Библиотека нематериального культурного наследия Республики Башкортостан
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Just singing to the kurai?

Ozon-kyuy – Bashkir musical heritage
Ozon-kyuy is the history of the people, expressed in a wonderful interweaving of kurai sounds and lyrical melodies. You can feel all the pain that the Bashkir people experienced on the way of formation in many works of this genre.
Over the centuries ozon-kyuy retained its purpose as the highest,
«elite» genre, accessible only to true masters. A full-fledged performance of Bashkir lingering songs implies not only the presence of outstanding natural singing abilities, but also the spirituality of the inner, personal «aura» of the performer, his commitment to national melos
and traditional forms of song-making.
Who performed ozon-kyuy?
The singers honed their skills during special events for singers and kurai players, which were held within the national assemblies called iyiyn.
Among the singers who perform lingering songs high male and
female voices predominate. There are many reasons for this, one of which is the range. At all times only high talented singers were capable to perform ozon-kyuy. Their vocal range was supposed to be from two octaves and higher. In addition, the formation of Bashkir ozon-kyuy was influenced by kurai, which was expressed in the harmonious scale of the songs' structure, in sweeping, sharp intonation jumps, in «melismatic runs» of an instrumental nature. The performer also was supposed to have an incredible talent for storytelling, because each song had to be preceded by a story. Strictly speaking, the story was the basis for the presentation of the work, and ozon-kyuy became a kind of pearl
intended to convey the emotional component of the story.
Bashkir folk song of ozon-kyuy «Uyil». Performed by Ramazan Yanbekov
What they sang about?
Almost all known extant
works of this genre were written under
the influence of dramatic historical events
that occurred with the Bashkir people.

Moreover, the art of ozon-kyuy was formed
as a result of the development of the style of professional
mourners. But, certainly, the meaning of these songs was
much deeper. The analysis of the ozon-kyuy content provides
a rich material for historical and sociological study of the past of the Bashkir people. Ozon-kyuy played an important role in the spiritual consolidation of the Bashkir tribes, expressing the feelings of
the entire people. A wide selection of songs allowed to sing
them according to one's mood, on the occasion.
According to genre
and theme,
ozon-kyuy songs are divided into:

– about struggle against colonial oppression:
«Ural», «Salavat»;
– about army service and military campaigns: «Erme» («Army»), «Eskadron» («Squadron»);
– about the cantonal chiefs: «Kului-canton»,
«Abdulla-akhoond», «Azamat-canton»;
– about the fugitives and exiles: «Biish»,
«Buranbai», «Shagibarak»;


– about nature: «Handugas» («Nightingale»), «Kamelik»;
– about social inequality: «Mal»;
– about women's life: «Tashtugai», «Gilmiyaza», «Zulkhiza»;
– about love: «Salimakai»;
– about life: «Kaldy», «Lived life».

Is it a song?
It would be wrong to call ozon-kyuy a song.
«Ozon-kyuy in a broad sense is a set of stylistic techniques, developed by old artistic practice, when
a creator of the melody was also its first performer, and the skill of improvisation within the aesthetic norms developed by tradition was the basis of the musical folklore. In a narrower sense ozon-kyuy refers
to a slow, lingering song in a freely pulsating rhythm, the metric of which is determined by the stanzas
of Bashkir poetry. Due to its intense, free in rhythmic and melodic development character ozon-kyuy in
a number of cases goes beyond the song and in many genre features becomes a vocal poem».
Mazhit Alkin
Bashkir singer, teacher, researcher
The history of the
formation of
Professional mourners developed this genre, but it was still based on ritual narratives.
It is the melodiousness that shows a huge historical path
of development, which a lingering song ozon-kyuy passed from
everyday ritual one to lyrical. Despite close family ties with peoples of
Central Asia and the Volga Region the Bashkir ozon-kyuy has
no even approximate analogues in their culture.
The first sprouts of lyrical songs apparently go back to the period in
the development of the communal-clan system, when art was dominated
by its applied purpose – labor and production-ritual. At a certain historical
stage with a change in the text while maintaining the usual turns
of the chant the release of the song from the ritual shell begins.
Having lost the connection with the rite, the song loses
its applied meaning and to some extent becomes an end in itself,
a certain expression of a lyrical feeling.
Along with the development of lyrics the folk song
became dominated by a melodious style with a broader
movement of the melody and certain musical motifs.

