The Sound State of Uzbekistan: Popular Music and Politics in the Karimov Era 2019001408, 9781138486140, 9781351046435

706 116 7MB

English Pages [331] Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Entering estrada
Prelude: introducing estrada
1 Administering estrada: decrees, institutions and policies
2 Approaching estrada: opposition, affirmation and beyond
3 Staging estrada I: concerts, reyting and artisthood
4 Staging estrada II: competitions and other activities “at the state level”
5 Nationalising estrada: the concept of milliy estrada
6 Authorising estrada: licences, certificates and the status of milliy estrada
7 Mobilising estrada: independence ideology, nationalist realism and the workings of milliy estrada
Exiting estrada
Recommend Papers

The Sound State of Uzbekistan: Popular Music and Politics in the Karimov Era
 2019001408, 9781138486140, 9781351046435

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

The Sound State of Uzbekistan

The Sound State of Uzbekistan: Popular Music and Politics in the Karimov Era is a pioneering study of the intersection between popular music and state politics in Central Asia. Based on 20 months of fieldwork and archival research in Tashkent, this book explores a remarkable era in Uzbekistan’s politics (2001–2016), when the Uzbek government promoted a rather unlikely candidate to the prominent position of state sound: estrada, a genre of popular music and a musical relic of socialism. The political importance it attached to estrada was matched by the establishment of an elaborate bureaucratic apparatus for state oversight. The Sound State of Uzbekistan shows the continuing legacy of Soviet concepts to frame the nexus between music, artists and the state, and e­ xplains the extraordinary potency ascribed to estrada. At the same time, it c­ hallenges classical readings of transition and also questions common binary models for researching culture in totalitarian or authoritarian states. Proposing to approach lives in music under authoritarianism as a form of normality instead, the author promotes a post-Cold War paradigm in music studies. Kerstin Klenke is an ethnomusicologist and head of the Phonogram Archive at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

SOAS Musicology Series Series Editors: Rachel Harris, SOAS, University of London, UK Rowan Pease, SOAS, University of London, UK Board members: Angela Impey (SOAS, University of London) Noriko Manabe (Temple University) Suzel Reily (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) Martin Stokes (Kings College London) Richard Widdess (SOAS, University of London) SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-­ quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows. Becoming a Garamut Player in Baluan, Papua New Guinea Musical Analysis as a Pathway to Learning Tony Lewis Music Theory in the Safavid Era Owen Wright Arnold Bake A Life with South Asian Music Bob van der Linden The Sound State of Uzbekistan Popular Music and Politics in the Karimov Era Kerstin Klenke

For more information about this series, please visit: https://www.routledge. com/music/series/SOASMS

The Sound State of Uzbekistan Popular Music and Politics in the Karimov Era

Kerstin Klenke

First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 Kerstin Klenke The right of Kerstin Klenke to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. The purchase of this copyright material confers the right on the purchasing institution to photocopy or download pages which bear the eResources icon and a copyright line at the bottom of the page. No other parts of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Klenke, Kerstin, author. Title: The sound state of Uzbekistan : popular music and politics in the Karimov era / Kerstin Klenke. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2019. | Series: SOAS musicology series | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019001408| ISBN 9781138486140 (hardback) | ISBN 9781351046435 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Popular music—Political aspects—Uzbekistan. | Music and state—Uzbekistan. Classification: LCC ML3917.U93 K54 2019 | DDC 781.6309587—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-138-48614-0 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-04643-5 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by codeMantra Accepted in fulfilment of the requirements for the doctoral degree, Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, 2015 Visit the eResources:

To the memory of Rüdiger Schumacher (1953–2007) and Irene Hilgers (1975–2008)


Illustrations Acknowledgements Preliminaries

ix xi xiii

Entering estrada 1 Prelude: introducing estrada 13 1 Administering estrada: decrees, institutions and policies 30 2 Approaching estrada: opposition, affirmation and beyond 53 3 Staging estrada I: concerts, reyting and artisthood 73 4 Staging estrada II: competitions and other activities “at the state level” 115 5 Nationalising estrada: the concept of milliy estrada


6 Authorising estrada: licences, certificates and the status of milliy estrada 195 7 Mobilising estrada: independence ideology, nationalist realism and the workings of milliy estrada 241 Exiting estrada 283 References Index

293 311


Figures I.1 Tamara Khanum and her musicians in the 1930s 15 I.2 A poster from the 1960s for a concert by the Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan and its soloists 18 I.3 A vinyl single by Yalla on the GDR label Amiga, 1975 21 I.4 Botir Qodirov performs at a wedding, 2016 24 I.5 A jazz matinée at the Tashkent House of Photography, 2005 26 I.6 A tribute evening to Viktor Tsoi at the club Vertikal'nyy Mir [Vertical World], 2008 27 I.7 A poster announcing a concert by Thomas Anders from Modern Talking, 2006 28 1.1 The Turkiston Palace, 2005 31 1.2 The entrance to O’zbeknavo at the rear side of the Turkiston Palace, 2008 32 1.3 The structure of O’zbeknavo and the organs linked to or embedded in it according to PKM-272 2001 41 3.1 At the folk fair for Independence Day in Alisher Navoiy National Park, 2008 82 3.2 The Palace of the Friendship of Peoples, 2006 100 3.3 A poster for a charity concert organised by O’zbeknavo (second from right) between posters for a commercial concert, for a circus show and for a printer on one of the “Tashkent Announcements” boards in the city centre, 2005 101 4.1 Nihol laureates sing the Nihol hymn in the final minutes of the awards gala show at Independence Palace, 2008 117 5.1 At the festival of Uzbekistan – Our Shared House, 2016 157 5.2 The State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, 2016 174 5.3 A singer and her playback DJ at the Bek restaurant, 2005 176 5.4 “In clothes there is a reflection of spiritual values”: girls in milliy style and demeanour according to official standards 184 (Andijon, 2016)

x Illustrations 5.5 Shahzoda in un-milliy style and demeanour according to official standards, 2005 191 6.1 The entrance to National TV and Radio [O’zbekiston Milliy Teleradiokompaniyasi], 2005 208 6.2 A record store on Bobur Street, 2006 224

Tables 1.1 1.2 4.1 4.2

Licence categories and fees, 2001–2003 (PKM-285 2001) 44 Licence categories and fees from 2014 onwards (PKM-196 2014) 45 Prize scheme for O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim 122 Organisation committee for O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim 1997, according to PKM-403 1996 130


This book could not have been written without the generous support of various institutions and individuals, and it is to them that I want to extend my deepest gratitude here. My first exploratory trip to Uzbekistan in 2001 was financed by my father, Werner Klenke, who saw both his daughters set off for fieldwork in different parts of Asia at about the same time. The Volkswagen Foundation awarded me an individual project grant as part of their “Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research and Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus” programme for 2003–2006. I am grateful to Wolfgang Levermann, the programme coordinator, for allowing me maximum flexibility in scheduling trips between Germany and Uzbekistan. Fieldwork stays in 2008 and 2016 were funded by the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media and the Center for World Music at the University of Hildesheim Foundation respectively. This financial and logistic support would not have amounted to anything without the willingness of institutions in Uzbekistan to support me and my research. In Tashkent, my fieldsite, this included first and foremost the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, the Institute for Art Studies, the Ministry of Culture, the Estrada Association O’zbeknavo, the Central State Archive, the Institut Français d’Études sur l’Asie Centrale (IFEAC), National TV and Radio, various independent radio and TV stations and recording studios. I am grateful to all of them for granting me access to their staff and their resources. My deepest gratitude, however, I owe to the numerous people, particularly in Tashkent, but also in Samarqand and among the Uzbek diaspora, who generously shared their time, their knowledge, their music, their contacts, their thoughts and their life with me – some for shorter spans of time, some for already more than 15 years. I would very much like to honour them all by listing their names here. Many interlocutors, acquaintances and friends, however, whose opinions and statements have found their way into this book, have wished to remain anonymous. Some who did not express a desire for anonymity earlier may have since changed their minds – or may yet do so in the near future. Because of this, I have decided not to put their names in print. I will instead find other ways to demonstrate my gratitude. Until then – a heartfelt kattakon rahmat and spasibo ogromnoye!

xii Acknowledgements I profited immensely during periods of research and writing from my exchanges with colleagues from ethnomusicology and various other disciplines. Specifically, I would like to mention here Irene Hilgers, Ted Levin, Nick Megoran, Laura Adams, Ingeborg Baldauf, Tommaso Trevisani, Eva Maurer, Martin Stokes, Mirjam Leuze, Marlene Laruelle, Habiba Fathi, Philipp Reichmuth, Rano Turaeva, Lucille Lisack, Thomas Hilder, Sanubar Baghirova, Oliver Seibt, Maurice Mengel, Florian Carl and Michael Fuhr. A special thanks I owe to my dissertation advisors Raimund Vogels and Julio Mendívil for their support and encouragement, their advice and their comments. I am also grateful to the remaining members of my dissertation committee, Susanne Rode-Breymann and Stefan Weiss, for turning my viva into an inspiring discussion. In the initial stages of my project, Razia Sultanova and Hamid Ismailov invited me to stay with them in London twice, and I am deeply indebted to them for their hospitality, for sharing their personal histories of Uzbek estrada and for providing me with valuable contacts in Tashkent. Anna Fortunova and two Uzbek friends who wish to stay anonymous generously gave their time to assist with the transcription of interviews, while Annika Frech miraculously turned the drab day when I submitted this book in its earlier form as a PhD thesis into a feast. My sister and colleague, Karin Klenke, not only came to share my fieldsite in 2004 for some weeks, but also took charge of the references and brightened up the last weeks of writing with a regular supply of sweets. In the process of preparing the manuscript for publication, two anonymous referees and series editor Rachel Harris provided helpful comments to strengthen and clarify arguments. I am grateful for their scrupulous reading and their valuable recommendations. In the final stages of revisions, Christopher Geissler helped to make the text sound more English. Any r­ emaining Germanisms are my own – as are any mistakes. Florian Mühlfried has lived with this book project as long as he has lived with me, and I am full of gratitude to him for all kinds of support: from pushing me on and cheering me up – at just the right time and in right measure – to discussing the anthropology of postsocialism and reading the manuscript over and again in different stages of revision. Several people who were involved in this project at various times and in various roles in Uzbekistan and Germany have not lived to see it completed – some went at the end of a full life, others prematurely. From among the latter, I wish to remember two people in particular, without whom I would not have written the book the way I did: Rüdiger Schumacher, teacher, initial dissertation advisor and fantastic host, who helped my research project come into being, and Irene Hilgers, colleague, friend and great comrade in carnival, who shared the pleasures and pains of fieldwork in Uzbekistan with me. It is to their memory that I dedicate this book.


For transliterations from Russian, I use the BGN/PCGN system of Romanisation. For transliterations from Uzbek written in Cyrillic script, I use the official Uzbek modified Latin alphabet as it has been in use since 1995. Uzbek letters are pronounced as follows: a e i o u o’ r

a as in father e as in elder i as in pin o as in pot oo as in cool as the German ö tapped r

x q j ch sh g’

ch as in loch a guttural variant of k j as in joke ch as in much sh as in rush a mixture of ch as in loch and r as in ferry

All other letters follow standard English pronunciation. I use the now standard transliteration of Uzbek and Russian words that have already entered the common lexicon in English. For example, I use Uzbekistan and not O’zbekiston, Tashkent and not Toshkent, Moscow and not Moskva. The letters a and o are often used interchangeably in Uzbek names and toponyms. The surname Amanullaeva can, for example, also be rendered as Omonullaeva. For this reason, readers may encounter unfamiliar spellings of names and places already known to them. All translations from Uzbek, Russian and German are my own. My approach has been to stay as close to the original phrasing and syntax as possible in order to give an impression of word choice and structure. Some expressions I quote in the original language in addition to translating them into English. In this I follow the language choice of my interlocutors, who often switched from Uzbek into Russian and back again during conversations. Various institutions changed their names during the period in which I conducted fieldwork. For example, the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples became the Independence Palace in 2008, and had its former name reinstated in 2018, the Ministry of Culture became the Ministry of Culture and Sport in 2004, reverting to the Ministry of Culture in 2017. I use the term that was correct at the specific time of reference. When referred to more

xiv Preliminaries broadly across time, I choose the term most common in daily usage, e.g. Ministry of Culture and Palace of the Friendship of Peoples. For political reasons, I have anonymised all of my interlocutors unless, as in one case, someone’s identity is obvious from the context anyway and the statements cited are clearly unproblematic. I also obscure the exact dates, when interviews or conversations took place, and identify them only by month and year: (09.2008) means September 2008. Unless clearly marked as referring to the post-Karimov era, text in the present tense describes events and processes in Uzbek estrada and politics between 2003 and 2016. Throughout the text there are references to video and audio examples; these can be accessed through the following website: www.routledge. com/9781138486140. All photographs were taken by me in Tashkent unless otherwise noted.

Entering estrada

Samarqand, March 2001 We have been lucky. There was only one copy left in the GUM – and we got it: a VHS live recording of You Are Dear and Sacred, Woman. Just last week, Tashkent’s Palace of the Friendship of Peoples had hosted this glamorous gala concert to honour Women’s and Girls’ Day on 8 March, and the official tape was already a rarity in Samarqand’s main department store today. Dilorom and Bahora, two students in my German conversation class, have insisted on watching this show with me and dragged me to the GUM after our afternoon lesson to buy the tape. Sona, their friend and my host-sister, has been conscripted – rather reluctantly – into an evening of Uzbek estrada at her house tonight. Estrada is the nearest Uzbek equivalent to what I would call popular music or just pop music – and a term I had never read or heard before arriving in Uzbekistan. But estrada is exactly what I am here for. I have decided to start a research project on popular music and politics in Uzbekistan. S ­ everal reasons are behind this choice: an ongoing fascination with the former ­Soviet Union, which prompted me to start learning Russian a few years ago, a deep engagement with postsocialist studies, and a recent chance discovery of two Uzbek records: a GDR vinyl single by the band Yalla at a flea market (see Figure I.3 on p. 21) and a new CD by the singer Yulduz Usmanova in a world music record shop. But I had never been to Uzbekistan and my decision needed a reality check. Was my topic of choice really relevant to Uzbekistan? So here I am, on an exploratory trip. I have spent the past two weeks teaching German, listening to the radio, learning Uzbek and asking questions, all of which I will continue to do for the next month. But tonight, I will be introduced to the stars of the Uzbek estrada scene. It will be a grand and long evening, as Dilorom and Bahora assure me – and a privileged one, as the two are ardent fans of estrada and bound to provide countless insights, while I am sure to receive a sarcastic counter-commentary from Sona, who confided in me yesterday that she hates “this music”. We have just had dinner in the courtyard, and now the four of us are lazing about in the living room, the windows open, with the TV in front of us.

2  Entering estrada The tape is running, but there is no concert. Instead we see a car coming up a village road; slow music starts up. In the passenger seat there is a soldier in his late twenties or early thirties; a young woman is cleaning the windows of a house nearby. She sees the car, rushes down the stairs, hastily tries to fix her hair on the way and meets the man at the garden gate. Behind her, there is a girl of perhaps eight years of age. The man and the woman just look into each other’s eyes, and we see a flashback to their parting at a railway station, their eyes locked once again. A wailing female voice begins to sing in Uzbek. The man boards the train and waves goodbye as it begins to move off; the woman remains on the platform with the girl beside her. “Their daughter?” I ask. “No, her little sister!” Dilorom answers, “They are not married yet. Married couples don’t behave like this.” We stay in the past. The man has obviously left for the army; we see him in uniform with other soldiers – marching, doing combat exercises, in class. There is a close-up of the official “Uzbekistan Armed Forces” uniform patch. He looks at a photo of the woman hidden among papers on his desk. The woman receives a letter, obviously from him. Synthesized strings enter. He is marching and doing weapons training again. Now it is night in the barracks. The soldiers lie asleep in their beds, but the man is still awake and remembers a picnic he and the woman once shared. The scene is cut short by a close-up of a flashing red sign in the dormitory: trevoga – “alarm”. The music, which has remained rather slow and wailing until now, becomes more lively. The soldiers don their uniforms and run towards a helicopter. As dawn breaks, they land on grassland and spend the whole day on the move: across mountains, rivers, again grassland and forests, until they finally run towards the setting sun, a third time on grassland. “Stupid. Why didn’t the helicopter take them there in the first place?” Sona remarks. But just as she does, the soldiers reach their final destination: a fortified camp of tents, where turbaned, bearded men spit-roast a goat or sheep over a fire. There is a captive in a barred hole in the ground. Bahora, who is sitting next to me, murmurs, “Wahhabists!” The soldiers attack the camp in the dark, fierce fighting ensues until the captive, a fellow soldier, is freed. Next take: It is day, the soldiers are on open grassland again, a helicopter is approaching. The man holds off the enemies, allowing his comrades to escape. There is a huge explosion, filmed in slow motion, and the helicopter leaves without him. The music stops, and the soundtrack is reduced to a heartbeat. The woman wakes with a start in the middle of the night, sitting bolt upright in bed. The man is beaten and kicked, dragged into a cave, and beaten and kicked again. Music sets in. His face is bloodied, and the enemy leader laughs while mistreating him. The woman waits for a letter, but none comes. She sits at the table, the girl comforts her; she stands by the window, recalling happy bike and motorbike trips with the man. In the soundtrack, a kind of declamation sets in. The man, still in the cave, pulls the woman’s photo out of his breast pocket as she again sits upright in bed, this time praying. The enemies enter the cave, but the man has loosened his bonds. He overpowers them all, runs outside, stabs

Entering estrada  3 one guard with a knife, axes a second, shoots a third and a fourth – and as he make his escape in their truck, kills all the remaining enemies by dropping a grenade. The woman, seemingly ill and in bed in the middle of the day, receives a letter. She is crying, as the girl reads her the letter. The clip ends, as it began: The man and the woman stand in front of the gate, gazing into each other’s eyes. The counter on the VHS recorder has just moved beyond 7 minutes. Dilorom stops the tape to check, whether the vendor might have given us the wrong tape, a collection of clips perhaps. I am glad of the break. The glaring display of militarism and patriotism has left me shocked and fascinated at the same time, diverting my attention from the soundtrack. What a story! Brave Uzbek soldiers battle fierce Islamic fundamentalists, and all this is framed – and fuelled – by romantic, but chaste, love. Sona has left the room to make tea, and Bahora and Dilorom speculate about the unnamed singer’s identity. Unlike me, they seem to be completely unmoved. They say they liked the clip, they think the filming is great, the story is good and the song is nice – just far too long and, unfortunately, not for dancing. Apparently this is not the first time they have watched a clip of this kind. But it is for me, and I am now convinced that my initial assumption has proved correct: The nexus between popular music and politics does indeed appear to be a relevant issue in Uzbekistan. I feel excited, slightly anxious and somehow relieved. A few days later I discover the name of the singer and the title of the song that sealed my choice of research topic: “May He Protect” [Asrasin], by Ozoda Nursaidova (Video 0.1). But I will spend the rest of this particular evening with a truly grand and long introduction to the stars of Uzbek estrada after all – Dilorom and Bahora were right. So was the vendor at the AV counter in the GUM: Following the clip Asrasin, the live recording of You Are Dear and Sacred, Woman finally begins.

The age of estradisation My first visit to Uzbekistan in 2001 happened to coincide with president Islom Karimov’s early attempts to considerably increase state interest and involvement in estrada. In fact, it was only in that year – 10 years after ­independence – that systematic estrada policies began to be implemented. So when I started research proper in summer 2003, my initial, tentative identification of a connection between estrada and politics was soon backed by more evidence. But in the early weeks of fieldwork in Tashkent, there was no way I could have imagined the scope of the Uzbek government’s entanglement and engagement with this particular genre of music. And it took again several months and much more insight into the astonishing proximity between estrada and politics, before the rationale behind this extraordinary degree of state attention started to become apparent to me: Uzbekistan had assigned estrada a prominent role in its era of independence – that of musical state emblem. This decision makes Uzbekistan rather unique. Whether they are postcolonial or postsocialist, newly independent countries tend to select

4  Entering estrada particularly old traditions to represent their state musically. In the post-­ Soviet world, several of Uzbekistan’s fellow republics-turned-nation states have followed this apparently universal rule: Kyrgyzstan chose the Manas epos, Tajikistan opted for the shashmaqom, Azerbaijan picked mugham and Georgia champions vocal polyphony. By turning to estrada, however, Uzbekistan not only settled for one of the youngest additions to the country’s soundscape. Bypassing its rich, older heritage of classical and folk musics as potential pretenders to this position, it instead favoured a musical relict of the socialist era. Once a staple of musical life all over the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, estrada has vanished in some postsocialist states. But it still thrives in others, thus robbing its Uzbek variant even of the sonic singularity normally deemed crucial for musical state insignia. From the outside, all this – its Soviet origin, its relative youth and the absence of national specificity – makes estrada look an unlikely, if not impossible, candidate for “sound of the nation”, particularly in light of Uzbekistan’s aggressive self-branding as anti-Soviet. But the country’s government under president Islom Karimov thought otherwise. The immense political importance it attached to estrada was matched by the establishment of an elaborate bureaucratic apparatus for state oversight. From 2001 onwards, various government institutions were put in charge of developing and controlling estrada and its scene, with highly ranked officials overseeing its administration and thousands of people engaged in its production. At the same time, the creation of so-called milliy estrada, national estrada, gained prominence in political discourse and public debate on music. Milliy estrada was to be more than just a means of state representation, however, as would become clear to me as I progressed further in my fieldwork. As the sonic incarnation of Uzbekistan’s elaborate national independence ideology itself, it was to be an inherent part of authoritarian governing, a driving force in the development of the country towards its own imagined ideal – the sound state of Uzbekistan. “Well, you know – this, Kristina, this is the age of estradisation!” my Uzbek host-father had sighed, concluding a long monologue on what he perceived to be estrada’s unmerited and unfortunate rise in Uzbekistan’s musical hierarchy. It was the summer of 2003 and the first time that I heard this phrase – age of estradisation. Over the years of my research, it would become a recurring trope in conversations, whether as an expression of cultural pessimism or as a positive assessment of estrada’s prominence, achieved by a brilliant and canny government manoeuvre to move with the times. And just as Islom Karimov’s rule appeared endless to most people I know in Uzbekistan, for many, the age of estradisation seemed destined to last forever, too. But both met their end in 2016; and just as I had i­ ncidentally witnessed the rise of systematic estrada politics in Uzbekistan, I came to witness their demise too. In 2016, I returned to Uzbekistan for a short ­re-study period lasting four weeks. Planned as my last fieldwork on Uzbek estrada, my stay happened to coincide with the final

Entering estrada  5 months of president Islom Karimov’s rule – and life. In March that year, estrada was still high on the political agenda, but Islom Karimov’s death in September 2016 seems to have thrown its prominent position into question. In February 2017, his successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, announced the closure of the central state institution for the administration of estrada. This move did not push estrada into political oblivion, but it certainly heralded the end of an era of extraordinary government attention to estrada in Uzbekistan.

Questions and aims The age of estradisation, the 15 years between 2001 and 2016, when estrada was a priority in Uzbekistan’s music politics, is the topic of this book. After my first exploratory stay in Samarqand in spring 2001, I spent two main periods of fieldwork in Tashkent from August 2003 to September 2004 and from September to November 2005. This was followed by three shorter stays of one to two months in 2006, 2008 and 2016. Over the course of these years, with growing insight into the topic, the questions I posed changed – or, rather, became more specific and shifted in focus. Starting from the general question “What exactly is the connection between estrada and state politics in Uzbekistan?” I soon began to pursue a set of interlinked and more specific lines of inquiry: Why has the Uzbek government chosen estrada as the musical emblem for the independent country? What are its strategies for forging estrada into an audible state insignia? How are they received and discussed by various actors in the estrada scene? And how successful are they? Further on into fieldwork, I grew puzzled by the apparent paradox at the heart of Uzbekistan’s choice of musical state emblem: Why has a Soviet successor state that has almost completely eradicated the Soviet era from its official historiography selected a musical import from Soviet Russia as its sonic representation? How does it solve this seeming contradiction? As I approached the end of my research, I was increasingly intrigued by the political potency ascribed to estrada: What are the genre’s imagined powers and how are they thought to take effect? These questions structured my fieldwork and archival research in Tashkent and my efforts to keep pace with developments from afar. At the same time, they were informed by and engaged with two broader interest: postsocialist transition and authoritarian governance. Transition In a classic reading of the transitology paradigm, transition is a synonym for processes of democratisation in the course of regime change.1 Consequently, a country in transition is perceived as being in a limbo state, in an intermediate, provisional zone, marked by degrees of “not any more” and “not yet”. This imaginary protracted passage – in the case of Soviet

6  Entering estrada successor states between actually existing socialism and capitalist liberal democracy – is usually interpreted as an inherently positive development. Transitological accounts of post-Soviet political change present a judgemental narrative of teleological evolution, the gradual shedding of a tainted past for the sake of a bright future, with independence marking the first milestone on this path. This narrative is sometimes explicit, but more often it is implicit, as if drawing on a seemingly self-evident scheme of values. If applied to the political economy of Uzbek estrada, which is characterised by only a rudimentary deregulation of state administration, this model will automatically produce the following analysis: Continuities with Soviet modes of governmental oversight in the sphere of music are outdated and odd – not dissimilar to the problematic perezhitki proshlogo, the infamous “survivals of the past”2 in the socialist era. At the same time, the emergence of market relations in the estrada scene can be hailed as a harbinger of democracy, evidence of liberal progress already achieved, while oppositional musical activities can be taken as proof of a civil society developing. Similarly, recourses to pre-Soviet modes of musical practices and thought can be judged as signs of de-Sovietisation and thus normalisation. An interpretation of this kind, while not an anomaly in research on music and musicians in the postsocialist world, tells us little about the experiences, opinions and visions of people in situ. Analysing societies from an imagined ideal future, which automatically renders their present as flawed, and presupposing the existence of a universal scheme of economic and political values, this classic transition model is unhelpful as a framework for understanding postsocialist lives. Given how well established and enduring authoritarian governments in the post-Soviet realm have been, a model that can only make sense of them as reversals, delays or detours on the road to liberal democracy is of questionable heuristic value. Why assume people or states to perennially be “in between” or “after” something, ignoring the condition of the present on the assumption that it is provisional – and deficient? For this and related reasons, social anthropology has widely dismissed the classic paradigm of transitology and partially even the concepts of transition and postsocialism as such.3 While I am sympathetic to these discontents, discarding transition when doing research in Uzbekistan itself is practically impossible. Though the concept is fundamentally misleading as a theoretical approach to the field, it is omnipresent in political discourse in the field (Brandtstädter 2007). A teleological transition from a dark socialist past to a bright capitalist, liberal and democratic future is exactly how Islom Karimov’s government envisaged Uzbekistan’s path of social, political and economic progress. Numerous writings on national independence ideology explicate this particular narrative of transition with its essentially optimistic outlook, and it was widely, even aggressively, promoted in society in the Karimov era. However dominant it may be, the official line on transition is still just one way to understand actually existing authoritarianism in Uzbekistan. It exists alongside and is imbricated with other stories, alternative

