The Music of China's Nomads

he revival of traditional Kazakh music in China has succeeded largely because of the dedication of older masters to passing along their knowledge and skills to the next generation.

Throughout northwestern China -- from the large regional urban center of Urumqi to the villages in the mountains of Fuyuan County -- Kazakh musicians speak with reverence of those who shared their secrets of the dömbra, the sybyzghy, and other traditional instruments. Players respectfully show pictures of the masters that played pivotal roles in shaping their musical awareness. Each student today can point to a long lineage of players through which their own skills descended. In many cases, the dömbra is often a hereditary skill, passed on from father to daughter, father to son, uncle to niece or nephew. But no matter the blood relationship, the bond between musical master and student is something considered altogether separate and sacred.

This slideshow explores the nuances of one such relationship between a young master player, Chang Har, a dömbra player the Altai Region, and his nine-year old student Alibeke.

"The Music of China's Nomads" is a production of with funding provided by the Open Society Institute.
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