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Encyclopedia > Bard (Soviet Union)
Bulat Okudzhava, a pioneer of the Bard genre
Bulat Okudzhava, a pioneer of the Bard genre
For other meanings of the word, see Bard (disambiguation).

The term bard (бард) came to be used in the Soviet Union in the early 1960s (and continues to be used in Russia today) for singers-songwriters who wrote songs outside the Soviet establishment. Bard poetry differs from other poetry mainly in the fact that it is sung along with a simple guitar melody as opposed to being spoken. Another difference is that this form of poetry focuses less on style and more on meaning. This means that fewer stylistic devices are used, and the poetry often takes the form of narrative. What separates bard poetry from other songs is the fact that the music is far less important than the lyrics; chord progressions are often very simple and tend to repeat from one bard song to another. A far more obvious difference was the commerce-free nature of the genre: songs were written to be sung and not to be sold. Pre-1972 Soviet-era photo of Bulat Okudzhava File links The following pages link to this file: Bulat Okudzhava ... Pre-1972 Soviet-era photo of Bulat Okudzhava File links The following pages link to this file: Bulat Okudzhava ... A bard (bardos) was a type of priest or seer in ancient Celtic society, and a minstrel in medieval Welsh and Irish societies. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... The term singer-songwriter refers to performers who both write and sing their own material. ... The Establishment is a slang term (chiefly in British and Commonwealth English) for a traditional conservative ruling class and its institutions. ... A chord progression (also chord sequence and harmonic progression or sequence), as its name implies, is a series of chords played in an order. ...


Stylistically, the precursor to bard songs were Russian "city romances" which touched upon common life and were popular throughout all layers of Russian society in the late 19th - early 20th centuries. These romances were traditionally written in a minor key and performed with a guitar accompaniment.


Bard poetry may be roughly classified into two main streams: tourist song and political song, although some other subgenres may be recognized, such as outlaw song (blatnaya pesnya) and pirate song. Shanson (aka blatnyak, from French chanson) is an informal musical genre popular in Russia, Ukraine and other former SU countries. ...


Initially the term "bard" was in use among the fans of the tourist song, and outside the circle was often perceived in an ironic sense. However there was a need for a term to distinguish this style of song from the traditional kind of concert song, and the term eventually stuck.


Many bards performed their songs in small groups of people using a Russian guitar, rarely if ever would they be accompanied by other musicians or singers. Those who would become popular would be able to hold modest concerts. Bards were rarely permitted to record their music, given the political nature of many songs. As a result, bard tunes usually made their way around via the copying of amateur recordings (known as magnitizdat) made at concerts, particularly those songs that were of political nature. The Russian guitar, a seven-string acoustic guitar tuned to the Open G tuning, arrived in the beginning of the 19th century in Russia, most probably as a development of the kobza and the baroque lute. ... Magnitizdat (in Russian магнитиздат) is a term used to describe the process of re-copying and self distributing live audio tape recordings in the Soviet Union that were not available commercially. ...

Contents

Types of songs

Tourist song

During the Brezhnev era of stagnation in the history of the Soviet Union, camping, especially its extreme forms such as alpinism, kayaking/canoeing, and canyoning, became a form of escapism for young people, who felt that these occupations were the only ways of life in which such values as courage, friendship, risk, trust, cooperation and mutual support still mattered. // De-Stalinization and the Khrushchev era For further details, see Nikita Khrushchev After Stalin had died in March 1953, he was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Georgi Malenkov as Premier of the Soviet Union. ... Car camping is camping in a tent, but nearby the car for easier access and for supply storage Camping is an outdoor recreational activity, in which the campers get away from civilization and enjoy nature by spending one or more nights at a campsite. ... Mountaineering is an umbrella term that can variously be used to describe the actions of climbing, hillwalking and scrambling. ... Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. ... Canoeing is the recreational or sporting activity of paddling a canoe or kayak. ... Mystery Canyon, Zion National Park Canyoning (also known as canyoneering) is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming. ... Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an escape from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily reality. ...


A notable subgenre of the Tourist song was the Sea song. As with other tourist songs, the goal was to sing about people in hard conditions where true physical and emotional conflicts appear. Vladimir Vysotsky had several songs of this sort since his style suited them perfectly. Many of Alexander Gorodnitsky's songs are about the sea since he actually had the opportunity to experience life at sea. While some songs were simply about sailors, others were about pirates. With the romantics of Brigantine by Pavel Kogan, the pirate songs are still popular at concerts of the "author song". Almost every bard has at least one song with this motif in it. Vladimir Vysotsky Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий) (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer, song-writer, poet, and actor, whose career has had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. ... Alexander Gorodnitsky 2005 Alexander Moiseevich Gorodnitsky (Алекса́ндр Моисе́евич Городни́цкий) (b. ... Pavel Davidovich Kogan (Russian: , July 7, 1918, Kiev - September 23, 1942, near Novorossiysk) was a Soviet poet. ...

