style involves two performers, both women, using each-others mouth cavities) are distributed among Ainus in Japan and Sakhalin and Inuit in northeast Canada.

Elements of vocal polyphony are also found in isolated regions of Anatolia in Turkey, as well as among fisherman of the Persian Gulf and Marsh Arabs of Iraq. These later traditions are particularly interesting in the context of the rich historical and archaeological information about the musical life of ancient civilizations of the Middle East (particularly Sumerrians and Hettites). Polyphonic double blown instruments with two pipes with clearly different functions (often consisting of one drone and one melodic pipes), existence of the temple choirs (Nar-Nari) and lots of figures of ‘singing heads’ in Sumerian temples, and even the first alphabetical musical recordings of two and three-part music from Sumer and Hittites suggest that cultures of the ancient Middle East were familiar with the vocal forms of polyphony some 4000-5000 years ago.

Very interesting three-part-drone singing still exists among Nuristani in Eastern Afganistan.

North & South A M E R I C A. Both North and South Americas mostly represent monophonic cultures with few isolated regions of distribution of vocal forms of polyphony. In North America the most important region of distribution of vocal polyphony is British Columbia in South-West Canada, and California in the USA. Tribes Nootka, Kwakiutli, Selish in British Columbia have interesting forms of vocal polyphony. North-West and North-Central California are another important regions with elements of vocal polyphony. According to the historical sources, vocal forms of polyphony were also spread in southern California

Al for the other regions of North American Indian musical cultures, unison singing (particularly between the soloist and the responding unison chorus) is widespread.

In South America polyphonic traditions are spread geographically wider that in North America, and major part of these traditions (particularly among Amazon rainforest Indian tribes and in Ands) is based on group singing with free heterophonic texture. Elements of canonic polyphonic singing also exist in isolated regions of the Indians of Amazon Peru and Venezuela. In musical traditions of the tribe Q’ero in Peru (they live in high mountains east of Cusco) polyphonic tradition with some unique features is found (particularly interesting are elements of drone, unique for South American Indian music).

The picture of distribution of polyphonic traditions would not be compete without mentioning the polyphonic musical instruments from the ancient civilizations of Central America. Array of double, triple and even quadruple flutes were found in the archaeological cultures of this region. The construction of these instruments suggests that two, three and four part music was played on these instruments, and the use of drone (or even double drones) was widely spread. There is an interesting evidence of the use of parallel seconds as well in some instruments. As polyphonic blown instruments show promising parallels with vocal traditions, there is a possibility that a tradition of vocal polyphony based on drone and use of some dissonances was present in ancient civilizations of Central America.

Among contemporary populations of Central and South America (particularly in the cities), representing a mixture of Indian, European and African populations, polyphonic singing is widely spread. These traditions are particularly rich in the regions with major African populations. Contemporary polyphonic singing is mostly based on European harmonies with parallel thirds.

A U S T R A L I A. Traditional musical culture of Australian aborigines in mostly monophonic, although singing in unison-heterophonic style is widely spread (particularly among Central and South Australian tribes). Musical cultures of the North Australian tribes have clear links with the nearby island cultures. Singing together with the didgeridoo (arguable the deepest drone instrument of the world, thought to be initially introduced from the island cultures) creates interesting vocal-instrumental drone polyphony.

O C E A N I A. Oceania is another very important region of distribution of different forms of vocal polyphony. Vocal polyphony is spread on all three big groups of the islands of the Pacific, although to a very different extend. Micronesia mostly has monophonic singing traditions (although group singing is widely spread here) with some elements of polyphony. Melanesian islands have diverse forms of traditional polyphony, including parallel polyphony and polyphony based on drone and dissonant harmonies. The richest traditions of vocal polyphony are distributed on the vast distances of the Polynesian Islands. Apart from New Zealand Maori almost the whole Polynesia represents the unbroken region of distribution of vocal polyphonic traditions. Part singing in Polynesia unites all strata (genders, ages) of Polynesian population and is one of the central elements of traditional cultural and social life. Polynesian traditional music and polyphony was strongly influenced by the European music brought by Christian missionaries during the last couple of centuries.

For the further reading about the distribution of vocal polyphony in different regions and cultures of the world, ‘Garland Encyclopedia of world Music’ would be a good starting point to look at the general picture and to find the available publications. Two existing books that summarize the available information on world polyphonic cultures for the time of their publication (‘History of Polyphony’ by Marius Schneider, 1934-1945, second edition 1969, and ‘Georgian Traditional Polyphony in an International Context of Polyphonic Cultures: The Problem of the Origins of Polyphony’ by Joseph Jordania, published in 1989) are not available in English.

Kavkasia

July 25th, 2014

A Trio (Alan Gasser, Stuart Gelzer, and Carl Linich) Performing Traditional Vocal Music from the Republic of Georgia. KAVKASIA (meaning “Caucasus”) consists of three Americans who together have more than forty years of experience singing the traditionalusic of Georgia. In 1994 we formed a professional vocal trio dedicated to studying and performing that music. In the years since then, we have performed everywhere from Lincoln Center to the Tbilisi Opera House.

We sing concerts and lead workshops in North America, and we have made several extended visits to Georgia to study with singers there, both in professional ensembles and in remote villages. In 1997 each of us was made a State Prize Laureate and was awarded the Silver Medal of the Georgian Ministry of Culture “for profound knowledge of the folk music of Georgia and his role in its popularization around the world.”

In April 2004 Kavkasia was on tour in New England, performing six concerts: at Williams College, Williamstown, MA; Bennington College, Bennington, VT; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; Saxtons River, VT; Columbia University, New York, NY; and Marlboro, NY.

In August 2004 Kavkasia performed its Tenth Anniversary Concert at the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Toronto.

The same week, Kavkasia taught a six-day intensive workshop on Georgian singing at the Royal Conservatory of Music, in Toronto.

In October 2006 Kavkasia performed in Fredericksburg, Virginia: a workshop at Chancellor High School; a concert and a workshop at the University of Mary Washington; and a concert on the Acoustic Roots series at the Liberty Town Arts Workshop.

In January 2007 Kavkasia performed in Toronto: January 13: concert at the Church of the Holy Trinity presented by Small World Music and the Church of the Holy Trinity and January 14 York University Recital Hall.

In late January 2007 Kavkasia performed in the Bay Area with the women’s vocal ensemble Kitka: January 26 at St. John’s Church in San Francisco; January 27 at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz; January 28 at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland.

What the CRITICS have said about KAVKASIA:

“…exotic, beautifully modulated style… haunting beauty…”
New York Times

“… as riveting as any world beat act.”
Now Magazine

“This music is hundreds of years old, its origins deep in the Caucasus Mountains, harmonious and throaty.”
Weekend Edition, National Public Radio

“… superb blend and tuning… outstanding, both as an introduction to a rich musical tradition and as an example of highly accomplished a cappella singing.”
Toronto Globe and Mail

“This music vibrates up your body, and by the time it gets to the back of your neck, the little hairs on the back of your neck are standing up. It’s quite wonderful.”
Metro Morning, Canadian Broadcasting Company