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All Around This World South and Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)
The recorded history of Kyrgyzstan stretches back thousands of years, to a time when Kyrgyz nomads roamed vast Central Asian lands and Kyrgyz warriors conquered and were conquered by people like the Mongols, the Uighur and, in the 20th century, the Soviets. Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1991, allowing the Kyrgyz people the freedom to do things like explore their Islamic heritage, replace their president, then subsequently replace him.    

This week in class we sing:

We sing "We Are Happy," a greeting song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we say hello in Kyrgyz -- "Kandai!"

"Daweedam" is a Dari chant from Afghanistan that tells the tell of a little boy who values his teacher so much he honors him by baking him a loaf of bread.  (More.)

"Naanu Bathene" is an Indian folk song in the language Kannada about a boy who goes to the fair with his friends and his animals. (More.)

"Khaunla Pataima" is contemporary Nepali song about desperately wanting to be with someone you love.  (More.)

"Sad to Say Goodbye" is a bittersweet Kyrgyz song about longing for joys of the past.  (More.


Much of today's Kyrgyz music is still traditional folk, a proud expression of ancient nomadic Kyrgyz life.  Kyrgyz songs are often heroic epics, with traveling musicians known as "manaschi" telling tales of warriors and their adventures.  The most popular story is the epic of Manas -- at 500,000 lines, it's considered the longest epic poem ever written, and one of the most extraordinary.  As a well-known manaschi in the above-linked Tengir-Too documentary puts it, "Manas is a whole world and the whole world is Manas...."  We're going to do our best to act out parts of the epic in class.  

For an overview of Kyrgyz traditional music watch this beautiful video about Kyrgyz ensemble Tengir-Too. The first spoken line of the video is, "I think that through music you can understand the soul of a nation...."