When old meets new: Ethnopop, we don’t stop

There is a musical revolution brewing in Kazakhstan. 

Combining the traditional nomadic culture of Kazakhstan with modern pop elements, the youths of Kazakhstan have created ethnopop – a hybrid style of music mixing folklore and rock music that is taking over the airwaves. 

While this musical phenomenon is fast expanding beyond Kazakhstan, the country is a key player in this movement. Since 2013, it has been hosting The Spirit of Tengri, an annual ethnic music festival which attracts musicians from around the world to showcase their heritage and culture via ethnopop. The event is typically  held in the cultural hub of Almaty by Kazakhstani radio channel Tengri FM. 

A prominent ethnopop band from Kazakhstan is Tigrahaud, which comprises six? professional artists who graduated from the Kazakh National Conservatory. This talented group is not only skilled in both contemporary and traditional instruments like the guitar, bass guitar, dombra, sherter and ethnic drums and percussion. Its powerful vocalists are also trained in the traditional “guttural” style of singing. 

Driven by the hope to promote Kazakhstan’s history and culture worldwide, the band, which is named after a Saka tribe that lived in the Almaty region, composes songs that tell stories about the ancient Batyrs (warriors) and Khans (kings). 

“I feel like there is a lot untold about us, the Kazakhs, about our ancestors Sakas, and we have work to do. I mean untold history, the history of our ancestors.”, said Daniyar Zhakiyanov, the manager of Tigrahaud, in an interview with Edge Magazine. “I’m sure the Western world will be interested in our folklore and even more in the mix with rock music.” 

Photo of Tigrahaud, via Edgekz

Harmonising both the past and present, ethnopop preserves age-old traditions while ensuring its relevance to the younger generations. This sparks a new movement that will help preserve Kazakhstan’s intangible cultural heritage.

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