And here my first movie on a Macedonian bagpiper, this one living on Slovenia. It entered an official selection at the Ethnographic film festival Kratovo, Macedonia. On a roadtrip to the festival I found another bagpiper living in his native environment and together these two movies tell a bigger story.
Please check out my new video!
In a remote village in Macedonia lives a bagpiper who is still keeping the tradition alive. His spirit is high, although his music is rarely heard these days. He speaks about how it used to be and plays a couple of old local songs.
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Filmed in China, mostly minorities of Yunnan and their music, with additional improvisation on guqin and Kazakh songs recorded in Shanghai. It is a part of experimental work of exploring traditional musics of the world and trying to bring it to the general audiences in the authentic form, with very little electronic manipulation and making a documentary without the traditional story and commentaries.
As my roommate in the dorm was a student of the guqin I was lucky to learn from him many details about this music, the style, the performance practice and philosophy behind it. This is the instrument of the literati, one of the most potent and influential elite social groups throughout Chinese history. The art of Qin music is one of the four pillars of Chinese culture: philosophy, calligraphy, poetry and Qin music. The musician, Lu Xiaozi, a student of master Dai Xiaolian, recently finished her masters studies and won a first prize in the Chinese Guqin competition. The instrument is from the Tang dinasty and is around 800 years old.
The ending of my one year exchange in China was approaching very fast when I saw a big poster announcing a concert of minority music held at the Conservatory and I decided I should not miss it. The Kazakh group of musicians just blew me away with their performance of their traditional wedding song Kermau Ayday, which is on the CD. Here is a photo taken after the concert with their colorfull costumes and I just had to ask them if they would be willing to record some songs with me in the studio. This was one of the most wonderful days in my life and the musicians, their openness, was amazing. I decided then that my next visit will be to the northwestern province of Xinjiang which is their original home. The video accompanying the song was shot on my last night in Shanghai. I rented a taxi with a friend and we drove around Shanghai in the middle of the night taking in the atmosphere of the city. Next day it was time to go.
I came to Lviv, a multicultural city in the westernmost part of Ukraine, in an overnight bus from Warsaw. I was visiting Natalia Polovynka, one of the truly amazing singers of traditional Ukrainian songs. On my way to my hostel, exhausted as I was, I forgot my backpack with all of my audio equipment in the taxi. When I realized what happened I was on the verge of panic as a lot of it was borrowed and very expensive. When local police officers invited me to their office and when I saw the state of the whole building which must have been slowly decaying for dacedes, I held no hopes of ever finding it again. We ended up driving around city looking for a taxi and I was dumbfounded that the taxi driver was waiting me at the same spot where I took my taxi. Even though it would be impossible to trace him, and he saw that I had some expensive equipment, he would never steal it from me, I could read that from his face. So after the bumpy intro the following weekend is one of the warmest memories I have. It turned out that the assistant singer who was supposed to show me around sang in a choir in a local Armenian church. After my inquiry whether I would be allowed to record the liturgy, she asked the church officials, and as that particular Sunday, head bishop was coming to lead the ceremony, he approved himself. Here is a short excerpt of the ceremony.
At the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, they have a very strong department for traditional Chinese music and the professor of the Guqin instrument, master Dai Xiaolian invited a duo from Japan where there is a small minority still preserving the type of music that came from China to Japan around 12th century AD in its original form and style, and which has been non existent in China for centuries. This was the very first time in China this music was presented publicly and a beginning of a cooperation between the musicians.