Is Belarusian music really “first of all Eastern European music?That may be a matter of personal taste, but what is not in dispute is that Belarusian folk music has a thousand years of history behind it, and continues to grow and develop as the nation matures. While almost all Belarusian music from the 16th centuries developed in accordance Orthodox church, the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries freed music from somewhat from its Christian bounds. During the Soviet era the Communist leadership only allowed music that didn’t threaten its power, which is a tactic the Belarusian government still uses today; in 2004 Belarusian bands that performed in support of protests against President Lukashenko’s attempt to change the constitution to allow him to run for a third term found themselves banned from radio play.

More information:
Wikipedia on the music of Belarus | A great page about contemporary music in Belarus — folk, rock, goth and beyond

In class we’re going to listen to:

— “Postoaj!” by Knyaz Mishkin from the album “Lubov Negodyaya” Knyas Mishkin is a two-decades old Belarusian experimental jazz band that features Leonid Narushevich at the center of a revolving cast of musical characters.

More information:
An interview with Leonid Narushevich: the only band around named after a Dostoyevski character? | Knyaz Miskhin live, in full experimental mode.

— “Jac Made Hay” by Pesniary
Pesniary is unarguably the best known Byelorussian psychedelic folk-rock band of all time. The band first rocketed to fame in the USSR in 1971 with their first album, Pesnyary (I), in which its members vibrantly reinterpreted traditional Byelorussian songs as psychedelic rock anthems. At the time, the USSR effectively forbade rock music; rather than be a “rock group,” Pesniary had to call itself a “vocal-instrumental ensemble.” Pesniary rarely ruffled the feathers of the Communist leadership, and the Soviets granted the band reasonable freedom, awarding them the title “People’s Artist” and allowing them to tour the U.S. Pesniary continued in its original form until 2003 when its leader, Vladimir Muliavin, died in a car accident. The band eventually split into three bands, each of which claims to be the official descendant of Pesniary. (If you read the history above, Belarus is not a stranger to partitions.) All three keep touring and performing original Pesniary songs.

More information.
The story of Pesniary (scroll down): “there is no other band like PESNIARY in the whole history of world’s rock music!” | Pesniary performs live in 1971 — you must watch this video, at least for the mustaches

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