Entering estrada  7 perceptions, different experiences and deviating interpretations of Uzbekistan’s present and its relation to a past and to a future. Because of its close entanglement with state politics, the estrada scene is a particularly rich field for narratives of transition – or non-transition, for that matter. This is not necessarily because this proximity tends towards the replication of government transitology, though it does, but because it forces actors to stake out their own position with respect to this dominant framework. My research questions were framed by these narratives of change and non-change viewed through the prism of estrada. If my contacts perceived Uzbekistan in general and the estrada scene in particular to be transitioning at all, which most did, I wanted to know where from and where to: Where do they locate the start of this process, and what would be its realistic or desirable end? Does the inherently teleological thinking of socialism overlap with current transitology? Are their visions for the future modelled on any examples? And how do they evaluate the past, present and future in these stories of passage? As indicated earlier, the Uzbek government’s estradisation policies did not meet with general approval, and complaints about the current state of affairs – musical or otherwise – were regularly coupled with worries about bleak prospects and references to how things had been dealt with well in the past or should be dealt with ideally in the future. Often it was ideas about normality where accounts about the trajectory that Uzbekistan and its musics had taken – and would or should take – converged at: What is a normal state? How does a normal state deal with music in general and estrada in particular? What role does a genre like estrada play in the social life of a normal state? Finally, what often seemed to me to be a specifically socialist or authoritarian approach to estrada was entirely unmarked for many of my interlocutors. For them, it constituted the proper, ultimately and universally normal way of governing music – or governing through music.4 The category of normality links transition to authoritarianism, the second overarching context informing my research questions. Authoritarianism President Islom Karimov’s rule in Uzbekistan spanned more than a quarter of a century (1990–2016), starting in the Uzbek SSR’s final year of existence and lasting until the 25th anniversary of the Uzbek nation state’s independence. His regime took the form of what has been termed “neopatrimonial authoritarianism” (Ilkhamov 2007), a style of governing that relies heavily on patronage networks which are forged from – and newly forge – ­individual or familial loyalties, while also providing pathways for coercion. Tight control over these networks was coupled with the presidential family’s and the wider ruling elite’s monopoly over key, lucrative branches of the economy, which provided them not only with the opportunity for the personal ­accumulation of capital, but also with the means to financially sustain allegiances. Extreme centralisation, an extensive security structure, the

8  Entering estrada absence of legal certainty and human rights violations worked together to prevent the rise of opponents or rivals, to stifle protest and to pre-emptively deter potential dissenters through an atmosphere of fear. At the same time, an elaborate ideology, which would serve as the conceptual foundation for Islom Karimov’s rule (see Chapter 7), was to be propagated through close administration in the sphere of culture, reforms in the educational sector and – at least partial – oversight of the media and other information channels among other means. In western European media, authoritarian states are often portrayed as both menacing and bizarre in nearly equal measure. Rather than Uzbekistan, it is more frequently North Korea that serves as the epitome of danger and absurdity, followed closely by Turkmenistan. And quite unsurprisingly, state spectacles, sweeping coercion, kitschy propaganda and eccentric policing of the arts lend themselves to sensational journalism. Some scholarly analyses of authoritarianism – and music in authoritarianism – have the same tendency to engage in what I would call totalitarianisation, a narrow focus on the regulated and prohibited, the odd and strange, the dark and bleak.5 But just as classic transitology tells us little about life in actually existing postsocialism, a totalitarianising approach tells us little about life in actually existing authoritarianism. Ultimately, totalitarianisation in representing people and music is, to quote Kofi Agawu, an “investment in difference” (2003: 216). On closer scrutiny, totalitarianisation reveals itself as a heritage of the Cold War era. It has survived the end of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc as a representational strategy and found new and easy targets in the postsocialist world. Western European and Anglo-American musicology may have begun to tackle its role in colonial and neo-colonial endeavours in recent years, but, with rare exceptions, there seems to be little awareness so far of the need to engage in a comparable project to “de-Cold-Warify” the discipline. This despite the fact that the ideologies and practices of the Cold War were similarly encompassing and just as violent as those of colonialism. They shaped the world for decades and left us deeply ingrained structures of binary thinking and hierarchical imaginaries, which continue to determine global geopolitics as well as scholarly and everyday perspectives on the “(post)socialist East” and the “liberal West” (see Chapter 2). I see a focus on normality as part of an epistemological politics to overcome this problematic heritage in the discipline. An anti-totalitarianising stance does not mean, however, neglecting the dark sides of authoritarianism. It just accentuates the quotidian and the ordinary, the trivial and the unexceptional– and it adds the pleasures and joys of music into the mix. What is a normal life in music under authoritarian rule? If measured against standards of normality in western liberal thinking, much of what goes on in Uzbek estrada would not seem normal. What passes for normal in the field is frequently wider, sometimes narrower – but mostly just different. This difference, however, is not what I am concerned with in this book. On the contrary, in exploring the politics of music in Karimov’s Uzbekistan, I have been more interested

Entering estrada  9 in common ground. As strange, stifling and restrictive as Uzbekistan’s administration of estrada might be, state engagement with music is not limited to authoritarianism. Liberal democracies are also concerned with governing sound – and governing through sound. They believe in the edifying social or psychic effects of certain kinds of music (and not others), are financially or administratively involved in promoting certain genres (and not others), and for many, the representation of the nation in music matters, evident in, for example, the establishment of national youth orchestras, the founding of folk music archives or participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. None of these policies are less ideological than the Uzbek policies related to estrada – they have only acquired the aura of being the normal, if not universal, way of dealing with music, at least for those acting within the framework of the respective ideologies. In pointing to these commonalities instead of highlighting difference or claiming deviance, I do not seek to trivialise authoritarianism. Rather I work towards an “embrace of sameness” (Agawu 2003: 169) as a means of contributing to what Nicholas Tochka has termed “a post-Cold War musicology” (2016: 214). At the same time, I work towards claiming a space for the arts in analyses of the state in Central Asia. An ethnography of music – an ethnography of the state The past few years have seen the publication of finely-grained ethnographies of political orders in Central Asia from social scientists, commonly based on long-term and in-depth fieldwork in the region.6 If earlier research on politics tended to imagine the state as an object and power and authority as properties of institutions and officials, these more recent works take a performative, constructivist approach. They do not presuppose a pre-given existence of the state, but ask how it comes into being through the activities of various individuals in various situations, how politics is forged in the realm of the everyday or, in the context of nationalism, “how the nation is produced as a form of social consciousness, political strategy, and quotidian practice” (Megoran 2017b: 17; see Rasanayagam, Beyer & Reeves 2014). In line with the idea of the situatedness, contingency and dispersed quality of power, authority and the state itself, which is central to this model, any conceptual separation between state and society or the political and the people necessarily collapses. While my own research proceeds from similar assumptions, and I will come back to this later, I have always been puzzled by the fact that, with some notable exceptions,7 the arts have been so strikingly absent from recent works on political orders in Central Asia. This despite the fact that the performative approach seems to lend itself particularly well to include music, theatre or film in analyses of governance and that questions like “[i]n what ways does the performance of politics reproduce, enable, challenge, or naturalize ideologies about the state?” (Rasanayagam, Beyer & Reeves 2014: 11) seem to directly ask for a recognition of artistic practices in research on

10  Entering estrada state-crafting. Authors may have drawn on metaphors from the realm of the arts, particularly theatre (ibid.: 12) but even a recent, comprehensive edited volume on Constructing the Uzbek State (Laruelle 2017) does not include a single entry with a focus on the arts or the media among its fifteen chapters. It appears that in contrast to conflicts, religion, borders, corruption, migration, ideology and identity issues, the arts are judged to play no role in “constructing the Uzbek state”, or – to quote the subtitle of the volume – in “narratives of post-Soviet years” for much of the social sciences. For many researchers, they are obviously only a pretty accessory to the presumably more serious stuff that authoritarianism is made of. I consider this to be a misjudgement – particularly with regard to Uzbekistan and here certainly with regard to estrada. Estrada was, at least in the Karimov era, much more than a colourful icing on the cake of real politics. It was an essential part of serious efforts to construct the body politic and build society, and the audible domain was not considered secondary to other elements of governing. Given the pervasiveness of estrada and the immense effort expended on it, I would even go so far as to suggest that any understanding of “how the state was done” under Islom Karimov requires a recognition of this sonic dimension of state-crafting in Uzbekistan. Thus, beyond being a politically oriented ethnography of a musical genre in Uzbekistan at the beginning of the twenty-first century, this book is also more broadly conceived as an ethnography of the Uzbek state in the Karimov era.

Structure of the book Framed by the broader issues of authoritarian governing and postsocialist transition, this book seeks to answer the research questions outlined above. Over seven chapters, it proceeds from the how to the why: How did the Uzbek government turn estrada into state sound between 2001 and 2016? And why, out of all of the available musical genres, did it select estrada for this task? After presenting a short history of Uzbek estrada as a prelude, in ­Chapter 1, I trace the course of official estrada politics in independent Uzbekistan through an examination of decrees, resolutions and other legal documents. I am interested in the period between 2001 and 2016, but also present a preliminary effort dating to 1996. I introduce the main government institutions for the administration, development and control of estrada and explain the system for licensing performers and concerts. After this look at administration on paper, Chapter 2 follows as a critical intervention. Government policies as encompassing as those related to Uzbek estrada habitually provoke the use of binary frameworks, such as a­ ffirmation-opposition or repression-­ resistance in music studies. Scrutinising – and rejecting them  – I propose a more fluid and flexible model instead that is resistant to the strategies of totalitarianisation. With its concern to discover normality in ­music – and life – under authoritarianism, this model informs my approach to estrada administration in practice in subsequent chapters.

Entering estrada  11 Taking an audition as a point of entry, I use Chapter 3 to look behind the scenes of state concerts, where estrada artists have to perform on ­demand  – and for free. I interrogate the attitudes and ambitions of the various participants in these events, which are part of a powerful economy of prestige. In addition, participants’ actions are also driven by an understanding of artisthood in which notions of duty and service towards the state and the nation feature prominently and which is informed by the Soviet idea of the culture worker, but also by older local models such as court musicians or religious servants. Following this analysis of what was expected from artists as part of making estrada into state sound in the Karimov era, I explore what the Uzbek government’s task was in this respect in Chapter 4. Given the investment of time, the number and the high status of people involved, the organisation of music competitions, many of them on patriotic themes, seems to have been a priority. To explain the abundance of competitive events and the immense number of estrada songs produced for them, my analysis teases out the distinction between government control and government attention, and it attends to the more general significance of activities “at the state level” – real as well as ideal. Most government initiatives in the field of estrada are linked to the formation of milliy estrada, national estrada, the imagined ideal type of estrada for state sound. In Chapter 5, I focus on this central concept of the age of estradisation. But despite the importance attached to it and its omnipresence in public discourse, the definition of milliy estrada has always lacked clarity beyond a core consensus. Tracing discussions about and controversies over its desired properties reveals not only the wide range of opinions on the matter, but also its close entanglement with broader socio-political issues. Concerts and competitions do play a role in this process, but the central tool in Uzbekistan’s efforts to forge milliy estrada as state sound is the issuance, suspension and withdrawal of performers’ licences and concert permits. In Chapter 6, I look at these authorisation processes, which take advantage of the indeterminate nature of milliy estrada, and analyse the reasons behind their success – and failure. With respect to the latter, I focus on artists’ dependence on weddings and commercial shou biznes for an income as well as on the shape and scope of Uzbek estrada in the Soviet era. With Chapter 7, I move from the question of how the Uzbek government tried to forge estrada into state sound to why estrada was its genre of choice. National independence ideology is central to this discussion. It may have superseded Marxism-Leninism as the dominant socio-political theory in ­Karimov’s Uzbekistan, but it inherited some of its most fundamental principles from its predecessor, not least the role it assigned expressive culture in the country’s development. In its imagined ideal form as milliy estrada, I ­argue, estrada was meant to further the ideological education of the population under an aesthetic principle of what I term nationalist realism. I  explore why estrada was considered particularly suitable for this role and how exactly it was supposed to function as the sonic incarnation

12  Entering estrada of national independence ideology – at home, but also abroad as a tool of cultural ­diplomacy  – despite its origins in the Soviet era. The book concludes by assessing the results of Uzbek estrada politics during the age of estradisation between 2001 and 2016.

Notes 1 Originating in the political sciences and sociology, theories about transition were first developed in the 1970s and 1980s with reference to regime change in Latin America and southern Europe and came to be transferred to postsocialist political and economic transformations in the early 1990s. An influential early work of classical transitology was Samuel Huntington’s book, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (1991). Under increasing critique from the mid-1990s onwards, the approach gradually lost its appeal in the academic sphere. Implicitly, however, some of its tenets and values are still present in scholarship. In policy-making and journalism, transitology is quite a common conceptual framework today (Gans-Morse 2004). 2 In the Soviet era, “survivals of the past” or “vestiges of the past” were defined – and fought – as residues of former social, political and economic regimes thought to hinder progress towards socialism. Although “survivals” could be anything from economic relations to festivities, from greetings to tastes (Markov n.d.), the most prominent was religion. On practices of Islam as “survivals” in Soviet Central Asia, see Anderson (1993) and DeWeese (2011). 3 Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in the postsocialist world, social anthropologists have probably been the most ardent and persistent critics of transitology, countering its evolutionist teleology with evidence of the unpredictability and uncertainty – in short, erraticism – of transformation processes (see, for example, Burawoy & Verdery 1999a; Buyandelgeriyn 2008; Tökés 2000; Verdery 1991). Important collections of case studies that question the validity of the transition model have been Berdahl, Bunzl and Lampland (2000), Burawoy and Verdery (1999b), Hann (2002b), Pine and Bridger (1998), and Sahadeo and Zanca (2007). Influential critics from outside social anthropology have included Bunce (1995), Carothers (2002) and Cohen (1999). 4 In her study of Swedish Estonians in the early 1990s, Sigrid Rausing also encountered the topic of normality. In contrast to her interlocutors, mine tended not to perceive the Soviet past as “not normal”, nor were they sure that they were heading towards a “normal” future (Rausing 2004: 2). See Laura Adams (2010: 28) for ideas about a “normal” state among members of the Uzbek cultural elite. 5 For representations of Uzbekistan with a totalitarianising thrust, see Everett-­ Heath (2003) and McGlinchey (2011). Already the title of the latter’s book is revealing: Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia. 6 These are, among others, Trevisani (2011), Reeves (2014), Beyer (2016), Ismailbekova (2017), Megoran (2017b) and the individual contributions in Reeves, ­Rasanayagam and Beyer (2014). 7 Sociologist Laura Adams has done extensive research on state spectacles in Uzbekistan (1998; 1999; 2005; 2008; 2010), political geographer Nick Megoran has included estrada in analyses of discourses of danger in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (2005; 2008a) and social anthropologist Eva-Marie Dubuisson has worked on poetic contests (aitys) in Kazakhstan (2014). Perhaps the most extensive inclusion of poetry and music in social science research can be found in social anthropologist Jeanne Féaux de la Croix’s (2016) monograph, Iconic Places in Central Asia, but here the wider framework is not the question of state politics.

Prelude Introducing estrada

Estrada was something very different from what it is today, when, in the early twentieth century, it first arrived in the region which is now Uzbekistan. It would be rare for any musical genre not to change to some degree over the course of a century, but the shifts that the concept of estrada underwent were substantial enough to merit the label metamorphosis. In fact, estrada was not even a musical genre at that time. It was an entertainment format that had developed in the late nineteenth century, the Russian equivalent of music hall, vaudeville or théâtre de variétés.1 It derived its name from the French estrade, meaning “stage” or “platform”, and in contrast to the “large stage” of opera and drama, estrada was often referred to as the “small stage”. In tsarist Russia, estrada performances took place in front of socially diverse audiences in restaurants and beer halls, in cinemas and small theatres as well as outdoors in parks.2 In the first decades of the Soviet era, Russian estrada gradually became more structured. Ideally, an estrada show was a succession of self-contained numbers, chosen and arranged for contrast, while, at the same time, adhering to an overarching theme. To accomplish this trick of “unity made from diversity”, estrada drew on a wide range of art forms, including comedy and satire, folk and popular songs, the recitation of poems, dance and circus acts. It often fell to compères to draw links between the individual numbers and interact with the audience. As such, an estrada performance in early Soviet Russia might have resembled a show at a French théâtre de variétés or an English music hall, but, given the increasingly prominent socialist framework of cultural production and administration, its entertainment qualities became solidly wedded to the goals of education, propaganda and enlightenment. From Russia, estrada spread throughout the Soviet Union and into the socialist countries of eastern Europe.

The Governorate-General Turkestan and early Soviet Uzbekistan It is difficult to date when the concept or at least the term estrada arrived in what is now Uzbekistan. Various forms of popular entertainment, such as word games [askiyachilik], comedy [qiziqchilik], clown art [masxarabozlik]

14  Prelude: introducing estrada and puppet shows [qo’g’irchoqbozlik], are usually counted among estrada’s predecessors in the region. Folk song-dance genres such as lapar and yalla are also commonly believed to be estrada’s local forebears (Bekov 1994: 10, Yusupov 2004: 5–14). These all pre-date the arrival of the conquering tsarist armies, however, that could have brought the concept of estrada with them. Between 1867 and 1875, most of the territory that comprises today’s Uzbekistan was incorporated into the Governorate-General Turkestan of the Russian Empire, the formation of which sealed or heralded the demise of the khanates of Khiva and Kokand and the emirate of Bukhara, which had, up to then, ruled in the region. Traders followed the military personnel and administrators who arrived – and they all wanted to be amused. Olim Bekov has studied primary sources related to entertainment in various Russian Turkestan cities now located in Uzbekistan. He has found evidence of performances, predominantly musical, in teahouses, parks and cinemas and describes in detail one performance with a mixed repertoire of Uzbek, Tatar, Uyghur and Azeri music (Bekov 1994: 14–26). It remains unclear, though, whether these practices only happened to share a similarity with estrada, what Uzbek colleagues call “estradaness” [estradnost’], or whether they were already labelled as such. The Governorate-General Turkestan ceased to exist after the proclamation of the Turkestan Socialist Federative Republic in 1918 (later the Turkestan ASSR), from parts of which, in 1924, the Uzbek SSR was created. In the early years of Soviet rule, a great number of artists were engaged in propaganda and agitation throughout the republic in the civil war – some voluntarily, others forcibly. Various brigades, troupes and groups offered a potpourri of music, sketches, dances, circus acts, word games, readings, and, of course, speeches. The most famous among these initiatives to further political education and enlightenment through entertainment were the agit-theatre of Hamza Hakimzoda Niyoziy, who composed one of the hit revolutionary songs at that time, “Hey, Workers!” [Hoy ishchilar!] and the State Uzbek Concert-Ethnographic Troupe, under the direction of ­Muxitdin Kari-Yakubov, which was more concerned with entertainment than education (ibid.: 26–32, Yusupov 2004: 20–37, Vakhidov 1976: 35–49). The latter, founded in 1927, had already dissolved by 1930, but from among its members emerged the dancer and singer Tamara Khanum (Figure I.1). Born Tamara Petrosyan into an Armenian family in the Ferghana Valley in 1906, Tamara Khanum’s remarkable career during the first half of the twentieth century took her not only to Moscow, but also to Berlin, Paris and London and elsewhere (Yusupov 2004: 27–31). Two programmes in particular won her fame: Songs and Dances of the Peoples of the USSR and Songs and Dances of the Peoples of the World. Everyone I talked to about Uzbek estrada’s history spoke of Tamara Khanum as a major influence. Nevertheless, people were undecided whether her performances could already count as estrada or were merely similar – and the secondary literature is equally vague (Video I.1).

Prelude: introducing estrada  15

Figure I.1  Tamara Khanum and her musicians in the 1930s Source: Photograph by Max Penson, Courtesy Maxim Penson.3

By 1936, the year the Uzbek SSR’s borders were finally set, the term estrada was definitely in use. Documents at the Central State Archive in Tashkent testify to this: “The statute of the Uzbek musical-estrada trust ‘Uzbek Filarmoniya’” from 1935, various documents from 1939 referring to “estrada-­concert activity”, a 1941 decree on the founding of a “mixed national estrada brigade”, and a 1944 document mentioning “[t]he segregation of a concert-estrada office from the Uzgosfilarmoniya”.4 The institutionalisation of music was high on the agenda across the 1930s Soviet Union, not only in estrada. In 1936, the Tashkent Conservatory was established, followed by the Union of Composers and the Symphony Orchestra in 1938. In line with the Marxist-Leninist logic of evolutionism, these initiatives aimed to accelerate first and foremost musical, but also socio-political progress among Uzbeks – and structural measures were closely linked to aesthetic considerations. As Joseph Stalin had maintained in 1934, works of art were to be “national in form, socialist in content” in order to help advance the presumably backward peoples of the USSR towards socialism. And if they

16  Prelude: introducing estrada were, they would also adhere to the more general aesthetic of socialist realism, which had been proclaimed the new mandate for artistic production the same year. It is not clear from archival documents accessible to me what degree of impact these policies had on Uzbek estrada in the 1930s and 1940s. They certainly had an effect on other aspects of musical life in the Uzbek SSR, and would later become evident in estrada too. This was preceded, however, by many Uzbek artists travelling outside of the republic to perform. The Uzbek SSR assembled 20 brigades to entertain soldiers at the frontline and in hospitals and workers in the Urals and Siberia during the Second World War. According to Leonid Yusupov, these brigades gave more than 4,000 concerts altogether (2004: 33). At the same time, the Leningrad Conservatory was evacuated to Tashkent.5 While estrada had not fully metamorphosed from entertainment format to musical genre by the 1950s, music had certainly become the dominant art form in Uzbek estrada. Most people in Uzbekistan today date the origin of a unique tradition of estrada in the Uzbek SSR to the end of this decade, which was also the beginning of a golden age for estrada orchestras. Orchestras were an intrinsic part of Soviet attempts to raise Uzbeks’ “level of culture”. Music policies to this end took two forms. One measure was to “improve” local music by approximating it to European aesthetics. This included the harmonisation of the hitherto monophonic music, tempered tuning, building instruments into consorts, enlarging the previously small ensembles to orchestra size, and fixing and canonising the oral heritage through notation. These measures were applied to the region’s folk music as well as its classical traditions. The latter encompassed the grand suite forms that had developed at the former courts in the region, the so-called maqoms, but also some smaller genres. Due to their relationship to feudal rule and to Islam, the status of the classical traditions oscillated between endorsement as a form of refined “folk creativity” and rejection as “class enemy” culture throughout the Soviet era.6 The second measure to advance “musical progress” was the introduction of European forms of art music, such as opera, symphony, oratorio and chamber music. These were to merge with local musical elements to create a national school of academic music, as it is commonly called in Uzbekistan today.7 Composers from the Russian SFSR were sent to Tashkent to accelerate the process. The musical results of both approaches were not necessarily “national in form, socialist in content”, but did usually represent a blend of Uzbek and European traditions. In 1958, the State Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan was officially institutionalised under the umbrella of the Filarmoniya. By that time, small dance bands and entertainment orchestras had risen in number considerably since the 1940s, usually with a line-up of drums, piano or accordion, bass, brass instruments and saxophone (Yusupov 2004: 40–42). This development was directly  tied

Prelude: introducing estrada  17 to the Russian and Ukrainian evacuees in Tashkent at that time, many of whom stayed on after the end of the war. In the 1950s, almost half of Tashkent’s population of about 900,000 was European in origin. Orchestras offered a short programme in cinemas before the film, gave concerts in parks and performed for open-air dance floors. Their performances, which were a blend of Soviet and international standards, were catered first and foremost to the taste of a European audience. According to Leonid Yusupov, enthusiasm among ethnic Uzbeks was limited: Admittedly, the multinational population of the republic received the new music differently. The representatives of the European nationalities were drawn to estrada, jazz, greeted its appearance. The native population, educated on Uzbek-Tajik song-dance traditions, did not understand, and for this reason did not accept contemporary estrada and jazz … The rapid expansion of European forms of polyphonic estrada music provoked a sickly reaction [boleznennuyu reaktsiyu] in the local population, which was not sufficiently prepared for this situation. Such an attitude to ‘light music’ continued until the end of the 1960s. (2004: 39) Paternalism and cultural evolutionism aside, Leonid Yusupov reveals just how radical an aesthetic experience the introduction of harmony must have been for people socialised on monophonic music. But while Uzbek estrada of the 1950s and 1960s may have received a reserved welcome in the Uzbek SSR, it became very successful outside the republic.

The era of estrada orchestras (1950s–1970s) Of course, not all Uzbeks rejected the new musical influences and ideas. Some endorsed and embraced them wholeheartedly and profited from the liberalisation of the arts under the Khrushchev thaw. One of them was Botyr Zakirov (1936–1985), who would become the most influential singer of the orchestra era and is widely cherished in today’s Uzbekistan as the founder of Uzbek estrada.8 In 1957, he, with his sister Luiza Zakirova and other singers, represented Uzbek estrada at the World Festival of Youth and S ­ tudents in Moscow, accompanied by the newly established Estrada O ­ rchestra of Uzbekistan (Figure I.2). He would go on to become famous in the Soviet Union predominantly on account of his arrangements of Asian and Arab songs; but some of his new compositions count among estrada classics too (see Chapter 6) (Video I.2). The second large estrada orchestra in the Uzbek SSR was founded in 1963, the Estrada Symphony Orchestra (ESO) at State TV and Radio, which featured a large string section, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, guitar,

18  Prelude: introducing estrada

Figure I.2  A poster from the 1960s for a concert by the Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan and its soloists Source: Courtesy Yunus Turaev.

piano and drums, and occasionally instruments from older Uzbek musical traditions. Singers who became famous as the orchestra’s soloists included Rano Sharipova, Muhabbat Shamaeva, Alla Ioshpe, Yunus Turaev and Eson Kandov (Video I.3). Uzbek scholars call the style of estrada in the 1950s and the 1960s “symphojazz” or “song symphojazz”. At that time, estrada symphony orchestras sprang up all over the Soviet Union, and in the 1960s, Tashkent hosted orchestras from Moscow, Leningrad, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Lithuania and the Ukraine (Yusupov 2004: 72). Despite receiving praise, Uzbek artists and orchestras were also criticised for promoting a brand of estrada with too few specifically Uzbek features. In 1971, the State Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan was merged into the newly founded Tashkent Music Hall, which presented what in Uzbekistan is sometimes called “theatre of songs” or “sujet estrada spectacle” (ibid.: 97). Its first programme in 1973 was called The Travels of Sindbad the Sailor – or Oriental Fairy Tale, based on themes from the Arabian Nights fables. The show followed the general estrada principle of contrasting numbers linked by an overarching theme, but music by far predominated over the other included art forms. The Tashkent Music Hall closed in 1978 and the orchestra was dissolved, but from among its members three ensembles were formed. Two of these would play an important role in the stylistically already

Prelude: introducing estrada  19 very different Uzbek estrada of the 1970s and 1980s: Sado [Sound] and Navo [Tune, Melody]. According to Leonid Yusupov, the Estrada Symphony Orchestra at State TV and Radio started to fall into decline by the late 1970s and the early 1980s too (ibid.: 111). It still exists today, but it has lost much of its former glamour and grandeur. Its main function is to record the soundtracks for the major state holidays in Uzbekistan (see Chapter 3). In addition, it still serves as a musical status symbol in the country and a sign of professionalism in estrada, substantiating claims that estrada is, indeed, an art form and not just commercial entertainment.

