University of Central Asia publishes two volumes, rich historical ethnographic research on the Kyrgyz küü

Date: 05 October 2011

Speech by Totu Sydykova
Speech by Ernis Turnuov
Speech by Turdubay Abdrakhunov
Speech by Bohdan Krawchenko
Speech by Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova
Synopsis of live performance
Komuz Melodies (Audio, mp3)

The Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions, Volumes I and II Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, 5 October 2011 - The Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions, Volumes I and II (Kïrgïz küülörü: Iliktöölör, oylor, pikirler, 1-2 kitep) published by the University of Central Asia, was launched yesterday evening at Bishkek’s Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

The launch brought together over 300 prominent representatives of the academic and cultural community, Government officials and Parliamentarians, the international community as well as music students from high schools and universities. In his welcoming address head of the President’s Administration Emilbek Kaptagaev appealed to the guests to preserve cultural treasures: “Today’s event represents a significant contribution to the preservation of the Kyrgyz cultural heritage and has given a new life to komuz melodies.”

This two-volume publication presents findings by well-known Kyrgyz ethno-musicologist and komuz player Asan Kaybïlda uulu based on more than 20 years of his ethnographic research on Kyrgyz komuz music. It is an unprecedented publication of Komuz melodies and their unique interpretarions traditionally handed down orally by the Kyrgyz peoples from generation to generation.

The publication contains rich historical material on the Kyrgyz küü - instrumental music played primarily on the three-stringed instrument, komuz; from early years of Kyrgyz history that would otherwise be lost. The volumes are supplemented by music CDs containing more than 100 komuz melodies, with narratives on their histories by the author.

“The Aga Khan Development Network’s experience has demonstrated that revitalization of cultural heritage can serve as a catalyst for development and bring new hope for communities. By producing this publication, we pay tribute to the rich music heritage of the Kyrgyz people which has transmitted spiritual practices and moral values and which will now be available for younger generations,” commented Mrs. Nurjehan Mawani, the Aga Khan Development Network Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Guided by its mission of preserving and promoting cultural heritages in Central Asia, the University of Central Asia first began working with Asan Kaybïlda uulu in 2008 to ensure the availability of this distinctive heritage for future generations including students and scholars. The volumes are a testament to the legacy of Asan Kaybïlda uulu’s dedication to restoring recordings of komuz melodies and reviving interest in them through his radio programme during the last two decades of his career.

“In the ‘90s, he worked with the Kyrgyz National TV and Radio Company’s “Golden Fund” (Altyn kazïna/Zolotoi Fond), where he manually restored hundreds of old komuz melodies recorded during the Soviet period,” said Totu Sydykova, the late author’s wife. “I express my deepest gratitude to Dr Elmira Kochumkulova, the UCA and its leadership for supporting my husband and recognizing his dedication through this book,” she added.

“There is much discussion today about the need to develop Kyrgyz cultural heritage. But it has to be stressed, and this is especially an appeal to young people to appreciate cultural diversity and understand that developing culture requires more than declarations. To thrive, culture must be studied, researched, documented, interpreted and this must be done at a professional level. This requires education, a great deal of hard work and dedication. Asan Kaybilda uulu spent 20 years of his life studying Kyrgyz melodies, and today we have in hand, the product of his efforts,” said UCA Director General Dr Bohdan Krawchenko.

Requested by the author to edit his manuscript, Ernis Tursunov, distinguished poet of the Kyrgyz Republic, said at the launch: “Few scholars have collected the rich oral tradition of the Kyrgyz to provide valuable written material on cultural heritage; and Asan Kaybylda uul is among them. Like the dombra of the Kazakhs, the dutar of the Uzbeks, the rubab of the Tajiks, and the balalayka of the Russians, the komuz is a symbol of the Kyrgyz culture. Komuz music is the spiritual treasure containing the history, language, customs, the soul and the spirit of the Kyrgyz. The Kyrgyz people will live on as long as they have their language, traditions and music.”

The Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions, Volumes I and II (supplemented by 2 music CDs) is written by Asan Kaybïlda uulu and edited by Ernis Tursunov. Scholarly editor Dr Elmira Kochumkulova, UCA Senior Research Fellow compiled the book and produced its index and bibliography. Further information on its author and melody excerpts are available on: Orders can be placed by emailing:

The volumes are part of the University of Central Asia Cultural Heritage Publication Series. Other books in the series include The Musical Arts of the Pamirs, Volumes I, II, and III (Russian, 2011); Ancient Monuments of the Tien-Shan (Russian, 2011) and; Archaeological Map of Tajikistan (Russian, 2008). The series of books on Tajikistan’s cultural heritage are coordinated by Aga Khan Humanities Project Director, Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova. Forthcoming publications include: Music in Central Asia: an Introduction; Cities of the Dead; The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan; Islam, Nomadic Heritage, and Kyrgyz Identity; Musical Arts of the Pamirs, Volumes IV & V; Archaeological Map of the Eastern Pamirs; and Kyrgyz and Kazakh Nomadic Culture through Proverbs.

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