Russian traditional music specifically deals with the folk music traditions of the ethnic Russian people. It does not include the various forms of art music, which in Russia often contains folk melodies and folk elements or music of other ethnic groups living in Russia.
The performance and promulgation of ethnic music in Russia has a long tradition. Initially it was intertwined with various forms of art music, however, in the late 19th century it began to take on a life of its own with the rise in popularity of folkloric ensembles, such as the folk choir movement led by Mitrofan Pyatnitsky and the Russian folk instrument movement pioneered by Vasily Andreyev.
In Soviet Russia, folk music was categorized as being democratic (of the people) or proletarian (of the working class) as opposed to art music, which was often regarded as being bourgeois. After the revolution, along with proletarian “mass music” (music for the proletarian masses) it received significant support from the state. In Post World War II Russia, proletarian mass music however lost its appeal, whereas folkloric music continued to have a widespread support among the population, inside and outside of the Soviet Union. However the authentic nature of folk music was severely distorted by the drive to ‘professionalise’ performers, regardless of the genre they worked in: thus all folk singers were obliged to both learn Western-style classical notation, and to learn to perform classical repertoire – or else risk losing their right to perform as ‘professionals’.
In the 1960s, folk music in Russia continued to receive significant state support and was often seen as the antithesis of Western pop music. The fact that numerous Soviet folkloric ensembles were invited for foreign tours raised the prestige of the folk performer to that of academic musicians, and in some cases even higher because access to the West and Western goods was very desirable.
Ethnic (folk) music in Russia can often be categorized according to the amount of authenticity in the performance: truly authentic folk music (reproductive performances of traditional music), folkloric and “fakeloric” performance.
Russia is a multi-ethnic country with some 300 different ethnic groups, many of them non-Slavic, living within its borders.
Authentic village singing differs from academic singing styles. It is usually done using just the chest register and is often called “white sound” or “white” voice. It is often described as controlled screaming or shouting. Female chest register singers have only a low diapason of one octave to 12 notes.
And here´s a nice album by the Siberian Russian Folk Chorus. This group recorded their first album in 1956 and was active till the end of the Eighties.
This music is for me a real unfamiliar world, but I like to discover music from all over the world …
Maybe you will discover the music of the Siberian Russian Folk Chorus, too
Alternate front cover
Siberian Russian Folk Chorus conducted by Andrei Novikov
Chorus Rusian Folk Instruments Orchestra conducted by B.Burin
01. Siberia Our Pride (Novikov/Pukhnachev) 1.58
02. Play Perky Concertina (Gurin/Ostrikov) 2.35
03. Song Of Siberia (Ponomarenko/Osmushkin) 4.12
04. Night In The Taiga (Traditional) 3.37
05. The Far Off Star Has Lit (Levashov/Pukhnachev) 4.15
06. Through The Wild Mysterious Taiga (Traditional) 3.47
07. Don’t Soar Over Me, Sea-gulls (Traditional) 3.24
08. Motley Hens (Traditional) 2.01
09. On A Rainy Saturday (Traditional) 3.27
10. Yes, My Little Casket (Traditional) 1.09
11. My Dawn Dear Dawn (Traditional) 1.49
12. Is That My Beauty? (Traditional) 2.49
13. Maidens Have Sown Flax (Traditional) 1.26
14. Negligent Cook (Traditional) 1.33