Thursday, January 29, 2009

Favorite Musician Poster

This is a rather long post, but it concerns a large amount of thought. You see, I don't have a favorite musician. But that was our assignment. So, I after placing numerous individuals, favorites or not, in a conceptual hat, I drew from it... "Tuvan throat-singing." Tuva is a very small country that is located between Siberia and Mongolia. The influences of both Mongolian and Siberian cultures on that of the peoples of this region of the world are VERY apparent.

After this was the task of choosing a specific Tuvan throat-singer upon which to focus my project. I finally decided on Bady-Darzhu. He's one of the most talented throat-singers in the world and was discovered when he was only four years old by the legendary Kongar-ool Ondar. But I think the main reason that I chose him was because of his appearance on the Chevy-Chase show when he was only 8 years old...I think he was 8, anyway. But he's just so cute! Cute enough to sway my choice for favorite musician.

(I could have really passed out from laughing at his eagerness to perform and how he just kept going after the audience had clapped.)

Bady is all grown up now.

He's not quite as cute anymore, but he's just as talented, and more refined.

He's now a part of a group called Alash Ensemble. They were actually on tour in the US recently. They didn't come to my area, but they were in the country for a good while. They performed on stage with lots of different artists and at various universities. They have an interesting story as to their formation, and at least two of the ensemble's members (Bady-Dharzhu and Ayan-ool Sam) were tutored at a very young age by some of the world's top Tuvan throat-singers.

One thing that I hadn't realized is that the instruments this group uses are almost all native to their homeland, Tuva. These instruments, the Igil, the Doshpuluur, the Chanzy, and the Chadagan all produce an amazing sound.

Unfortunately, all I was ever taught about was the violin, cello, and other Western European instruments. I honestly had no idea the number of incredible instruments throughout the world. I do have one really awful memory of world music in my education. I remember being shown a video in school, the only video we were ever shown about Africa, in which a man stooped on the ground and played the same three tones over and over again. He was wearing a loin cloth and had a large spear-thing through his nose or lip, I don't remember which one. This was embarrassing to me at the time, especially because I knew that people of Africa are just as intelligent as everybody else, and that there is so much more to the entire continent than we are shown. It frustrated me then, to say the least. But since then, I have realized that my frustration was based on the fact that the images portrayed in the video did not meet the the expectations implied by Western thought. Once I actualized this fact, I realized that many of my ideals are restricted by the mold of the West. This frustrates me today because I realize that I can't so easily get away from it and obtain a pure, uninfluenced perspective on anything. But I am learning to transform my frustration into positive action. And for this, I have Jesus Christ to thank. Even in that old video, there is something beautiful, just not in the system of beauty that is accepted where I am from.

I feel a bit nutty for my choice of musical genre. But I have realized that overall, this assignment does not really reflect my musical interests. It's just an assignment, one my professor and I will both eventually forget. But even if it wasn't, it's alright to enjoy music that is anti-stereotypical.

I don't normally rant or ramble like this, but I'm tired, fighting illness, and I still not finished with the assignment. I've still got some illustrative work to do because the final project has to be a poster we could place on the walls to show to our students. But I hope to have it all together soon.


doug said...

Hmmm....lets not even go into the annoying stereotypes about Africa. One of the most annoying questions I'm asked by the few westerners I've interacted with is "How come you speak such good English? Have you ever lived in England or America?".

Anyway, back to the music. I think that a persons musical tastes are a mirror to their soul. I think that your appreciation of a relatively unpopular, perhaps acquired taste says a lot about you. And yes, amongst other thing, you probably are nutty, but nutty is good...I am, and proud of it. LOL. Hope you get better. Knock 'em out!

Retinna Bell said...

Thanks, Doug! You're great.