Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

China's Praerie Music

Jul 22

Written by:
7/22/2009 3:02 PM  RssIcon

Great Eurasianet series on the Kazakh, Kyrgyz minorities' music on China's troubled western frontier

If you get a chance take a look and a listen: Eurasianet, a portal studying Central Asian political and social issues, has posted a great piece of reportage on the state-sanctioned revivial of folk music in Xinjiang province, the majority Turkic-muslim province in the news lately after riots between ethnic Uyghur natives and Han Chinese residents.

Reporter Anne Laure Py did a good job crossing the region to track the revival of the dombra-driven folk songs among local Kazakh and Kyrgyz communities. Ethnically close to the Uyghurs these communities crossed in and out of China and their ethnic homelands to avoid the various raths of Stalin and Mao, neither of whom had much time for cultural diversity or preservation.

It's very interesting to listen to Zhouji, a Han Chinese ethnomusicologist with genuine respect and affection for the songs of these original nomads. A presence right through the multimedia project, he looks the part, with the Gerry Garica-grey goatee and long hair you don't often get on a Chinese academic. There's plenty of characters, and great music in the online series, so take a look.

Dombra tunes are making a comeback in China's muslim west

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