The age of VIAs (1970s and 1980s) Soon after recordings by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had reached Tashkent in the 1960s, students and pupils founded the first rock and pop groups – more rarely soul bands. Most started out by covering their idols’ hits, but soon expanded their repertoire. The band Kibergi [sic] [Cyborgs], for example, which gave its first concert in March 1967, played Beatles’ songs, arrangements of Uzbek folk music, such as “Apples from Namangan” and original compositions, including a protest song against the Vietnam War (ibid.: 76). All these bands were initially amateurs, but some gained professional status in the 1970s. The differentiation between professionals and amateurs was a crucial one in the Soviet Union and, as I discuss in Chapter 5 is still relevant in independent Uzbekistan. What distinguished these two spheres was not necessarily talent and proficiency, but state acknowledgement of talent and proficiency. Professional musicians had to pass auditions before special commissions appointed by the government and were consequently employed by the state. They were assigned grades, based on their qualifications and fame, which gave them not only a salary and privileges, but specific, prescribed duties too, including the number of new songs to be presented and the number of concerts to be played every year. Professional estrada bands were called vocal-instrumental ensembles, abbreviated as VIA, which was attached to their names, such as VIA Sado or VIA Navo. Amateurs, in contrast, received no income from the state, which meant they needed to do other jobs, if they were not in school or at university, so as not to fall foul of the Soviet law on mandatory employment. Amateur musicians were furthermore required to seek affiliation with an official institution, such as schools, universities or Houses of Culture. In Tashkent, the District House of Officers [Okruzhnoy Dom Ofitserov], a building for military meetings dating from the tsarist era, became an important location for these and later groups. If properly affiliated, amateur groups were entitled to give concerts. While amateurs were also labelled unofficial musicians, as opposed to official, i.e. professional musicians, this does not mean that they

20  Prelude: introducing estrada were necessarily subversive and subject to persecution. Both types of bands were and still frequently are called musical collectives, or simply collectives. Most scholars have described a strong antagonism for the Russian SFSR in the 1970s and the 1980s between pop-oriented VIAs and the rock-­oriented amateur scene, which did show subversive tendencies at least to some extent (see Chapter 2). Uzbek scholar Olim Bekov, however, has identified only rather minor animosities between the two spheres in the Uzbek SSR, which my conversations and interviews with musicians active in that era confirm. According to him, an opposition between rock music and estrada was not characteristic of the Uzbek SSR. He attributes this more consensual relationship between the two scenes to a lack of ideological rigour and to more laxity in political control of the sphere of music in this southern fringe republic of the Soviet Union – a situation which, in his view, also prevented an upsurge in the rock movement during the perestroika period (Bekov 1994: 61). The first Uzbek band that was given professional status was the VIA Yalla [name of a dance-song genre, see above], which was formed in 1968 at the Tashkent Theatre Art Institute. In 1971, it won prizes at the district level of the political song competition “We Are Internationalists” and in the pan-­ Soviet TV competition “Hello, We Are Searching for Talent!”. Both successes, but particularly the latter, made them famous throughout the Soviet Union.9 Their style of estrada was – and is, as Yalla is still going – a kind of pop-rock with Uzbek and wider Asian and Arab musical elements. In contrast to the repertoire of singers in the 1950s and the 1960s, which had included arrangements of many foreign songs, Yalla, like other VIAs at the time, preferred arrangements of Uzbek folk music and original compositions by Uzbek composers, without entirely ceasing to cover foreign songs (Video I.4). In keeping with the original estrada principle, Yalla based its concert programmes on overarching themes. One was devoted to Uzbek cities, for example, another to oriental poets and a third to Uzbek folk songs. Its most successful programme throughout the Soviet Union, however, was The Teahouse Forever of 1987. Yalla toured extensively, not only in the Soviet Union, but throughout the socialist world (Figure I.3). It regularly won competitions and released a number of albums with the Soviet Union’s state recording company, Melodiya. Nevertheless, the band did encounter problems with the local authorities. In the early 1980s, the release of their song ­Uchquduq, an ode to a closed industrial city in the desert, was delayed for about a year. During an audition, a high party official happened to remark, “Oh, a song about Uchquduq?”, which was interpreted by someone lower down in the party hierarchy as disapproval. The head of the Soviet State Committee for TV and Radio in Moscow personally intervened to clear the song. Years later it was revealed that the remark that had caused the delay was nothing more than an innocent expression of astonishment. Uchquduq became extremely popular and several people I know from other parts of the former Soviet Union, interpreted the song’s lyrics, which

Prelude: introducing estrada  21

Figure I.3  A vinyl single by Yalla on the GDR label Amiga (1975) Source: Courtesy Herbert Schulze.10

recount a long and difficult trip through the desert, as an allegory for the stagnation era at that time. Yalla may have been the Uzbek SSR’s most famous estrada export in the 1970s and the 1980s, but it was not the only VIA at that time. Bands like Inter, Sintez and Samarkand, plus the above-mentioned Navo and Sado were also active in the scene and met with success in competitions outside the republic (Video I.5). On the whole, however, official Uzbek estrada was limited to a rather small number of people until the late years of perestroika. Leaving aside instrumentalists, there were always only about 20–30 singers who had professional status. Amateurs were considerably more numerous. Today, all estrada from the late 1950s through the late 1980s is commonly labelled retro in Uzbekistan, as it is in the Russian Federation. The era that brought the VIAs to the scene also granted estrada access to  the educational sector in an attempt to promote professionalisation and – in the local parlance then and now – “to prepare cadres”. In 1978, the

22  Prelude: introducing estrada so-called Studio for Estrada-Circus Art was founded, which offered twoyear courses for students. Renamed the College for Estrada-Circus Art after independence, still today the name is reminiscent of estrada’s early history as a kind of théâtre de variétés. In the same year, the Hamza Secondary School established an estrada department, and estrada performers began to enrol in the Institute of Culture (Yusupov 2004: 100). Two developments in the late 1980s profoundly shaped estrada in the 1990s and until today: the first was the widespread use of synthesisers to replace instruments, which significantly reduced the need for and number of instrumentalists. The other was that estrada began to make inroads into a socio-cultural sphere that had been the exclusive preserve of folk and classical music – weddings. In the late 1980s, concerts were still organised according to the estrada principle of “unity made from diversity” and usually included other art forms. The term estrada, however, had by this time become solidly linked to music, thus completing its metamorphosis.

Estrada in independent Uzbekistan In 1991, Uzbekistan became independent – by chance, as the logical consequence of the Soviet Union’s break-up. It preserved its republican borders of 1936 as state borders, as it kept its leadership. Islom Karimov, who had become first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan in 1989 and first president of the Uzbek SSR in 1990, remained in power after 1991. On paper, Uzbekistan became a democracy; in reality, it became, as detailed in the introduction, a highly authoritarian state. The end of the Soviet Union also meant the end of pan-Soviet institutions in the sphere of music, including those responsible for sending ensembles on tour. At the same time, the Uzbek government gradually withdrew from employing estrada artists – the Estrada Symphony Orchestra at State Radio and TV being a noticeable exception – and from running a state recording company, thus prompting the development of a commercial shou biznes. And while the Uzbek SSR had certainly not been isolated from developments in culture outside the Soviet Union, as Cold War-style totalitarianisation likes to suggest, independence made more music from all over the world considerably more accessible. Citizens could also now travel to countries that had been practically off-limits. However, independence also brought new borders. Former fellow republics within the Soviet Union became nation states, some of which introduced visa regimes for Uzbek citizens. Finally, emigration became an important issue that would have real repercussions on musical life. In the wake of independence, most of Tashkent’s Russian population moved to the Russian Federation. Because of these transformations, most people I talked to remember the 1990s as a time of confusion in estrada. Some view the decade negatively as a period of unwanted chaos and uncertainty, whereas others have fond memories of new freedoms

Prelude: introducing estrada  23 and a feeling of departure. One thing all can agree on is that after independence, the estrada scene exploded. The Uzbek government’s policy of partial deregulation, the new demand for live estrada as wedding entertainment and the increasing use of synthesisers fuelled the scene’s proliferation. By 1991, there had already appeared a number of bands that worked predominantly with synthesisers. The most successful of these was Bolalar [Guys/Boys/Children], whose lead singer, Tohir Sodiqov, is still active as a solo artist today (Video I.6). Uzbek scholar Olim Bekov scathingly critiqued this new type of artist, accusing them of amateurism, mediocrity, vocal inability, reliance on foreign estrada and pretensions to the status of an estrada star, among several other negative characteristics (Bekov 1994: 88). Similarly dissatisfied with estrada in the early 1990s, and at least partially for the same reasons, was American ethnomusicologist Ted Levin, who encountered it at a Tashkent wedding: [T]he band turned on its amplifiers and cut loose with a program of schmaltzy, Russian-Uzbek techno-ethnic folk-pop music. The dance floor in the center was immediately filled with couples doing a mixture of ersatz Uzbek dance, which emphasizes liquescent arm and hand movements, and the hybridized contemporary dancing found all over the former Soviet Union whose body language is based on hopping up and down while shaking the hips. The music was earsplittingly loud … (1996a: 45, emphasis original) These critical comments do not capture the great enthusiasm which greeted bands like Bolalar at the time. In particular, school pupils and students became ardent fans, who, in the later 1990s would also embrace rap of the kind performed, for example, by Al-Vakil (Video I.7). The 1990s were also formative for the careers of Nasiba Abdullaeva, the group Shahzod and Yulduz Usmanova, one of Uzbekistan’s estrada superstars, beloved across all generations and famous for her mix of local traditions and pop. The 2000s saw female singers such as Ozoda Nursaidova, Rayhon, Shahzoda, Lola, Feruza Djumaniyozova and Sevara Nazarkhan, male singers Samandar, Anvar Sanaev, Davron Ergashev and Sardor Rahimhon, as well as the girl-trio Setora rise to fame, while Gulsanam Mamazoitova and Ozodbek Nazarbekov have certainly been the most prominent stars of the 2010s so far (Video I.8, Video I.9). This list could be extended into a seemingly endless directory, even if trying to present just a fraction of the groups and soloists that have entered the scene from the 1990s onwards or were active when I started to explore Uzbek estrada myself from 2001 onwards. Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital of about 2.5 million inhabitants, is the centre of estrada production in Uzbekistan, and during my first weeks of fieldwork in the summer of 2003, I was completely overwhelmed by the presence of estrada in the city. Wherever I went, there seemed to be estrada.

24  Prelude: introducing estrada In some places, I would have expected it. These were shops and stalls selling tapes or CDs, on the radio and TV, in taxis and restaurants. In a similar way, I expected to find estrada in concert halls, such as the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples or the Turkiston Palace. I did not expect it in other places, however, such as in the State Conservatory, which added an estrada department in 1997 that was subsequently enlarged into an estrada faculty in 2002. I had not assumed I would encounter estrada at weddings, at least not live – and certainly not performed by the stars of the scene (Figure I.4). Music competitions I had not thought about, and I had not imagined estrada to be furnished by its own government institution. On the other hand, there were places where I had been sure I would find estrada but did not. Discos and clubs in Tashkent, for example, hardly ever play Uzbek estrada or indeed any music produced in Uzbekistan; they almost exclusively play music from Russia, the USA and the UK.11 The internet only slowly became a place for estrada over the course of my research. At the beginning of fieldwork in 2003/4, only a few people I met in Tashkent had stable internet access at home. Many did not own a computer, and it was mostly students frequenting the internet cafés that were sparsely spread over the city and offered faster connections than plugging landline telephone cables into modems. There were some shou biznes portals and a handful of artists had their personal websites, but watching video clips and

Figure I.4  B  otir Qodirov performs at a wedding, 2016

Prelude: introducing estrada  25 downloading music was a cumbersome, time-consuming affair. Only in the late 2000s and the 2010s did the internet and later social media become an important platform for communication between artists and their fans and for the distribution and reception of Uzbek estrada in general, a process that was accelerated by the development of smartphones. For some time it seemed that social media would be the means to circumvent government regulations for estrada, and in certain regards they were and still are, for example when video clips are uploaded anonymously on YouTube, but the estrada administration soon caught up with developments and started to monitor and regulate artists’ activities on Facebook and VKontakte (see Chapters 5 and 6).

The wider musical field today Judged by its sounds, visuals and general performance culture, what is called estrada in Uzbekistan today would be labelled popular music, or simply pop, in the west. The reverse is equally true: For Uzbekistanis, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are estrada, The Beatles, Take That and Justin Timberlake are estrada, and so are ABBA, Modern Talking and Dschinghis Khan. While the concept of estrada in principle also includes purely instrumental music, of which there was more in the orchestra era, in reality today, it is overwhelmingly a song genre. In Uzbek, the term for an estrada song is qo’shiq (pl. qo’shiqlar), in Russian, it is pesnya (pl. pesni).12 Apart from being generally differentiated from folk, classical and academic music, estrada is also demarcated from what is called alternative music in Uzbekistan, which encompasses styles such as rap, rock and electronic music. Estrada fans usually regard alternative music as unappealingly rough and harsh, although tamer versions of rock, rap and electronic music have actually become fashionable in estrada, too. Boundaries are quite fluid and not necessarily drawn on the basis of musical features, but instead with regard to lyrics, performance contexts and administrative affiliations. Contemporary estrada can also be distinguished from jazz, from bard song and from a genre called lirika, a kind of electrified folk music with a strong focus on lyrics, which sometimes also features elements from classical traditions.13 Despite dominating the city’s soundscape, estrada is, of course, not the only kind of music present in Tashkent’s musical life. The Conservatory and other venues regularly host concerts of academic music, classical music and arranged folk music. Tashkent has an opera house and there are several ­orchestras ­– from chamber to symphonic – in the city. The Ilkhom Theatre is home to the Omnibus Ensemble, which specialises in contemporary music. The various festive parts of a wedding offer occasions for all kinds of music, not just estrada: Classical music has a firm place at the socalled “morning osh”, a male-only affair at dawn. Female folk and female

26  Prelude: introducing estrada

Figure I.5  A  jazz matinée at the Tashkent House of Photography, 2005

ritual  music accompany several wedding events centred on the bride and involve professional musicians and singers as well as the female members of the bride’s family – parental or in-laws, depending on the stage of the wedding procedures (Macrae 2004; Merchant 2005b). Finally, ensembles of karnay (long trumpet) and surnay (double reed instrument) play an important part in announcing wedding events. Over the course of my research, jazz and bard song did not feature ­prominently in public musical life in Tashkent – nor did alternative music (Figure I.5). From among the latter, rap and electronic music were rarely heard, and rock music’s prominence fluctuated with government policy, oscillating between near complete absence and obvious presence in the form of public rock festivals and live performances by local bands in bars (­Figure I.6) (see Chapter 6). Foreign popular music enters Uzbekistan predominantly via the internet, but also through radio and TV. So-called independent FM radio stations are more important in this respect than National TV and Radio, with its strong focus on Uzbek music. Russian-language FM stations play mostly music from Russia, the USA and the UK. In addition to Uzbek estrada and lirika, Uzbek-language FM stations also play tracks from other Asian countries, including Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, India and the Arab world. Their share of airtime varies based on the station’s format,

Prelude: introducing estrada  27

Figure I.6  A  tribute evening to Viktor Tsoi at the club Vertikal'nyy Mir [Vertical World], 2008

target audience – and state foreign policy. Problems in diplomatic relations with a country are likely to result in a broadcast ban on music from there. Russian and non-government TV stations played a crucial role in the dissemination of foreign video clips throughout most of my fieldwork. Due to the closure of various TV stations and pay TV providers in recent years, however, TV has lost its importance in the dissemination of foreign popular music. Live performances by artists from abroad are rather rare in Tashkent and predominantly restricted to academic music and estrada, with estrada from Russia outnumbering other genres and other places of origin by far. Unless linked to cultural diplomacy and thus financed from abroad and organised through embassies or foreign institutions such as the Goethe Institute, ­concerts by acts from the USA or western Europe are usually unaffordable for anyone but the most well-off (Figure I.7). Sometimes western stars are booked by members of the ruling elite. Occasionally these bookings are for at least potentially public concerts, such as Sting’s 2009 gig following an invitation by president Islom Karimov’s daughter Gulnora Karimova, for which he was allegedly paid $1.7 million. More frequently, they are invited to provide entertainment at private events hosted by the richest families in Uzbekistan (Klenke 2015b).

28  Prelude: introducing estrada

Figure I.7  A poster announcing a concert by Thomas Anders from Modern Talking, 2006

Notes 1 The most exhaustive treatment of Russian estrada in the Soviet era is the Russian-­ language, three-volume publication Russian Soviet Estrada (Uvarova 1976; 1977; 1981). MacFadyen (2001; 2002a; 2002b) is an excellent source of information on individual performers. 2 It is not entirely clear in the scholarly literature whether these performances would have been called estrada at that time already as opposed to having acquired the label retrospectively. 3 A special thanks to Maxim Penson for his contribution to my book in granting me permission to reproduce this photograph by his grandfather (www.­ 4 The cited documents are the following: 1935: f. R 94, o. 5, d. 1651, l. 248; 1939: f. R 2087, o. 1, d. 33 l. 254; 1941: f. R 2087, o.1, d. 68, l 42; 1944: f. R 2087, o. 1, d. 127, l. 2. In Soviet – and often also post-Soviet – usage, the term Filarmoniya does not designate a symphony orchestra, but a government institution for the administration of various forms of music. Similarly, the term Uzgosestrada, which is an abbreviation for Uzbek State Estrada [Uzbekskaya gosudarstvennaya estrada], is not the name of an ensemble, but an administrative unit. 5 For an overview of Uzbek song production in the war years, see Vakhidov (1976: 59–80).

Prelude: introducing estrada  29 6 For western studies on music policies in the Uzbek SSR, see Levin (1980; 1984; 1993; 1996a; 2002), Djumaev (1993; 2003), During (1993), Slobin (1971), Frolova-­ Walker (1998), Kale-Lostuvalı (2007), Sultanova (1993) and Tomoff (2004). The Soviet-era literature in Russian on the effects of these policies is vast. A good introduction to music in the Uzbek SSR is the three-volume Russian-language publication The History of Uzbek Soviet Music (Vyzgo, Karelova & Karomatov 1972; 1973, Vyzgo, Karomatov & Nasyrova 1991). 7 Throughout this book, I use local categories to describe and categorise the overall musical field. This means, I use the term academic music for what is commonly called art or classical music in Great Britain and the USA, and I use the term classical music to denote the regional court traditions and their derivatives. 8 For more detailed information on the orchestra era in the Uzbek SSR, see Yusupov (2004: 38–75), Bekov (1994: 46–58) and Vakhidov (1976: 81–129). 9 For more detailed information on Yalla and analyses of concert programmes, see Yusupov (2004: 78–96) and Bekov (1994: 62–65, 71–86). 10 This vinyl single was my chance discovery at a flea market in Germany in 2000, which greatly contributed to my initial interest in Uzbek estrada. It includes two songs in German: “Wie schade” [How sad] and “Das wird ein Tag sein” [This will be a [grand] day]. 11 These presences and absences of estrada shaped my fieldwork. Besides engaging in participant and non-participant observations in various fields of the estrada scene (conservatory, radio, state administration, concerts, competitions, weddings, bars, discos and clubs) I conducted about 80 conversations altogether, ranging from long informal talks to more formalised interviews, predominantly with various representatives of the estrada scene, but also some people outside of it (singers, instrumentalists, government officials, teachers, students, pupils, colleagues, sound engineers, radio hosts, journalists and others). In addition, I collected audio, video, visual and written materials such as CDs, VHS tapes, VCDs and DVDs, journals, newspapers, merchandising, legal documents, etc. To get insights into the history of estrada, I spent a total of four weeks in the Central State Archive in 2004 and 2005 and surveyed the Institute for Art Studies’ yearly collections of newspaper clippings on music up until the year 2008. When out of the field, I kept up to date with estrada news through various government, shou biznes and news websites as well as through contact with colleagues, acquaintances and friends from Uzbekistan. 12 There is another term for song in Uzbek, ashula, which is part of musical terminology in the classical traditions. The term qo’shiq, on the other hand, is not exclusive to the sphere of estrada, but also designates certain types of songs in the folk traditions. 13 Whether jazz is currently part of estrada or not, is occasionally a subject of debate in Uzbekistan. There certainly was stylistic and personal overlap in the orchestra era and there still is some now. In line with the great majority of my interlocutors, however, I will treat estrada and jazz as separate genres with regard to the contemporary situation.

1 Administering estrada Decrees, institutions and policies

Tashkent, November 2005 It is a bright and cold winter day as I set off from my flat close to the ­Theatre Institute. Leaving narrow and chilly Yunus Rajabiy Street behind me, I step onto the square around Kosmonavtlar metro station – and into ample space and intense lightness. The lavish layout of the city centre is what first intrigued me about Tashkent, and it seems even more far-flung and airy now in the pale winter sun than it was in the scorching heat of summer a few months ago. The sky is immensely high, but not really blue. It is the colour of a glacier, a luminous faint teal, which even has its own word in Uzbek – ko’k. I am walking north along Sharof Rashidov Avenue. Turning left into Uzbekistan Avenue at the next crossing would take me to the State Conservatory’s new building and the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples. I cross the street, however, and continue to walk straight on. Before passing the Institute for Art Studies to my left, I can already see the two red cranes that tower over the massive reconstruction works on Independence Square. Its central complex, now stripped to a mere skeleton, will soon be turned into blocks of shiny glass and will house on its upper floors the Ministry of Culture and Sport, which currently resides in a rather gloomy, if stately building on Navoiy Street. Independence Square itself has already been redesigned in the past year. Until 2004, it had been used for staging one of two largest annual state holidays, Independence Day on 1 September. The rest of the year it had functioned as a storage place for the bulky parts of the spectacles’ metal stands, before becoming a busy and shielded rehearsal ground in the weeks approaching the holiday. Now, the concrete ground has been replaced by grass, which is intersected by walking paths and dotted with tiny fir trees that will struggle to survive in this climatically hostile habitat despite special horticultural attention. The festivities for Independence Day, in turn, have been moved to the summer stage in Alisher Navoiy National Park – the same ground where the second great state spectacle, Navro’z, the spring equinox on 21 March with roots in Zoroastrian thought and practice, is commonly held. Some of the spectacle’s creative staff consider this location

Administering estrada  31 an equally hostile habitat for these grand shows, and this year’s Independence Day celebrations, which were rather dull and badly choreographed in my estimations, seem to confirm their discontent. I walk across Independence Square towards the Ankhor canal and turn right before reaching Independence Monument, a globe with nothing but a relief of an extremely oversized Uzbekistan, which in the early 1990s replaced one of the largest Lenin statues in the whole of the Soviet Union. The lane leads me towards the Turkiston Palace, which lies across Navoiy Street and is shining white in full frontal sunlight (Figure 1.1). This is my walk’s destination, and I have often come here before to attend concerts. Today, however, I skirt the palace’s main entrance and its box office. It is the north face of the building where I am heading – and it feels like that: As soon as I turn the back corner of the building, the sun is blocked, the façade’s dazzling white changes into a shaded grey and the temperature drops noticeably. To my right, there is the empty basin of a fountain, ahead of me I see the wafer-shaped scaffolding of the Turkiston summer stage, and to my left, there is the back entrance to the palace (Figure 1.2). I climb a few stairs, open the door and am met by a militsioner sitting behind a wooden desk in a small vestibule. While he writes down my arrival time and my passport details in a book almost the size of the table, I use the phone on the opposite wall to call the person with whom I have an appointment. He arrives a few minutes later and I am allowed to enter the building proper.

Figure 1.1  T  he Turkiston Palace, 2005

32  Administering estrada

Figure 1.2  The entrance to O’zbeknavo at the rear side of the Turkiston Palace, 2008

This is my first official research visit to O’zbeknavo, the Republic of ­ zbekistan’s Estrada Association. I have been here a few times previously – U for a very short conference on estrada and for very long days of auditions before the Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles. But I had always come with someone else. Now I am on my own and no longer just a guest. A week prior I had been granted permission by O’zbeknavo’s director to do research in this institution – to interview its staff, survey internal documents and participate in meetings. I will soon find out that my access to information is considerably more restricted than this initial gesture of generosity might have suggested, and I will not be surprised. But at this moment, I am just excited – and slightly scared. When I started to work on estrada in Uzbekistan, I had not imagined something like O’zbeknavo could exist. But over the course of my fieldwork, O’zbeknavo slowly crept into my fieldnotes, becoming a regular and ever more substantive topic. Its first mention in my notebook dates to about three weeks after my arrival in Tashkent, when a musicology professor at the conservatory presented me with the book “O’zbeknavo”: Masters, Stars, Apprentices (Jabborov & Boyqo’ziev 2000) as a welcome gift and I presumed O’zbeknavo was a type of concert agency. While I was not entirely incorrect, I definitely had a different sort of concert agency in mind. “O’zbeknavo could be quite powerful” was my next entry on the topic just a few pages later, and this assumption proved to be much more accurate.

Administering estrada  33 All the institutions and places that have just lined my path or crossed my mind, when walking to the Turkiston Palace, play a role in the state involvement with estrada, and this list is not even exhaustive. But it is O’zbeknavo that is the pivot of the Uzbek government’s engagement with the genre and the power it wields is considerable. Since jotting down my first two tentative comments, I have heard a lot about O’zbeknavo: stories of support, privileges and patronage and stories of control, censorship and coercion. This is why I want to do research here – and why I am dreading it. The deputy director, who has been assigned to help me and was the person to meet me at the entrance, is guiding me to his office. We have a long and lively conversation, before he shows me around the building and introduces me to some of the senior staff. The atmosphere is very friendly, everybody is obliging and time passes quickly. About three hours after I arrived, I am escorted back to the vestibule. I sign out and leave O’zbeknavo with some copies of relevant documents and a list of appointments for the coming days. When I re-emerge on the south side of the building, the sun has already started to set and the front of the Turkiston Palace is tinged with a rich apricot. My visit to O’zbeknavo was successful, but it has taken its toll. Now back in the late afternoon light, descending the stairs down to Navoiy Street, I am suddenly suffused with a deep exhaustion. As I am walking home through the gradually darkening city centre, I cannot foresee that all my future visits to O’zbeknavo, in the weeks and even in the years to come, will end in a similarly profound fatigue. My ambivalence about doing research at this institution will grow as my experiences oscillate widely between sincere help and sleazy harassment. And at those times, when unpleasant situations will put me on heightened alert or even cause twinges of panic, I will feel as though I am gaining at least a faint idea of what it means to be actually entangled in this system of estrada administration, especially as a woman. The Uzbek system of estrada administration is rather unique. Even colleagues and artists from other post-Soviet countries are regularly astonished when they learn about the form and scope of the Uzbek government’s involvement with estrada. Given that all Soviet successor states inherited a similar set of cultural policies, institutions and ideologies with independence, it seems remarkable that Uzbekistan managed so quickly to devise a concept and structure of musical administration that looks highly idiosyncratic to former fellow citizens of the Soviet Union – and even more rigid than its predecessor under socialism. But this seems less remarkable, if we recall that Uzbekistan’s president, Islom Karimov, insisted in 1992 that he would lead the country along “its own path of renewal and progress” ­(Karimov 1992). In this chapter I ask what exactly constitutes this “own path” with respect to estrada. I will describe how the Uzbek government has structured and formalised its engagement with this genre and identify the institutions it

34  Administering estrada has charged with its administration. While I will examine administration in practice in later chapters, here I explore administration on paper. Tracing its development primarily through decrees and other legal documents, I focus on O’zbeknavo as the centre of this system, but will also present other state organs that are involved in the management of estrada.

