Music - about georgia

Georgia has a wonderful and highly distinctive traditions of polyphonic singing. Apart from lullabies, the songs are usually sung by men, in trios or larger groups. Georgia is one of the few places where the ancient Pythagorean scale and system of tuning has survived, and the "well-tempered" Western tuning has had minimal influence. Therefore modulations are rare in Georgian song except in church music; this produces a rich sonorous flow of sound stabbed from time to time by startling disharmonies, often repeated, before returning to the smooth flow. Polyphony and harmony are both supposed to have existed in Georgia when both Orient and Occident were still monodic. It is easy to see the roots of polyphony in Georgian choral song, in which a single melody was supported by an organ-point or plain chant, to keep the lead singer in pitch; in Georgia the plain chant is usually sung by the middle part. The 11th century scholar Ioanne Petrisi explained the nature of the Trinity in terms of harmonic and melodic functions of the three voices - the mzehekri or top(in fact a mid-tenor), zhiri or low tenor, and bami or bass. The various genres of song include mushuri (working songs), supruli(table songs, including toasts), satrpialo (love songs), sagalobeli (church songs) and sagmiro (epic songs - a long solo from the oral tradition or from a 19th-century writer such as Chavchavadze). Songs are mostly in the form of a strophic rondo, with or without refrain, with syllabic setting as a rule. Rhythmically, there is often a swift alternation of ¾ and 6/8 in the same phrase, accounting for the "bouncy" nature of Georgian secular song. The most complex polyphony is to be found in the western regions, where Byzantine influence was strongest. The most difficult of all is found in Guria, where the composer Honneger was defeated trying to notate a seven-part song; every voice is given a special degree of freedom, with even the bass improvising freely and taking solos. Naduri songs (from nadi, voluntary cooperative labour for harvesting or house-building) are unique to Guria with two choruses of four voices alternating; the top voice (gamkivani or krimanchuli) simply indulges in wordless cries, the tenor or damtskebi carries the poetic text, the third voice or shemkmobari carries the organ-point, and the bass or bani sings a wordless melodic counterpoint to the tenor. The Mingrelians also excel in weaving voices, with "composed" ritenuti and accelerandi. Mingrelia is the only place where you may find mixed choruses of men and women. Wordless (glossolalic) phrases (like "hey-nonny-no in an English madrigal) are especially common in the west of Georgia. danceSvaneti, high in the Caucasus, has kept alive a primeval and ethereal style of three-part singing, with pentatonic harmonies (unlike the rest of Georgia). This is often accompanied by the changi, the Svan harp, which looks as if it is come straight off a Greek vase, or the lute-like chianuri. Svaneti is also rich in round-dances, which gradually accelerate, and in female mourning songs. In Eastern Georgian songs the bass often sings a long steady wordless note, over which almost operatic tenors sing ornamented tunes with words in close harmony; in hymns the bass and the first tenor sing relatively long steady notes framing a more elaborate melody in the low tenor, with all parts singing words. Some of the richest, most sonorous and wine-soaked songs predictably come from Kakheti, while further south you find the long, lyrical orovel, originally sung while ploughing. Church music, which shows a direct line of descent from Byzantium, is slower and softer than secular music with harmonies and melodic patterns more interwoven, and a static rhythm. The neumas (musical notation) was gradually lost from the 17th century, and only deciphered in the mid-20th century, although local styles were passed down verbally. At weddings a hymn to the Virgin by King Demetre I (1125-1156), "You are the Vine" ( Shen Khar Venakhi), is still sung. For several days before Easter singers of songs known as chona (from the word for the skin masks they wear) will go around villages; similarly on Christmas Eve (January 5) carols will be sung around the village. Despite the predominance of song, instruments are also part of the Georgian tradition; the oldest yet found is a 3,000-year-old bone shawn (salamuri) from near Mtskheta. Nowadays you may come across the clarinet-like duduki and the oboe-like zurna (both Armenian in origion), the sazandari(like the Austrian Waldhorn), the changuri(a four-stringed lute), the phanduri (a smaller three-stringed instrument) and the daira or tambourine. Racha is famous for the gudastviri, a sort of double-barrelled bagpipe. There is also a kind of modern folk music, known as "urban music", which has developed in the last hundred years and can now be heard in every car and bar in Georgia. It has catchy tunes and sentimental lyrics, sung in simple harmony to guitar accompaniment. The most famous example is Suliko, a song of homesickness by the poet Akaki Tsereteli. The Rustavi choir is the best-known of Georgia`s professional ensembles; it produced some fine recordings, now on CD, which serve as a good instruction to Georgian song. Similarly the Tsinandali Choir produced an enjoyable collection, Table Songs of Georgia, in fact all from Kakheti. As ever, French companies such as Ocora have produced some good compilations of field recordings, including a fine collection from Svaneti. In the field of classical music, the great bass Paata Burchuladze (born 1955) is Georgia`s main claim to fame; he is very much in the Western operatic tradition as well as in Russia and is in great demand worldwide. Well-known conductors were Jansugh Kakhidze, Evgeni Mikeladze; the famous pianist are Eliso Virsaladze and violinist Liana Isakadze and Elizabeth Batiashvili. The Tbilisi opera house is named after the composer Zakaria Paliashvili (1817-1933), who established classical music in Georgia in he 19th century.


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