Russian bard Novella Matveyeva
Enlarge
Russian bard Novella Matveyeva

This type of bard poetry was tolerated by the powers, and it lived under the definition of author song (avtorskaya pesnya), i.e., songs sung primarily by the authors themselves, as opposed to those sung by professional singers (although professionals often "borrowed" successful author songs for their repertoire). Another name of this genre was "amateur song" (samodeyatelnaya pesnya, literally translated as "do-it-yourself song" or "self-made song"). This term reflects the cultural phenomenon of the Soviet Union called "amateur performing arts", or khudozhestvennaya samodeyatelnost. It was a widespread, often heavily subsidized occupation of Soviet people in their spare time. Every major industrial enterprise and every kolkhoz had a Palace of Culture or at least a House of Culture for amateur performers to practice and perform. Many of them, as well as many universities had Clubs of Amateur Song ("Klub samodeyatelnoy pesni", or KSP), which in fact were clubs of bard song and which stood quite apart of the mainstream Soviet "samodeyatelnost'". Many of the best tourist songs were composed by Yuri Vizbor who participated and sang about all the sports described above, and Alexander Gorodnitsky who spent much time sailing around the Earth on a ship and in scientific expeditions to the far North. Image File history File links N-N-Matveyeva. ... Image File history File links N-N-Matveyeva. ... A kolkhoz (Russian: ), plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms (sovkhoz). ... Palace of Culture was the name for major club-houses in the former Soviet Union. ... Yuri Vizbor (Юрий Визбор) (June 20, 1934–September 17, 1984) was a well-known Russian bard and poet as well as a theatre and film actor. ... Alexander Gorodnitsky 2005 Alexander Moiseevich Gorodnitsky (Алекса́ндр Моисе́евич Городни́цкий) (b. ...


Political song

Songs of this kind expressed protest against the Soviet way of life. Their genres varied from acutely political, "anti-Soviet" ones, perfectly fitting under the infamous Article 58 (or other way around), to witty satire in best traditions of Aesop. Some of Bulat Okudzhava's songs touch on these themes. Anti-Soviet refers to persons and activities actually or allegedly aimed against the Soviet Union or the Soviet power within the Soviet Union. ... Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on February 25, 1927 to arrest those suspected guilty of counter-revolutionary activities. ... Aesop, as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel. ... Russian bard Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (or Boulat Okudjava/Okoudjava/Okoudzhava; Russian: ) (May 9, 1924 - June 12, 1997) was one of the founders of the Russian genre called authors song (авторская песня, avtorskaya pesnya). ...


Vladimir Vysotsky was perceived as a political song writer, but later he gradually made his way into a more mainstream mass culture. It was not so with Alexander Galich, who was forced to emigrate—owning a tape with his songs could mean a prison term in the USSR. Before emigration he suffered from KGB persecution, as well as another bard, Yuliy Kim. Others, like Evgeny Kliachkin and Aleksander Dolsky, balanced between being outright anti-Soviet and plain romantic. Since most of the bards' songs were never permitted by Soviet censorship, most of them, however innocent, were considered, in addition to being romantic, or tourist, to be anti-Soviet. Vladimir Vysotsky Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий) (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer, song-writer, poet, and actor, whose career has had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. ... Alexander Galich Aleksandr Galich (Russian: , October 19, 1918 – December 15, 1977), was a Russian poet, screenwriter, playwright and singer-songwriter. ... The KGB emblem and motto: The sword and the shield KGB (transliteration of КГБ) is the Russian-language abbreviation for Committee for State Security, (Russian:  ; Komitet Gosudarstvennoj Bezopasnosti). ... Yuliy Chersanovich Kim (Юлий Черсанович Ким; born December 23, 1936) is one of Russias foremost bards and playwrights. ... Kliachkin Evgeny Isaakovich Singer, composer, bard. ... Alexander Dolsky (Russian: Александр ДОЛЬСКИЙ) Born on July 7, 1938. ... Censorship in the Soviet Union was pervasive and strictly enforced. ...


Paradoxically, "songs" from pro-Communist plays of Bertolt Brecht, supposedly criticizing fascism and capitalist society and thus cheered by the Soviets, could be read perfectly fitting Article 58 as well, and hence were popular among bards under the name of zongs (German pronunciation of the word 'Song'). Below is a quotation from a 'zong', translated from a Russian version: Bertolt Brecht (born Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht February 10, 1898 – August 14, 1956) was an influential German socialist dramatist, stage director, and poet of the 20th century. ... Fascism is a radical political ideology that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism. ... Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are mostly privately owned, and capital is invested in the production, distribution, and other trade of goods and services for profit in a market. ...

