Russian & Non-Russian Folklore on Audio CDs

From the Pushkinskii Dom Phonogram Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences

This project was first published by Norman Ross Publishing (NY, NY), later transferred to Ross Publishing LLC. In 2013, Norman Ross gifted the series to Sing Out!, and the recordings are now available exclusively from us. If you would like to purchase any of these sets or individual titles, please or phone Mark D. Moss directly at 610-865-5366 x203.

Series I (2000) $470

Series II (2000) $635

Series III (2007) $395

or ALL THREE SETS: $1400 (save $100)

Individual Titles: $40 single-CD titles or $75 double-CD titles


The following audio recordings from the holdings of the Phonogram Archive of the Pushkinskii dom of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg include unique and rare materials gathered during various expeditions from as early as 1916. All of the original recordings have been re-mastered for this edition, which will be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, musicologists, linguists and Slavicists alike. The first set is important because of the many languages and cul­tures represented for which audio materials are otherwise mostly unavailable. The second is equally important, primarily because of the historical nature of the recordings. The third set presents rare languages and cultures of indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Far East of Russia. The historical and ethnographical value of these recordings is of immense importance, because audio materials are otherwise mostly unavailable or these Paleo-Asiatic, Manchu-Tungus and Uralic peoples and such languages are rapidly disappearing around the globe. The set also includes Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian traditional folklore songs. Ballads, incantations, lamentations, lullabies and other traditional songs are performed by the residents of Gomel Region, Belarus.

The playing time for each CD exceeds one hour. A short audio excerpt from each disc follows each tile listing.


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SERIES 1: Non-Russian Folk Traditions (10 titles, 12 CDs)

For the full series: 12 discs, $470.
Individual discs $40 each. 2-disc sets: $75

S1 Title 1. Altaic Epos (2-disc set)

 
The Altaians and the indigenous population of the Altai Republic are a Turkic-speaking people who have managed to preserve the purity of teir own ancient culture. The set presents brilliantly performed monuments of their epic heritage.  According to the 1989 census there were 59,130 Altaians.

S1 Title 2. Anthology of Buryat Folklore

 
The Buryats, numbering approximately 350,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia. The traditional Buryats were shamanists. The interactions of Buddhism and Christianity have shaped the Buryat culture.

S1 Title 3. Anthology of Yakutsk Folklore

 
The Yakuts, a Turkic people, are divided into two basic groups. The northern Yakuts are largely hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders, while the southern Yakut raise cattle and horses. Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic, is a city in the Russian Far East, located in Siberia below the Arctic Circle.

S1 Title 4. Anthology of Kalmyk Folklore

 
The Kalmyks are the European branch of the Oirats, whose ancient grazing lands are now located in southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Today they form a majority (156,000 people) in the autonomous Republic of Kalmykia on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. They say that Kalmyk folklore is second only to that of India’s in terms of its richness and imagery.

S1 Title 5. Anthology of Tuvan and Ude Folklore

 
The Tuvans are a Turkic people who make up about two thirds of the population of Tuva, situated in extreme southern Siberia. They are famous for their throat singing. The Udeghes are scattered over an extensive area in the Khabarovsk region and in the Ussuri taiga. They have no compact settled area. Storytelling and songs have always played a key role in the shamanic culture of the Udeghe people.

S1 Title 6. Chuvash Folklore

 
Chuvashia is located in the center of the European part of Russia, in the heart of the Volga-Vyatka region. Ancient ancestors of Chuvashes came from Central Asia. In the 9th century they formed the state of the Volga Bulgaria. As a result of inter-marrying with local Finno-Ugric population, the Chuvash nationality was formed. The beauty and originality of the traditional Chuvash melodies are combined with strict rules of their composition.

S1 Title 7. Folklore of Georgia  (2-disc set)

 
Georgia is situated in the Caucasus on the east coast of the Black Sea. Georgia’s demographics are characterized by a high degree of ethnic and linguistic diversity. Ethnic Georgians comprise about 83.8%, of Georgia’s current population. Other major ethnic groups include Azeris, Armenians, Abkhazians and Ossetians. Georgian folk songs are distinguished for their poliphonious, harmonious and architectonical peculiarities.

S1 Title 8. Folklore of Kyrgyzstan

 
Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is a country in Central Asia. The Kyrgyz, a Turkic people, are predominantly Muslim. Kyrgyz folklore is abundant in ritual and lyrical songs and moralizing verbal poetry. Ancient melodies are performed on national instruments, such as komuz, kyl-kyiak or zhyghach ooz-komuz.

