Tuva’s rising stars, the group Hartyga, are releasing a third album during their tour of Europe. Previously we interviewed the group director, Pavel Stabrov. These Tuvan ‘Falcons’ (rough translation of Hartyga) continue to fly across the world on tour after tour.
The album “AMYRSANAA” is the third produced by Hartyga, a band from Kyzyl, Tuva. In 2016 the band released the album “Agitator”, which featured the world-famous lead singer of the band Yat-Kha Albert Kuvezin and “Fugue for steppe and organ”, a joint project with the organ player Andrey Bardin.
“AMYRSANAA” was recorded in May 2018 in Octopus Studios, Ekaterinburg. We recorded with the help of the sound producer Shamil Gainetdinov (famous for his work with the band “Hallucinations of Meaning” (literal translation)). It is thanks to Shamil that Hartyga sounds so distinctive.
The album is named after the song “Amyr Sanaa”, written by the Tuvan rock-bard Alexander Sarzhat-Ool. Amyr Sanaa is both a historical figure and a legend. His name permeates the folk tales of many peoples. Kazakh, Altaics, Kalmyks, Mongols alike tell various versions of his heroic deeds.
During the 17th century he led the rebellion fighting the Manchu Qing for Zhungar independence. Legends say he could carry a red-hot anvil on his back! Once he carved steps out of the rock of a mountain near Chaa-Hol working alone, over the course of a single night, so that there would be a path for his horses. A vein of copper ore was discovered where the hero’s horse lost its horseshoe. One can hear from the lyrics of “Amyr Sanaa” the longing of the people for the nomadic lifestyle and the traditions they lost in the 20th century.
When you return to your homeland
In the center of Asia, Amyr-Sanaa?
Are not your words of wisdom
in the legends of our ancestors?
When on the ears of the rabbit
The black mark disappears,
When the iron birds begin to fly,
Will you return to us as promised?
We remember and call you!
We bless and glorify you!
Come and lead us,
Your descendants, Amyr-Sanaa!
We lost our herds
Which were always huge.
Now we regret that our children
Become alienated and foreign.
As you promised
Inscribed on the Chindilig stone statues.
While the arjaan-wells haven’t yet dried out,
Come ride with your people!
In the name of a bright future
Men forced to cut their braids.
Brides ceased to keep virginity
Hear the melody of the igil
Which calls for the preservation of our roots,
Not all traditions are lost.
Before it’s too late, come and help!
Alexander Sarzhat-Ool called his rock group “Amyr Sanaa”, which he founded in the late 70s, while still in prison. The lyrics of his songs convey the both a powerful protest against his contemporary challenges and an independent lyrical touch, common to the rock-poets of that period. His songs were very varied, ranging from simple protests against modernity to deep poeticism and even tragedy.
One of his works is “Kyzyl Syldys” – which is blunt in giving the listener an understanding of the poet’s thoughts about eternity and his present.
To live conforming to the rest,
It’s a life everywhere in chains.
Instead let my withered body
Be feasted on by worms.
If I will die — over my grave
The red star does will shine!
This medal from relatives and friends
Not for me, you must know!
And still my soul
Flies to his heaven
Let my mortal body be beset
by the predatory eagles.
While alive I will be on my knees
Relentlessly asking God –
If my song breaks
Send down death to me
He mixed folk tunes together with his social critiques. These ancient Tuvan songs included “Moy Mezhegei” and “Tomzha”.
Kaa-Hem is filled with heat.
The shore is wide and steep.
Sparks spray on the river
Near my Mezhegei valley.
The Great Yenisei is warm under
The sun between the river banks.
In the great valley Mezhegei
The Ulug-Hem is flooded.
“Moy Mezhegei” praises the beauty of the valleys which crisscross the heart of Tyva. And “Tomazha” is from the North-East of Tyva. Todzha – is the only region of Tyva in which there are deer herders. Living in the toughest climate, the people of the area make fun of the other Tuvans, and their ‘first world problems’, jokingly feeling their own superiority in return.
The girl from the Tozhu village is riding a deer
Going home in Chazylary.
The young guy climbing the bull
Looks at her from beyond the hill.
As if on a magic firebird
The girl from the Tozhu village flies to her home.
The guy from the river valley just remains
Riding on the back of a goat.
In March 2018, during one of our rehersals, the lead guitarist, Nachin Choreve, played a cool riff, which the other band members liked. They insisted that Nachin would write lyrics for this music. Thus, “Moy Kargyraa” was born, a song resembling age old Tuvan folk tunes in structure. It contains all the essential elements of a Tuvan folk song – a horse, a beautiful girl and nature.
My trotter-horse is flying ahead,
Brisk hoofs the ground.
For she whose hair is black,
Shall I not sing my kargyraa?
“Collective Farmer” is a song which continues the hardworking tradition of Tuvan Social Realism. Composed in the 30s, it is devoted to heroes of labour. Its lyrics are not pure propaganda but are rather lyrical, poetic and melodic in style. Ancient wisdom and a people confident in their history makes even dry politics into fantastic music:
The song of lark like the khomus
Free it pours through the fields.
And I live so freely.
I am a collective farmer, I am a peasant.
“Song of the Orphan” is the most tragic piece. It was first performed by Hartyga during the “Fugue for steppe and organ” in which it was transformed into a lengthy improvisation. In the current version, it has turned into a wonderful sax solo by Sergek Candyk:
I’ll walk staggering with fatigue.
If I fall I will die.
Yellow jets of sand, like worms,
Will feast upon my body.
Where is the place where my body
Will lie in eternal peace?
On which day my voice as soft as khomus
Will be silenced and interrupted?
The album “AMYRSANAA” is the third step in the development of our Tuvan rock group, which in recent times has become a legend in those parts, having travelled the world by popular demand. Hartyga has successfully performed in many clubs across Europe. Its distinctive style mixes folk tradition, with classic art-rock, neo-progressivism and hard-rock. The band intertwines ancient national instruments (igil, doshtsuluur, vargan etc) with standard rock instruments (guitar, bass and drums) and the saxophone.