Arabic music with Kazakh national instruments: Kazakh musicians breathe new life into intercultural music (video)


NUR-SULTAN – Marked every year on March 8, International Women’s Day is one of the most important days to celebrate the achievements of women. Polina Tyrina, 29, a peer from independent Kazakhstan is one of the dedicated women who have helped spread Kazakh musical culture abroad. Tyrina explained how she illuminated the music project in cooperation with the UAE Embassy in Kazakhstan in an interview with The Astana Times.

Polina Tyrina plays Kazakh folk instrument zhetygen.

In Tyrina’s repertoire there are songs in 11 different languages: Kazakh, Russian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Berber.

“I have devoted several years to Brazilian bossa nova. I posted videos on YouTube and the Brazilians told me I was singing without an accent. In 2019, as part of the Almas duo, we released an album in which Kazakh folk songs were translated into French. I immersed myself in the French language. One day, I received an offer of cooperation with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Kazakhstan.

The aim was to combine the musical cultures of the UAE and Kazakhstan into one song, said Tyrine. “Therefore, we decided to use Kazakh folk instruments for the arrangement. The guitar is a Western instrument which is not unique to Eastern music. There are a lot of guitar parts in the song and so the song sounded modern while still retaining its oriental flavor.

Techniques from Screenlife were used for the visual portion of the music video, said Tyrine.

Polina Tyrina.

“It’s a story told through the screen of a gadget. In the clip you can see the whole process we went through while working on the project – creating an arrangement, parts for the instruments, recording, sound processing, video editing, working with a music teacher. Arabic language on pronunciation, study culture and history of UAE. In four minutes the audience can see it all as if they were looking at my laptop screen while I was working on it, ”she added.

Tyrine and his team performed “Gased”, a song written on the poems of the first President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan.

“It’s not just poetry. This is qasida – an ancient and special art form of the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula. At first glance, it looks like a simple song, but when we studied it in more detail, we found a whole world of sweet nuances, ”added the Kazakh musician.

Music is one of the most interesting and enjoyable ways to experience another culture. Music, especially song forms, encodes a deep history and culture, said Tyrine.

“With this project, we wanted to unite two cultures, two nations. We have received many positive comments from the people of the United Arab Emirates, ”she added.

Kazakh folk instruments such as kobyz, zhetygen and sybyzgy participated in the recording. Tyrine worked with first-class musicians, multi-instrumentalists: Sanzhai Almishev, Aliya Izdelyueva, Ilya Bashkatov.

“The similarity between Arab and Kazakh cultures is based on a common religion – Islam. Respect for elders, hospitality, family values ​​are what bring our peoples together ”, Tyrine noted.

Tyrine created the project in mid-2020 during strict restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of borders and travel restrictions did not prevent his team from entering the world of Arab culture.

Music has no borders, Tyrine said, “The project has become a real confirmation of it. 80% of the project was carried out online, remotely. Even under severe constraints, we can continue to create. We can continue to develop. We can get acquainted with other cultures, we can explore the world.

End of March, Tyrine along with his project team, will represent Kazakhstan at the Sharjah Heritage Festival of National Cultures in the United Arab Emirates. “It’s a great honor for us. Thanks to this event, tourists from all over the world can get acquainted with Kazakh folk music. We also plan to prepare some additional songs in Arabic for participation in the festival in order to deepen our knowledge of Arab culture ”, Tyrine concluded.


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