Various Artists

Music of Central Asia: Uzbekistan

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Music of Central Asia: Uzbekistan Review

by Adam Greenberg

Music of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is an album culled from the recordings made by the late ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya during a trip to Uzbekistan in 1970, while still under Soviet rule. Luckily for the cultural aspects of the old central Asian power, the Soviet hold on culture was relatively weak in Uzbekistan, so much of the music survived decently. Here, the primary form of music is that based on the Middle Eastern maqam system, though there are aspects of a number of local folk forms as well. Instrumentation hails from the full area of influence of the Silk Road routes, with the bulk of the instruments having Persian origin (but occasionally Chinese- or Indian-based names) and others coming from Russia in the north or locally. When in vocals, the songs take one of two directions: the first being a male chorus similar in many ways to the Bosnian Muslim chant groups, and the second being a contemporary solo form with orchestral accompaniment, popular in the Middle East. The album overall holds many parallels with cultures surrounding, but puts its own flavor into each composition in subtle ways. Pick it up though for a listen to the musical culture of one of the historical powerhouses of Central Asia, often overlooked.

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