Библиотека нематериального культурного наследия Республики Башкортостан
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«Ural» is the most famous Bashkir folk song, a musical and poetic symbol of the Motherland and a reflection of the centuries-old history of the people. It refers to lingering songs, which received the name «ozon-kyuy» in Bashkir folklore. The song of a lyric and epic character, which has become a classic of folk art, carries a deep meaning carefully passed down from generation to generation. The song «Ural» has become a kind of anthem of the Bashkir people and usually sounds at the beginning of kurultays, iyiyns, meetings, major historical events. Bashkirs listen to the solemn performance of the «Ural», as well as the official anthems, standing up.
This song combines two main qualities of the people: Bashkirs – children of nature, poets from birth, and Bashkirs-warriors who fearlessly fought for their native land. To the sounds of the song «Ural» we imagine the power of the majestic mountains, the beauty of sparkling rivers and the expanse of endless steppes, through the ornate melody of the song we plunge into the philosophical comprehension of historical events and feel the deep longing of the Bashkirs for freedom.

Writer and scientist Gazim Shafikov writes in the book «The burning breath of history»: «...This people never called their homeland "Bashkortostan", as did representatives of other peoples and tribes, for whom Cis-Urals was the "land of the Bashkirs", while the Bashkirs themselves called their land only "Ural", thereby emphasizing the entire root essence of this huge region. The ancient Bashkir lands are a vivid example of this. No wonder the folk song "Ural" is the true anthem of the Bashkirs».

Each Bashkir song has its own story or legend, which a singer or musician, according to an old tradition, must tell before performing the song. Researchers have repeatedly noted the deep historicism of Bashkir songs.

«The very artistic nature of most of the songs is, so to speak, "specially tuned" to convey historical information. Singers who are well aware of the performing traditions, before singing a folk song, first describe in detail the history of its origin», – says Fanuza Nadrshina, holder of an Advanced Doctorate in Philological Sciences.
History and content of the song
Researchers attribute the origin of the song «Ural» to the XIV–XVI centuries. The content of the song is associated with the formation of the union of seven Bashkir tribes in the southeastern part of Bashkortostan, so the song has another name – «Ete yriu» («Seven clans»).

Here's how the folklorist Rif Suleimanov retells the content of the song in the book «Pearls of the folk art of the Ural»: «The story of the lingering song "Ural", which also has a name "Ete yriu" ("Seven clans"), says that in the past the Bashkirs were at war among themselves, often raided, robbed each other's cattle, wives, children. This went on for a long time, but once aqsaqals, elders of the clans agreed to meet to resolve issues of war and peace. In the Southern Urals, at the foot of Mount Kryktytau, seven Bashkir clans met on the appointed day, where peace was concluded for all time. After the agreement festivals, horse races, wrestling and competitions of singers, musicians and dancers were organized. In the end of the legend it is said that in honor of this important event for the entire Bashkir people one of the sesens (singer-storyteller) composed the ozon-kyuy "Ural"».
In the Southern Urals, at the foot of Mount Kryktytau, seven Bashkir clans met on the appointed day, where peace was concluded for all time. After the agreement festivals, horse races, wrestling and competitions of singers, musicians and dancers were organized.
The lyrics of the song «Ural» were first recorded from folk singers Aflyatun from the village of Sabyrovo (Orsk county [uyezd] of the Orenburg province [governorate], now Zilairsky district of Bashkortostan) and Gabit-sesen Argynbaev from the village of Idrisovo (Verkhneuralsky county [uyezd] of the Orenburg province [governorate], now Baimaksky district of Bashkortostan) in 1915 and 1920 by the famous Bashkir folklorist, poet, playwright Mukhametsha Burangulov. In his book «Sesen amanaty» («Testament of the sesen») the legend of the song «Ete yriu» («Seven clans») is given. Judging by his record, serious disputes flared up between the Bashkirs of the steppe and their relatives living in the mountains.

While some experts believe that the song arose when the unification of the Bashkir clans was mostly completed, Gazim Shafikov puts forward another assumption: «It is quite possible that this outstanding creation of the melody and lyrics was born much earlier, when after the fall of the Golden Horde and the emergence of new khanates – Astrakhan, Kazan, Nogai – the Urals became a symbol of the unity of all Bashkir clans under the banner of freedom and independence. The lyrics of the song are the most convincing proof of this».
Lyrics of the song «Ural»
The spurs of the Ural mountains are high,
You have become our own mother, Ural.
Here, where living springs ring,
You put together seven clans.

Ah, my Ural! I cut the willow rod
To whip up the horse on the way.
Blood of the dead dripped from the willow rod,
And nothing can stop this blood.

Whether there are mountains higher than the Urals?
Whether there is anyone who doesn't cherish it?
Whether there is guy, who regretted
To lay down his life for the ancestors' land?

