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Popping Tradition: Performing Maqom and Uzbek “National” Estrada in the 21st Century

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Uzbek performers who identify as traditional contribute in a number of ways to Uzbekistan's project of creating a national popular music. In doing so, they manifest a deeply hybrid musical form that includes Western harmony, amplified synthesizers, traditional instruments, and Uzbek-language vocals, which encodes the important political message that Uzbekistan is a modern nation that values its traditional roots. With influences from state-run institutions, a Soviet history, and musical practices that pre-date Russian presence in Uzbekistan, traditional musicians are actively shaping their music to align it with their individual and local understandings of nationalism and tradition. A narrative account of a popular music concert by a vocalist trained in traditional music in 2005 suggests a variety of influences, interpretations, and identity negotiations involved in the production of a national popular music. Closer study of Uzbek practices reveals ways in which traditional music is positioned to support a notion that Uzbekistan is an active participant in modernity, while maintaining ties to its traditions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-07-01

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