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Swaneti songs

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The luck we had in Turkey doesn´t follow us when we try to find people playing music in Georgia. We travel to Swaneti, a remote region in the north of Georgia, separated from Russia by the high peaks of the Caucasus. It develops by tourism in the recent years, since the government decided to stop the mafia structures and robberies that evolved there in the 90ies. It is also a region with a very distinct culture and music, and we hope to find some here. Through a friend we end up in the house of a famous swanetian singer and instrument maker, who is more than 80 years old, his son plays in a famous folk ensemble travelling all over the world. But its not the right time we find him and more or less directly his son lets us know, that he plays for money or if we stay in his homestay. However, it doesn´t fit to our travel and the recordings of people that want to share their music freely, driven by joy, so we look further. In Mestia, the secret „capital“ of Swaneti with 5000 inhabitants, we meet David, a men in his twenties with a great passion for music and the panduri. He shares with us some songs of his own and by swaneti composers. One of the beautiful songs is about a small boy, whose father died and who is raised by his mother, and who needs to be strong.
David also shares some knowledge about the Chianuri/Chuniri, a famous instrument originating from Swaneti. One can see it for example in the newly opened museum of Swaneti Art and Culture in Mestia. It used to be played at funerals – in some places apparently also today – to send the soul into the sky. It is said that the soul reached the sky, when the village rooster can be catched, as he is closely connected with the dead and the soul. And we learn from David, that he was already part of a recording project by a french singer, Aurelia Shrenker, which collected a lot of songs from all over Georgia on her website, http://www.tsutisopeli.com! Its an amazing collection of traditional songs which you can, similar to our project, listen to whilst browsing through a map of Georgia.

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