The founding of O’zbeknavo NAVO ( f[arsi]-t[adjik]) 1 Tune, melody; singing … 2 (N – capital [letter]) Name of the second maqom in the ­Shashmaqom system … 3 rare A sorrowful voice expressing grief and pain; wail [nola]1 (Akabirov et al. 1981, Vol. 1: 491) On 5 April 1996, Uzbekistan’s president Islom Karimov decreed the establishment of O’zbeknavo (UP-1419 1996).2 The Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet of Ministers were ordered to provide the new institution with a legal framework and delineate the organisational structure of its activities within a week. Nothing suggested at this point that O’zbeknavo’s sphere of responsibility would be reduced to estrada within just a few years. The use of the word navo in the association’s name might have given some indication for a future focus on music, but the word itself would, if anything, have rather suggested Uzbek court music and its derivatives. Initially founded as a “tour-concert association” with its head office in Tashkent and regional branches in the Autonomous Republic of Kara­ kalpakstan and the country’s provinces, O’zbeknavo was to cater for a wide range of “philharmonic, estrada, dance, folklore and other artistic collectives”. Under the “artistic-methodical direction” of the Ministry of Culture, it was meant to fulfil several tasks, including: the development, preservation and propagation of the best accomplishments [luchshikh dostizheniy] of the national, classical and modern music and dance art of the peoples of Uzbekistan; … the coordination of tour-concert activity and perfection of cultural services [sovershenstvovaniye kul’turnogo obsluzhivaniya] to the population offered by creative collectives [tvorcheskikh kollektivov] and individual performers.3 The overall rationale for the founding of O’zbeknavo was to lend “government support to the development of music-dance art” and to answer “requests from concert-creative collectives of Uzbekistan”. Accordingly, O’zbeknavo was to be exempted from paying taxes on its revenues for the first three years of its existence. The money saved was to be invested in “the further development

Administering estrada  35 of the music-dance art, the strengthening of its ­material-technical basis”. Judging from this short foundational document, O’zbeknavo was intended as a hybrid institution, founded and ­directed by the government but, at the same time, acting as “an independent ­creative-productive complex” [samo­ stoyatel’nym tvorchesko-­proizvodstvennym kompleksom]. The structure and function of O’zbeknavo were further elaborated three weeks later, when the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the resolution “On the organisation of the activity of the tour-concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’” (PKM-163 1996). In line with its name, it was now entrusted with developing and organising various kinds of live music events, such as “show-­ programs, recreational evenings, festivals, review concerts, competitions, holiday celebrations, etc.” including “new concert programmes” by government order. This invigoration of musical life was driven by more than a desire to provide the public with more entertainment or artists with more work. Its main aim was “an enhancement of the cultural level [povysheniya kul’turnogo urovnya] of the population of the republic” based on the aforementioned “perfection of cultural services” and the “continual renewal and perfection of the repertoire [postoyannogo obnovleniya i sovershenstvovaniya repertuara]” on the part of performers. More generally, O’zbeknavo was assigned to create “an effective system of administration and management [upravleniya i rukovodstva]” for musicians and dancers. Two provisions left no room for doubt about the new institution’s status: First, it would be headquartered in the Turkiston Palace, one of the city centre’s most impressive buildings. It became obvious during my research that this choice of location was indeed charged with great symbolic power. Both supporters and opponents of estrada’s high status in music politics referred to the prominence of O’zbeknavo’s premises when commenting on the Uzbek government’s extraordinary attention to the genre. In general, the spread of cultural institutions across the city and the condition of their respective buildings and offices were often interpreted as a direct spatial translation of current priorities in cultural policies and sometimes even read as clues to the fate of certain genres (see Tochka 2016: 53). The second provision that immediately underlined the importance of O’zbeknavo was that its general director was simultaneously named as deputy minister of culture. The resolution also detailed the internal structure of O’zbeknavo and set the number of staff in Tashkent at 20. The general director and his/ her two deputies were to oversee various departments, among them, the repertoire department, the cadre department and the department for tour-­ concert ­activity and international relations. Apart from 23 ensembles directly named, membership in the association was to be voluntary for other ensembles and for soloists.4 The organisation’s advisory board, the socalled Council, comprised the heads of the participating groups, the general

36  Administering estrada director and deputies, plus the heads of O’zbeknavo’s regional branches. Part of O’zbeknavo’s budget was provided by the government and part was to be self-generated. In addition, the association was to set up a Development Fund to aid of artists, especially with respect to “the training and encouragement of young talent”, and, more vaguely, in aid of the “development of music and dance art”. This broad phrase reflects the extensive range of artistic practices and genres which O’zbeknavo was initially meant to oversee. The list of ensembles directly assigned to O’zbeknavo almost reads like an inventory of music and dance life in 1990s Uzbekistan, albeit mostly in its state-­engineered form. It included, among others, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Korean Ensemble of Classical Music and Dance, the Botyr Zakirov ­Estrada-Symphony Orchestra, the Distinguished State Ensemble of Folk Dance Bahor, the To’xtasin Jalilov State Orchestra of Folk Instruments, the Concert-Lecture Office, the State Chamber-Instrumental Ensemble (KIA) Yalla, the Ensemble of Classical Dance and Song, the Uyghur Ensemble and the Theatre Abid-A. Estrada is represented by five ensembles on that list, which is quite a substantial number, but certainly cannot be interpreted as an early indication of the genre’s complete takeover of O’zbeknavo just five years later. One provision in the resolution, however, accorded estrada special attention from the start. It ordered O’zbeknavo, together with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education, to submit a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding “the creation of a college on the basis of the Republican Studio of Estrada-Circus Art, and also of a faculty for estrada art at the Tashkent Mukhtar Ashrafi State Conservatory”. A second provision, although not specifically tailored to estrada, can also be seen to have been instrumental in determining O’zbeknavo’s direction from 2001 onwards. It required the association to submit yet another proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers, this time in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, with suggestions on how to include “forms of activity in the sphere of culture and art in the list of forms of activity, in which enterprises (organisations) have the right to engage only on the basis of a special permit (licence)”. The original list of activities allowed only with special government permission dated to January 1992 and had been regularly amended since then (PVS-516-XII 1992). When O’zbeknavo was founded in April 1996, this list already featured an erratic conglomerate of ventures ranging from film production and medical services via “organising gambling houses, conducting lotteries, etc.” and “activity of non-­governmental educational institutions and religious educational institutions” to “the development, production, repair and sale of rocket-­space systems” and “the development, production and sale of devices and weapons using radioactive material and isotopes”. In late 1996, several activities

Administering estrada  37 related to music were added after “the fabrication of perfume and cosmetic products, household chemicals” and “activity in the sphere of tourism”. These were: • • • • • •

carrying out tour-concert activity in the Republic of Uzbekistan and beyond its borders; artistic (concert) services to weddings, anniversaries and other festivities; planning, production, recording, copying and sale of vinyl records, audio tapes and laser discs (ZRU-281-I 1996); production of artistic and musical audio recordings; audio tape rental; provision of services, also indirectly, for the organisation of audio ­recordings and other forms of audio activity (ZRU-357-I 1996).

It took another four and a half years before a licensing system for these kinds of activities was fully worked out, but its implementation would then be directly linked to the realignment of O’zbeknavo in 2001. In the intervening time, the association saw a budget increase, the ­t ransfer of its dance ensembles to O’zbekraqs, the newly formed National Dance Association, and several internal restructuring measures. These ­i ncluded tightening the head office’s relationships to O’zbeknavo’s regional branches and the country’s creative unions, emphasising work with  young performers and strengthening the role of Uzbek classical ­music in the departmental setup (UP-1695 1997; PKM-102 1997; PKM216 1999).

O’zbeknavo as estrada association O’zbeknavo was more fundamentally affected in structure and in its responsibilities by the resolution “On the further development of estrada-song art” (PKM-272 2001). Adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 26 June 2001, it constituted the legislative basis for the association’s activities, albeit with various amendments, for more than 15 years. Compared to other legal acts, it is highly remarkable for the unusual length and content of its preamble – an extensive and explicitly critical comment on the condition of estrada at the beginning of the new millennium, ten years after Uzbekistan’s independence, and worth quoting at length: Over the past years distinct work has been carried out in our country towards the development of modern estrada-song art [sovremennogo estradno-pesennogo iskusstva]. The government pays great attention to this sphere, among the broad[er] public, especially among young people, interest in estrada art is growing, [and] increasing numbers of creative groups and performers are appearing.

38  Administering estrada At the same time, mistakes and errors [oshibki i proschety] are made in the creation of conditions for the advancement [povysheniya] of the culture of estrada art, for estrada performers’ professional proficiency and for the comprehensive identification [vsestoronnogo vyyavleniya] of talent among young singers. As a result of the irresponsible attitude [bezotvetstvennogo otnosheniya] of relevant organisations and also of some estrada groups and soloists, there can be heard, in addition to highly artistic musical creations [naryadu s vysokokhudozhestvennymi muzykal’nymi proizvedeniyami] that serve to nurture a feeling of love towards the Homeland [sluzhashchimi vospitaniyu chuvstva lyubvi k Rodine] [and] devotion to the ideas of independence [predannosti ideyam nezavisimosti], meaningless and artistically weak songs [bessoderzha­ tel’nyye i khudozhestvenno slabyye pesni] in concert, television and radio programmes, which are then further distributed through audio-video tapes, thereby exerting a negative influence on spiritual education [otri­ tsatel’noye vliyaniye na dukhovnoye vospitaniye]. The work of the Ministry of culture, the Teleradio company [and] the Tour-concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’ in regard to the coordination of the activity and the repertoires of creative collectives and soloists cannot be considered satisfactory [(n)el’zya priznat’ udovletvoritel’noy]. In the interests of the further development of Uzbek national music art, the identification of young talents, the provision [to them] of support as well as spiritual and material motivation [dukhovnogo i material’nogo stimulirovaniya] and also the evaluation of the experience and accomplishments [opyta i dostizheniy] of the estrada-song art, the creation of conditions for the development of this sphere, the propaganda of highly artistic creations, the Cabinet of Ministers decides [the following]. (capitalisation and emphasis original) The first of the total of 14 clauses that follow this preamble decreed the establishment of a Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art (hereafter the Council). Compared to O’zbeknavo’s original Council, a gathering of the heads of the association’s regional branches and affiliated or participating ensembles, its successor was intended to be considerably broader and more illustrious in composition, an assembly of “famous luminaries of estrada art” as well as representatives from the “broad musical public”, various institutions in the sphere of culture and “other interested organisations”. An appended exhibit directly appointed the 60 members of the Council, a long list of high-ranking politicians, heads of cultural and educational institutions, senior scholars, eminent artists and media figures. Among them were three presidential counsellors, the culture minister and his deputy as well as the culture minister of Karakalpakstan, the deputy interior minister, the heads of the Academy of Arts, the State Conservatory and the State Institute for Arts, the chairmen of the Union of Composers and the Union of Writers, the chief secretary of the Council for Spirituality

Administering estrada  39 and Enlightenment, the chairman of the Kamolot Youth Movement and his deputy, the general director of Yoshlar [Youth] TV channel, the head of National TV and Radio, as well as the director of the recording company Tarona Rekords. The promised “famous luminaries of estrada art” were 11 in number and predominantly stars from the 1980s and the 1990s. Had I seen this list at the beginning of fieldwork without knowing the context (and had the estrada faction been slightly less sizeable), I would have assumed it to be a government advisory board for a radical realignment of the general politics of culture rather than one concerned with the future of a genre of popular music. And my assumption would have been wrong – not only in mistaking the purpose of this assembly, but also in imagining the two projects were separate. This group’s determining the future of estrada was precisely nothing less than a radical realignment of the general politics of culture (see Chapter 7). The 2001 resolution also delineated a number of organisational, conceptual and ideological tasks for the Council, broadly framed as “the coordination of the activity of estrada collectives, soloists and other representatives of estrada art”. One line of action aimed to support artists by defending their “creative, material and legal interests”, motivating them “spiritually and materially” and helping “young performers of national estrada find professional and spiritual perfection [(m)illiy estrada sohasidagi iste’dodli yosh ijodkorlarining kasbiy va ma’naviy kamol topishga]”. Furthermore, the Council was tasked with nominating for state awards those artists “that make a worthy contribution [vnosyashchikh dostoyniyy vklad]” to the development of estrada and, additionally, with establishing its “own prestigious awards”. A second set of responsibilities were more consultative in nature. The Council was expected to provide suggestions on how to organise “holiday extravaganzas, festivals, review concerts and contests, show-presentations, folk fairs and other cultural-enlightening events on a national scale”. Beyond its advisory capacity, it was also allowed to organise festivals, review concerts and competitions itself. A third set of activities required conceptual and analytical deliberations in conjunction with supervisory responsibilities. On the one hand, this encompassed [the] determination of the place of modern estrada art in the context of Uzbek musical culture [and] of the principles of the development of ­ideological-artistic styles in relation to national and pan-human spiritual values [ideyno-khudozhestvennykh napravleniy v sochetanii s natsional’nymi i obshchechelovecheskimi dukhovnymi tsennostyami]. On the other hand, it requested that the Council engage in “monitoring of the condition of national estrada art” and organise conferences and “academic-­ creative symposiums” on the genre’s development. More concretely, the Council was entrusted with “analysing and judging [tahlil etish va baholash]

40  Administering estrada the repertoires, concert programmes and scenarios” of estrada soloists and groups. While the resolution was not very explicit with regard to evaluation criteria, it contained at least some tasks that could also be read as guidelines for analysis and judgement, reinforcing the thrust of the preamble. The Council was to encourage the creation of songs that “teach young people love for the Homeland, [educate them] in a loyal spirit to the ideas of national independence [yoshlarni Vatanga muhabbat, milliy istiqlol g’oyalariga sadoqat ruhida tarbiyalashga]”. Moreover, it was supposed to devise and implement programmes that “propagated national estrada art [targ’ib qilishga]” and “responded to the era’s problems [davr talablarga javob beradigan]”. And to help save estrada’s “national identity [milliy, o’ziga xoslikni saqlashga]”, it should combat “imitation, artistic shallowness [taqlidchilik, badiiy sayozlik]”. The resolution expected the Council to meet at least once every three months; only its chief secretary would receive a salary. The Council was, however, not without assistance in fulfilling its work. Three subordinate institutions were designated to support it: (1) O’zbeknavo; (2) the Group of Representatives of Creative Support [Gruppa predstaviteley tvorcheskogo sodeystviya]; and (3) the Fund for the Development of Estrada Art [Fond po razvitiyu estradnogo iskusstva]. O’zbeknavo became the main executive organ of the Council and was rebranded from “tour-concert association” to “estrada association” [estradnoye ob’’yedineniye].5 It was from this point on accountable to the Council and charged with implementing the Council’s recommendations and decisions. Its general director was appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers, but his/her position changed – from deputy culture minister to just being equal in rank to a deputy culture minister. O’zbeknavo’s overall structure – a head office in Tashkent supported by regional branches – was preserved, as were several of its original responsibilities such as the “perfection of cultural services”, the organisation of various kinds of concerts on its own initiative and “by government order” and the “continual renewal and perfection of the repertoire” of artists. Its new overarching goals – “the development of estrada” and “elevating [yuksaltirish] the estrada culture in the republic” – highlighted its musically more focused responsibilities. In line with this, the “academic and folk artistic collectives” that had been affiliated with O’zbeknavo were transferred to the Ministry of Culture or, in the case of its branches, to the respective regional bodies for culture administration. An organisational chart (Figure 1.3) illustrated how O’zbeknavo’s structure was adapted to the new situation. With hindsight, the most significant new regulation for O’zbeknavo, and even more so for the future of estrada in Uzbekistan, was most likely that to do with the issue of licences, a topic that had been aired in 1996 when the association was founded. Now, O’zbeknavo was made the licensing organ for “tour-concert activity in Uzbekistan and beyond its borders” as well as “for artistic services … at weddings, anniversaries and other festivities”.6 One of its first tasks was “to register within two months all legal and natural persons that engage in the given forms of activity and provide them with special

Administering estrada  41 Structural System of the Estrada Association, O’zbeknavo Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art

Fund for the Development of Estrada Art

General Director of the Estrada Association, O’zbeknavo – 1

Deputy General Director – Chief Secretary of the Council – 1

Group of Representatives of Creative Support: Writers, composers, music critics, journalists, representatives of the general public

Human Resources –1

Organisational office for the granting of a special permission (licence) – 5

Deputy General Director –1

Accounting, finance office – 3

Office of assistant lawyer and managers for drawing up agreements, contracts –5

Office for repertoire and control – 3 In total: 20 people

Turkiston Concert Palace

Provincial branches

Figure 1.3  The structure of O’zbeknavo and the organs linked to or embedded in it according to PKM-272 2001

permits (licences) according to the established procedure”. O’zbeknavo was to be the sole provider of these sorts of licences, which were now required for any performance in public and at private festivities alike. O’zbeknavo was assisted in issuing licences by the second of the subordinate institutions to the Council, the Group of Representatives of Creative Support (hereafter the Group). Composed of “writers, composers, music critics, journalists and representatives of the general public”, the Group functioned as an advisory organ to the Council, which appointed its members and guaranteed a yearly turnover in personnel of 30 per cent. In an appended exhibit, the resolution named 19 people to the Group, 5 of whom were poets, 2 were also members of the Council. They were to act as O’zbeknavo’s decision-making body, and assigned the more practical tasks in the licensing process. As stated in the resolution, the Group “examines and discusses the applications submitted by legal and natural persons, creative collectives, groups and soloists [and] presents conclusions on the creative status, mastery, professional qualification and level of the repertoire [urovne repertuara]”. O’zbeknavo would grant or refuse artists a licence on the basis of this assessment. As will be discussed in more detail later, fees were charged for licences, and the generated income would feed into the third subordinate institution subordinate to the Council, the Fund for the Development of Estrada Art (hereafter the Fund). The Fund would receive additional funding from sponsors and government sources and was granted seed capital of 50 million Uzbek so’m, roughly equivalent to $130,000 in 2001 from the Cabinet

42  Administering estrada of Ministers’ own reserve. The resolution vaguely stipulated that the Fund’s financial holdings were to be used for “material and spiritual support” as well as for the “motivation” of performers. It was also meant to finance O’zbeknavo, at least in part. The other share of O’zbeknavo’s budget would be provided by the government. Like its predecessor, the redesigned version of the association was exempted from paying tax, now until the end of 2004.

Alterations As mentioned above, the resolution “On the further development of estrada-­ song art” remained in force from 2001 until 2017. Some minor amendments in 2003 and 2014 improved the phrasing of the text, but left its meaning unaltered (PKM-498 2003; PKM-196 2014). There were, however, also some more substantial changes. In 2007, for example, the addition of several clauses expanded O’zbeknavo’s authority and duties with regard to violations against licensing directives. From that point it would monitor and ensure that only artists with a valid licence were recorded and prevent radio and TV stations from broadcasting songs and video clips by unlicensed artists. In addition, O’zbeknavo was entrusted with issuing another form of licence, a so-called one-off tour-concert certificate [razovoye gastrol’no-kontsertnoye svidetel’stvo] on the basis of its own “artistic expertise” (PP-653 2007). As this reflected existing practice or was at least the subject of discussion and dispute by 2005, when I started to do research at O’zbeknavo, it is likely that the 2007 additions were meant to provide the legal basis for an already established administrative reality rather than introducing radically new reforms. By this resolution, the president also appointed a new Council. A quarter of its foundational members continued their participation, but their overall number was reduced from 60 to 40. Several amendments in 2014 entailed fundamental changes for O’zbeknavo in spite of their brevity (PKM-116 2014). It became part of the Ministry of Culture and Sport [Madaniyat va sport ishlari vazirligi tizimidagi tashkilot hisoblanadi], and accordingly became accountable to the Ministry instead of the Council. The right to appoint and dismiss its general director was transferred from the Cabinet of Ministers to the president, while the general director was reinstated as deputy culture minister proper and granted an even wider range of responsibilities than had been enumerated in the 1996 resolution. As head of the Ministry’s newly established Administration for the Development of Creative Associations and Folk Creativity, he assumed the responsibility for O’zbeknavo, the National Dance Association O’zbekraqs, various orchestras (Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of Folk Instruments), the Republican Academic-Methodical Centre of Folk Creativity and Cultural-Enlightenment Work, and the Creative Association of Artistic Collectives of Uzbekistan. While the Academic-­ Methodical Centre was mainly concerned with ideological questions in the sphere of culture, the Creative Association represented a wide variety

Administering estrada  43 of government-financed ensembles from the four major spheres of Uzbek music: folk, academic, classical and estrada. The amendments therefore granted O’zbeknavo’s general director a considerably extended scope of action and influence, which reached well beyond estrada. He was second only to the minister himself with respect to all decisions at the Ministry of Culture and Sport related to music. It is therefore not entirely surprising that the director of the association became minister of culture in late 2014. These amendments furnished O’zbeknavo with more power and were intended to take estrada’s “development and coordination” to another level. None of this should give the impression that the government considered the state of estrada in Uzbekistan to be satisfactory by 2014. We will see below that the alleged problems referred to in the preamble to the 2001 resolution were – and are – real. The death of president Islom Karimov in September 2016, however, heralded the end for O’zbeknavo. In February 2017, his successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, decreed that the institution would be closed (UP-4956 2017) but that the primary tool which Uzbek authorities, formerly in the form of O’zbeknavo, used to influence and shape estrada would be maintained: the issuance, suspension and withdrawal of licences. In the next section I will discuss the intricacies of the licensing system, as it existed from 2001 at least until early 2017.

Licences and certificates Licences On 29 June 2001, just three days after it had consigned estrada to the tight administrative structure detailed above, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted another resolution specifying the regulations that O’zbeknavo and the Group were to follow in the licensing process. Save for some amendments, which will be detailed below, this resolution retained its validity throughout the Karimov era (PKM-285 2001). Licences, whether for private performances (“cultural services”) or public concerts in Uzbekistan or abroad (“tour-concert activity”), were issued for a year and could be extended on a yearly basis. A licence not only granted the right to engage in the designated activities. It also exempted artists from paying tax on any income generated from their performances. A fee was charged for licences, payable in advance either all at once or in quarterly instalments. To obtain a licence, artists had to submit an application and supporting documentation to O’zbeknavo, including information on their musical education, their repertoire and any awards or prizes they had received. Only in case of an “obvious existence of special giftedness, talent” would the Group overlook the absence of proof of musical education. The Group’s decision, which had to be made within 15 days, was not limited to just rejection or approval. The resolution stipulated 12 types of licences altogether, organised according to a complex rating system that

44  Administering estrada differentiated three categories of activity and, within each of these, four levels of professional qualification, the so-called rating groups. No concrete evaluation criteria were provided for assigning artists to rating groups, but would, according to the resolution’s text, be set by O’zbeknavo within a period of 10 days. Fees for licences varied depending on the rating group and, as they were calculated as multiples of the official minimum wage, their actual amount would rise and fall with the general economic development of the country. For clarification, the resolution provided a table (Table 1.1). Several clauses further elucidated how the rating system would function. A licence for a higher category automatically afforded the right to engage in activities of a lower category, e.g. a licence for public concerts (category 1) Table 1.1  L  icence categories and fees, 2001–2003 (PKM-285 2001) No. Form of activity

Fees in multiples of minimum wage for natural and legal persons (calculated for one natural person) per year According to rating groups 1





Tour-concert activity in the Republic Uzbekistan and beyond its borders: solo concert (solo concert programme of one performer) concert programme with participation of two or more performers of one genre concert programme with participation of a number of performers of various genres






Artistic (concert) services to weddings, anniversaries and other festivities: services to anniversary festivities in restaurants, cafés, bars, private homes; services to weddings (civil wedding ceremony, plov [sic] ritual, evening marriage ceremony (nikokh), ‘kelin salom’ ceremony, ‘chorlar’ [sic] ceremony), ceremony ‘sunnat-toy’ and others in restaurants, private homes, cafés and barsa






Artistic (concert-show) services in entertainment establishments: in clubs and discotheques, restaurants, bars and cafés





Note: a The civil wedding ceremony is often merged with the nikoh, the evening part of the wedding, which is, as mentioned above, also the main event for estrada performances. The palov ritual, more commonly called osh, takes place in the early morning hours and is usually a rather solemn, male-only affair, accompanied by classical music. It derives its name from the Uzbek dish osh/palov, which is served on these occasions. Kelin salom is a ceremony for welcoming the bride into her new family, whereas charlar is an umbrella term for various forms of ritualised visits shortly after a wedding between the two families which have been linked through the marriage. A sunnat to’yi is a festivity on the occasion of a boy’s circumcision. Deviations from standard Uzbek orthography of these terms in the table result from the fact that they are transliterated from Russian.

Administering estrada  45 allowed artists to additionally perform at festivities (category 2) and in entertainment establishments (category 3), while a licence for festivities ­(category 2) allowed artists to also perform in entertainment establishments (category 3). One regulation was particularly tailored to help meet the aim related to the “encouragement of young talents”: Newcomers who were assigned to rating group IV of category 1 would have their licence fees waived for the first year. Although not explicitly mentioned in the resolution, the broadcast of songs or video clips was considered a “tour-concert activity” and thus required a licence of category 1. By 2017, the rating system had been altered twice since its creation in 2001. First, it was simplified in November 2003 by an amendment that collapsed categories 2 and 3, while preserving the fees for category 2. This change occurred during the first months of my fieldwork in Tashkent and considerably confounded my initial attempts to understand the concept and rationale of licensing. The second modification was adopted in July 2014 and, again, resulted in reducing the number of available kinds of licences, this time from eight to six (Table 1.2). This second amendment not only reduced the number of licences in category 2. Compared to the original fees, it also introduced a significant cut Table 1.2  L  icence categories and fees from 2014 onwards (PKM-196 2014) No. Concert-show activity, such as:

Fees in multiples of minimum wage for natural and legal persons (calculated for one natural person) per year According to rating groups 1





solo concert (solo concert programme of one 150 75 performer) concert programme with participation of two or more performers of one genre concert programme with participation of a number of performers of various genres (soloist, musician, dancer, compère, comedian and others)




services to anniversary festivities in restaurants, cafés, bars, private homes; services to weddings (civil wedding ceremony, plov [sic] ritual – ‘osh’, evening marriage ceremony – ‘nikokh’), ‘kelin salom’ ceremony, ‘charlar’ ceremony), ceremony ‘sunnat-toy’ and others in restaurants, private homes, cafés and bars services in entertainment establishments, clubs and discotheques, restaurants, bars and cafés (soloist, musician, dancer, compère, comedian, DJ-sound engineer, administrator and others)





46  Administering estrada in prices. Before this, the highest fee for a licence in category 2 had been 100 times the minimum wage, but now it cost only a fifth of that. As revolutionary as this discount might seem, it is more likely to have been an adaptation to existing circumstances. Already before 2014 the higher rating groups within category 2 were rarely assigned. Most artists I knew preferred applying for a lower rating in category 1 than a higher rating in category 2 since a licence in category 1 provided a greater range of rights. Permission to broadcast one’s songs and video clips was especially attractive, as it improved the prospects for lucrative invitations to perform at festivities. While the rating groups and respective fees for category 1 remained the same in the 2014 amendment, the fluctuation in the official minimum wage actually resulted in an enormous rise in prices in absolute terms. When the rating system was first established in June 2001, the most expensive licence (category 1, rating group I) cost about 367,500 Uzbek so’m. An artist in November 2014 had to pay 16,145,250 Uzbek so’m for the same licence. While a pronounced rise, it is not as precipitous as one might think, with inflation playing a significant role. In dollar terms, the most expensive licence cost $975 in 2001 and $7,320 in 2014. Because average wages in Uzbekistan also rose impressively during the same period, the numbers are not quite as stark as at first glance. Though there is no reliable information on the Uzbek labour market and available figures are only approximate values, it appears that the rise in licence fees was more or less in parallel with a rise in salaries. In sum, this means that the annual costs for the most expensive type of licence have always exceeded the average yearly income in Uzbekistan by about 50 per cent. The 2001 resolution that first established the rating system may have been quite explicit in determining fees and classifying musical activities. It was less explicit, however, about the rights and duties attached to licences. The ­follow-­up resolution in November 2003 further elaborated the licensing procedure and even provided an intricately detailed diagram for illustration. Apart from reducing the number of licence categories from three to two, it also extended their validity from one to five years. It did not, however, provide much new information on the terms of licensing contracts, mainly repeating the provisions already adopted in 2001. These granted, above all, various rights – or duties, depending on one’s perspective – of control to O’zbeknavo. Rights and duties In addition to the very general permission to “execute strict control everywhere [obespechit’ strogiy i povsemestnyy kontrol’]” over artists’ adherence to the licensing regulations, which it shared with various other state organs, O’zbeknavo was assigned a number of more specific supervisory functions. In addition to scheduled inspections of artists’ activities, it was to conduct unscheduled inspections, if there were indications that artists were in violation [narusheniye] of licensing regulations. In response to violations,

Administering estrada  47 O’zbeknavo could either oblige the artist “to correct the detected violations [ustranit’ vyyavlennyye narusheniya]” within a certain period of time or it could “suspend, shorten or annul [priostanavlivat’, prekrashchat’ libo annulirovat’]” the validity of her or his licence. It is difficult to discern from the Cabinet of Ministers’ resolutions alone what exactly constituted a violation meriting punishment with these disciplinary measures. Engaging in performance activities assigned to a higher category than the licence one possessed certainly counted as such a violation; and it is likely that failure on the part of an artist to submit the required quarterly reports on her or his “concert-show events” was one too. The resolutions did not specify any duties beyond these two for which artists were responsible. A separate document is much more revealing in this case: the standardised template for licence contracts themselves.7 The 2005 version of this template furnished O’zbeknavo with six rights and four duties. Three rights had already been included in the resolutions: to undertake scheduled as well as unscheduled inspections and to suspend, shorten or annul a licence’s validity. They were supplemented by three more measures of control: • • •

to monitor whether the contractual requirements are carried out successfully by the artist [litsenziya bitimi shartlari bajarilishini nazorat qilish]; to ask for and receive information from artists in case[s] of violations [zarur axborotni so’rash va olish]; to give directions for correcting faults within a certain period of time [kamchiliklarni bartaraf etishda ko’rsatmalar berish].

