Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Secular and Spiritual Music from Georgia - Greyfriars Kirk, 15 August

This concert by the Anchiskati Choir was given particular resonance by the fighting which was still going on at the time in their home country. There had been runiurs of cancellation, but as a choir spokesman said, "In Georgia when things are bad we sing our way through". And sing they di, in a programme of fifteen pieces. Some were unaccompanied, some featured plucked instruments of a kind I didn't recognise, like big rectangular ukeleles, and one song featured a chap on the bagpipe. Now this was a mouth-blown bagpipe, so we had all got used to his blowing away, when suddenly he took the pipe out of his mouth and began to sing along to it. From the gale of laughter which resulted I clearly wasn't alone in having forgotten what the bag was for.

The songs covered a wide range, both in terms of Georgian geography and purpose. We had an Easter hymn, a Christmas song, a work song, a ritual song, a joke song (from Abkhazia where they presumably weren't using it right then), a drinking song.... you get the picture. All brilliantly sung by eleven splendidly costumed blokes. I'd sort of imagined that the sound might resemble the Orthodox church choirs I'd heard, but while they had the same wonderful Slavic voices, the harmonic world was very different, even for the sacred music.

I could have listened to them for as long again.


At 27 August, 2008 13:15, Blogger Chip said...

Those rectangular ukeleles are balalaika - a Russian folk instrument from the region.

At 28 August, 2008 08:27, Blogger Rob said...

I thought balalaikas were triangular? Maybe Georgian ones are different from Russian ones? I certainly remember being very taked by a bass balalaika (think it was the Red Army Ensemble on TV) which was like a double bass crossed with a Toblerone.

At 29 August, 2008 10:26, Blogger Chip said...

Typically they are triangular yes, but not necessarily. Eastern versions tend to use the rectangular box, where the more western (which is still Eastern Europe) use the triangular ones - at least that's what my guitar friend in the US (who's a nut about string instruments) said some years ago. But it up on the web I couldn't find any supporting evidence, so I could just be blowing smoke.


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