S1 Title 9. Instrumental Music of the Turkmen and Uzbeks

 
Turkmenistan, land of the Turkmen, is the second largest Central Asian country. Like other Central Asian peoples, the Turkmens have a rich folklore tradition of epic stories, tales and lyric poems. Turkmens maintain a theory of common origin from a mythical ancestor, Oghuz Khan. Uzbekistan has a wide mix of ethnic groups and cultures. Uzbek folk music is very rich in themes and genres and is characterized by a wealth of melodic emotional nuances and distinctive rhythm.

S1 Title 10. Nganasans

 
The Nganasans are the northernmost of the Samoyedic peoples, living on the Taymyr Peninsula in the Arctic Ocean. The Nganasans have never had a written language. The isolated location of Nganasan people enabled that shamanism was a living phenomenon among them even in the beginning of 20th century.


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SERIES 2: Russian Folk Traditions (15 titles, 16 discs)

For the full series: 15 discs, $635.
Individual discs $40 each. 2-disc sets: $75

A brilliant collection of folk melodies, live folklore performances and field recordings. The roots of Russian folk music date as far back as to the middle of the first millennium AD, when Slavic tribes settled in the European part of the present territory of Russia. According to ancient Byzantine and German manuscripts, those tribes were famous for their love and mastery of music, singing and dancing.

S2 Title 1. Russian Epics

 
Scholars employ the term bylina for Russian epics, a word that is derived from the past tense of the verb ‘to be’ and implies something that was. There are several basic characteristics of the Russian oral epic tradition: the bylines had survived among the peasants in northern Russia, they were usually performed by a single person, they were sung to a distinct kind of melody, they had no instrumental accompaniment, many subjects or themes existed in variants.

S2 Title 2. Ballads

 
Ballads are defined as short traditional narrative songs, with or without accompaniment or dance, in assemblies of the people. Traditional Russian ballads depict, for example, an incessant warfare against infidels, tell of the life of the Courts and of the nobility.

S2 Title 3. Historical Songs

 
Authentic epic traditions have survived to modern times in the oral peasant folklore of the Russian North and with Don Cossacks. Themes of this epic poetic form are courage, love, patriotism, battle and devotion.

S2 Title 4. Spiritual Poetry

 
Spiritual poems carry the listener into the realm of Russian folk music.

S2 Title 5. Lamentations of the Russian North

 
In lamentations in the dialects of the Russian North regions (Pechora, Archangel, etc.), one can find the traces of very ancient states of the Russian language.

S2 Title 6. Wedding Songs and Lamentations

 
Many Russian folksongs have to do with family rituals, weddings being one of the most impressive of them.

S2 Title 7. [Pagan] Calendar Songs

 
A special place in song folklore belongs to calendar song cycle. It consists of smaller cycles timed to seasons and pagan festivals (often overlaid with Christian holidays). These songs are peculiar for strict regulation and rigidity of short tonal and rhythmic formulas in every cycle.

S2 Title 8. Lyrical Songs

 
Lyrical song and its highest type—drawling songs—are supposed to have formed in the 16th and 17th centuries in Russia. It is associated with the appearance of the famous folk multivoiced singing of polyphonic or heterophonic types with participation of solo voices.

S2 Title 9. Recruit and Soldiers’ Songs

 
The recruit songs came into being as the result of Peter I’s enforcement of compulsory military service. They are full of compassion at the thought of the prospective soldier being torn away from his family.

S2 Title 10. Fairy Tales

 
Russian fairy tales are imaginative and exciting stories involving supernatural people or events. Fairy tales have common elements, usually featuring folkloric characters, such as witches, giants or talking animals.

S2 Title 11. Limericks

 
Limericks (short comic songs of two or four lines) are a more recent Russian folklore genre that got widely spread in the 19th century.

S2 Title 12. Children’s Folklore (Lullabies)

 
The lullaby is the first genre of folklore encountered by the child. The infant, according to traditional ideas and ritual practice, is a transitional and incomplete being. Such beliefs directly affect the functions of the lullaby, which are lulling to sleep and protection.

S2 Title 13. Incantations

 
An incantation consists of  the words spoken during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, invoking or praising a deity, or in magic, occultism or witchcraft with the intention of casting a spell on an object or a person. Incantations have sources both in paganism and Christian beliefs.

