Musical and Poetic Fundamentals of the Yallachi Art

Issue #2 • 486

Nasiba Turgunova,

The yalla genre synthesizes word (poetry), music and dance, and its performers are known as yallachi (in Fergana Valley) or satang (in Namangan). Their repertoire primarily includes song-and-dance genre called yalla, as well as koshuk, lapar, ashula and nuptial songs (Yor-Yor, Kelin-salom, etc.). In the past, yallachi demonstrated their art in ichkari, the women’s quarters.
One should note the harmony of word and music in yalla songs, which use both folk lyrics and professional poetry. Selection of verses and melody to go largely depends on the specific situation, locality, performing circumstances and other factors. Lyrics corresponding to the solo-chorus form influence the intonation-melodic basis of yalla. In this case, the solo part that usually consists of four verse lines (melodic phrases) represents the most mobile component of the genre, because every repetition has new lyrics, while the chorus part remains unchanged.
The yalla genre has gone through a long evolutionary process and experienced some modifications, mostly in intonation and melody, and less in the lyrics. In particular, the text of some genre specimens contains archaisms such as sol, tupqi, gardon, kimhob, saghirsi, kuyushqoni, abgor, oqibon, orqoghi, nasha, boqqol, chirvon, harjlab, etc. This further confirms that the yalla genre has ancient roots and was popular mainly among women. Interestingly, some well-known yalla lyrics can be found in other folk-song genres (koshuk, ashula, etc.). One example is the following quatrain:
Men bu yerga kelmas erdim (I wouldn’t have come here)
Yora keltirdi mani (My beloved brought me),
Utga tushsam kuymas erdim (Flames would not have burnt me),
Yora kuydirdi mani (Love has burnt me).
These quatrains can be found in many folk songs. Although such kind of repetitions is common in folklore, they differ from one another in interpretation. Yalla usually has a solo-chorus structure. As rightly noted by T. S. Vyzgo, Doctor of Art History, these are “game songs, yet unlike lapar, they are not a vocal dialogue but a song of the leader with chorus (in unison), where the chorus is often accompanied by dance or game motions” (1, p. 31). The solo part performed by a female carries the mobile element, as its melodic structure is repeated with a different verbal text every time. Unlike the solo part, the chorus part is originally stable and repeated without any change. Thus, the solo-chorus structure in yalla creates a simple two-part form (with two periods).
The art of Ferghana, Andijan and Namangan yallachi shows the presence of three types of the genre:
I. The basic yalla: everything in it fits the classification, and the genre characteristics are fully manifest. This type usually starts with a solo part and ends with chorus. The dance-like usul ufar (light in 6/8, and heavy in 3/4), the combination of stepwise and saltatory intonations, as well as support in the Aeolian and Phrygian harmonies – that is the entire set of artistic and expressive means of this type of yalla.
II. Yalla that begins and ends with the chorus in 6/8 (usul ufar).
III. Yalla that consisting only of a four-line solo part, i.e. without chorus. This type of yalla is usually performed in a four (4/4), and occasionally in three (3/4) beat time.
In the process of creating a yalla, lyrics and melody may interact in a variety of ways, which is most vividly reflected in its rhythmic base:
1. A yalla where rhythmic grouping is defined by the number of syllables in a verse (1, p. 18). The following bit from the “Yalli-yalli” is a good example:

2. Dominance of a rhythmic pattern of usul performed on a doira tambourine (2, p. 18). In this case the rhythmic base of both lyrics and melody directly follows the movement of usul. An example of such yalla is one called “Bakhori omad”.
The placement of syllables in the verse:
Boz-ba-di-ham nav-ba-ho-ro o-ma-dast,

Boz-ba-di-ham vaq-ti sho-don o-ma-dast.
Rhythm of the melody:
Rhythm of usul:
All three elements synthesized create the following yalla melody:

3. In a rhythmic structure of a melody the basics of vocal singing come forth, resulting in changes in the lyrics: the lines take in extra word-phrases or appeals (yor, yorey, jon, jonimei, etc.); various rhythmic combinations of a melody and word emerge (2, p. 19). Putting it differently, the poem gets transformed in a certain way, influenced by the melody. For example:
As mentioned earlier, in the yalla genre the dance elements also play an important role. Most of the yalla are characterized by the dancing usul ufar (light) in 6/8. Of the accompanying instruments the most commonly used is doira tambourine, from one to three or more instruments.

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