Singing the Plate Song in Uzbekistan: Katta Ashula
The music of Central Asia reflects the many influences that have molded the region. From very ancient folklore genres and Shashmaqam (the refined court music of the late 16th century), to modern-day traditional music, all evolved around strong kingdoms, clans and khanates that ruled the area for many centuries.
In Uzbekistan, traditional folk songs are known as Ashula. Ashula reflects the diverse influences that shaped the region’s music as well as the inner feelings, hopes, loves and attitudes of the natives. One of the types of Ashula is called Katta Ashula, which literally means big or great song.
The tradition of Katta Ashula is popular in the Fergana Valley, where many languages and cultures come together. Folk singers from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have mastered this traditional style. It requires special training, a strong voice and the ability to improvise.
This oral transfer of folklore is still the main method of preserving the music itself and its spiritual values. It’s vital for students to get experience with a true master to absorb all the essential skills of Katta Ashula. After independence, Uzbekistan established special schools in the State Music Conservatoire and art colleges to further safeguard this performance art.
Katta Ashula is performed on special occasions like nikoh tuy (wedding parties), sunnat tuy (circumcision events), Navruz (New Year), and on other holidays. The lyrics of the Katta Ashula are taken from famous ghazals, poems based on an ancient pre-Islamic form of poetry that traditionally speaks of a higher love.
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Top photo: Traditional music is a family affair in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Richard Fejfar
PUBLISHED: January 13, 2016