Contemporary Forms of Recording and Archiving Music in the North Caucasus

A guest lecture by Bulat Khalilov from Naltschik, Kabardino-Balkarien, RF

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Taking the North Caucasus as focal point, the presentation looks at modern methodologies for researching and promoting culture; it also explores the links between academic ways of recording and archiving music and independent “Do-It-Yourself” strategies of working with music and musicians. While on the surface level these approaches may seem to oppose one another, it will be illustrated, how local initiatives from within the tradition bearing communities – such as self-recording ritual performances in villages – and commercial endeavours not only share basic ideas but can/must work together. Field recordings, sound art and guerilla filmmaking cannot only be used for documenting and archiving, but also for promoting music traditions for local and international audiences through multiplatform projects, using sound, images, objects and texts.

The main concern of the presentation is to show how this approach does not necessarily pose a threat to ethnic identity in music but a complex way of keeping local cultures alive. Examples will be given as to how ideas of de-centralisation can be maintained in research and art can be freed from colonial heritage and self-orientalist inferiority complexes. The activities of Nalchik-based label Ored Recordings and similar projects will serve as illustrations.

Bulat Khalilov from Naltschik in Kabardino-Balkaria (RF) is a music journalist with a focus on the North Caucasus and co-founder of the label Ored Recordings. He is also one of the main characters in the music documentary Bonfires & Stars (2016).