O’zbeknavo’s duties were predominantly administrative in nature: to explain to artists the legal framework of the licensed activity, to inform them about relevant changes, to ensure confidentiality and to review documents in a timely manner. Artists, on the other hand, were endowed with just two rights – but ten duties. They had the right to engage in the licensed activity [(b)itimda belgilangan faoliyat turi … faoliyat ko’rsatish] and to be informed by O’zbeknavo regarding all relevant documents – legal and otherwise [barcha meyyoriy [sic] hujjatlar va normativ aktlar to’g’risida ma’lumotlar olish]. Several of their duties were as administrative in nature as those assigned to O’zbeknavo, such as submitting documents in time and paying fees due. Some, however, proved considerably more substantial than the requirement to submit quarterly reports: • •

to take an active part in drawing up plans for future concert-tours [(k)elgusidagi gastrol-kontsert rejalarini tuzishda faol ishtirok etish]; to conduct concert tours as determined in the plan [(r)ejada belgilangan gastrol safarlarini amalga oshirish];

48  Administering estrada • •

to participate in events determined by the state and government8 [(d)avlat va hukumat tomonidan belgilangan tadbirlarda ishtirok etish]; to conduct anniversaries, festivities at a high musical and artistic level [(yu)biley, tantanalarni yuqori musiqiy, badiiy saviyada o’tkazish].

There was in addition one clause hidden among the list of duties that, in its syntax and style, differed from the rest. More significantly, it referred to a prohibition instead of a duty: •

The performance of works that are opposed to our national and pan-­human spiritual values is forbidden [Milliy va umuminsoniy ­qadriyatlarimizga zid bo’lgan asalarni ijro etish taqiqlanadi].

This choice of formulation is all the more remarkable because it could have been phrased as a duty in an identical syntax: “to perform works that ­conform to our national and pan-human spiritual values [milliy va umum­ insoniy qadriyatlarimizga mos kelgan asalarni ijro etish]”. The use of the possessive pronoun “our” in this context is also noteworthy. This pronoun does not occur anywhere else in the document, but its use in conjunction with values has become quite fixed more generally in official documents; spiritual values are often preceded by the modifier “our” in written sources, for example. Interestingly, however, due to the morphology of the Uzbek language not only the national values are “our”, but the pan-human ones, too (see Chapter 7). These five passages – four duties and one prohibition – give a somehow clearer idea of what the regulations on violations and their sanctions in the Cabinet of Ministers’ resolutions might have been about. Obviously, a licence required not just payment of a fee, but various commitments – in time, in repertoire and in professionalism. The vague phrasing, however, meant that there was a lot of ambiguity with respect to these obligations: Which extra quality would qualify participation as being “active” – a coupling of words already common in the late Soviet era (see Humphrey 1989)? Who was to draw up the plan for concert tours? What were “our national and pan-human spiritual values” – and who was the “we” being referred to? What was a “high musical and artistic level”? And who would provide all of these definitions? The lack of clarity left ample room for interpretation, and, consequently, potential neglect and infringement on the part of artists. In fact, as will be explored below, the key issues of negotiation and points of contention in estrada practice in the Karimov era were precisely these: time, repertoire and professionalism. As soon as they had signed their contract and received a licence, artists belonging to category 2 and, until 2003, category 3, could engage in the permitted performance activities without any further administrative requirements. Artists belonging to category 1, their management or external

Administering estrada  49 promoters, however, needed a one-off tour-concert certificate for every single concert they intended to give or organise. It was also needed by foreign artists who wanted to give concerts in Uzbekistan. One-off tour-concert certificates As mentioned above, these certificates were already in use at the time I conducted fieldwork at O’zbeknavo in 2005, while the respective regulations approved by the legislature only appeared in 2007. Two official documents, dating from 2010, specify the certification procedures and gradation of fees according to the planned concert location (NN-I 2010, NN-II 2010). Apart from factual details, applications had to include the concert scenario and a list of participants. If requested by an Expert Commission, which was made up of O’zbeknavo staff and entrusted with reviewing the submitted documents, applicants would have to produce additional information such as song lyrics, the compère’s text and copies of the participants’ licences, posters, booklets, tickets and information on decorations. The details of the review process are of interest here only insofar, as they include references to the Expert Commission’s evaluative criteria. These replicate the requirements of the licence contract to a certain extent – such as the prohibition against contradicting “national and pan-human spiritual v­ alues” – but also contain some new items. The Expert Commission would, for example, pay attention to “the ideological-artistic level [g’oyaviy-badiiy saviyasiga]” of the proposed concert programme and examine the scenario in terms of its “reflection of feelings of devotion to the Homeland, such as love of the motherland [Vatanga sadoqat, ona yurtga muhabbat kabi tuyg’u­ larning aks ettirilishiga]” (capitalisation original). Interestingly, members of the Expert Commission had used almost the exact same phrasing in 2005 when talking to me about requirements for issuing one-off tour-­ concert certificates. While these criteria serve a specific purpose in concretising the demands made on artists in the licence contract, they are not entirely unprecedented. We would do well to recall that the 2001 resolution that remodelled and rebranded O’zbeknavo as the “estrada association”, and which inaugurated Uzbekistan’s estrada politics in general, listed a series of explicit critiques of contemporary estrada in its preamble. These new, concrete expectations of artists directly address that criticism issued nine years earlier. O’zbeknavo and the official organs linked to or embedded in it – the Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art, the Group of Representatives of Creative Support, the Fund for the Development of Estrada Art and the Expert Commission – may have been the main conduits for the Uzbek government’s involvement with estrada between 2001 and 2016. As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, however, they are not the only ones. I will therefore conclude my review of

50  Administering estrada the legal basis and operational regulations in Uzbek estrada with a brief examination of the other government institutions that are engaged in the administration of estrada and take a closer look at the system of state awards, which constitutes yet another important measure for forging links between the government and the sphere of estrada in Uzbekistan.

Beyond O’zbeknavo A number of other institutions besides O’zbeknavo have contributed to the state-led estradisation process in Uzbekistan in various forms and to varying degrees. Some of these I passed – or remembered – on my way to O’zbeknavo in this chapter’s introduction. Several will re-appear in later chapters of this book. Among these are the Ministry of Culture, the ­Union of Writers and the Union of Composers, National TV and Radio, the ­Kamolot Youth Movement, the Council for Spirituality and Enlightenment and the educational sector, which includes specialised music schools, lyceums and colleges, in addition to the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan with its estrada faculty. They are distinguished from O’zbeknavo and the administrative structure surrounding it by the much broader scope of their work. While they may be engaged with estrada, and this engagement may have gained importance since 2001, none of these institutions was originally established or later tailored specifically to deal with this genre. Apart from sending representatives to the Council, their engagement with estrada revolves primarily around various music contests, which, as I will discuss later, play an important role in structuring and engaging the estrada scene and the general public. In these events, the Ministry of Culture as well as educational institutions such as the Conservatory have their share of or even take on lead positions, but their responsibilities for estrada are wider. While the educational sector’s main task with respect to estrada is ­professionalisation – in various forms of cooperation with the Ministry – the latter is also the administrative pivot for granting state awards in the sphere of culture and sport. Every year in late August, on the occasion of Independence Day and by presidential decree, hundreds of representatives from a wide variety of professions are celebrated with these awards, which, taken together, make up a complex and graded system of honorary titles, orders, medals and other decorations. During my first few weeks of fieldwork in Tashkent in 2003, I came across a book that was exclusively devoted to these state awards (Ro’zinazarov 2001). I have to admit that I bought it only because I considered it a bizarre niche publication, not believing it to be at all relevant to my research. As the months went by, however, I gradually came to discover the importance of this kind of official recognition for the estrada scene. And about a year later, when Independence Day was approaching again and state awards were a frequent topic of conversation, the book became

Administering estrada  51 a vital companion for finding my way through a truly astounding number of different decorations. Some of these decorations are specific to certain professions, such as Distinguished Irrigator, while others, especially higher-ranking ones, are broader in scope. In the field of estrada, the most common award is Distinguished Artist, which literally translates from Russian as “merited artist” [zasluzhennyy artist], and from Uzbek as “an artist who has shown service/ who has served” [xizmat ko’rsatgan artist]. This is an honorary title for singers and musicians, who can also with luck later secure the higher-graded title of People’s Artist [narodnyy artist / xalq artisti].9 Composers and conductors may become a Luminary in the Arts [zasluzhennyy deyatel’ iskusstv / san’at arbobi], and concert directors can be honoured as a Distinguished Cultural Worker [zasluzhennyy rabotnik kul’tury / xizmat ko’rsatgan madaniyat xodimi]. The following higher-ranking decorations have been granted to individuals in the estrada sphere so far: Glory [shuhrat], Glory of Labour [mehnat shuhrati], Friendship [do’stlik], Respect of Homeland-Nation [el-yurt hurmati] and For Great Services [buyuk xizmatlari uchun]. They do not have an official Russian translation. Girls and young women can also be awarded the Zulfiya Prize [Premiya imeni Zul’fii] for their achievements in a number of fields, including estrada. According to the relevant legal texts, all these awards recognise the rendition of extraordinary services – or the existence of extraordinary talent. Most acknowledge contributions to the development of culture or art in Uzbekistan, while some honour a dedication to peace and friendship and others credit commitment to the spread of patriotism and “ideas of national independence and social progress”.10 Direct applications for state awards are not possible. They are granted on recommendation by institutions only and are predominantly awarded to individuals, more rarely to groups of people. In addition to the decoration itself, honorary titles entail financial benefits, in form of a monthly supplement or as a one-off payment, and may be accompanied by various privileges, such as access to preferential medical treatment. In the sphere of estrada, the prestige that state decorations bestow on their bearers is at least as important as the direct material and tangible benefits these awards bring. This prestige, after all, usually translates into additional financial and other advantages. Mechanisms in the economy of prestige, however, move this examination into areas beyond the legal framework on paper – and into the realm of practice, which I will focus on from now. But before I explore estrada politics in action, I will pause to think about how to approach it. The tight legal framework discussed above may suggest concepts like control and freedom or repression and resistance as appropriate and convenient terms to think with. My aim, however, is to come to an understanding of the relations between authoritarian policies and popular music that transcends exactly these common binary tropes.

52  Administering estrada

Notes 1 Nola is also a technical term in Uzbek music, denoting a characteristic vocal ornamentation technique, a kind of slow, drawn-out, guttural trill. The Uzbek-­ language Music Dictionary explains it in the following way: “NOLA (crying) – to prolong and vibrate the voice on one syllable of a word when singing” (Akbarov 1987: 231; see Djumaev 2005: 178). 2 Most of the legal documents cited in this and following chapters can be found online on the website in Uzbek and/or Russian. Texts contained in this database, however, usually do not include all the appended exhibits, which are part of the original paper versions. Because I am better versed in Russian, I have referred to the Russian version of legal and other documents whenever available. 3 I consider “creative” to be a rather clumsy translation for the Russian adjective tvorcheskiy and would normally prefer “artistic”. Throughout this text, however, I will use “creative” in order to distinguish tvorcheskiy from khudozhestvennyy, which I will consistently translate as “artistic”. 4 O’zbeknavo was not only given responsibility for these 23 ensembles, but also for the Turkiston Palace, the recording studio Navozonda and its own provincial branches. This kind of affiliation to an institution is usually expressed using the formulation pri [institution X] in Russian or [institution X] huzurida in Uzbek. Being pri was mandatory in the Soviet era. Whether group or soloist, amateur or professional – there had to be an affiliation with an institution ranging from houses of culture or kolkhozes to the Filarmoniya, the Union of Composers or the Ministry of Culture. Professionals would also be paid by the institutions to which they were affiliated. It is no longer obligatory for singers and musicians in Uzbekistan to be affiliated with an institution, but musical independence, not being pri to anything, still makes some officials uneasy (see Chapter 6). 5 Interestingly, O’zbeknavo translated Estrada Association as Variety Arts Association into English despite only dealing with music. With this choice it resorted to the earlier meaning of estrada as performance format resembling music hall and théâtre de variétés. 6 These were only the first two of the six items linked to culture and art, which in 1996 had been added to the list of activities that demanded some kind of licensing procedures, as mentioned above. Licensing of the remaining four items was made the responsibility of the government administration [hokimiyat] in each of the provinces and the city of Tashkent as well as the Council of Ministers in Karakalpakstan. 7 I am grateful to O’zbeknavo for providing me with this and other documents and allowing me to quote from them. 8 It may be difficult to differentiate between “state” and “government” in practice, but the two words are often paired in Uzbek legal texts. 9 These two titles are also awarded to actors and to instrumentalists and singers in other field of music. None of the currently active estrada instrumentalists has, to my knowledge, been honoured with one. This is not surprising, considering how little importance is attached today to estrada instrumentalists and purely instrumental estrada, compared to estrada singers and estrada songs. Recall the title of the resolution that initiated the Uzbek government’s estrada politics in 2001: “On the further development of estrada-song art”. 10 Most of the higher-ranking medals were established in 1994. The lower-ranking titles Distinguished Artist and People’s Artist were approved by Uzbek legislature on 16 April 1996. This was simply the legal ratification of a decades-old practice, as these two honorary titles had been awarded since the early years of the Soviet Union.

2 Approaching estrada Opposition, affirmation and beyond

“Why don’t you research interesting music?” This comment, betraying a blend of disappointment and disbelief, concluded a short conversation I had with a colleague from France in 2003. When we met, I had just arrived in Tashkent for fieldwork. I suspected there was some link between Uzbek government policy and estrada but had no sense of its scope, nor had I found any previous studies on Uzbek estrada. I was excited to explore a blank on the ethnomusicological map of the world and determined to undertake this probably tricky, as senior scholars had warned me, work in authoritarian Uzbekistan. I felt somehow adventurous – and I certainly found estrada interesting. My colleague, however, was of decidedly different opinion. Meeting me in Uzbekistan, he had automatically assumed I would be researching what ethnomusicologists usually call traditional music. This term might seem open and relational, but it is, in fact, highly exclusive. It is implicitly reserved for genres that originated before the twentieth century. With regard to Central Asia specifically, it is used to denote musics that emerged before any Russian influence could make itself felt in the region’s cultural landscape, such as court or folk music (see Klenke 2015a). Learning that I was planning to look at popular music instead, my colleague not only displayed the first signs of disappointment. More importantly, he automatically expected me to research styles he considered oppositional, such as rap or rock – but certainly not estrada. Both of these expectations could be interpreted as mere expressions of personal research preferences. But I have been confronted with them throughout the period of my engagement with Uzbek estrada – at conferences and workshops and in more informal meetings with colleagues from ethnomusicology. There have been scholars who have not immediately assumed they could guess my object of study and who shared my enthusiasm for my research topic, but they have been rare exceptions. So rather than dismissing them as highly individual attitudes, which by chance coincide, I regard these widely shared expectations as quite convincing evidence of an implicit framework of values governing ethnomusicology’s approach to Central Asia and the wider postsocialist world. The first of these expectations – that one will study so-called traditional music – has surely contributed to an obvious lack of balance in the choice

54  Approaching estrada of research topics among ethnomusicologists working on Central Asia. The overwhelming majority do, in actual fact, focus on so-called traditional music and its resilience, revival or reimagination in the postsocialist period. Studies on genres that were introduced in the Soviet era, such as estrada, academic music, arranged folk music, jazz, bard song and rock music, are rare or still non-existent.1 This first expectation is less relevant here and I have examined it elsewhere (ibid.). The second expectation, however, – that one will study musical opposition if one studies popular music at all – is central in determining my approach to thinking through the translation of Uzbek estrada politics from paper into practice.

The expectation of opposition in music studies The scope of legislation that independent Uzbekistan devised for estrada – and only for estrada out of a wide array of musical genres – might seem remarkable. But Uzbekistan is neither the first nor the only country in the world to implement elaborate cultural policies to align music with political ideologies and subject it to a tight regulatory framework. To western scholars, the fate of music and musicians under such conditions has been of limited allure, if any allure at all. Ethnomusicologists have overwhelmingly preferred to pass over the regimentation of music, at least over cases from the twentieth century, in favour of looking for relics and revivals of things musical in their pre-twentieth-century state – or to just erase politics from the analysis altogether: To employ contemporary politics as a framework for ethnomusicology has historically been very unpopular … Political scholarship has also been confused with much that it actually targeted, for example, nationalism … The political scholar, then, is ‘like’ the nationalist composer, committed to a cause that has suspect and dangerous ends. For such reasons, music associated with nationalism and politics has even been ‘read out’ of our own historiography, sometimes unconsciously but sometimes consciously … Because it is political and not musical, nationalism would seem to fail to get the music right. (Bohlman 2008: 98; see Stokes 2002: 146; 2004: 60f.) When, however, scholars have done research on pervasive state music policies, they have tended to focus not on these measures’ desired or successful results and their proponents, but on musical activities and people who resist, oppose or flee them. It appears that ethnomusicologists – with some notable, but still rare exceptions, which I will draw on later – prefer musical resistance over musical affirmation, ultimately reinforcing a sense that studying the former is more normal, more canonical and valuable. This stance, which I would term subversion bias, can be explained by the long history and strong tradition of advocacy in ethnomusicology. Advocacy has been part of its professional ethos for several decades now, a key

Approaching estrada  55 principle for many of its practitioners and often a source of pride. The commitment to extol musics in their own right and to champion old traditions forgotten, suppressed, endangered or defamed has been deeply ingrained in the field’s paradigm (see Bohlman 2008: 107; Hamm 2004: 198; Merriam 1963; Nettl 1983: 10f.). Often scholars study the music they wish to promote. There is nothing inherently problematic in fusing one’s research interest with advocacy as a personal choice but the reverse inference – scholars wish to promote the music they study – is considerably more problematic, particularly if used as an assumption when judging the research foci of colleagues. It is possible to study music without being an ardent advocate of it or, more importantly, of the political setting in which this music is embedded. Unfortunately, the two are often conflated or, as Philip V. Bohlman put it in the quotation above, confused. No one would impute fascist tendencies to historians just because they study Nazi Germany. The sometimes strong reactions of dismay and disapproval from colleagues upon learning of my research topic, however, seemed to implicitly suggest an intuitive assumption that I promoted – or at least trivialised – authoritarianism and censorship because I studied state-organised musical processes and their results as well as engaged with government officials as their proponents. Interestingly, the expectation that one would study musical opposition appears to be reserved for modern nation states. Scholars focusing on court music and praise singing in the service of historical and contemporary kings, emirs or tribal chiefs will rarely be accused of a warped commitment to monarchy, other forms of socio-political inequality or even despotic cruelty. This certainly is true with respect to the emirates and khanates in the region that would become the Uzbek SSR and later the Republic of Uzbekistan. Their ensembles, traditions and music policies are at the centre of contemporary ethnomusicological research – despite their obvious lack of oppositionality and their indisputable relation to feudalism. The expectation that one will study musical opposition is even stronger in popular music studies than in ethnomusicology. A quick survey of publications on popular music in the Soviet Union, socialist eastern Europe and their successor states, for example, reveals the predominance of this interest in titles alone: Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia (Ramet 1994), How Can I Be a Human Being? Culture, Youth, and Musical Opposition in Hungary (Kürti 1994), Notes from Underground: Rock Music Counterculture in Russia (Cushman 1995), Up from the Underground: The Culture of Rock Music in Postsocialist Hungary (Szemere 2001), Throwing Stones at the System: Rock Music in Serbia during the 1990s (Mijatovic 2008), Subversive Sounds: Music and Censorship in Communist Poland (Szurek 2008). Given the little information available on politically affirmative – or politically disinterested – musical life under socialism, one could conclude from the scholarly output in western music studies that popular artistic expression in the socialist world during the Soviet era was predominantly oppositional and, furthermore, consisted almost exclusively of rock music.2 For among the

56  Approaching estrada genres of socialist popular music, it is rock that has received by far the most scholarly attention, and because the majority of publications highlight its role in the demise of the eastern bloc, rock has even somehow acquired the status of the musical incarnation of opposition.3 Several scholars have convincingly interrogated this presumed oppositionality and rock’s allegedly decisive contribution to late twentieth-century political history (Briggs 2014; Pekacz 1994; Steinholt 2001), but the myth of socialist rock’s musical heroism has proven tenacious and attractive – in public as well as in academic ­discourse – and continues to influence perspectives on its postsocialist afterlife. While popular music studies might generally incline towards researching the oppositional, historical musicology certainly does not have similar preferences. Still, as critical studies of the field’s approaches to music in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union have shown, historical musicologists also tend to expect their fellow scholars to study opposition in music, when it comes to totalitarian or authoritarian settings (see, for example, Hakobian 1998; 2012; Potter 1998; 2006). The discipline’s subversion bias and the resulting expectation among its practitioners that one study musical opposition, are already problematic in themselves, but they have an even more problematic side. The expectation that someone will study musical opposition is necessarily preceded by the expectation that someone else will engage in musical opposition in the first place, that is, musicians and others involved in popular music.

The expectation of opposition in the field Opposition, I came to understand from conversations with colleagues, is quite routinely, but rather implicitly thought of as a position one adopts not by chance or choice, but rather by default or out of obligation. This expectation is perhaps best illustrated by the response of a fellow PhD candidate to comments I made about repression and torture in Uzbekistan during a coffee break at a workshop: “There must be a lot of subversive music around then!” Having become particularly attentive to this issue, I started to notice that the conceptual pairing of politics and music quite routinely triggers ideas of misappropriation or restriction (on the part of the state) and subversion or resistance (on the part of musicians and audiences) in musicology. Mark Slobin, for example, refers to this kind of automatic inevitability, when he describes socialist musical life in his introduction to the edited volume, Retuning Culture: [E]very attempt to make music manageable, as if following a physical law, evokes the ‘chaotic and unpredictable’ as a response … As in the best gardens, unwanted ‘volunteers’ grow alongside neat rows of plants, despite constant weeding. (1996: 3) Positing that “much musical practice tends toward the subversive”, Jayson Beaster-Jones seems to have a similar stimulus-response-model in mind

Approaching estrada  57 (2014: 336). So too do Martin Cloonan and Reebee Garofalo, who claim, without presenting any supporting data, that “every act of repression is accompanied by an act of resistance” (2003: 1). This widely shared belief made a subtle appearance in the official announcement for the 43rd World Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music in 2015. The conference theme, “Music and New Political Geographies in the Turkic-speaking World and Beyond”, was summarised as follows: How have these new and emerging political and cultural alliances at the junction of a decision to merge or to choose independence used music to further their geopolitical goals and how have musicians and their audiences resisted new forms of economic and political domination and hegemony through music-making and dancing? 4 (emphasis added) The reasoning on display here often goes hand in hand with more or less direct evaluations along the following lines: If states put music to their use, this is misuse or manipulation. We expect musicians to oppose this, or at least we hope they do, and we are disappointed or even appalled if they don’t. Writing about teachers and students at the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, Tanya Merchant, for example, implicitly, but clearly expresses a preference for a certain kind of behaviour on their part: “Are the canon and the nationalist ideals that seem to go with it being questioned and challenged? Are they being blindly accepted or subverted?” (2006: 142). In a similar vein, in his discussion of popular music in Nazi Germany, Peter Wicke states that “at no time has the lack of political responsibility on the part of performing musicians and composers been so clear, and had such disastrous eventual consequences” (1985: 49). Thomas Turino goes so far to assign them “the guilt of acquiescence” (2008: 191). And with reference to music censorship in Slovenia, David Parvo writes: “It is unconscionable to sit back and let the repression progress; when the right to speak one’s mind is questioned, speaking out becomes an obligation as well as a way of fighting back” (2003: 148). Scholarly disappointment with research subjects has probably been most directly and frequently voiced by researchers working on postsocialist rock, who tend to bemoan a lack of oppositionality in their field – or at least the right kind of oppositionality (see, for example, Kürti 1994: 94; Ramet 1994: 10; Yoffe 2000: 110f.).5 When I started my field research in Uzbekistan, I considered myself free of this expectation of opposition. I might not yet have known much about estrada, but I certainly knew that if one was looking for musical resistance and subversion, estrada was definitely the wrong genre. After all, this was exactly what had drawn me to the topic in the first place. And I had presumed, based more on intuition and inference than on any actual insights into the workings of Uzbek cultural politics, that there was government involvement in the estrada scene. But I did not think about this

58  Approaching estrada involvement in terms of misappropriation. My position was more in line with Marcello Sorce Keller’s view on this relationship, published a few years after I began research: “[C]harging music with ideological imports is no misuse of it, but rather takes advantage of one of its main functions” (2007: 107). Over the first few months of my stay in Tashkent, however, as I became gradually more aware of the immense and extensive scope of estrada administration, I noticed the expectation of opposition slowly creeping into my thoughts, albeit in a slightly different variant. I did not start to expect estrada singers or composers to openly protest political regimentation through their music or by other means, but I subconsciously assumed they secretly and privately objected to the tight administrative framework they were subjected to. This was a result of the responses I received when I questioned people about their attitude to estrada administration. Some were reluctant to answer and others were very critical, but most were explicitly affirmative. They said they approved of it in general and thought it necessary, even if they conceded that it had some flaws, particularly that it was not strict enough. In short, most people I had met by that point supported and defended an administrative system for music which I deemed extremely restrictive. And some even desired more restrictions. I found these responses strange and difficult to believe. I doubted that my interlocutors confided in me their true thoughts on this topic, which I interpreted as an understandable reservation, as healthy mistrust vis-à-vis a foreign researcher in the context of an authoritarian political regime. For several weeks, this led me to intuitively follow a kind of spy-like approach, searching for clues of hidden resistance and subversion in people’s behaviour and speech. I started to distance and estrange myself from people I had already grown fond of and to whom I was close, until I became too entangled in my own mistrust and feared I was starting to twist my data. I finally realised that by stylising my interlocutors as revolutionaries manqués who publicly feign complicity but privately think opposition, I was simply extending the expectation of opposition into the realm of the clandestine and thus speculative. This approach is quite common in literature on the Soviet era and contemporary authoritarian states and appears in work in ethnomusicology too. In her study on musicians in socialist Bulgaria, for example, Carol Silverman remarks: If singers … failed to show loyalty to the state …, their jobs were in jeopardy. Privately, however, singers complained about financial arrangements and musical decisions. This dual consciousness, or divided subjectivity, was a common feature of totalitarianism. (2004: 222)

Approaching estrada  59 Also referring to Bulgaria and drawing on Václav Havel, Donna Buchanan concludes that “[t]o succeed in such societies people are forced to live out a schizophrenic existence that often prostitutes the essence of their morality, individuality, and identity” (1995: 384). As attractive as this approach might seem, it is highly problematic, in that it presupposes a partitioning of a person into a kind of true inner self, on the one hand, which one can conceal and reveal at will, and a fake social subject, on the other. As a model that inevitably equips people with an irreconcilable duplicate personality and postulates that subjectivity is not emergent, but formed prediscursively, it is ultimately unconvincing – not to mention the methodological problems it poses for research (see Yurchak 2006: 16f.). In addition, I did not experience people’s behaviour in the field to be categorically different from that of people in other places I had lived in or visited. Nor did I myself start to feel schizophrenic as I, out of necessity, internalised some of these methods for living in an authoritarian state – even if this was only temporarily and I always had the privileged option of just leaving. Not always speaking or acting according to one’s inner convictions for strategic reasons seems to me to be a rather fundamental human trait and part of what constitutes people as individual persons and social subjects. Naturally, the boundaries are stricter and the stakes higher in authoritarian and totalitarian states. But why are we so keen on finding opposition in popular music at all – even trying to read people’s minds? Why should opposition be musicians’ natural reaction to authoritarian politics and rigid administration anyway? There is no direct or proportional relationship between repression and resistance in general and no evidence for a separate automatism at work in the realm of music. Nor is the profession of musician or composer primordially and intrinsically connected with some moral responsibility to expose and fight political domination. It may be more heroic and politically visionary to voluntarily take on this role. But to eschew direct conflict with a government like Uzbekistan’s, which has one of the worst records of human rights violations worldwide, including boiling people alive, seems a perfectly human and blameless choice. Furthermore, the fear of repercussions is surely not the only reason why in the global history of music, the number of musicians who have in some way or other aligned or arranged themselves with political power (even of the most dubious and violent kind) will be considerably higher than the number of those who have denounced or openly opposed it. Why, then, do we so insistently expect political opposition from musicians, or at least political awareness? Is it because we enjoy the romantic notion and moralistic fantasy of music and musicians in opposition? Or because it puts us in the pleasant company of heroes, many probably more heroic than ourselves? Or because we can then occupy a comfortable position of moral superiority from which to criticise those musicians who do

60  Approaching estrada not meet our expectations? Whatever our reasons, maintaining the idea that political opposition is a template for musicianship tells us little about those artists who are unwilling – or unable – to become heroes, which will be the overwhelming majority of all musicians worldwide. Nor will it help us to understand the relationship between state politics and estrada in Uzbekistan (see Klenke 2015b; Tochka 2016: 20). Ultimately, the moralistic expectation of opposition rests on the assumption that an antagonism necessarily and naturally exists between artists and the state – whether power is seen to be wielded through coercion or through consensus as in Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony or Miklós Haraszti’s model of the “velvet prison” (1989): [T]he idea [of a velvet prison] can be considered a rather violent, paternalistic and overpoliticised narrative. It is violent, as it imprisons artists in a position of compliance with the authorities. It is paternalistic, as the subtext reads that true artists ought to resist any cooperation with state institutions. And it is overpoliticised, as it reduces complex cultural realities to a stereotypical dichotomy of artist vs. the state, a reduction I consider to be emblematic of the Western gaze on China. (de Kloet 2010: 182) What happens when we just discard the presumed inevitability of this antagonism? Shedding the expectation of opposition and the underlying presumption of a naturally inimical relationship between repressive states and their artists allows us to discern and assess musicians’ positions and actions without automatically judging them to be morally objectionable and academically irrelevant. We might discover responses such as a belief in state ideology, support for political regimentation in the sphere of music, cooperation with government institutions or even just acceptance and adjusting to the circumstances. One could go even further and posit an affinity to state power and stability among artists similar to that which Jerome Karabel identified among intellectuals: It is thus misleading to assume, as does much of the existing literature, that intellectuals will typically adopt an oppositional stance towards the existing order; most of them have, after all, attained a relatively privileged position within it, and their well-being often depends upon the acquisition of resources controlled by political and economic elites with whom they are socially and culturally linked. From this vantage point, what needs to be explained is less why intellectuals reach accommodations with the status quo than what it is that causes some of them, at certain historical moments, to rebel. (1996: 209, emphasis original; see Tochka 2016: 119ff.; Verdery 1991: 429ff.)6

Approaching estrada  61 I did not know about Karabel’s paper when I began struggling in those first few months of fieldwork with how to escape the moralistic trap of the expectation of opposition. But I ended up resolving my conundrum in a manner similar to his line of thinking.