A quiver, a bow and a fleet-footed horse
Have always been companions to Bashkirs.
They spared neither blood nor life,
So that trouble does not pass over the Urals.
Уральских гор отроги высоки,
Ты матерью родною стал, Урал.
Здесь, где звенят живые родники,
Ты воедино семь родов собрал.

Ах, мой Урал! Лозину срезал я,
Чтобы коня в дороге погонять.
Закапала с лозы убитых кровь,
И эту кровь ничем мне не унять.

Найдутся ль горы выше, чем Урал?
Найдется ль кто, чтоб им не дорожить?
Найдется ли егет, чтоб пожалел
За землю предков жизнь свою сложить?

Колчан и лук да быстроногий конь
Башкиру были спутником всегда.
Ни крови он, ни жизни не жалел,
Чтоб над Уралом не прошла беда.
During the colonization of the region and during the Bashkir uprisings of the XVII–XVIII centuries the main theme of the song «Ural» was the protection of the native land and the glorification of nameless batyrs, the main leitmotif was a call to fight against colonial and social oppression.

As the scientist Akhnaf Kharisov writes, «Ivan the Terrible after the accession of Bashkortostan to Russia gave the Bashkirs a charter for the use of lands and waters. On the basis of the royal charter the Bashkirs divided the land between seven clans. It was this historical event that the song reflected. But later, when the devastation of the Bashkir lands and the colonization of the region began in the XVIII century, the content of the song underwent changes, but, retaining its former melody, it became known as "Ural"».

Other versions of the song «Ural», known as «Borongo Ural» («Ancient Ural»), «Iske Ural» («Old Ural»), «Kyska Ural» (short chant of «Ural»), are dedicated to the same themes.
«The idea of the indissolubility of man and nature is embedded in the essence and in the early versions of the song "Ural", in which the image of Mother Earth is poeticized. In general, the image of Ural mountains in the songs is diverse. It personifies both nature as such and the concept of the Motherland of an entire people», – notes folklorist Fanuza Nadrshina.
Peculiarities of the song «Ural» and its modern performers
World researchers recognize that the song «Ural» is a lofty example of poetic imagery and folk melody. The versions of the song were recorded on a phonograph and notated in the 30s of the XX century by Russian scientists who studied the Bashkir region and culture – Ivan Saltykov, Alexander Klyucharev, Lev Lebedinsky, and Bashkir folklorists Salavat Galin, Farit Kamaev, Rif Suleimanov. The song was first published in the book «Bashkort khalyk yirzary» («Bashkir folk songs») in the recording of the composer Khusain Akhmetov.

«Ural» is an integral part of the repertoire of singers and all outstanding performers on the national wind instrument of the Bashkirs – kurai. This song was performed by famous kurai players: Yumabai Isyanbaev, Ishmulla and Sayfulla Dilmukhametovs, Gata Suleimanov; singers: Magafur Khismatullin, Suleiman Abdullin, Ramazan Yanbekov, Mavletbai Gainetdinov, Gali Khamzin, Raiman Ishbaev and others. Their performance has long been recognized as classical and entered the treasury of Bashkir art.
Among modern performers kurai players Azat Aitkulov, Yulai Gainetdinov, Ishmurat Ilbakov, Rasul Karabulatov, Robert Yuldashev, singers Abdulla Sultanov, Vakhit Khyzyrov, Azamat Timerov, Khasan Usmanov, Marcel and Nukh Kutuevs, Ildar Zhamalov and others perform «Ural» with great feeling and skill.

«Every folk song has its own aura. The song "Ural" has a very strong energetic aura, which influences both the audience and the performers themselves. It brings people together. There are not many performers of the song "Ural", many people sing songs without delving into the content, just showing their strong voice. But the main thing is to show the character of the song, to reveal the image. Formerly each performer of the song "Ural" was an outstanding personality and, feeling deeply the song with his heart, made his own interpretation», – says Merited Artist of the Russian Federation, People's Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan, laureate of the State Prize named after Salavat Yulaev, famous kurai player and teacher Azat Aitkulov.
The musician said that he started playing «Ural» on kurai at the age of 11 thanks to the famous musician and teacher Adigam Iskuzhin, who taught him many melodies. Now the master, who teaches playing the kurai at the Ufa State Institute of Arts named after Zagir Ismagilov, transfers his skills to the younger generations, and this interpretation has become widespread.
«This melody is played on kurai by all my students. Not all people can quickly learn to play "Ural" – they need both life experience and skill. If some of my students can't remember the melody right away, I teach them by breaking the musical text into several parts and comparing the musical phrases based on the dominant notes. Basically, we all play one common variation in D major on the kurai A. The range of the song is large, if you play an octave higher, some kurai players can't take the upper sound of F-sharp», – says kurai player.
«Ural» is one of the works of the joint program of Azat Aitkulov with the organist from Ufa, People's Artist of Bashkortostan Vladislav Murtazin. With this program the musicians went on tour throughout Russia – they were in Kemerovo, Togliatti, Samara, Ulyanovsk, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Naberezhnye Chelny and Siberian cities. The sounds of two wind instruments – the Bashkir kurai and the electronic (portable) organ «Hauptwerk» are harmoniously combined, making a fascinating effect and an indelible impression on the audience.

