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Women Musicians of Uzbekistan

Women Musicians of Uzbekistan: From Courtyard to Conservatory

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    Women Musicians of Uzbekistan
    Book Description:

    Fascinated by women's distinct influence on Uzbekistan's music, Tanya Merchant ventures into Tashkent's post-Soviet music scene to place women musicians within the nation's evolving artistic and political arenas. Drawing on fieldwork and music study carried out between 2001 and 2014, Merchant challenges the Western idea of Central Asian women as sequestered and oppressed. Instead, she notes, Uzbekistan's women stand at the forefront of four prominent genres: maqom, folk music, Western art music, and popular music. Merchant's recounting of the women's experiences, stories, and memories underscores the complex role that these musicians and vocalists play in educational institutions and concert halls, street kiosks and the culturally essential sphere of wedding music. Throughout the book, Merchant ties nationalism and femininity to performances and reveals how the music of these women is linked to a burgeoning national identity. Important and revelatory, Women Musicians of Uzbekistan looks into music's part in constructing gendered national identity and the complicated role of femininity in a former Soviet republic's national project.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09763-8
    Subjects: History, Music, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction: The Stories Women Tell about Their Music
    (pp. 1-41)

    Most ethnomusicologists have a unique story about how they first encountered the music they focus on. Mine begins on a train. In autumn 2000, I was traveling from London to Glasgow for the “Shostakovich Twenty-Five Years On” conference. Just ten days prior, a tragic train derailment in Hatfield had brought rail travel to a standstill and raised major questions about the safety of the British rail system after years of privatization. Before boarding, I heard that the six-hour itinerary that I had purchased was going to take fifteen hours. Concerned that I would miss the keynote speech but glad that...

  2. 1 Beyond the Canon: Feminizing the National Project through Traditional Music
    (pp. 42-77)

    When viewers tune in to the Yoshlar (Young People’s) television channel at 7:45 p.m., a daily broadcast of traditional music appears, offering theOltin Meros(Golden Legacy) segment. The camera starts shooting through geometric latticework with gauzy curtains as lights rise on a semicircle of chairs. Seated there is a group of men in dark suit pants with white button-down shirts and ties. Each of the men holds an instrument, either a chordophone (plucked: dutar, rubob, or tanbur; bowed: gijak; or hammered: chang) or a frame drum (doyra). Separate from them, in the center of the screen, stands a woman...

  3. 2 Ancient Treasures, Modernized: Women’s Dutar Ensembles and Arranged Folk Music
    (pp. 78-108)

    On a scorching summer day in 2002, in a new conservatory building recently opened in Tashkent, it is largely quiet during the vacation period. Nevertheless, the sounds of strumming and chattering female voices emanate from one classroom, as Ro’zibi Hodjayeva (known to her students as Ro’za opa) leads a rehearsal for the dutar ensemble of a local music school. About half a dozen girls, ages eight to thirteen, hold different sizes of the same instrument, including the tiny prima dutar, the mid-sized alto dutar (thought to be well suited to women’s voices), and the largest—the tenor dutar—that is...

  4. 3 Like Tereshkova in the Cosmos: Women at the Forefront of Western Art Music
    (pp. 109-130)

    On November 27, 2003, I went to the conservatory to observe a dutar ensemble class taught by Malika opa in the traditional music department. Arriving to find that class had been canceled, I saw that Firuza (one of Malika opa’s dutar students) was sitting at the piano picking out the melody line of what looked like a light classical piece in 6/8 with a moving bass line that could have been composed by Muzio Clementi. I sat down at the piano with her and offered to play the left-hand part. She agreed, so we started to play the piece together....

  5. 4 “Greetings to the Uzbek People!”: Popular Music in Public and Private Settings
    (pp. 131-155)

    The lights in the Friendship of Nations Concert Hall in Tashkent focus on a stage with musicians on metal risers. On one side is a typical estrada combo, with musicians seated before their instruments: drum set, electric bass, and electric guitar. On the other side of the stage sits a keyboardist, a Turkishsaz(plucked lute) player, and atablah(hourglass drum) player, as well as two female backup singers in white catsuits (the male musicians wear trousers and button-down shirts).

    The first song begins with an instrumental introduction featuring a steady, brisk, poppy beat as Rayhon, one of Uzbekistan’s...

  6. 5 Marrying Past, Present, and Future: The Essential Work of Wedding Music
    (pp. 156-169)

    It is a clear and bright summer morning in Tashkent in 2002. At 6:00 a.m. I step off the tram to walk a few blocks to Ro’za opa’s apartment, where she and her entourage are gathering to drive across the city and perform at a kelin salom, the bride-greeting ritual that occurs the morning after a marriage ceremony. In the summer months they usually begin painfully early, as early as 6:00 a.m., so that they conclude before the heat becomes unbearable and so that those who need to get to work are not overly tardy. As I approach Ro’za opa’s...

  7. Conclusion: Women’s Musical Communities Performing the Nation
    (pp. 170-184)

    It is a chilly day in early February 2005 and I signal for themarshrutkashuttle van to stop at the “Forty Years of Victory” neighborhood bus stop, then walk a few minutes in the cold into a cluster of Soviet-era cement block high-rises. I find the correct building and entrance and, like so many times before, I climb the metal staircase until I reach Malika opa’s apartment. Instead of my normal greeting at the door accompanied by the mellow murmur of Ziyaev family life and musical activity, I am met at the door by Malika opa’s daughter Farangiz and...