Rams are marching in rows.
Drums are rattling.
The skin for these drums
Is the rams' own.

The most obvious political accusation would be the humiliation of Soviet "peaceful demonstrations", held several times a year all over the Soviet Union, but the actual idea is deeper than that.

Vladimir Vysotsky
Vladimir Vysotsky

Vladimir Vysotsky as Hamlet. Source unknown. ...

Outlaw song

These songs originated far before the bards appeared in the Soviet Union. Their origin can be traced as far back as the first decade of the 20th century. While not differing much in style from other bard songs, these outlaw songs can be compared in their content to modern rap: glorification of crime and city romance. These songs reflected the breakup of the structure and rules of the old Russian society. At that time, even such Anti-Soviet songs were legal. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... Hip hop music, also referred to as rap or rap music, is a style of popular music which came into existence in the United States during the mid-1970s, and became a large part of modern pop culture during the 1980s. ...


Since the 1930's, new outlaw songs emerged from the Gulags. Many of these songs were concerned with innocent people who were sent to the labour camps, rather than with criminals. It should be noted that some songs were actually composed in the camps while others were inspired by them, but the result was the same - honest songs about victims under harsh conditions. Gulag ( , Russian: ) is an acronym for Главное Управление Исправительно—Трудовых Лагерей и колоний, Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, The Chief Directorate [or Administration] of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies of the NKVD. Anne Applebaum, in her book Gulag: A History, explains: // Literally, the word GULAG is an acronym, meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp...


During the Khrushchev Thaw years, many were released from the camps and with them came their songs. Bards such as Alexander Gorodnitsky learned of these anonymous songs and started singing them. At that point, the songs gained a more symbolic meaning of struggle against the oppression. Bards such as Alexander Rosenbaum also wrote many humorous outlaw songs about the Jewish mafia in Odessa. Many of these songs were inspired by authors to the likes of Isaac Babel. In Soviet history, Kruschevs Thaw or Khrushchev Thaw refers to the period between the end of 1950s and the beginning of 1960s, when repressions and censorship reached a low point. ... Alexander Gorodnitsky 2005 Alexander Moiseevich Gorodnitsky (Алекса́ндр Моисе́евич Городни́цкий) (b. ... Location Map of Ukraine with Odessa highlighted. ... Isaac Babel Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel, Russian: Исаак Эммануилович Бабель (13 July [O.S. 1 July] 1894 – January 27, 1940) was a Russian journalist, playwright, and short story writer. ...


Other songs

Even more common than the Tourist songs were songs about life (usually life in the USSR). Nearly every bard wrote a significant amount of songs on these themes. The setting very frequently is urban, often in major cities such as Moscow (particularly the Arbat). Some songs of this type, such as the ones by Yuri Vizbor and Vladimir Vysotsky took a very direct approach and used simple and honest language to illustrate life. Other bards, such as Bulat Okudzhava, took a more symbolic approach and expressed their views on life through extended metaphors and symbolism. Melnikov House (1929), just a few steps away from the Arbat. ... Yuri Vizbor (Юрий Визбор) (June 20, 1934–September 17, 1984) was a well-known Russian bard and poet as well as a theatre and film actor. ... Vladimir Vysotsky Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий) (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer, song-writer, poet, and actor, whose career has had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. ... Russian bard Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (or Boulat Okudjava/Okoudjava/Okoudzhava; Russian: ) (May 9, 1924 - June 12, 1997) was one of the founders of the Russian genre called authors song (авторская песня, avtorskaya pesnya). ...

Russian bard Alexander Sukhanov
Enlarge
Russian bard Alexander Sukhanov

Another type of songs that appeared in Russia long before the bards was the War Song. Many of the most famous bards had numerous songs about war, particularly The Great Patriotic War. The reasons to sing songs about war differed from one bard to another. Okudzhava, who actually fought in the war, used his sad and emotional style to illustrate the futility of war in songs such as "The Paper Soldier" ("Бумажный Солдат"). Vladimir Vysotsky wrote songs about war simply because they provided that extreme setting in which honour and emotional strength are needed and a man's true character can be seen. Vysotsky's war songs were praised by veterans for their extreme success in portraying war, despite the fact that the poet did not actually serve any time in the military. Yuri Vizbor, wrote war songs in which not the war, but the people involved in it were the most important element. In these songs, the war itself would often be happening in the background while the actual song would be in the style of the Tourist song, with emphasis on nature and human emotions. Image File history File links A-Sukhanov. ... Image File history File links A-Sukhanov. ... The Eastern Front1 was the theatre of combat between Nazi Germany and its allies against the Soviet Union during World War II. It was somewhat separate from the other theatres of the war, not only geographically, but also for its scale and ferocity. ... Vladimir Vysotsky Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий) (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer, song-writer, poet, and actor, whose career has had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. ... Yuri Vizbor (Юрий Визбор) (June 20, 1934–September 17, 1984) was a well-known Russian bard and poet as well as a theatre and film actor. ...


