The Ural mountains, anciently called ‘the belt of stone’, are considered to be a natural boundary between Europe and Asia. They stretch from Vorkuta in the north, to the Kazakh steppes in the south. The southern region of Bashkiria boasts a population of two million, a mixture of Altaic, Turkic, Western and Uralian. Although the cultural heritage of the Urals in general is famous for ballet, opera and theatre, the people of the southern Urals are inclined towards music in it’s purest form.
The tune ‘Rassvet Na Ural’ (Sunset over the Urals) is obviously from the Altaic culture of Bashkiria. This can be noticed in the pentatonic melody which is derived from the natural harmonic overtones of the Altaic throat-singers.
When Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra played this tune in live performance, members of the audience often mistook the piece for being Chinese in origin. Ancient Chinese musical tradition developed primarily pentatonic music. This was because of the advanced technology of their string instruments. Silk strings were used historically very early compared to other parts of the world because of China being at the centre of silk production and the silk route. The fine quality of the silk strings led naturally to the presence of very strong harmonic overtones which fall most easily in the pentatonic scale. The Altaic throat singers, although without the same historic connection to silk stringed instruments, nevertheless arrived at the same musical intervals in their songs, because the throat overtones like the flageolet of a stringed instrument also naturally gravitate to the five note scale.
Bashkiria is famous for it’s horses. Singing is such an intrinsic part of the everyday life of the nomadic tribes that, traditionally, horseback journeys were not measured in miles or kilometres but in songs (i.e. ‘the journey took me three songs’)
Here is a journey of just a few minutes in which Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra play the Bashkirian pentatonic tune ‘Rassvet Na Ural’
Cello: Toni Casblanca
Violin: Jack Greenbark
Yayli Divan: Makmed the Miller
Keyboard: Astral Gonad
Xylophone: Milu Ling
Flute: Baldimore Brackett
Djura: Azzazero Medjugorski