S2 Title 14. Instrumental Music (shepherd’s horn, drum, balalaika, accordion)

 
Instrumental music was traditionally of much less importance than vocal music because of the orthodox prohibition against using musical instruments in church. Instruments were mainly used by shepherds or as accompaniment for some dances and songs.

S2 Title 15.  The Song Traditions of Russian Doukhobors (2-disc set)

 
The Doukhobors, “spirit wrestlers,” were a Christian sect, later defined as a religious philosophy, ethnic group, social movement, which in the 18th century rejected secular government, the Russian Orthodox priests, icons, all church ritual, the Bible as the supreme source of divine revelation and the divinity of Jesus. At their prayer meetings and gatherings they sang a cappella psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.


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SERIES 3: Russian & Non-Russian Folk Traditions (9 titles, 10 CDs)

For the full series: 10 discs, $395.
Individual discs $40 each. 2-disc sets: $75

S3 Title 1. Традиционный фольклор коряков и эскимосов
     (Traditional Folklore of Koryaks & Eskimos)

The Koryaks live in the Northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula and on the adjoining land, from the Taigonos Peninsula to the Bering Sea. The population is less than 10,000. A great number of the  ethnic Eskimos have been assimilated, either by the Russians or the Chukchis, but the Siberian Eskimos have retained 16 settlements on the  eastern coast of the Chukchi Peninsula. According to the 1989 census, there were only 1,718 Siberian Eskimos.

S3 Title 2. Традиционный фольклор нанайцев и эвенов
     (Traditional Folklore of Nanaians & Evens)

The Nanaians (Nanais) live in the Far East on the River Amur, downstream from the city of Khabarovsk. Russians have called the Nanaians “Golds.” The 1989 Russian and USSR population census reads as follows: 12,017 people. The Evens inhabit a large territory in the Khabarovsk district, the Magadan region, the northern part of Yakutia, the Chukchi, and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The population is 17,199.

S3 Title 3. Традиционный фольклор нивхов
     (Traditional Folklore of Nivhis)

The Nivhis (Nivkhs) live on the Lower Amur, on the coast of the Ohkotsk Sea on the river’s estuary, and on Sakhalin Island. The earliest historical data concerning the Nivkhs dates back to a 12th-century Chinese chronicle. The following census data is given for the Nivkhs for 1989: 4,673 people.

S3 Title 4. Традиционный фольклор чукчей и ительменов
     (Traditional Folklore of Chukchis and Itelmens)

The Chukchis live in the extreme northeastern part of Siberia, in the area between the Chukchi and Bering Seas. Life for the Chukchis means privation, cold and a constant struggle for existence, but also freedom and proud self-sufficiency. The 1989 census registered 15,183 Chukchis. The Itelmens inhabit the area between Sedanka and Sopochnoye on the western coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. In the 18th century they inhabited almost the whole of the peninsula, but their habitat later decreased considerably (to 2,480 people).

S3 Title 5. Бассейн рек Лены и Индигирки
     (The Region of Rivers Lena and Indigirka)

With its source in the Baikal Mountains, The Lena, 10th longest river in the world, flows northeast to the Laptev Sea. The Indigirka River of the Sakha Republic flows into the East Siberian Sea. The basins of these rivers are home for many indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

S3 Title 6. Полный обряд шаманского камлания: нганасаны (a 2-disc set)
     (Shamanskoe Kamlanie: Nganasans)

The Nganasans are the northernmost of the Samoyedic peoples, living on the Taymyr Peninsula in the Arctic Ocean. According to the census, there were 1,278 Nganasans in 1989. The Nganasans have never had a written language.

S3 Title 7. Традиционный фольклор Пинежья
     (Traditional Folklore of Pinega Region)

The Pinega is a river in the Archangel Region of Russia and a tributary of the North Dvina River. According to the 2002 Census, ethnic Russians made up 94% of the population in this area.

S3 Title 8. Фольклор Северной Двины и ее притоков
     (Folklore of North Dvina and her Tributaries)

The mighty North Dvina begins in the Vologda Region, flows from the southeast to the northwest through the whole of the Archangel Region and empties into the Dvina Bay of the White Sea. Here, where three cultural components – “the culture of sea,” “the culture of forest” and “the culture of field” – met, the phenomenon called “Pomor Culture” arose.

S3 Title 9. Песни русско-белорусско-украинскогопограничья
     (The Songs of Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian Border)

Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians not only share borders; the three nations also share traditions, customs and folklore style.


All THREE Series: 38 CDs (save an additional $100) ……….. $1400