…Should you not educate him, Time will.
Today, the culture of Uzbekistan is experiencing a renaissance. In the globalizing environment a major effort is being made to protect the unique cultural space that has great value in the universal human heritage.
The twentieth century has brought about radical changes in the structure and development of the national culture and art, including performing arts. The influence of European, including Russian, culture has given rise to a new phenomenon known as bi-culture, which, being part of the new system, paves the way for the interaction and co-existence of two genetically and typologically different cultures: traditional ethnic, and Western.
As popular culture becomes increasingly influential, there is a clear need to actualize performing arts traditions as spiritual and aesthetic energy of the nation: traditions that once had the world-modulating functions, and now, along with academic musical forms, also work to present the world as part of the cultural dialogue of civilizations.
One can say that presently musical art of Uzbekistan has two co-existing poles: traditional and European music. The study of musical performance traditions in the cultural and historical perspective reveals the following trends in its development:
1. Traditional culture as basis (people’s lifestyle was changing, but the values it created still have their purpose).
2. Newly formed cultural strata are a kind of a dominant. They are revolutionary, as the main trend here is differentiation: traditional art autonomizes, disintegrating into separate types of performance. Once an integral process, it splits between the composer and the performer, while the latter becomes in a sense “level” with the music author. As a result, professional composer music gains the status of “authentic” musical culture phenomenon, in a way “at the expense” of traditional music. At the same time, viability of traditional culture at large and in its individual manifestations, testifies to its great heuristic potential that is important to develop in a new historical environment.
In this context, Dialogue with Khayyam, an octopartite cycle (figure 8 symbolizes perfection) by D. Saydaminova created in 2010 sounds like a manifesto.
So far, the composer’s career was unique and purposeful, its major milestones being the piano cycle The Walls of the Ancient Bukhara (History as an Instrument of Artistry; A. Khakimov, “The Art of Uzbekistan”); piano cycle Frescoes of Afrasiab – a kind of apocrypha of the twentieth century; and The Garden of My Childhood – symbolism and poetics of folklore, the element of line and colour. Notable is Saydaminova’s profound avant-garde thinking of the 21st century composer. Her creative quest resulted in the Dialogue with Khayyam cycle, focused on identifying modal, harmonic, sonoric and plastic allusions along the entire Oriantal arc: from Arabia to Japan.
How in her piece does Saydaminova treat space and time – the two most important problems facing a composer? Two quotes can help understand this:
“In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time… The first is unyielding, predetermined. The second makes up its mind as it goes along…. Each time is true, but the truths are not the same.” (Albert Einstein)
“Abduction of reality as comprehension of meaning” (Akbar Hakimov)
In other words, creating a musical piece in the “calculated” metric of European music, the composer remains a person of the East, implementing that very “body time” in her music. Yet for Saydaminova the Oriental person, space is the point where many a paradox intersects: only through paradoxes, or the “abduction of reality”, the essence of things can be conceived.
In full compliance with Oriental tradition the piece is perceived as conceptualization, unlike the sensory Western perception of it as a primarily aesthetic phenomenon.
One more thing characterizes Saydaminova’s cycle as a piece completely in line with traditions of Oriental music: a totally filled space, like a pattern on the oriental carpet, where one infinitely lasting note can grow to a cosmic dimension and, conversely, a cascade of chords can be compressed to a single flash of sound. Hence the multiplicity of tiers, nuances and facets. With the clarity of thought, the boundless improvisational quality is akin to folk music-making, while showing modern-day creativity.
All in all, the Dialogue with Khayyam can be metaphorically characterized as “Europe: View from Asia”.
The Bible has a symbolic tale of Jacob’s Ladder. To some extent, the sequencing of parts in the Dialogue with Khayyam (the parts follow attaca) can be compared to this paradigm: each part is like climbing to a new level of knowledge, or rather, the pursuit of knowledge that compels great minds of any era to pose all the same questions of being. This conceptualization of the piece lends it a kind of aura, structural balance and powerful dynamism.
As already mentioned, the nature and logic of musical symbols-images in the piece in question is potentially heterogeneous, and its implementation, therefore, appears to allow for the inclusion of plastics. Directing an action of this kind and the montage of cycle’s episodes could be identified as follows, if one could borrow chapter titles from the book by Paul Claudel, Knowing the East:
Part 1: Rooster. Speaker. Doors.
Part 2: Towards the Mountain. October. November.
Part 3: Picture. Contemplator. December.
Part 4: The Entrance to the Earth. Zeal. Tempest.
Part 5: Moonshine. Dreams. Hours in the Garden.
Part 6: Drain Canal. The Hum of the City. The Spinning Top.
Part 7: Golden Ark in the Forest. The Walking Man. Here and There.
Part 8: Visit.
A name given to the show could be an alternative to the author’s: “A andle and a Bell”.
An example of potential introduction of plastics can be the two elements of Indonesian ritual dance called Saman – a tap dance where rhythm is beaten by hands rather than feet. The name of the dance is Indonesian greeting.
The 1st element is beating the rhythm by hands, or the greeting itself performed by the musician before playing the instrument; it expresses an invitation to come upon the friendly “energy bridge”.
The 2nd element is performed before Part 7 and expresses a joyful emotion-thought: “When I hear you, my soul sees you”.
The theme developed in the piece by D. Saydaminova also has some interesting analogies in the works of prominent painters and graphic artists of Uzbekistan, such as N. Karakhan (“Sculptor in the Mountains”), D. Umarbekov (“Self-portrait with Prince”, “I Am Human”), B. Jalalov (“The Dream of Omar Khayyam”, “And No One Told Me Why I Was Born”, “All-Seeing Eye. Samarqandia”, “Bukhara – the Frame of the Universe”, “Elation of Hazrat Navoi”, “Balance”, “The Many Faces of Jeikhun”, “Thirst”, “The New Mythology of the XXI Century”), S. Alibekov (“Fragrance of Exotic Drink”, The Leaving Gardener”, “The Static of the Dynamics”), S. Rakhmetov (“A Soul Longing for You”), V. Useinov (“Abductions of the Cocoon”, compositions I and II), F. Akhmadiev (“Way to Maqom”), B. Ismailov (“Kurak”, “Adras”, “Waiting for the Wind”)…
Listening to Saydaminova’s Dialogue with Khayyam cycle in conjunction with these works awakens the listener’s imagination and enriches his visual and sensory experience, allowing one to be “equal” to the composer on a creative plane – a manifestation of great respect of the music author to her audience.
Thus, the Dialogue with Khayyam cycle by Saydaminova can be regarded as the most vivid illustration of the aforementioned idea of the need, in today’s globalizing environment, for the reciprocal gravitation of Eastern and Western art as converging streams generating mutually enriching unity.
We started with a preamble, the purpose of which is to identify current trends in the domain of performing arts.
Cultural interaction in its practical form is manifested today in the increased engagement of artists and culture promoters in a program supporting professional artistic exchange that takes many shapes: art laboratory, master class, training, design and implementation of science-to-practice projects in the performing arts domain, international festivals and contests. In the longer term there is a real prospect of a new model to appear: artist, manager, director, etc. – all in one person. One can confidently project the arrival of new pieces of art to become brand names of our culture, working for the country’s image. Artists of Uzbekistan are solidary in this!
1. Клодель Поль. Постижение Востока. М., 2002.
2. Хакимов А. Искусство Узбекистана и современность. Ташкент, 2009.