The expectation of affirmation More as a Gedankenexperiment than an actual approach, I made a radical reverse turn and swapped the expectation of opposition for an expectation of affirmation. I felt that this new presumption might be more closely modelled on and better capture reality – apart from the personally pleasant side effect of making the people I worked with appear more normal. Still, it shared a fundamental flaw with its opposite: It reproduces a binary, the same binary, in fact, as before, just without a moral judgement. Whether one describes musicians as convinced supporters, unknowing followers, coerced collaborators, smart strategists, clandestine oppositionals or open dissidents in their relationship to the state, all of these are still located somewhere on the line between the poles of opposition and affirmation. These positions are all “defined relative to politics, as positive or negative degrees of compliance and dissidence” (MacFadyen 2002b: 241). This perspective makes government policies the primary or even sole frame of reference and reduces musicians to the status of always consciously acting homines politici. But even in authoritarian regimes such as Uzbekistan, where the state and its ideology loom large in daily life, official policies do not possess mono-explanatory power. Not every action or utterance is meant as a statement on government politics, even though it may be somehow related or even have a political impact. To read all actions and utterances as conscious comments on current political circumstances and to interpret them along an axis between opposition and affirmation distort research findings. Furthermore, this approach ultimately replicates and supports government efforts at hegemony through the totalisation of its discourse. Scholarly fascination with elaborate musical policies may indeed unintentionally become a warped form of advocacy of those policies, if politics and ideology are subject to an excessively narrow focus. It also fails to account for the dispersed and criss-crossing trajectories of power, which exist within and around music. Ljerka V. Rasmussen has identified such an over-emphasis on official political discourse even as a widespread phenomenon – and problem – in studies on music in socialist eastern Europe: It is not the self-evident hegemony of the socialist state over culture; rather, it is the implication of the perfect workings of the ideology-­ culture homology, i.e., the potential of the model to explain everything … When ambiguity or contradiction is hinted … it is explained as a result

62  Approaching estrada of cracks in the system. [If the] analysis of music … is tightly framed around an abstract concept of ideology, the effect is one of mutual determinism: the interpretation becomes a mirror of the ideology being criticised.7 The ideological interpretation of musical structures can illuminate, but can also obscure, the social dynamics of music that may, but need not, show ‘the system’ at work, particularly those aspects of the everyday that can be explained neither by orders from the central committee nor by the dissent of a disciplined village musician. (2002: 17, xxiii, emphasis original; see Silverman 1996: 239) Like the former Yugoslavia, Uzbekistan is well into its postsocialist phase, but since it has preserved a remarkable degree of cultural regimentation and, as will be explored later, much of the ideology and logic behind it, Rasmussen’s remarks are still apt. They were certainly relevant for me, when, feeling stuck at the beginning of fieldwork in Tashkent, I was sifting through excerpts of secondary literature read back home in search of an exit out of what I considered a conceptual dead-end.

The unpolitical The expectation of affirmation still seems useful, at least provisionally, for thinking through relations between musicians or other musical actors and government politics. At the very least, it serves as a kind of safety measure against the potential reappearance of the expectation of opposition. If official political discourse is no longer the primary or sole explanatory framework, however, we no longer need to assign artists a position somewhere along the axis between affirmation and opposition. We can acknowledge that their actions and speech might be motivated not only by government policies, but also by friendship, love, envy, hate, money, fame, pleasure, family ties, personal obligations or by ideas about musical aesthetics, making them perhaps appear less political, but more personally complex – and therefore fundamentally more normal and human. Despite extensive restrictions under authoritarian rule in Uzbekistan, there is, of course, that which people perceive and describe as life beyond politics. This life is animated by its own motivations and goals, is generally exempt from the grip of the state, but not necessarily directed against it: “ Most people, … even in the worst political regimes, do not spend most of their time being political. The majority of citizens spend even periods of revolution at work, at home, or in the pub” (MacFadyen 2002b: 4). It is therefore not surprising that artists in authoritarian and totalitarian states often resent constantly being asked questions that relate their work to politics (see de Kloet 2003: 184; Steinholt 2001: n.p.). How independent the supposedly unpolitical part of life really is from government policies is a different matter. After all, it is not unusual for political ideology to extend its reach to issues such as fame, family, friendship

Approaching estrada  63 and musical aesthetics. Thus, trying to separate the political from the unpolitical in the field proves to be a rather futile enterprise.8 Even if there were an appropriate methodological tool, this approach would inevitably lead to replacing one simplistic binary with another: opposition/affirmation with political/unpolitical. It would be equally ill-suited to deal with the messiness of life, musical and otherwise, which is certainly not structured by binaries and is thus impossible to understand with any kind of “either-or” model. The more adequate and promising approach seems to be an “and as well” model, a theoretical framework that operates beyond binaries. In this respect, Alexei Yurchak’s take on The Last Soviet Generation provides a useful perspective – and it was the resource that got me out of the trap of the common “either-or” models which blurred my thinking at the beginning of fieldwork (2003; 2006).

Beyond binarisms Studying late Soviet socialism, Yurchak criticises the academic habit of dividing Soviet reality into two apparently separable and dichotomous spheres: one centred around government politics, the other somehow beyond it. He lists conceptual pairs that further structure this mode of thinking, which is equally common for conceptualising life in other repressive states: oppression and resistance, repression and freedom, the state and the people, official economy and second economy, official culture and counterculture, totalitarian language and counterlanguage, public self and private self, truth and lie, reality and dissimulation, morality and corruption. (Yurchak 2006: 5) To him, these coupled categories are ultimately a relic of Cold War convictions about the fundamental depravity and badness of Soviet socialism.9 To anyone familiar with publications on socialist music, they are immediately recognisable as standard structuring principles – and as handy tools for what I have earlier termed totalitarianisation, that is, presenting life in socialism or postsocialist authoritarian states as bleaker and darker than it actually was or is. Fully acknowledging that “tremendous suffering, repression, fear, and lack of freedom” were an inherent part of Soviet life and can be captured in these binary models, Yurchak maintains that they nevertheless fail to account for another, no less important facet of socialist reality: [F]or great numbers of Soviet citizens, many of the fundamental values, ideals and realities of socialist life (such as equality, community, selflessness, altruism, friendship, ethical relations, safety, education, work, creativity, and concern for the future) were of genuine importance,

64  Approaching estrada despite the fact that many of their everyday practices routinely transgressed, reinterpreted, or refused certain norms and rules represented in the official ideology of the state. (ibid.: 8) In order to theoretically grasp this interplay and entanglement between ­ alienations and attachments” (ibid.: 9), their situatedness and thus fluid“ ity, Yurchak turns to speech act theory and its derivatives outside the field of linguistics. Differentiating between constative and performative dimensions of speech and ritualised acts, his approach might first appear to introduce a new dichotomy. However, because it posits the two dimensions not in an optional “either-or” relationship, but in an indivisible “more-less” one, thus making them both constitutive of these acts, it provides a means of escape from the trap of pre-determined antagonisms that binary models entail. While the constative dimension, which has to do with the meaning of what one says or does, always coexists with the performative dimension, which is about their effect, the relative weight between the two varies by situation and can also shift historically. Thus, depending on the circumstances and personal objectives, the fact of saying, doing or – to include the realm of music – singing certain things, might be more important than the statement that is made by saying, doing or singing these things. For the performative dimension to be successful, it may ultimately be irrelevant, whether one means, what one says, does or sings – or even whether one has an opinion on that at all. By implication, behaviour and utterances in speech and ritualised acts are not necessarily reliable indicators of someone’s beliefs. John Austin’s classic example is an oath, which, once taken, becomes effective, regardless of whether you actually mean what you swear, and even if you disapprove of the whole oath-taking practice altogether (Austin 1999:16). Yurchak references a historical shift towards the performative dimension in late Soviet socialism to explain the apparent paradox that, as long as it existed, the Soviet Union seemed immutable to many of its citizens, but that its collapse, as soon as it set in, was rather unsurprising to them. He demonstrates how, after Joseph Stalin’s death, political texts and rituals became increasingly standardised and normalised. They lost importance as a site for making political statements, whereas the consequences of engaging in their reproduction rose in significance. Participation opened up room and time to pursue other activities and produce other meanings. While these might have deviated from the acts’ literal constative dimensions, they were not necessarily opposed to them or incompatible with Soviet ideology in general: This view of how meanings are produced through the repetition of authoritative speech acts and rituals refuses a binary division between form and meaning or between real meaning and pretense of meaning. In the late Soviet case, the performative repetition of the rituals and

Approaching estrada  65 texts of authoritative discourse, and the engagement in different new meanings that were not described by the constative dimensions of these rituals and texts, still did not preclude a person from feeling an affinity for many of the meanings, possibilities, values, and promises of socialism. It even allowed one to recapture these meanings, values, and promises from the inflexible interpretations provided by the party rhetoric. (Yurchak 2006: 28) Yurchak analyses various instances and degrees of what he describes as the domestication of the Soviet state by a deterritorialisation of its ideology, values and institutions: Komsomol members just pretending to have fulfilled commands from above in order to spend the time saved on Komsomol work that they considered more meaningful; high-ranking theoretical physicists using workshops in the Academy of Sciences vacation homes to engage in intense scholarly discussions, but also to enjoy performances by artists who were out of favour with the government; musicians, historians and philosophers working as boiler room technicians in order to fulfil the duty to work, but leaving them a maximum of free time for artistic or scholarly endeavours, which would often not be supported by state institutions. All these and various other milieus, Yurchak demonstrates, were actually enabled by the Soviet state and at least loosely backed by facets of socialist ideology, such as the importance of education and learning, an emphasis on the collective and sharing, non-material values and a stress placed on culture (ibid.: 138). They were not, however, determined by or necessarily congruent with party texts and official doctrine. Thus, they elude categorisations as pro-Soviet activist or anti-Soviet dissident, or more broadly as political or unpolitical. Instead, they were, to differing degrees, located inside as well as outside of the political system. They were variations on what most Soviet citizens considered a normal life, something which neither dissident nor activist lifestyles were judged to be. In this way, an apparent paradox becomes a logical connection: While the increasing citationality and predictability of ideological texts and state rituals endowed the late Soviet Union with its aura of immutability, the practice of leading these normal lives prepared its citizens for coping with its collapse. The connection between these two seemingly incompatible developments was precisely the shift to the performative in the reproduction of political discourse and rituals. With more weight given to the possibilities they opened up instead of their literal constative dimension, they became imbued with new meanings and enabled the emergence of various forms of normal lives that were displaced in a sense from official doctrine and perhaps stretched ideology but were still anchored in Soviet socialism. Recounting how Vladimir Vyssotskiy was banned from TV but employed at the Taganka Theatre and how the Pokrovsky Ensemble of Russian folk music was denied state financing but privately produced by an undercover

66  Approaching estrada KGB agent, Theodore Levin gives a vivid account of what it meant to be “located inside as well as outside the political system” in late Soviet society in the sphere of music – an account which, save for the binary terminology, echoes Yurchak’s description of late Soviet life: Every artistic field … had its stylistic norms and internal boundaries that distinguished the canonically official from the aggressively unofficial, but that also included a large gray area in which artists played out a game of ‘chicken’ with the cultural censors. Perhaps it was the passionate anti-Sovietism of a handful of well-known unofficial artists that led Western observers of Soviet culture to view the categories of official and unofficial art as inviolably disjunctive – divided by a Berlin Wall of artistic taste and cultural choice. But at least in the 1970s and 1980s, it was common enough for artists to probe the cultural no-man’s-land between official and unofficial art, and to move back and forth between official and unofficial work, official and unofficial artistic life. (Levin 1996b: 21; see MacFadyen 2002b: 63) But how does all this relate to the situation in contemporary Uzbekistan and my own research?

Approaching Uzbek estrada politics in practice In his more than 25 years of rule, Uzbekistan’s late president Islom Karimov acquired a certain aura of immutability, and government statements as well as media comments on national independence ideology continuously reiterated predictable and interchangeable formulas. An inclination towards the performative dimension was also easily detectable, for example, in the mandatory Karimov quotes at the beginning of scholarly works – a return of sorts to the infamous Lenin quotes of the Soviet era. And even though Islom Karimov’s age, his health issues and his mortality were no secret to my Uzbek acquaintances, news of his death in September 2016 still provoked a certain disbelief among them, as if he had been and was expected to be there forever. His successor as president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has certainly introduced political changes and among them major reforms, but there has not been a revolution or a collapse of state structures that would resemble the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This means, in contrast to Alexei Yurchak’s research site, the Soviet Union, which is “no more”, Uzbekistan is still there as an authoritarian state, and my fieldwork fell well within the period of Islom Karimov’s presidency anyway. Consequently, my perspective is essentially presentist and not directed towards the past, towards a vanished political entity from a position of “post-”. Nor was I looking for and exploring specific deterritorialised milieus or lifestyles, which Alexei Yurchak was interested in. Still, there is much in his reasoning that can inform studies on people’s connections and

Approaching estrada  67 interactions with state power and ideology in other times and places – and which informed my own take on estrada in Uzbekistan. The strength of Yurchak’s approach, and its appeal and significance beyond late Soviet socialism, lie in the fact that it offers a real escape from binary concepts. More than that, it not only provides an escape into nothing, but also somewhere to go, an alternative for conceptualising people and politics. An interplay of “alienations and attachments”, situative and thus fluid, makes sense as a very basic framework for grasping the relation of musicians and other actors involved in estrada with the Uzbek state, its government and ideology. Just as Yurchak’s protagonists could not be classified as either activist or dissident, most of the people that I encountered were not the kind of hyper-politicised subjects that any attempt at placing them somewhere along the spectrum between musical opposition and affirmation would inevitably stylise them into. Nor did they seem overly concerned with separating the political from the unpolitical in their lives. Save for instances of direct conflict with state organs, they rarely, if ever, resorted to one of the conceptual pairs typically used to mark these two spheres off from each other. As will be explored in more detail later, many expected state policies and ideology to reach into their lives to a significant extent anyway – and they did not necessarily consider this proximity, or rather permeation, to be a bad thing (see Liu 2017: 79). Others were decidedly disinterested in politics. Ultimately, like people anywhere in the world, most Uzbeks I met took their social and political situation somehow for granted, they experienced moments of intense sorrow as well as moments of intense joy, and they were predominantly occupied with making their daily lives work and their personal or family aspirations come true (see Hann 2002a: 11). Moreover, there were and are many aspects in Uzbekistan’s national independence ideology and accompanying policies that my interview partners, acquaintances and friends related to in positive ways, such as a pride in history, spirituality, modernity, family values, respect for elders, hospitality, the achievement of independence and future greatness (see Chapter 7). Many credit Islom Karimov for having kept the country from disrupting into civil war, economic ruin, political Islam, commonly called wahhabism in Uzbekistan, and neo-colonial dependencies. They greeted, or at least excused, his strong hand in these matters, but feared and loathed other facets of his authoritarian regime: lack of legal and social security, restrictions on movement, neglect of rural areas, censorship, kleptocratic corruption, extensive surveillance, arrests on fabricated accusations, ruthlessness, brutality and torture. Particularly after the violent and bloody suppression of demonstrations in Andijon, a Ferghana Valley city, in May 2005, close friends and others who trusted me enough to actually talk about these issues, expressed fear – sometimes related to very concrete concerns, but more often in the form of a rather diffuse anxiety and alertness.10 To them, the Uzbek government had reached a qualitatively new level of arbitrariness, brutality and mendacity

68  Approaching estrada in its handling of the protests and their aftermath. Still, the incident did not turn them into dissidents or otherwise fundamentally altered their relationship to the state. And by the time the incident happened, I had lived in Uzbekistan long enough to have been surprised, if it had changed this relationship. Even the fact that some estrada artists I personally knew participated in a state-organised concert meant to “pacify” Andijon shortly after the events, was hardly astonishing to me.11 Adopting normality as the default perspective in understanding the estrada scene and its protagonists makes more sense than adhering to common binary frameworks and nurturing the expectations and prospects of heroism and drama that most of these antagonisms entail. In fact, normality is an effective defence against the temptation of what I termed totalitarianisation earlier, of presenting life in authoritarian states as bleaker and darker than it actually is.12 Whether a side effect or intentional strategy, totalitarianisation makes real or presumed resistance appear even braver, and it is thus most common in approaches that implicitly or explicitly rest on the expectation of opposition, with its presumed antagonism between people and the state. Freeing musicians, composers and other actors in music from this moralistic burden frees one as a scholar from feeling a need to focus solely on or even exaggerate the negative aspects of a particular political situation, as undeniably negative as they may be. It also frees state representatives from their perennial default role of malevolent oppressors. If we instead consider all of these people as being, to varying degrees, simultaneously inside and outside of the political system, feeling attached to it as well as alienated from it and, above all, if we understand this interweaving and entanglement to constitute normal lives in music under authoritarianism, these individuals may appear less morally pronounced, but fundamentally more complex, more human and – to use one of Kofi Agawu’s concepts again – more “same” (Agawu 2003: 169). Other writers on music have also referred to the normality of this kind of entanglement: Martin Stokes, for example, sees the history of Algerian rai “entangled with that of the nation and the state, rather than opposed to it” (2002: 156) and Jeroen de Kloet, analysing political negotiations in Chinese rock writes of “a moment of compliance” and “moments of subversion” (2003: 179, emphasis original). David MacFadyen ascribes “a liminal status” to Russian Soviet estrada, neither in nor out of politics (2002b: 141), and perhaps the most explicit statement on this issue comes from Levon Hakobian: [H]eated discussions between Shostakovich ‘revisionists’ and ‘anti-­ revisionists’ … seem strange to anybody who knows the Soviet institution from the inside. In contrast to most Westerners, we can easily imagine how one and the same person can be both a model of non-­ conformist thinking and a Soviet ‘loyalist’, a composer of ideologically stainless works, and a banner of ‘Sovietness’ in culture … In his attitude

Approaching estrada  69 to the regime, Shostakovich was no more principled than his average fellow-citizens of sound mind. (2012: 129–130) Expecting this kind of normality, as opposed to affirmation or opposition, does not, however, mean that everything that occurs or has occurred in the estrada scene may automatically be categorised as normal or acceptable – either by the standards of singers, musicians and other actors involved or by my own. Apart from ideas on normality, Yurchak’s approach to people and politics is also useful for combatting preoccupations with the honesty of one’s interlocutors. The option of thinking beyond the constative dimension is a strong antidote against trying to find out whether people really mean what they say and do, or whether they put on some pretence. This does not mean that people’s motivations, intentions and opinions become irrelevant – nor do more fundamental questions about levels of trust in research. But widening or just shifting the focus in fieldwork to uncover the usually more accessible performative dimension of people’s utterances and behaviour seems the more promising and methodologically less dubious way of gathering data rather than trying to read people’s minds or engaging in rather furtive and mostly futile deciphering of their statements’ and actions’ meanings. In addition, Yurchak’s and Rasmussen’s studies are a valuable warning that we ought not to measure musical reality narrowly against official ideology and policies or conceive of official ideology and policies as something completely coherent and conclusive in the first place. The legislation on estrada administration, as analysed in Chapter 1, demonstrated the sometimes vague nature of governmental discourse. One might be tempted to attribute these indeterminacies and loopholes to accidental sloppiness. While I would not rule out this possibility wholesale, I would argue instead for deliberate ambiguity as a means for wielding government or personal power: “[A]mbiguities within ideologies are a critical factor in their ­operation … Without the ambiguities, ideologies cannot ‘breathe’” (Stokes 1992a: 224). At the same time, however, ambiguity leaves room for interpretation for anyone who wants to try to use it for his or her own purposes. Still, these interpretations and purposes need not be contrary – i­ ntentionally or ­unintentionally – to government politics, but can fall well within the scope of official ideology. Furthermore, this room for manoeuvring concerns musicians as much as it does the government, which, after all, is not an amorphous, anonymous thing, but made up of individuals with their own aspirations, predicaments, agendas, fears, dreams and relations. It is important to remember that in authoritarian settings too, “many bureaucrats muddle along with their clients, with whom they often share either a common culture or at least … common economic interests and areas of social interaction” (Herzfeld 2005: 372). As will be seen in later chapters, on some occasions, the border between

70  Approaching estrada governing and governed in estrada becomes so blurred as to make it impossible to differentiate between the two. Here, in line with recent work on political orders in Central Asia, I am interested in exploring how various actors, sometimes in consensus, sometimes in conflict, situatively play out their “alienations and attachments” and thus perform politics, construct the state and define estrada – or hope to earn money, establish friendships and simply get on with their lives (Heathershaw 2014; Rasanayagam, Beyer & Reeves 2014; Reeves 2014).13 Setting aside any clear boundary between artists and the state, or at least a presumed natural antagonism, does not, however, mean we must ignore power relations, hierarchies and coercion. On the contrary, just as discarding common binaries allows one to discern the wide field of potential motivations beyond the narrowly political, it also enables one to move from a simple pre-set uni-directional model of power enactment to a more situative and more precise cartography of power as something dispersed, fluid, contingent and individual, which can be simultaneously exerted as well as suffered: What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms of knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network that runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression. (Foucault 1980: 119; see Foucault 1993 [1972]: 214; Verdery 1991: 427) An expectation of normality, a recognition of the performative dimension of doing and saying things, a dispersed model of power and attention to vagueness and ambiguity in official statements and documents – these are what informed my exploration of the estrada scene in practice. This perspective did not, however, completely immunise me against perceiving my field in terms of binaries. There were various occasions, when they started to reappear in my conceptual thinking – and O’zbeknavo vs. estrada artists became a classic throughout the course of fieldwork. The following chapters will show why in specific instances it might have been justified to think in this antagonism, but also why casting the relation generally in this way would be far too simplistic. I will start to explore estrada politics in practice by looking at government concerts and an important concept in the estrada scene: the concept of reyting.