Some bards also wrote children's songs for various festivals and plays. The success of these songs was great, as the poets chose to write these songs in the same fashion as their other songs. This resulted in songs that, while directed at children, still had deep meaning behind them and were enjoyed by adults.


Famous bards of Soviet epoch

Vladimir Vysotsky Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий) (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer, song-writer, poet, and actor, whose career has had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. ... Victor Berkovsky (Russian: Виктор Семенович Берковский, 13 July 1932, Zaporozhje - 24 July 2005 Moscow ) was a Russian bard. ... Alexander Dolsky (Russian: Александр ДОЛЬСКИЙ) Born on July 7, 1938. ... Alexander Galich Aleksandr Galich (Russian: , October 19, 1918 – December 15, 1977), was a Russian poet, screenwriter, playwright and singer-songwriter. ... Alexander Gorodnitsky 2005 Alexander Moiseevich Gorodnitsky (Алекса́ндр Моисе́евич Городни́цкий) (b. ... Alexander Gradsky (Russian: Александр Градский) - a Russian bard and composer. ... Kliachkin Evgeny Isaakovich Singer, composer, bard. ... Yuliy Chersanovich Kim (Юлий Черсанович Ким; born December 23, 1936) is one of Russias foremost bards and playwrights. ... Yuri Kukin (Russian: , b 1932) - a Russian bard. ... Cover of CD With Music of Vivaldy by Tatyana Nikitina and Sergey Nikitin Sergey Yakovlevich Nikitin (Russian: , born March 8, 1944) is a prominent Russian bard, composer and a biophysicist. ... Cover of CD With Music of Vivaldy by Tatyana Nikitina and Sergey Nikitin Tatyana Khashimovna Nikitina (Russian: , born December 31, 1945) is a prominent Russian bard, physicist and politician. ... Russian bard Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Okudzhava Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (or Boulat Okudjava/Okoudjava/Okoudzhava; Russian: ) (May 9, 1924 - June 12, 1997) was one of the founders of the Russian genre called authors song (авторская песня, avtorskaya pesnya). ... Alexander Rosenbaum Alexander Rosenbaum (Александр Розенбаум) (September 15, 1951–) is a Russian-Jewish bard from Saint Petersburg. ... Yuri Vizbor (Юрий Визбор) (June 20, 1934–September 17, 1984) was a well-known Russian bard and poet as well as a theatre and film actor. ...

See also

Shanson (aka blatnyak, from French chanson) is an informal musical genre popular in Russia, Ukraine and other former SU countries. ... Poezja śpiewana (meaning sung poetry in Polish) is a broad and inprecise music genre, used mostly in Poland to describe songs consisting of a poem (most often a ballad) and music written specially for that text. ...

External links

  • KSPUS - American KSP organization
  • VRAG Records - California bards and KAP Baku
  • Artist's song
  • Bards.ru - information, pictures, lyrics and sound
  • Author's song
  • Modern Russian history in the mirror of the criminal song - history of the criminal song
  • Literary Kicks: The Soviet Underground - information and some translations
  • Minsk Bard Club - songs, information & links of belorussian bards
  • Timur Shaov
  • Novella Matveyeva
  • Alexander Sukhanov

  Results from FactBites:
 
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/Bard (Soviet Union) (1571 words)
The term bard (бард) came to be used in the Soviet Union in the early 1960s (and continues to be used in Russia today) for singer-songwriters who wrote songs outside the Soviet establishment.
As a result, bard tunes usually made their way around via the copying of amateur recordings (known as magnitizdat) made at concerts, particularly those songs that were of a political nature.
This type of bard poetry was tolerated by the government, and it lived under the definition of author song (avtorskaya pesnya), i.e., songs sung primarily by the authors themselves, as opposed to those sung by professional singers (although professionals often "borrowed" successful author songs for their repertoire).
Europe Opinion News Network (713 words)
Admired by all circles of Soviet society, a voice of dissent, but not a dissident, accepted by the Soviet government as an actor, but never as a poet and singer, Vysotsky held no office, no titles.
Arguably the most iconic element to come out of the Soviet Union in all its seventy-odd years of existence is the Kalashnikov, a elegant automatic weapon that has endured for over half a century as the world's most widely used killing machine.
“Hero of the Soviet Union” was the highest honorary title and the superior degree of distinction of the former USSR.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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