Saturday, December 12, 2015

Folk music of Mordovia: a brief overview

I've heard an opinion that the folk/pop scene of Mordovia is very poor compared to that of Mari El. However, after I visited Mordovia's capital (Saransk) this autumn, I became interested in the situation with music there, and found out that it isn't so bad.

I even found an Orthodox priest from some village in eastern Mordovia who's singing pop/folk songs in both Erzyan (one of two native languages in Mordovia) and Russian. Unlike in case with Нейромонах Феофан, it isn't a gimmick - he's an actual priest, and even if his songs in Erzyan doesn't seem to be overtly religious, I still don't think his albums would fit in my fairly godless blog. Religion aside, he's a very talented singer, and I can post one of his albums if someone is really interested in hearing it:

I must admit that some of his religious songs (in Russian) are quite good too:

Getting back on topic: this style of folk/pop music seems to be popular across Mordovia, and there's a number of festivals dedicated to it. I'd be happy to attend this one (even if it took place not in Mordovia proper):

Speaking of more "authentic" folk music: there are several ensembles in Mordovia which perform it, namely Toorama, Merema and Umarina, but I find such music too hard to get into (maybe I just haven't listened enough to authentic folk/world music yet...)

This song by Umarina sounds quite nice, though:

Update: I decided to post here all (or almost all) songs of Umarina that I could find, because most of them are pretty good. Almost of them are taken off the official site and VK group, so I think it's OK to post it on here too:

Fun facts: the ensemble exists since 1930 and was awarded many various prizes since them. Their' nowadays' repertoir consists mostly of both Russian and Erzyan/Mokshan traditional folk songs (all these languages are often mixed within one song), and some old Soviet songs as well. The level of performance is very proffesional, and the video above should give you a good idea of what kind of songs they're singing.

As for more "modernized" folk/pop, there's indeed not much of it in Mordovia. There's Avgur & Ella Zimina duo from Ruzaevka (southern suburb of Saransk) singing in Mokshan language, but that's not quite what I've searched for:

I'l contunue my search next year, when I hopefully would be able to visit Mordovia again, as well as the nearby places where most of my ancestors came from (Shatki, Tolsky Maidan).

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