Vladimir Markov - Vladimir Markov «Out of time. Russian jew’s harp music» (2016)
Out of time / Russian jew’s harp music
Jew's harp is an extant archaic instrument, very simple in construction, but rich of sound. It was spread in many countries all over the world and formerly it was known in Russia as well. There remained documents that prove it, but unfortunately those who played it lived before an audio record era.
Nowadays jew's harp is preserved in a traditional music of a few dozen ethnic groups. Most of traditions have a strong melodic line, e.g., Guzul, Kyrgyz, Norwegian, Bashkir, Estonian, Tuvinian and so on. But there are also traditions with other features, e.g., Yakutian, which is focused on onomatopoeia and timbre, and Indian with principally rhythmical compositions.
Vladimir Markov a musician from Irkutsk, Russia for the first time played vargan (the Russian name of jew’s harp) in 1996, but began to delve into it in 2008. He started this project about 5 years ago. As he learned to play melodies of different cultures he went further and decided to make a close look into what makes music sound authentic. So he started to research national style of Russian jew's harp sound. The search of national authentic style and desire to play "as Russian" leaded him to a necessity to play Russian folk music, the way national music is played on jew's harp in other traditions, e.g., Norwegian, Guzul, Estonian and others.
In all traditions you may find folk tunes adopted for jew's harp. For example, in Norway they play on munnharpa (a Norwegian jew's harp) many tunes that originally are performed on langeleik and hardingfele.
All jew's harp tunes from this album present an author's view to Russian jew's harp style, but it should be noticed that all of them are based on Russian folk music and adopted for jew's harp by Vladimir Markov.
At the moment in Russia jew's harp is going through a real renaissance at the moment: many craftsman create high class instruments, many people are attracted by the issue, and also we have some very good players. Russian jew's harp music is also played by a duo of Irina Bogatyreva and Vladimir Markov. Some years ago Irina joined Vladimir in creation of Russian jews' harp style and repertoire. Together musicians also work at making polyphonic tunes and play jew's harp with other Russian folk instruments.
1. Kamarinskaya. A very old tune and a comic folk song which probably appeared in Kamaricky region ap. in XVI-XVII centuries. The vargan tune was inspired by a record of folk violin by G. Babynin from Lonnicy, Smolensk region, and a record of shepherd horn by N. Sorokin from Ilyok, Belov district, Kursk region.
2. Golden mountains. This romance is not very old but famous and suitable for jew's harp.
3. Vo kuznitse. Traditional Russian folk song. Jew’s harp in B flat.
4. Sun went down behind the forest. A Kozak lingering song. It's played on low jew's harp in F which is suitable for its mood the best.
5. A goat dropped to a garden. A comic song. Originally the tune was played by Moscow horn chorus.
6. On a river, on a meadow. A jew's harp version of a Russian folk song which was first recorded at Giryal, Sorochin district, Orenburg region.
7. Barynia. A brisk tune form Central Russia that is played on all instruments and also suitable for jew's harp. Here it is played on high C.
8. Podgornaya. A popular dance tune in many regions. A jew's harp version was made after a record of balalaika from Sinodskoe, Penza region.
9. Pa d'Espan. This is an example of author’s music becoming a folk tune. It was written by a choreographer Carman in St. Petersburg in 19th century, but became very popular not only among elite, but also among country folk. The original tune in the base of this vargan version is played on key accordion by B. Efremov.
10. Krakovyak. A Polish dance, very popular in Russia. Vargan tune was inspired by a version made by B. Efremov in Kostroma region.
11. Grey goose. A children song which perfectly suitable for jew's harp. It's played on G.
12. If I go out. A popular Russian folk song. A high jew's harp in C was used for highlighting the dance character of the tune.
13. As on our river. One more folk song which perfectly suitable for jew's harp. It is remarkable that vargan is mentioned in one of the versions of this song ("On the bridge"): "Give me a balalaika, give me a vargan, give me a bottle with a glass" is singing in that song. The jew's harp in G.
14. Dance tune. This tune was recorded in expedition at Kursk region by B. Efremov. Originally it was played on shepherd horn, but amazingly suitable for jew's harp also.
15. How high the sky is. This melody is a part of a unique collection of folk tunes compiled by Kirsha Danilov (1742). Perhaps originally this tune was played on hurdy gurdy, but now we don't know how it was tuned. Not every tune sounds good when played on jew's harp because of its specific harmonic scale, but this musical message from the past sounds as if it was written specially for jew's harp.
16. In a meadow. The song and key accordion tune, which this jew's harp version is based on, was recorded in Serafimovich, Volgograd region.
17. Once upon a time an old lady had a grey goat. Another children song, which gives jew's harp a chance to prove itself. G instrument.
18. Polka. A source of inspiration is a record dating back to 1985-1990 by N. Sorokin (horn), F. Sorokin (balalaika) from Ilyok, Belov district, Kursk region.
19. A goat dropped to a garden (3 voices). Before this comic song was played solo, but this is its polyphonic, three voices version, played overdubbing. Based on version of Moscow horn chorus.
"Old Jew's harp". Folk duo "Olkhon Gates" / Olkhon Gate Duo / Russian harp https://youtu.be/H9RJYRSdP5w?list=PLLnz-Ggx-LtDDDENa6kEy4ExddY6DOC8L
Duet "Olkhon Gates" - "Oh, you, canopy, canopy my" Olkhon Gate Duo 2016 https://youtu.be/pbgv8S_h-GE?list=PLLnz-Ggx-LtDDDENa6kEy4ExddY6DOC8L
Vladimir Markov "Padespan" https://youtu.be/PM_mf8_4RFk?list=PLLnz-Ggx-LtDDDENa6kEy4ExddY6DOC8L
Vladimir Markov "Kamarinskaya" https://youtu.be/QZixJI2_HB8?list=PLLnz-Ggx-LtDDDENa6kEy4ExddY6DOC8L