The most famous work

It is distinguished by high genuine patriotism, the idea of the sacred duty of every Bashkir to die, but to defend
the land of his ancestors – the Urals.
The Urals in the song is a symbol
not only of the mountains of the same name,
but of the entire historical Bashkortostan, the homeland
of the Bashkirs. There was a tradition to start assemblies
of Bashkir people – iyiyns – with the performing of this song
or melody. According to the legend, the origin of the song «Ural»
is attributed to the period of the 14–16 centuries. The song
reflects historical events related to the formation of
the union of the seven Bashkir clans, hence
its first name is «Ete yriu» («Seven clans»).
There is a version that the author of the song was a famous sesen (singer-storyteller) – Aidar Bayik sesen. There is a version of this song attributed to him, which gives reason to say that by the 18th century
the song was known not only in the southeast, but also in the northeast of Bashkortostan.
During the colonization of the region and the Bashkir uprisings of the 17–18 centuries
the main theme of the song «Ural» was the protection of the native land and
the glorification of nameless batyrs (heroes, brave warriors), the main
leitmotif was a call to fight against colonial and social oppression.
The Ural Mountains lie, turning blue, –
Land of fathers and grandfathers.
Sacrificing themselves for the protection of their land and water,
Batyrs' bones lie there.
Ah, my Ural, if I cut one of your willow rods,
I'll take it to whip up the horse.
The blood of the batyrs, who died in the battles,
Drips when you cut it off.
There will not be a mountain higher than the Urals, hey,
There will not be man who doesn't love the Urals.
There will not be man who would regret
To lay down his life for his country.
Ural, hey Ural, you say,
Along the Urals there is a young birch forest.
If you sing, praising the Urals,
It's a pleasure for the soul.
Having ridden a good horse,
Having taken the arrows and a quiver in hand,
Bashkirs spared neither blood nor life,
They did not give their Urals to anyone.

Today competitions of
the Bashkir lingering song
ozon-kyuy are regularly held.
Everyone can compete for the title of the best performer of
ozon-kyuy without occupation and age restrictions
and without any special vocal education.
Students of the first and second courses of vocal departments of secondary special educational institutions are also allowed to participate.
There are quite strict requirements for the contestants.
Each of them must not only have at least 20 required lingering
songs – ozon-kyuy – in their repertoire, but also know the history
of each song. The required songs usually include: «Ural», «Buranbai», «Eskadron» («Squadron»), «Taftilyau», «Handugas» («Nightingale»), «Ashkadar», «Zulkhiza», «Gilmiyaza», «Tashtugai», «Kului-canton», «Azamat-canton», «Gaisa», «Salavat», «Yeren kashka» («Red horse
with a star on its forehead»), «Kahym-turya», «Sibai», «Karavan-sarai» («Сaravansary»), «Biish», «Salimakai», «Shaura», «Zalifakai», «Kamelik», «Madinakai», «Zulkhabira», «Erme» («Army»), «Khyr»,
«Agidel – agym hiu» («Agidel river – flowing water»),
«Tuman» («Fog»), «Bayas», «Ilyas», «Shafik».
Interregional competition of performers of the Bashkir lingering song «Ozon-kyuy».
The organizers of the competition are the Ministry of culture of the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Republican center of folk art, the Administration of the Tuimazinsky district
of the Republic of Bashkortostan
Popular ozon-kyuy performers

1. Lebedinsky L. N. Bashkir folk songs and tunes. Moscow, 1965 (in Russian).
2. Ikhtisamov Kh. S. To the question of the form-building role of the rhythm of the Bashkir lingering song ozon-kyuy: on the cyclical nature of rhythmic development // Scientific and methodological notes. Issue 1. Ufa, 1973 (in Russian).
3. Rybakov S. G. Music and songs of the Ural Muslims with an essay of their life. St. Petersburg, 1897 (in Russian).
4. Rybakov S. G. About folk songs of Tatars, Bashkirs and Teptyars. Living antiquity. St. Petersburg, 1894 (in Russian).
5. 400 Bashkir folk songs. Compiled by F. Kamaev, N. Shunkarov. Ufa, 2011 (in Russian).
6. Suleimanov R. S. Pearls of folk art of the Urals. Ufa, 1995 (in Russian).
Author (compiler): R. F. Gazizov, 2019