Streaming audio from former Soviet Georgia.
March 11, 2008 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Streaming audio of traditional music from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. This is some of the strangest, most haunting and blissed-out singing you can hear on this planet. (And check out those swell outfits, fellas!)

The front page tracks are:
  • Orira, sung by the Georgian Voices. That yodeling you hear is called krimanchuli.
  • Chona, sung by the Mamuli folk ensemble.
  • Lechkhumuri Makruli, sung by the Rustavi Choir, who are probably the best-known in America of all these groups thanks to a few albums that came out here in the 90s.
  • The youtube link is a Georgian pop group called Orera. Apparently several of the members went on to get famous in the Soviet Union, but I'm having trouble finding information on them in English.
There's a lot of good stuff elsewhere on the site, although there's also a lot of broken links, missing files and badly ripped audio; browsing through it can be frustrating. Some of my current favorites:
  • Kheuro, by the Mamuli ensemble: slow and powerful.
  • Orovela, by the Rustavi Choir: no harmony to speak of on this one, but the melody's worth it. The penultimate phrase gives me shivers — it's like he just tosses his voice into the air and waits for it to come down.
  • Khasanbegura is one of the classics of the Georgian repertoire. It's sung here by the Georgian Voices; if you're into yodeling, though, be sure to check out this snippet of it on youtube, which really showcases the awesome krimanchuli part.
  • This set of recordings from the 30s by Varlam Simonishvili. Some really intense performances; sadly, the sound quality's not great. More brilliant yodeling if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Mravaljamier, by Quintet Urmuli. ("Mravaljamier" isn't a title so much as a genre of songs — they're toasts wishing someone long life. You can find more examples on the Georgian Voices page.)
So far I've been linking to folk choirs, but there's a whole parallel tradition of sacred polyphony in the Orthodox church:
posted by nebulawindphone (11 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
They're like Kraftwerk, but with more pastels.

What the hell are .wax files, though?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:23 AM on March 11, 2008

Thank you!!
posted by not_on_display at 11:24 AM on March 11, 2008

I was worried about the .wax files, too, but my mac opened up Windows Media Player, and in an instant I was hearing ... yeah, some strange, wonderful, choral yodelling.
posted by not_on_display at 11:26 AM on March 11, 2008

A .wax file is a text file containing a bit of metadata and a link to a Windows Media file. Here's a sample of the contents of one from the site:

<ASX version="3.0" BANNERBAR="AUTO" >
<ABSTRACT>Buy Georgian music CDs</ABSTRACT>

<AUTHOR> Ensemble Rustavi. Georgian Church Songs</AUTHOR>
<TITLE>Thou art a true vine</TITLE>
<REF href="mms://"/>


I don't know what advantage they have over straight links to the .wma files, but I'll vouch for their harmlessness.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:43 AM on March 11, 2008

Wow, that YouTube link is amazing. I never really got into the pure choral stuff, but that jazz version blew me away. I found this page on Orera, and would love to know more. Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 12:47 PM on March 11, 2008

Probably no one cares but me, but because I went to the trouble of finding out and want to put it on record: orera (which was not in any of my Georgian dictionaries) turns out to be an "untranslatable refrain in Georgian folksongs, expressing various shades of joy and happiness" ["непереводимый припев к песням грузинского народа, выражающий различные оттенки радости и веселья"].
posted by languagehat at 5:25 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is fucking awesome, nebulawindphone.

I love Georgian culture and one day, when the circumstances are right, I'm going to visit that charming little country.

But in the meantime, this will do me very well.

Again, thank you.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2008

This is fantastic.
posted by bigtex at 3:35 AM on March 12, 2008

My dad used to listen to the Rustavi choir in the morning; hearing this music I can practically taste burned toast... And now there's more music to explore. Lovely stuff, thankyou nebulawindphone!
posted by eponymouse at 3:43 AM on March 12, 2008

Hey, I just now caught this post, nebula: nice work! Exhaustive! This is some music I've never heard and never heard of, and that kind of discovery is almost always a joy and a blessing. Thanks so much.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 AM on March 12, 2008

posted by mysticalfairy at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2008

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