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Summer course

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сент. 22, 2007 | 03:14 pm

A week ago our music group had its summer course weekend. This is an ideal opportunity to work on new repertoire. Our leader had selected a number of songs, one of which triggered me to do quite a bit of amateur literary research. Let's get some text:

Что пониже было города Саратова,
А повыше было города Царицына
Протекала пролегала Мать Камышенька река
Как с собой она вела круты красны берега

The reason to learn this is that next year we're going to hold a festival of music that can be found in regions adjacent to the Wolga, and this song should be a nice introduction.
The song was derived from a book by Львов and Прах from 1806, featuring Russian folk songs for soprano and piano accompaniment. Our leader has tentatively reconstructed a 4-part chorus version of the song, classified as epical.
While I was learning the song, I felt that there was something familiar about it. Coming home, I dived into Roberta Reeder's Russian Folk Lyrics that had recently arrived from an Amazon Marketplace Seller and that I had leafed through quickly to get an idea about the content. And behold:

It happened below the city of Saratov,
It happened above the city of Tsaritsyn
The river mother Kamyshenka flowed by
And behind it ran steep shores,

This is from В. Я. Пропп's Народные Лириыеские Песни, and ultimately from Киреевский, part VII. My Киреевский edition only has one part, so obviously I'm missing quite a bit.
There are some differences, the main one being that the Львов version makes the guys in boats that are rowing along the river threaten княз Менщиков, while stressing that they are completely loyal to Peter the Great, whereas the Киреевский version makes the rowers cut off the head of the governor of Astrakhan. Пропп remarks that other versions exist in which the killing of the princes Карамышев, Репнин, Гагарин and Голицын. And he classifies it as a robbers song. According to him (translation by ms. Reeder):

Robber songs were widely sung among the peasants and the city population. In Russia a robber was a common phenomenon of everyday life. The chronicles had already shown an awareness of robbery; it became more prevalent during the Tatar yoke and subsequently spread again and again after devastating and ravaging wars.
Robber songs are songs of free men. As we will see below, the robber is portrayed in song as a fighter for trampled justice. He never robs the poor, only the rich.
Robber songs are sharply divided into two types. In some the robber is clearly a positive figure. The songs are optimistic and sometimes joyful and humorous. These songs may be called udalaja [daring, bold] [...]
As pointed out previously, in some songs the robber is not simply a man who has managed to free himself from the yoke of serfdom; he is a folk avenger and a fighter for justice that has been violated. In the Volga song Что пониже было города Саратова brave "Volga youths" and "burlak rowers" organize an ambush on an island in the Volga. They lie in wait for the Astrakhan governor, who is passing by on a boat, attack him, and kill him.

So in the end, it was a song where everyone could insert his favourite villain...
I like it a lot. When we've learned more verses, we'll probably make a recording.

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Comments {1}

risboo6909

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from: risboo6909
date: сент. 22, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
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It would be nice to hear some of ur records

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