Notes 1 Academic music in Uzbekistan has been studied from an ethnomusicological perspective by Lucille Lisack (2009; 2015). It had previously received some attention from scholars of historical musicology (Frolova-Walker 1998), Russian and Soviet history (Tomoff 2004) and sociology (Kale-Lostuvalı 2004). In her

Approaching estrada  71 (2015) monograph on Women Musicians of Uzbekistan, ethnomusicologist Tanya Merchant devoted one chapter to arranged folk music, one to estrada and one to academic music. 2 For more rock-related research, see, for example, Barber-Kersovan (1993; 2006), Lange (1996), Levy (1992), Maas and Reszel (1998), McMichael (2005; 2009), Mitchell (1992), Pogačar (2008), Rauhut (1998), Ryback (1990), Steinholt (2003; 2004), Survilla (2002), Szemere (1985), Teodor (2009), Troitsky (1987), Wicke (1992), Wickström and Steinholt (2009), and Yoffe (2000). 3 Perhaps the most enthusiastic portrayal of Soviet rock’s presumed oppositional stance comes from Mark Yoffe who describes the perestroika years as “a period of glorious struggle and absolute victory by the rock’n’roll community over the Soviet philistines” (2000: 107). With regard to Albania, Nicholas Tochka has pointed out that musical resistance is often misremembered with historical distance, as liberalisation in music might well have been initiated by the government and not necessarily fought for from below (2016: 100, 142ff.). 4 See (accessed 7 February 2018). 5 If one follows Pekacz (1994), Steinholt (2001) and Yurchak (2006) in doubting socialist rock’s inherent political oppositionality, postsocialist rock’s lack of opposition will be less surprising, as will be the rock scene’s involvement with extreme nationalism, right-wing movements and the Orthodox Church in Russia (Wickström & Steinholt 2009). 6 This was certainly true for the majority of musicologists, composers and classical musicians in Nazi Germany (Potter 1998), as it was for the majority of Soviet composers (Hakobian 1998; Redepenning 2008) and the stars of Russian Soviet estrada (MacFadyen 2001; 2002a; 2002b). That this impetus towards accommodation with the state is not limited to the elite sections of the musical word, is well demonstrated by Carol Silverman in her account of wedding musicians in socialist Bulgaria (2007: 75ff.). 7 In the original text, Rasmussen’s critique in the last sentence is specifically related to Timothy Rice (1994). Instead of [If the], it reads “Because Rice’s”. As an earlier reference to Rice could not be reproduced here at length, I chose the more general phrasing to keep the quote intelligible, but logically in line with the original. 8 Mark Slobin points to a similar problem with the Gramscian model of hegemony: [H]ow do you know hegemony, when you see it? … An easy response to [this] question might lead you to assume that almost anything is an example of hegemony, since there is not picture of it on the post office wall to compare with the suspect you’ve rounded up.  (Slobin 2000 [1993]: 27) While it might be difficult to locate resistance in the face of overwhelming hegemonic power as described by Gramsci, it is almost impossible if we turn to Michel Foucault. In viewing resistance as not being exterior to power, he grants power even more of a totalising thrust (1978: 96). At the same time, power, in his view, is more pervasive and thus less menacing than it appears in antagonistic models (see below). See Abu-Lughod (1990: 41f.) and Taylor (1997: 78–82) for discussions of Foucault’s ideas on resistance. 9 David MacFadyen likewise criticises this approach, which he sees as pervasive in Slavic studies: The rhetoric of the Cold War even today structures the teaching and study of East European customs … [T]wentieth-century Russian culture is seen in degrees of compliance with or deviance from Soviet ideology. Politics colours

72  Approaching estrada everything. Such an enduring critical approach has led to the dismissal of the most important and vital aspects of Soviet society as either underserving of attention or, at best, sullied by dogma. Song, it is held, does nothing but reflect policy.  (MacFadyen 2002b: 3)





Similarly, Yngvar B. Steinholt remarks on the “narrow and somehow awkward picture of cultural life” in publications on Soviet popular music and attributes it to “‘communist studies’, a highly politicised brand of cold war-­sociology, paired with Birmingham School subcultural theory” (2001: n.p.). In May 2005, in the wake of the arrest, trial and imprisonment of 23 men being charged with terrorism, the Uzbek military killed hundreds of people – p ­ rotesters and bystanders, men, women and children – who had gathered in a square in this Ferghana Valley city (see Kendzior 2007; Megoran 2008b). On the government side, the events were presented as a legitimate and necessary ­counter-measure to an attempted coup by religious extremists and terrorists and the number of victims was claimed to be much lower; more commonly, the Andijon events are seen as a brutal crackdown on civic protest sparked by justified discontent with local economic and political affairs (see Liu 2014). There were poets and musicians outside estrada, however, who critically reacted to the Andijon events, most famously hofiz Dadakhon Hasanov in the ­lirika genre. He composed, sang and recorded a song which came to be known as “There was a Massacre in Andijon” [Andijonda qatli om bo’ldi] and very directly accused the Uzbek government of slaughtering civilians on a grand scale (Audio 2.1). For this, he found himself in court. On 8 September 2006, Hasanov was convicted for “actions undermining the constitutional system” and “threatening public safety and order” (Kendzior 2007: 325). He was given a three-year suspended sentence on the condition that he cease composing politically motivated poems or songs. In addition, his house and car were seized and an already existing ban on performing in public was extended. Five months earlier, two men from Bukhara, Jamal Kutliev and Hazrat Ahmedov, had been sentenced to seven and four years in jail respectively, simply for listening to Hasanov’s song. For more information on the song, its lyrics, the trials and Hasanov in general, see Andrew (2006), HRW (2006), Mahkamov (2006), Schachter (2006), Tyson (1994), and XarxaAsia (2006). For a detailed study of various artistic reactions to the Andijon events, see Kendzior (2007). Fifteen other songs by Hasanov are included in the two-disk album Ozodlik ohanglari (Recital of Liberty): Poems by Uzbek Dissident Authors (Sodiq 2007; see Kendzior 2009, for a review). What I have termed scholarly totalitarianisation usually involves a narrow perspective on the political, an emphasis on the negative aspects and effects of authoritarian life, a focus on the generally rare moments of harsh repression (cf. Tochka 2016: 89) and an antagonistic portrayal of the situation with rather clearcut and clearly evaluated parties. All this is easily recognisable as a heritage of the Cold War. In scholarly totalitarianisation, socialist cultural life is sometimes further dramatised by evoking images of war. Mark Slobin, for example, claims that “[m]usical activity became a battleground contested by local oppositional forces and entrenched centralized bureaucracies” and goes on to write about “a long fencing match on the battlefield of culture” (1996: 8, 9; see also Bright 1985: 126–127; Cloonan & Garofalo 2003: 4). For an excellent analysis of scholarly totalitarianisation with regard to music in Nazi Germany, see Pamela Potter (2006); for an equally excellent analysis of the phenomenon in revolutionary China, see Barbara Mittler (2010). See Kelly M. Askew’s (2002) excellent study on music and nationalism in ­Tanzania for a similar performative approach.

3 Staging estrada I Concerts, reyting and artisthood

Tashkent, 2004 The temperature is still freezing, but the atmosphere has heated up. It is mid February, and the third day of Melodies of My Dear Motherland is about to begin. Announced in December as a four-day-long “festival of national estrada”, I had expected this event to be a rather glitzy show organised around a competition, which, as I have come to realise in the past months, is an obligatory part of festivals in Uzbekistan, if not actually a synonym for it. What I have been witnessing over the last two days, however, has proven my initial assumptions wrong. But then, there had already been reasons to doubt the reliability of my intuitions: The festival had been postponed for a few days without public notice – in fact, I had not seen any kind of advertisement for it apart from one rather inconspicuous announcement – and just a week ago someone involved in the organisation had offered to arrange an access permit for me. Not a backstage pass, just an authorisation to enter at all. This all seemed to contradict the general idea of a festival, and, indeed, the procedures so far have borne little resemblance to the kind of entertainment expected – or any kind of entertainment actually – save for a multitude of participants, endless musical activities and a dim spirit of competition. Even the illustrious location seems to have been stripped of its usual grandeur, which could have furnished the occasion with at least the semblance of celebration. Normally living up to its name through a combination of neo-oriental interior design, plush fabrics, discreet lighting and slight overheating, now the Turkiston Palace feels like a lavishly decorated fridge. The temperature in the concert hall must be around 14 degrees and the working lights do little to attenuate the physical discomfort. On the contrary, pale and cold, they add a touch of desolation, revealing shabby details behind the veneer of splendour: worn-out patches in the carpet, stains on the velvet chairs, cracks in the stage boards. By now I know all of them, at least the ones visible from the seat assigned to me somewhere in the back rows. From there, I have spent the last two days watching and partially filming the activities on and around the stage, but when settling down again with camera and stand just a few minutes ago, one of the organisers gruffly motioned for me to quickly store away my equipment. Even without being able to overhear

74  Staging estrada I conversations, I can sense a heightened level of nervousness today, more tension and more commotion. Melodies of My Dear Motherland is not a festival, nor is it a competition – it is an audition, organised by O’zbeknavo. Its aim is to find suitable singers and songs for the estrada block in the official spectacle on the occasion of Navro’z, the spring equinox on 21 March with its roots in Zoroastrian thought and practice. Over the past two days, more than a hundred estrada singers have come on stage to perform one or two songs each in front of a selection committee – either to a minus, an instrumental playback track, or to a full playback track, a plyus. Criteria for the order of appearance seem to have been origin and popularity: Students from various music institutions as well as lesser-known singers from Tashkent have featured on the first day, whereas the second day has been mainly devoted to estrada from each of Uzbekistan’s provinces and Karakalpakstan. Now, as the third and final day is about to begin, with artists gathering backstage and some of them coming down into the auditorium to greet members of the selection committee, I start to sense the reason for the change in atmosphere and the restrictions on recording: today is reserved for the stars of the scene. As will soon become evident, however, their celebrity status is not met with an attitude of deference on the part of the committee members. Just as their less famous predecessors in the audition have been, they too are reprimanded – for being badly prepared, for presenting songs that are old or inappropriate to Navro’z (or both), for turning up late or for having failed to prolong their licences. Frequently, the tone is brusque and presentations are broken off abruptly after just a few bars. There is little glamour regarding the scene’s top acts and some even look like scolded school children, when exiting the stage. On occasion, however, on this day as on the two preceding ones, it is the selection committee itself that comes under scrutiny – and criticism. Even though the committee already includes a high-ranking politician in the form of the minister of culture, the committee has its work sporadically supervised by an even higher government level. Well into the first day, the audition routine was suddenly disturbed by a certain unease among the 10–15 people in the hall. Their attention shifted from the stage to one of the side entrances and everybody rose from their seats. A man had just entered the auditorium, and even though I could not directly see his face, his characteristic figure and way of walking made him immediately recognisable – it was one of the deputy prime ministers, Alisher Azizkhodjaev, who later that year, would become minister of culture and sport. He sat down with the committee members and after a short conversation among the group, performances resumed, but the atmosphere had noticeably stiffened. Having watched and discussed a few singers, he rose to leave. Again, everybody stood up and there was a certain amount of commotion, before the audition returned to its earlier course and mood. His visits on the second and third day followed a similar pattern, but were considerably longer. During his stays he acted like an additional committee

Staging estrada I  75 member and, on the second day, even initiated a debate on the stylistic orientation of the estrada block. I could not understand the details of this conversation from a distance, but the general thrust of the argument was obvious. Dissatisfied with at least some of the committee’s decisions, he urged for more proximity to folk and classical music, whereas most of the members favoured a musical idiom that was distinctively estrada. Even though I could detect hardly any traces of a turn to older Uzbek traditions within the estrada block at the actual festivity, at the auditions the deputy prime minister’s intervention surely left its mark. At least in his presence, artists were asked to preferably present songs that were based on folk and classical music or used local lute instruments in the accompaniment. However, the final yield of the three days of auditions would only be preliminary anyway, with successful acts outnumbering the total that would eventually be needed to staff the estrada block. This left ample room for musical manoeuvring in the weeks to come. Only a few songs would stay, as they had been presented; more frequently, alterations to text and/or music were already planned at the auditions, and there even were some slots for which a singer was already selected, as was the style of her outfit in some cases, but for which a fitting song still needed to be found or even composed. In fact, when watching the Navro’z spectacle in its final form on television around 21 March that year, there was little in the estrada block that I could directly relate to what I had heard and seen during the auditions. Many people had, indeed, been very busy since the beginning of February – and there was at least as much work lying ahead of them. Preparations for the Independence Day show around 1 September were to start soon after Navro’z, and the beginning of July saw my return to the Turkiston Palace for another three-day audition. It would very much resemble the first one I had w ­ itnessed – only this time, the low temperature inside the concert hall would be a welcome retreat from the scorching summer sun outside. By the time the Navro’z auditions took place in February 2004, I already knew about the close connection between the government and estrada in Uzbekistan and had an idea about the significance of state celebrations. Still, I found the extent to which high-ranking political figures, such as the minister of culture and one of the deputy prime ministers, were involved in this event surprising and irritating. I would have thought that politicians of their status had more serious things to do than to listen to estrada singers several days in a row for hours on end. But the friends I met for dinner on the evening of the auditions’ third and final day did not share my astonishment. For them, the commitment of these two senior politicians was perfectly congruent with the importance that the Uzbek government attached to the celebration of Navro’z on 21 March, and even more so to the commemoration of Independence Day on 1 September.1 If sheer grandiosity is taken as a yardstick for political relevance, then it is indeed hard to imagine a matter of higher priority in Uzbekistan. Annually, both holidays are honoured with opulent state spectacles in Tashkent and less opulent, but still impressive

76  Staging estrada I spectacles in the provincial centres, which overshadow all other kinds of state concerts that take place in addition in and out of Tashkent over the course of a year. How are these state concerts of various grandeur and importance organised? What is their purpose? How do relations and issues of power between artists and government officials play out in the production processes? What do artists gain from performing at these state concerts? And how do they relate to their participation? These are the central questions that I will address in this chapter – and I will start my exploration with a closer look at the premier state concerts, Navro’z and Independence Day.

Navro’z and Independence Day Thematically, the two grand state spectacles adhere to an already timetested model: Navro’z is organised around the topics of nature and literal as well as metaphorical blossoming, whereas Independence Day focuses on Uzbekistan’s political history, achievements and place in the world. Aside from this difference in content, the two events share many features, at least in their Tashkent versions. They both take place on an open-air stage, even the same one since 2005, the summer stage in Alisher Navoiy National Park. Their main audience are high-ranking politicians and other dignitaries as well as foreign diplomats and representatives of international organisations or companies with branches in Uzbekistan. Attendance is by invitation only; security measures are substantial and tight. In the weeks leading up to the festivities, these measures include systematic propiska2 controls in residential houses or on building sites adjacent to the stage grounds, the monitoring of traffic into and out of Tashkent, extensive road blocks, the closure of public spaces and heightened vigilance with regard to gatherings. On the day of the spectacle itself, several concentrically layered cordons with militsiya check points enclose the concert site which, save for official cars, can only be reached on foot. For safety reasons, sometimes even the precise date of the festivity is kept secret until the last moment – not only from guests, but also from participants and organisational staff. Preparations Even the rehearsals for the celebrations are well guarded from the public. In the weeks running up to Navro’z and Independence Day, one can only get an acoustic impression if one is passing the future concert site. Especially in July and August, with daytime temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius, most activities on the shadeless stage take place after sunset. When I arrived in Tashkent for fieldwork in the summer of 2003, rehearsals for Independence Day were already under way, and I always enjoyed walking along Sharof Rashidov Avenue or sitting in one of the lawn restaurants on

Staging estrada I  77 Brodvey, where I could hear streaks of sound wafting through the warm summer night from the brightly illuminated festivity grounds. For the participants, however, the preparations for these two grand state spectacles are extremely demanding and put a heavy strain on their time, energy and nerves. This is as true for the innumerable students who form background tableaus as it is for the hundreds of performers on stage and the spectacles’ directors and other creative and technical staff. To mount an event with such a mass of participants in several weeks is itself a challenge, but the task is complicated considerably by the political ­significance – ­a nd thus political sensitivity – attached to these two celebrations. The programme is subject to alteration upon request from high-ranking government officials right up until the very last day. Usually, these interventions are aimed at more closely tailoring content, personnel and aesthetics to the preferences of the president, but changes can also be prompted by the most subtle shifts in foreign policy priorities, which are meticulously translated into the show.3 People I talked to differed in their opinions on how officials and organisers ascertained the president’s thoughts and feelings on these issues. A few were convinced that he actually took a great interest in these spectacles and would directly voice his opinions to his advisers. Many even suspected that they were organised solely for his own personal pleasure, including a sound engineer who told me this shortly after Independence Day 2005: In my opinion, this is just a sham [pokazukha]. This holiday is good for nothing … This is just a caprice [prikhot’] of our president. He wants this holiday to be. That’s all. And it’s the same with Navro’z. (09.2005) Most people, however, would not concede that the president played such an active role in decisions. They instead suspected his inner circle i­ nterpreted – very freely and often wrongly – things he said that were vaguely related to the subject, and many accused high-ranking officials of inventing presidential likes and dislikes in order to promote their own goals, particularly their positions in patronage relations. Until his death in 2016, the sheer invocation of Islom Karimov’s wishes, regardless of whether they faithfully reflected his actual opinions, always worked like magic to swiftly cut short certain proposed alternative solutions and to mute potential dissent.4 Spectacle structure and staging Both spectacles, Navro’z and Independence Day, begin with a prologue and a presidential address, followed by the national anthem. The show part of the programme is made up of various blocks: children perform songs and dances or play games in the “children’s block”, soldiers march and do a kind of military gymnastics in the “military block”, athletes present their

78  Staging estrada I disciplines and medals in the “sport block”. The “regions’ block” is devoted to real or presumed cultural specificities of Uzbekistan’s provinces, the “friendship block” to real or presumed cultural specificities of Uzbekistan’s minorities, and the “international block” features song and dance thought to be representative of selected nations in the world. Save for alternative music, jazz, bard song and religious chant, all genres of Uzbek music – folk, classical, academic, lirika and estrada – feature in these spectacles and are woven into a continuous soundtrack, interspersed by narrative parts. It is estrada, however, which is by far the most dominant genre, and its importance is further highlighted not only in having an entire block reserved for it, but also by the fact that this block is always the final one in the programme, thus providing the climax to both festivities. Supporters and opponents of estradisation alike usually pointed to the genre’s pre-eminence at these two events as proof of its rise in the musical hierarchy. The fact that president Islom Karimov personally shook hands with the estrada artists at the end of the show was counted as further evidence of estrada’s prominent status in cultural policies. While blok is the word actually used by those involved in the staging of these shows and the sequencing of blocks informs the conceptual logic behind the shows’ overall structure, the printed programmes either cloak these terms in phrases more evocative of lofty sentiments or conceal the idea of a succession of separate segments altogether. In the programme for Independence Day 2003, for example, the military block was entitled “The Protectors of the Homeland are the Guarantee for Peace”, and the estrada block was labelled “Melodies Dispersed by the Stars”.5 The length and prominence of blocks vary with current political priorities, aesthetic preferences and with the occasion. Issues such as international politics, national security and defence tend to be less pronounced in the generally shorter Navro’z spectacles than at Independence Day shows, which can last for up to two hours. Visually, these shows are a challenge. Not only is the turnover of artists and other protagonists centre stage rapid. Whatever is clearly meant to be the focus of attention at any particular time is always accompanied by a multitude of other activities occurring on and off stage, in front of a changing backdrop and, in recent years, below screens, which display zoom shots of the performance or enlarge the diegetic space by showing landscapes, buildings, vegetation, people or monuments. Laura Adams identifies “overwhelming activity” and “massness” – in the double sense of being attractive to many people as well as involving many people – as these shows’ main characteristics (Adams 2010: 74). To her, “apart from Olympics opening ceremonies, few events anywhere in the world approach the scale, the extravagance, and the visual chaos of holiday concerts in Uzbekistan” (ibid.: 75). To me, an undeniably strong impression of chaos has always been overlaid with an even stronger impression of discipline and order, not least because the show portion of these events is performed in full playback. After my first visit to an Independence Day celebration in 2003, I struggled to find words to adequately translate the still fresh experience

Staging estrada I  79 into fieldnotes. My immediate – and in hindsight, lasting – impression was “a strange hybrid between a Bollywood movie and a Reichsparteitag”: as dizzyingly colourful, flashy and sumptuous as the first and as frighteningly synchronised, over-choreographed and commanding as the second (Video 3.1). Reception To advance Uzbekistan’s national identity and to enhance the country’s international reputation by showcasing grand eras of its history as well as its political, economic, cultural and spiritual accomplishments since independence: these were the ultimate goals of the Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles most frequently mentioned by those involved in their ­staging – government officials and creative staff alike. And these statements often sounded like the legal acts which, each year anew and each year more elaborately phrased, order the production of the festivities. According to the 2007 decree for Independence Day, for example, the celebration pursued the following objective: broad enlightenment among the population and the international public of the substantial achievements and results [which have already been made] in the process of strengthening peace and stability in our country, construction of the foundations for a constitutional democracy and free civil society, strengthening in the minds of compatriots, particularly of the younger generation, the essence and importance of independence, feelings of love and devotion to the Homeland. (PP-644 2007, capitalisation original) There are reasons to doubt, however, that the two lofty aims – bolstering national identity at home and improving Uzbekistan’s image abroad – are actually met by the lavish Navro’z and Independence Day shows. A vital, but currently absent, prerequisite for strengthening Uzbekistan’s international prestige via this format would be for it to be broadcast abroad, to say nothing of its being received with interest. Despite the fact that the productions are specifically tailored to impress a global audience (in addition to pleasing the president) and foreign spectators are regularly invoked during rehearsals to spur participants’ ambitions and efforts, in reality, the shows are in actual fact hardly ever noticed beyond Uzbekistan’s borders. But even if they were, the question is whether these gigantic displays of nationalism would elicit a more favourable response than the mixture of awe and revulsion, marvel and ridicule which dominate the outside perception of North Korean state spectacles. As Richard Leppert maintains, conspicuous displays of musical “redundancy and excess” were important in negotiations about power and peace already among the courts of early modern Europe. Contemporary state spectacles may hope to function in a similar way,

80  Staging estrada I as a veiled threat of force, dramatizing the fact that one has both wealth and the willingness to spend – on musical instruments and paintings, for example, for the moment, but potentially on cannons and the like as necessary. (Leppert & Lincoln 1989: 12) The abhorrence that sumptuous state spectacles in authoritarian states habitually evoke in outsiders may at least partially derive from a comparable feeling of threat. After all, they are obvious proof that the respective state not only commands considerable riches, but also “the power to mobilise bodies” (Adams & Rustemova 2009: 1264). The fact that many of these spectacles contain direct demonstrations of military prowess may often enhance the impression of menace. To me personally, however, the soldiers’ gymnastics that are usually part of Uzbek Independence Day celebrations seem rather harmless, if not absurdly pathetic – maybe because state power is so much more menacingly incarnated by the omnipresent militsiya in daily life. In the end, neither fear nor ridicule would seem to be particularly conducive to advancing Uzbekistan’s prestige abroad. In Uzbekistan itself, the ceremonies are televised on the day and repeated in the weeks afterwards. They are also widely reviewed in print media. Despite the restrictions on access to the actual events, it is almost impossible not to take notice of them. In 2008, a member of the Ministry of Culture and Sport told me about the immense response which they find among the populace. Having emphasised people’s curiosity about details regarding upcoming holidays and the delight she noticed in descriptions of spectacles they had recently watched, she concluded by noting that “the public really waits for these celebrations” (09.2008). This, however, deviated quite considerably from my own conclusions by this point. My own impressions were of a rather conspicuous lack of interest among that – at least partially – same public. Not only had I encountered little of the alleged enthusiasm, when talking about Navro’z and Independence Day celebrations in interviews or when discussing them with acquaintances. Many of my interlocutors even seemed to try hard not to pay attention to them at all. And if broadcasts of the ceremonies were actually watched, what was talked about was almost exclusively the estrada block: which singers had participated, who had worn what kind of dress, who had sung which song, who had looked good, who had looked old, who had come first, who last, and, when the whole line-up of estrada artists was greeted and thanked by the president personally at the very end, whose hand had he shaken for how long, whom had he talked to, etc. Sometimes, in these very informal chats with friends or members of my host family, I asked what the others present had thought about certain estrada songs in the programme. And usually it quickly became obvious, that the complex ambiguities in the lyrics and the intricate metaphors in which poets had artfully wrapped praise for the president or the country

Staging estrada I  81 had remained undeciphered. Often in these cases, not only had the intended meaning been lost on listeners, but they had interpreted the song texts in their own way, creating content from what they misunderstood that deviated considerably from the presumably patriotising trope of praise and that occasionally left them wondering about the dangerous audacity of those responsible (see Exiting estrada). However, even those who actually took delight in debating estrada in detail and who drew obvious pleasure from the shows’ glitter and grandiosity did not really think this worth all the effort. Most Tashkentis who could somehow connect to the splendour displayed considered the festivities an unnecessary nuisance and immense waste of money. Still, many assumed the shows had a nationalising or stabilising effect on people outside Tashkent by making them believe that the situation in the country could not be that bad if at least people in the capital had reasons to celebrate and be happy. This assumption was not supported by my discussions with people in other parts of Uzbekistan. Resentment at the tremendous expenses was even greater in places marked by neglect and shortages than in Tashkent.6 Regardless of whether the celebrations had a consolidating effect on national identity, which is difficult to measure in any case, it did seem that they were uniting people less through endorsement than through criticism, albeit not voiced publicly. For many, Navro’z and Independence Day were actually the times of the year in which the blatant divergence between pretence and reality in political, economic and social matters was most obvious. Perhaps even more tellingly, while all state officials I talked to claimed that these spectacles were a form of celebration more appropriate to the independent nation state than Soviet-style parades would have been, and many people outside of government structures shared their view in theory, almost everybody who had actually taken part in Soviet parades related how much more they had enjoyed that rather participatory event as opposed to the now standard split model of celebration with a very exclusive spectacle on one day and a kind of folk fair [narodnoye gulyaniye, lit. folk stroll] on the next (see Adams 2010: 94f.). A theatre director compared the current spectacles to holidays in the 1940s, because before perestroika and during perestroika the holiday format changed a lot. This was already the format of free concerts. The squares were full of free[ly moving] people, already on the streets there was rock’n’roll, folk artists could perform on the street wherever they wanted, no one could stop them, there already was such a real connection of the holiday with the people. But this [i.e. today’s] format of court holiday [ format pridvornogo prazdnika], this is a format of the Stalin era. This is not even late Soviet Union, this is a format of the Stalin era. (09.2004)7

82  Staging estrada I

Figure 3.1  A  t the folk fair for Independence Day in Alisher Navoiy National Park, 2008

The folk fair itself, however, is very much enjoyed by Tashkentis. Its activities are concentrated on Alisher Navoiy National Park, but it spreads over the whole city centre with music performances on central squares (Figure 3.1). However effective or not they were in raising national pride under Islom Karimov, state holidays were – and still are – an immense demonstration of power on the part of the Uzbek government, forcing the population to somehow engage with them, be it via extensive media coverage or inconveniences in daily life due to security measures. But it is the show’s participants who are confronted more pronouncedly and more directly by government power in the context of these celebrations. My research has focused on artists in the estrada block, but it seems safe to assume that other performers are subject to similar conditions. Estrada in Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles Both Navro’z and Independence Day are occasions when the grip of the governmental estrada administration proves particularly strong. Participation in these – and other comparably minor – state holidays is not voluntary. It counts as one of the duties that artists are obliged by their licence contracts

Staging estrada I  83 to fulfil: “to participate in events determined by state and government” (see Chapters 1 and 6). Consequently, attendance at the auditions preceding these events is also mandatory, at least for singers whom the selection committee wishes to see.8 This compulsory nature certainly contributes to the peculiar atmosphere at the auditions, which is only rarely marked by enthusiasm or ambition, but tends instead to oscillate between indifference and resentment on the part of the singers and between impatience and annoyance on the part of the selection committee. In order to counter pre-emptively any lack of effort and guarantee a greater choice of acceptable songs, artists are sometimes given lyrics in advance of the auditions and charged with finding professional composers to set them to appropriate music. Occasionally requests are directly made to composers to provide suitable songs. Even though not all the estrada songs included in Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles feature patriotic content, it is these songs that are of special importance to the shows’ programme. But they are not always available in sufficient quantity and satisfactory quality. It is therefore not surprising that when O’zbeknavo established a “creative centre” in January 2011 under the direction of Ozodbek Nazarbekov, People’s Artist and estrada superstar [O’zbekiston xalq artisti Ozodbek Nazarbekovning ijodiy Markazi], one of its main tasks was “to prepare new songs for Independence Day, Navro’z and other state events on the basis of folk and national melodies, which echo patriotism, love and kindness, devotion and gratitude to the state, feelings of love for life” (Haydarov 2011: 5).9 Another – more or less successful – government measure to increase the number of suitable songs is the holding of music competitions on patriotic themes, but this topic will be addressed in Chapter 4. First, I will take a closer look at the audition that I witnessed in February 2004.