«In all concerts of our program during trips I play 5–6 lingering folk songs, including "Ural", briefly preceding the performance of the songs with a story about their content. Serious people always gather to listen to organ concerts, they don't need a show, they need real music, they perceive it very well», – the musician notes.

The chant of the song «Ural» is characterized by a wide range (thirteenth chord), slow tempo, pentatonic scale with major-minor variability, rich ornamental intrasyllabic chants. Almost all chants, except for the final one, have an energetic upward direction, which gives the song a pathetic excitement. The metre of a verse is iambic pentameter, the rhyme is cross, although the listener does not perceive the periodic rhyme of the verse during the lingering singing. Due to the complexity of the song, the main performers are men. But one of the main propagandists of Bashkir folklore – singer and teacher Flyura Kildiyarova – also has this song in her repertoire.
«Although the song "Ural" is considered to be primordially masculine, I perform three versions – the main ozon-kyuy and khalmak-kyuy "Iske Ural" ("Old Ural"), there is also "Kyska Ural" (short chant of "Ural"), where the words are the same, but the melody is different. It is said that seven clans had seven versions of this song. In our Uchalinsky district "Borongo Ural" ("Ancient Ural") or "Iske Ural" are common. The version "Kyska Ural" was performed in the Chelyabinsk region, – says People's Artist of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Bashkortostan, laureate of the State Prize named after Salavat Yulaev Flyura Kildiyarova. – Unfortunately, today lingering songs are performed less often, not every singer can sing folk songs with the most complex melisma. I would like every Bashkir singer to have them in their repertoire. Usually "Ural" is performed to the accompaniment of kurai, but I often had to sing this song a cappella».
In addition to kurai and vocals the song «Ural» is played on the piano, violin and kyl-kubyz solo. Arrangements of the «Ural» for voice and piano were made by composers Khusain Akhmetov, Airat Karimov, for kurai – by Gata Suleimanov. In the XXI century musicians perform the song «Ural» in a modern arrangement with the participation of electronic instruments.
New life of the song «Ural»
The song «Ural» has repeatedly inspired the composers of Bashkortostan to create new works. For example, the melody of the song is used in the symphonic overture to two Bashkir folk songs by Zagir Ismagilov, in the symphonic picture «Ural» by Alexander Klyucharev, in the «Legend» for the symphony orchestra by Masalim Valeev, in the music by Khusain Akhmetov and Rauf Murtazin for the documentary film «Soviet Bashkiria». This song was used by Nur Dautov in the vocal and symphonic cycle «Khalkym yirzary» («Songs of my people»).

The composer Zagir Ismagilov said: «In all my operas there is a theme of the Bashkir folk song "Ural", which has a special meaning for me. It is used as a leitmotif of the Motherland, love for one's land».
Almost always – in the operas «Salavat Yulaev», «Shaura», «Ambassadors of the Urals», «Akmulla», «Kakhym-turya» – the theme of the song «Ural» is introduced by the composer at dramatically important moments. This melody is put into the mouths of respected, experienced people who assess what is happening, reflect on the fate of their native land and people – Suraman, Aksesen, Akmulla, Buranbai. For example, in the opera «Salavat Yulaev» Salavat's associate, old Suraman, sings the song «Ural». The sound of this folk song becomes a vivid expression of the author's voice. It is not surprising that this theme was included in the final-apotheosis of «Salavat Yulaev», which confirms once again: the main character is the son of the Urals, a particle of his people. In the opera «Ambassadors of the Urals», which is dedicated to the historical events of the accession of the Bashkirs to the Russian state, the folk song «Ural» («Seven clans») becomes one of the key musical themes.

The «Bashkir encyclopedia» mentions that the theme of the melody «Ural» is also used in the official national anthem.
«If a composer manages to write his own music, deeply feeling the connection with a folk song, this is the most valuable thing. First I wrote the chorus, the next day I wrote the verse of the anthem. Of course, I would like the folk song "Ural" itself to be our anthem – it has great energy that reflects our entire history. This is a legendary work created by the people. But this song is from the genre of ozon-kyuy (lingering), so I included it in the instrumental bridge in the second verse in a stylized form», – explained the composer and conductor, People's Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan, author of the music of the anthem of the Republic of Bashkortostan Farit Idrisov.
  • Author (compiler): L. K. Aralbaeva, 2019
  • Oleg Yarovikov, Andrei Starostin, press service of the National symphony orchestra of the Republic of Bashkortostan, press service of the City Council of Ufa
  • State unitary enterprise television and radio broadcasting company «Bashkortostan»