Tag Archives: Central Asia

Musical geographies of Central Asia


For centuries Central Asia has been a crossroads of civilizations, peoples, and societies, a land in between East and West and a territory contested by political powers. Its modern history—from imperial and Soviet domination to the emergence of independent nation-states—has witnessed a profound transformation of its political and social geography, calling for a re-evaluation of Central Asia as a region, not least in terms of its expressive cultures and music.

Musical geographies of Central Asia presents abstracts and podcasts of papers and performances presented at the conference of the same name that was held at the University of London on 16 through 18 May 2012. This free Internet resource is published by the Agha Khan Development Network and sponsored by the Agha Khan Trust for Culture.

Above, a Tajik šašmaķom ensemble; below, an example of Tuvan höömej, often termed “throat singing” in English.

Related article: Two Rivers: A Journey Through Central Asia (newyorker.com)

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Filed under Asia, Resources

Jazz and shamanism

With its emphasis on altered consciousness, shamanism—communication with the spirit world—offers archetypal visionary insight concerning the nature of the psyche; it has much in common with the key Jungian notion of individuation or fully developed and integrated consciousness.

Jazz has much in common with shamanic experience. The pan-tonal and pan-rhythmic music of the Norwegian saxophonist and composer Jan Garbarek exemplifies the healing presence of the shamanic, or individuated, spirit in 20th-century music.

This according to “The body electric: The shamanic spirit in twentieth century music” by Michael Tucker, an essay included in Music and mysticism, two consecutive issues of Contemporary music review (XIV/1–2 and 3–4) dedicated to the memory of Philip Rawson.

Above, a shaman from the Altaj Mountains of Central Asia. Below, Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s I talk with the spirits.


Filed under Curiosities, Jazz and blues