Auditions The social dynamics and the wider field of power relations as played out in auditions seem to be captured quite well using a binary model – if we look at them as an isolated event. On the one hand, there is the government, represented by the selection committee, which misappropriates artists’ creativity for its own ends and forces them to participate in nationalist endeavours, with some members of the committee perhaps even taking personal pleasure in this enactment of power. On the other, are the artists, who resent the government’s incursion into their freedom of expression and movement – when to sing which songs for whom – and who, without openly opposing this obligation, try to at least obstruct the state’s attempt at administration. Failing to prepare new songs, presenting thematically inappropriate songs, being late, leaving early, showing up with an invalid licence or not showing up at all – any of these could be read as a more or less subtle form of sabotage. In line with Timothy Rice and his concept of a “referential, ethical aesthetic” (1996: 194), one could extend this and read the obvious musical

84  Staging estrada I or textual inappropriateness of some of the presented songs as a way to deliberately express political opposition.10 While it might be tempting to view the audition in terms of this binary model, and there are certainly aspects of the situation that fit the artist vs. state dichotomy, it is ultimately impossible to appreciate the complexity of this particular setting or even the wider relationship between the estrada scene and government through the lens of this neat and simple antagonism. A look at the two presumed factions will reveal why. The selection committee Representing the Uzbek government at auditions is the selection committee. Its exact set-up changes with each new spectacle, but there is always a degree of structural and usually some personal continuity in its composition. In addition to officials from O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture, it includes senior estrada artists, composers or poets who are often also involved in other government-linked estrada activities, such as being members of the various organs related to O’zbeknavo or working as teachers at the Conservatory. Their task is to choose the best acts for the particular show’s estrada block, to guarantee adherence to general independence ideology as well as current political priorities and to ensure a certain variety with regard to age, gender, style and content. Whether or not they sincerely believed what they said, some committee members emphasised in conversations with me the immense contribution these spectacles made to the formation of the Uzbek nation. Others confidentially admitted they judged them to be a rather futile and irresponsible squandering of money desperately needed elsewhere, but they still recognised their special significance for the estrada scene. And it was awareness of this significance, coupled with knowledge of the importance accorded these shows by the government, that made participation in the selection committee worthwhile, regardless of any reservations about the spectacles’ overall effectiveness. This was particularly true for artists, composers and poets, for whom membership in the committee was not a mandatory part of their job, as it was, for example, for officials from O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture. Despite being appointed to this or similar bodies with little freedom to opt out, some current and former members I spoke to highly valued the recognition as an expert that this assignment brought with it and they enjoyed the authority it bestowed on them. In addition, they appreciated the opportunity to determine the state of the art in estrada and to shape events as grand and officially important as these spectacles. At the same time, however, there were frequent complaints about one’s specialist status being undermined in these contexts – particularly with regard to auditions. Those I spoke to about auditions saw their authority in matters related to estrada challenged directly in the course of the

Staging estrada I  85 selection process, but even more so in the following weeks leading up to the days of the shows themselves. They resented the influence of – in their view – unqualified bureaucrats and uncultured politicians on the final programme, which, according to them, often bore little resemblance to the decisions taken in the committee. After the Navro’z 2004 auditions described above, for example, two committee members sharply criticised the deputy prime minister’s intervention in narrowly artistic matters. One of them described it thus: “Basically, he is just a boxer, you know. How is he supposed to know and tell us about estrada? We are the professionals” (02.2004).11 There was also resentment about the enormous time demands the – ­unremunerated – auditions entailed. At the Independence Day audition in 2004, a jury member complained about the slow process and was directly reprimanded by an O’zbeknavo official: X: I have little time. O’zbeknavo official: We do this once a year and we will listen to this until

the end. Even the deputy prime minister makes time for this. (07.2004) The selection committee is in no way a homogeneous body, and discussions on aesthetics are, in fact, often more truly negotiations about authority. They may, however, also be rooted in friendships or personal obligations. It is rather common for committee members to have one or more protégés among the audition participants. In the case of Conservatory teachers, this may be one’s student, in the case of composers, it may be an artist who has commissioned and bought a song, or, in the cases of singers, it may be an artistic collaborator. At the two auditions I witnessed, there were numerous relationships of these types. Having some kind of connection to someone on stage does not necessarily mean that this relationship is good or the interaction is friendly. In one case, a senior member of the Conservatory staff quite harshly reproached a student who had failed to appear at the end-of-year exams: “Why didn’t you show up at the exams? Are you a student or not? We can expel you. Don’t you need a diploma?” (07.2004). While these kinds of connections between jury members and their protégés are usually known and openly talked about in the committee, another type of relationship is naturally more secretive: when a performer has paid one or more members in exchange for a positive evaluation. Altruistic motives for supporting an up-and-coming singer certainly influence decisions, but they may overlap with and may often be overridden by the prospect of personal advantages. To have one’s student perform or to have one’s own song being performed at Independence Day or Navro’z celebrations brings prestige with it, which is in turn acknowledged by one’s colleagues and, more importantly, recognised by the government. In the

86  Staging estrada I case of composers, for example, this symbolic capital of prestige can translate directly into economic capital through an increase in private or government commissions for songs or other musical works. It can, usually after an extended period of prestige accumulation, also translate into the more formal symbolic capital of a state award, which then, in addition to being considered a valuable asset in and of itself, generates financial advantages and certain other privileges in turn. Compared to their committee colleagues from the world of art, officials from O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture wield, without a doubt, more power in the selection process. In the auditions that I witnessed, it was particularly the director of O’zbeknavo who reprimanded singers, was vehemently annoyed, broke off performances and contributed most to the uncomfortably tense atmosphere. Together with other officials he would also, in the weeks to come, have a decisive influence on the final shape of the estrada block. This – often very unpleasant – concentration and display of power should not blind one to the fact, however, that the same officials are subject to the concentration and display of considerably more power – probably at least as unpleasant – from superordinate government levels. The deference in language and demeanour accorded by everyone present to one of the deputy prime ministers on his visits to the auditions was a recurrent reminder of the entanglement of even the selection committee’s seemingly most powerful members in wider power structures (see Adams 2010: 169). Their responsibility for the success of Navro’z and Independence Day is substantial and even those whom I spoke to who had personally suffered nasty abuse from powerful selection committee members honestly pitied them for the intense pressure they were under during holiday preparations. It seemed to me that some officials enjoyed the power they had over the artists in the audition setting, but on the whole, the preparations for N ­ avro’z and Independence Day are clearly not an overwhelmingly enjoyable affair for them. Apart from the immense work load, the spectre of a possible failure always looms large. To fail to produce an estrada block for Navro’z or Independence Day that meets the expectations of the president and the highest levels of government could well result in a fall from grace – that is, a demotion or even dismissal from state services. It would also taint the reputation of all others involved. An extraordinarily pleasing performance, on the other hand, could count as a qualification for higher posts. Or, less excitingly, it would be taken merely as proof that one had done one’s current job properly. The exact mechanisms of success and failure in the upper strata of government are, unsurprisingly, not very transparent – not even to those close to this circle or formerly part of it. In particular, there was remarkable deviation in opinions about the financial advantages for officials in the selection committee, a task which was difficult to separate from members’ wider duties in any case. Some claimed that these officials hardly profited from their involvement in the organisation of Navro’z and Independence

Staging estrada I  87 Day, since they would receive only a meagre bonus – if any at all – from the enormous budget set aside for the spectacle, while any revenue from unofficial payments would have to be passed upwards in the governmental hierarchy anyway. Others, however, suspected that they could divert quite considerable amounts of money from the spectacle budget for their personal gain, while earning enough from unofficial payments to satisfy their superiors. Everyone else assumed that reality was somewhere in between these two extremes. Despite the widely differing opinions on this point, my interlocutors all agreed that holiday preparations were an excellent opportunity for government officials to promote their positions in patronage relations. Auditions in particular were seen as an important forum for forging new dependencies, which could later be made profitable – or pleasurable (see Chapter 6). Whether it is recognition as an expert, support for students, financial rewards, an increase in prestige, job promotions, the enactment of power or the promise of patronage benefits, participation in the selection committee usually entails positive rewards for its members. And these effects are realised, regardless of whether the members really believe in the holidays’ nation-­building potential or truly support the government’s broader politics. As mentioned above, some highlighted in conversations the necessity and significance of these spectacles for national cohesion and were determined to fulfil an important patriotic duty or to contribute to the development of aesthetic tastes. For them, their commitment to choose singers for the estrada block was about meaning and believing, at least partially. For others, who were more critical – or more outspoken in their critique – of presidential rule and doubted the promises of nationalist renewal and cultural progress by means of spectacles, the consequences of participation in the committee took priority, rendering the issue of meaning and believing rather irrelevant. And there were a few, already well rewarded with fame and fortune and thus indifferent to the promises of prestige and financial benefits, who may have regretted the audition’s demands on their time, but saw their participation as an obligation they owed the state, one they could not have shaken off anyway without risking repercussions from the authorities. When I asked a member of staff at the Conservatory’s estrada faculty why the scene’s superstars spent three days in a row in the freezing Turkiston Palace to select colleagues for Navro’z, he said: “They don’t have a choice. You can’t say no. Or they need to straighten something out, improve their standing with the government and thus volunteer” (02.2004). The selection committee represents the government at Navro’z and Independence Day auditions. It wields considerable power and, when taking decisions, it often speaks with one, authoritative voice. Committee members are also physically located together, at a distance and opposite from the stage activities. Still, in light of the heterogeneity of its members, their ambitions and motivations as well as their different involvements with the state and its power structures, it seems impossible to imagine the committee

88  Staging estrada I being one neatly bounded, solid and unanimous entity that could act as one part of the binary of state vs. artist model. It is even less imaginable, when one reflects on the porousness of its boundaries, given the above-mentioned connections that committee members sometimes have with the singers on stage. To further complicate, but also to normalise, matters, the artists who enter and exit the stage at the auditions in a rapid succession are similarly a heterogeneous entity. Artists If I found impatience and annoyance to be the defining sentiments on the part of the selection committee during the auditions, as I mentioned earlier, then the dominating mood among the singers on and behind the stage seemed to be indifference and resentment. Later, in interviews and informal conversations, this impression was both confirmed and contradicted. There had been resentment and there had been indifference – but there had also been some measure of competitive eagerness, occasionally fiercely so, which had escaped my attention at the time. Resentment was partially related to the brusque behaviour of the selection committee, which some singers considered disrespectful. One wellknown female artist described her experience the following way: “Turn around”, they say, “we will look at what you have there.” Honestly, such things were said. I walk on the stage, they know me, [but say] “Introduce yourself.” [Then] People’s Artist Nasiba Abdullaeva enters, they tell her “Name, please!” This is offensive. (10.2005) Artists complained much more emphatically, however, about the demands on their time. Many were dissatisfied with the audition itself, which they had been ordered to attend and where they often had to wait in the crowded wings backstage for their turn. The situation is worse for artists from outside Tashkent. Many make long journeys to the capital and back home, mostly on the same day, just to spend a maximum of five minutes on stage – ­sometimes knowing in advance that they will not pass the auditions anyway, as their participation is required only to fulfil official plans or expectations of provincial subservience within the centralised culture administration. In view of this, it is not surprising that many artists showed little enthusiasm in their performances and had obviously not prepared in any particular way for the event. From their own experiences or those of their colleagues they knew, that if, unexpectedly, the committee were keen to include them in the spectacles, chances were that they would end up with the same song with different lyrics, the same lyrics with a different song or even with a completely new piece – exactly as a former member of staff at O’zbeknavo described the selection committee’s corrective interventions:

Staging estrada I  89 If … they find an interesting performer, but the repertoire still “limps”, then they help with the repertoire. If a song is very good in its structure, but the arrangement is not yet finalised by arrangers, composers, or [if there is the] need to finalise the text, then attention will be paid to this.12 (11.2003) Another reason for resentment related to time was hinted at but not directly discernible at the auditions themselves. This is the demands on time that will be made should one be selected for participation in the actual show. As was described earlier, rehearsals for the spectacles go on for weeks. In addition, one might be asked to re-record a song from one’s repertoire or even learn and record a completely new song for the show’s playback track. And then there is always the danger that all this will amount to nothing, as one might still be dropped from the programme at short notice. Apart from a commitment in time, being chosen for the estrada block also means a noticeable loss of regular income, particularly in the case of Independence Day. Estrada singers earn the bulk of their salary from performing at weddings, and late spring to early autumn is the favourite season for getting married – fruit and vegetables are in abundance and the weather allows those with enough space at home to celebrate outdoors in their courtyards. Stars of the scene can earn several hundred – even several thousand – ­dollars a night during that season by driving from one wedding to another to perform the currently fashionable short gigs of three to four songs, called birrov in Uzbek (literally: in a wink, in a jiffy, quickly). Other, lesser-known singers might be hired with their ensembles as the dezhurka, which literally – and aptly – means “on-call service” in Russian. They provide music for the whole duration of the party and those musicians accompany singers who have dropped in for a birrov, unless they have their own ensembles with them or perform to a digital minus or plyus anyway.13 Unless the preparations coincide with Ramadan, during which the marriage season is suspended, Navro’z and Independence Day rehearsals clash with potential wedding engagements. Financial losses are most severe for those artists who are sent from Tashkent to perform – and thus also rehearse – for the provincial editions of the holidays, musical missions that are consequently particularly unpopular. One day before Independence Day in 2008, a sound engineer told me the following story about the unlucky fate of a singer who had been selected to perform in the spectacle: [X] is annoyed about Independence Day. His brother, who is with him in the group, too. They lose a lot of money. He currently gets 700 dollars for a birrov, and he has three, sometimes even five weddings a day. … [X] recorded a song for Independence Day in the studio. That was an overnight thing, from four in the afternoon to three at night. That was eleven hours. We gave him a special price of 350 dollars, but that was still expensive and time-consuming. There were a lot of musicians, karnay

90  Staging estrada I [long trumpet], surnay [double reed instrument]. The shtab [head festival committee] liked the rough version, but the final version they didn’t. They said: “Take something old.” (08.2008) Officially, estrada singers are not paid for their performances in Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles. As already mentioned, their commitment is one of the obligations they assume by signing their licence contract with O’zbeknavo and, besides being considered a patriotic duty, part of the tradeoff for being exempted from having to pay taxes. In reality, however, money flows in various directions. For acquaintances with close connections to the estrada scene, it was a kind of sport to trade names and figures, when out together for tea or dinner around the time of Navro’z and I­ ndependence Day. Despite assertions from officials to the contrary, some singers obviously and unofficially do receive money for their performances  – from O’zbeknavo funds or the general holiday budget. The higher their star status and the more untroubled their relationship to the government, the likelier it is that they will be compensated for their efforts. A high star status alone, however, is not enough. At the same time, as noted above, money flows in the other direction, and this happens much more frequently. Singers pay selection committee members and other government officials to be included in the estrada block. This means there must be something to be gained from performing at Navro’z and Independence Day – and this something must outweigh the demands on time and loss of income which participation entails. Pleasure is surely one aspect. Those who had performed in one or more spectacles already, especially younger singers, talked about the excitement of participating in an event so grand, lavish and generally regarded as important. Some also mentioned their pride related to singing for so many people, including so many prominent people – even if singing at this occasion only means lip-synching to a playback track. With regard to the directors and other actors with major responsibilities for the spectacles’ success, Laura Adams writes about their “pleasure in complicity” with the authoritarian state and its nation-building project (2010: 187–188). Based on my conversations with estrada singers, I would argue that their pleasure centred more on the performance situation as such and less on furthering loftier political and ideological goals. Many did point to the political importance of the event, but my impression was that they drew pride rather than pleasure from this fact. Considering the constant danger of their being dropped from the programme and their generally subordinate position in the overall production processes, it is quite difficult to imagine how a feeling of complicity could genuinely arise. A female artist of great fame, but, to my surprise, with a scathingly critical perspective on estrada administration, talked about her view on singing at these events in the following way: I will tell you the good side [of it], that, which is a plus … [It is] an honour to sing in front of the president. I like this, this is the most exceptional

Staging estrada I  91 [samoye yedinstvennoye], to sing for our president, sing for our authorities [dlya nashikh rukovodyashchikh organov], in order to be tête-à-tête [tet-a-tet]. This is a kind of happiness [schast’e], a part of happiness. I think this is normal. And if a person [contributes] his part there, for example there is a republican holiday to which he contributes his small part, for the sake of his state, for the sake of his nation. I consider this part of happiness. (09.2004) Apart from pleasure and pride, a more crucial and lasting aspect of participation in Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles is the positive effect that it has on one’s reyting. Reyting – a word used in Uzbek and Russian alike – is quite an elusive but omnipresent and vitally important concept in the Uzbek estrada scene. It is for this reason that I will look at it in more detail now.

The concept of reyting Whenever there are formal or informal conversations about estrada ­singers – for example, among people working on the radio or for O’zbeknavo – there is bound to be talk about these artists’ reyting. The concept of reyting may share some features, but it is not synonymous, with the concept of rating as it is used in the classification of performance licences (see Chapter 1), even though it is the same term in Russian and Uzbek. Essentially, reyting is a discursive construct and part of what Richard Leppert and Bruce Lincoln have called an “economy of prestige” (1989: 7). If licences and their respective fees are graded according to the qualifications of the singer in numbered steps, the concept of reyting is more of a continuous scale that refers to a singer’s popularity in the broadest sense. Qualifications may play a part, but not necessarily the most crucial one. One might say that the reyting of singer X is high or low, but more often, one would use reyting relationally – either to indicate a development over time or to draw comparisons between singers. For example, whenever I try to catch up on estrada news when I meet acquaintances after I arrive back in Tashkent, our conversations are full of sentences such as “His reyting has decreased since last year” or “Is the reyting of X higher than that of Y now?” Reyting can also be the basis for an adjective in Russian, reytinged [reyting­ ovyy], used in expressions such as “reytinged artists”. This term could be misleading. It does not refer to all artists who are popular enough to be talked about in terms of reyting in the first place (which, for example, restaurant singers are clearly not), but only denotes artists of highest reyting. The reyting of some of these, particularly senior artists with long, steady and successful careers, is even considered to have solidified beyond the usual vagaries of popularity. To convey this aloofness and proximity to the sky – befitting the metaphor of a star – these artists are sometimes, if rarely, called boeings. They would, however, never refer to themselves as a boeing. Similarly, the term reyting is used much more frequently by artists when talking

92  Staging estrada I about others rather than when talking about themselves – unless they are explaining further career steps, such as this newcomer: I would like to have a try outside Uzbekistan [lit: on a different stage], at a competition which is broadcast to many countries. I very much want to get to [the international music competition] Novaya Volna14 because it increases your audience and very sharply raises your reyting. (11.2005) Just like participation in competitions, participation in Navro’z and Independence Day enhances one’s reyting, sometimes quite considerably. But there are certain subtle factors involved. For example, the later one’s performance in the estrada block, which closes the shows anyway, the better. Thus, the final act is the most advantageous slot in terms of one’s reyting. The longer the president shakes hands and speaks with one afterwards, the better. And if he, as Islom Karimov did on Independence Day 2008, gets up to dance to one’s performance (to the horror of his security personnel and the sound engineers, who had to spontaneously adjust the playback track), this immediately catapults one’s reyting to extreme heights – as it did for singer Ozodbek Nazarbekov’s then. Singers sometimes joke about all this. In 2005, for example, an estrada student who had participated in Navro’z earlier that year told me: “Of course, since then, I haven’t washed the spot where Karimov touched me” (06.2005). Ultimately, however, this is very serious business for them, for one’s reyting has serious professional consequences and can be a very volatile thing. There is no institution that regularly determines one’s reyting on the basis of a detailed checklist and hands out certificates. It is a verbal seal of one’s current popularity, often expressed in relational terms, which is formed by one’s actions as well by others’ discourse about these actions – and about one’s reyting. Performing certain actions produces or confirms one’s reyting, but having others talk about these actions and about one’s reyting itself consolidates it. This means that there is a certain performative dimension to a sentence such as “X was the second last act in the Navro’z spectacle. This is a real boost for her reyting.” Not everyone takes part in the negotiations over reyting, however. It is essentially a professional discourse, which mainly involves people working in the cultural administration of the government, in shou biznes and the media as well as estrada singers, musicians, composers, poets, and the like. The daughters and daughter-in-law of my host family, for example, who had no professional ties to the estrada scene, did not use the word reyting in their frequent chats about the popularity of singers. Still, their assessment of someone’s relative or absolute star status was usually quite congruent with that of contacts whose jobs were linked to estrada and who thought and spoke in terms of reyting. The reason for this is that the discourse of reyting and the hierarchies it constructs gain a momentum that transcends

Staging estrada I  93 the narrow circle of its primary use. It is this momentum that makes the concept of reyting so important for estrada singers: The higher one’s reyting, the more prestigious, sought after and thus more expensive one will be as a wedding act. Whether radio hosts who select music for their shows, O’zbeknavo staff who are called by a future bride’s parents for recommendations for birrovs for the evening wedding party, journalists who write articles about the estrada block at Navro’z, TV presenters who decide whom to interview in their next show or media companies which finance a solo concert in one of the Tashkent concert palaces – the professionals who work with the concept of reyting act as a kind of broker, turning this rather abstract marker of popularity into the appropriate visibility and audibility of the respective artist, which then translates into very tangible financial gain for him or her through wedding engagements. This is where the economy of prestige is interlinked with the economy of wealth (Leppert & Lincoln 1989: 10). Save for a few exceptions, which I will look at in Chapter 6, a high reyting always means high visibility and audibility in the public sphere, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Artists often seek to reach a higher reyting by pretending to already have one. Giving grand solo concerts as a newcomer is such a strategy. The concert itself is important, but the number of days in a row the concert is scheduled and where it takes place, with the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples being the most prestigious location, also play a role in determining its significance – and are a source of rivalry between singers. For example, when new singers come too close to the level of artists of top reyting in terms of concert scheduling, the latter may take exception and, as was frequently the subject of discussion, may launch attempts to sabotage the newcomer’s career advance, for example, by launching dirty rumours to harm his or her reputation. Other common strategies for claiming star status are to pay for extensive radio and TV play or to buy journal articles. They may sometimes work, but are often less successful, especially when the gap between claim and reality is too wide. Participation in Navro’z and Independence Day is especially advantageous in these struggles: It confirms or enhances one’s reyting, and, at the same time, heightens one’s audibility and visibility through extensive media coverage – two ­processes that often do not occur simultaneously. Apart from the promise of popularity among the wider public, there is another benefit to be gained from these particular types of engagements: popularity with the government. Being selected for the spectacles’ estrada blocks is proof of one’s positive recognition by the state and its organs. While this feeds directly into one’s reyting and thus improves the prospect of more lucrative wedding deals, it also feeds into the prestige economy of the state, whose main currency is state awards with their respective entitlements. When, for example, in 2008, young estrada singer Gulsanam Mamazoitova closed the Independence Day show, everybody I spoke with in the estrada scene was convinced that this prominent position would most certainly earn her a People’s Artist title – not immediately, as she had been honoured

94  Staging estrada I as Distinguished Artist only two years before and, at 27 years of age, she would be too young for this distinction anyway, but certainly in a few years’ time. And, indeed, in 2013 their predictions came true. There was still talk about the prematurity of this step and there were the usual complaints about the overall preferential treatment of estrada singers in the granting of state awards, seen as part of the inexorable estradisation of culture. At the same time, Gulsanam Mamazoitova generally enjoyed an impeccable reputation and, having had the honour of being the closing act, it would have been difficult to refuse her recognition as People’s Artist. Aside from their role in significantly enhancing a singer’s reyting and therefore functioning as a form of symbolic capital that translates into financial capital, just as they do for composers, state awards are valued, irrespective of any promises of financial gain. They are markers of proximity between an artist and the government, a relation which not only makes the pursuit of one’s career more comfortable in various respects, but is actually considered by many an essential aspect of what it means to be a proper and professional artist in the first place. I will come back to this issue in more detail later. It would be incorrect, however, to assume the existence of a separate state circuit of reyting. While there might be incongruities, even extreme ones in exceptional cases, between a singer’s standing with the government and her or his popularity in shou biznes and the wedding circuit, these two spheres of recognition are usually at least linked and almost always closely correlated, converging in a joint and general reyting. Consequently, during preparations for Navro’z and Independence Day, reyting is – in a variety of intricate ways – a crucial factor in negotiations over the final form of the estrada block. There are artists who consider their reyting already sufficiently high and stable and are thus not keen to perform, but whose star status the organisers need to furnish the spectacles with the necessary prestige. Those artists are likely to be paid for their participation. Then there are those whose desire to perform is matched by the organisers’ wish to draw on their already established status. Those artists are neither paid nor do they pay for their participation. This is also true of those who do not wish to perform, but are selected anyway. Finally, there are those who want to enhance or solidify their reyting and are thus keen on performing, but whose status is too low to enhance the festivities – a category of singers I will call spectacle enthusiasts and whom I will look at in more detail now. Spectacle enthusiasts It is not always the case, but often spectacle enthusiasts pay to participate, or rather, pay in an attempt to participate – if their bids are unsuccessful, their investment will not be returned. The majority of them are newcomers who compete for one of the few slots for “promising young talents”. A radio journalist explained how important it is for them to participate in Navro’z and Independence:

Staging estrada I  95 This is for promo … This is mainly interesting for young singers [lit: youth], because they need PR, and they want to be seen not only by the public but also by the government – who they are, what they are doing. Essentially, this [Independence Day] is like a PR company. (11.2005) Sometimes, more senior singers, who are hoping to regain their former popularity in shou biznes and the wedding market, try to buy their way into the estrada block at Navro’z or Independence Day as a similarly convenient but significant step towards making a comeback. And then there are those who have fallen from grace with the government, usually over licence issues, for whom the two major spectacles are an important occasion to restore themselves to good favour with the state and its organs. At the auditions for Navro’z 2004, for example, Ozoda Nursaidova turned up unexpectedly. This singer, who performed Asrasin, the first Uzbek patriotic video clip I ever saw back in in 2001, is one of the few stars whose great popularity in the wedding scene is not matched by government ­recognition – at least not any more – due to extended quarrels, officially couched in language about licence issues (see Chapter 6). As one of the selection committee members told me later, her surprise appearance was judged to be an attempt at improving relations, but it was unsuccessful. Her standing with government officials at various levels of authority was too damaged and she was deemed too unrepentant at heart for the committee to even consider discussing her inclusion – despite the fact that her great talent was undisputed and she had even been honoured as a Distinguished Artist earlier. If an artist in a similar situation does manage to get into the estrada block at one of the major spectacles, this is a sure sign of her or his official rehabilitation. This does not necessarily mean that they paid for their inclusion; a song that fits the spectacle well is often investment enough. Regardless of the motivation behind one’s attempt to get on the Navro’z or Independence Day programme, however, the sum paid for a good song usually exceeds the sum paid for inclusion, if the latter financial transaction is involved at all. Most of the spectacle enthusiasts commission one or several new songs for the occasion from a composer and/or arranger, to lyrics either bought from a poet or issued by O’zbeknavo or the Ministry of Culture. They then record these songs before the audition in minus and plyus versions. Depending on the prestige and professionalism of those involved in the process, these additional expenses can add up to several thousand dollars. For the top stars of estrada, who earn just as much with just one birrov at a wedding, this is a negligible sum. For newcomers, however, who might get 50 dollars for a birrov and are invited to weddings only once or twice a week, this is a considerable amount of money. Given this substantial prior investment and the prospect of immensely enhancing one’s reyting, should one be successful, it is little surprising that struggles for a slot in the estrada block can be fiercely competitive.

96  Staging estrada I A student from the Conservatory, for example, became notorious for her relentless and ruthless campaign for a place on the programmes during the audition phases in 2004. She not only directly approached everyone she considered influential in the decision-making process, including me, surprisingly, because she suspected that a foreigner with a video camera must have good relations with people “at the top”. She and her family also resorted to more, one might say hands-on measures, such as her hitting another candidate at the auditions backstage with her handbag and her mother getting into a verbal and physical dispute with another young singer’s mother in the middle of the city’s central department store ZUM. Finally, this singer actually did make it into the Independence Day show, but was nearly expelled from the Conservatory. While most people I spoke to noted that this was an extreme case, rivalry and envy were described as common sentiments among spectacle enthusiasts around Navro’z and Independence Day. Many others experienced disappointment when all their efforts – financial and otherwise – did not meet with success. A sound engineer remembered how one of the young customers at his studio was really devastated by news about his failure: I remember, how much he wanted to get into Independence Day. He very much hoped, he paid someone, his songs he recorded with us. When they said “No. Rejection, it won’t work out,” he cried. He really did! (11.2005) The immense zeal and strong desire on part of these singers hoping to be selected for performance at the two major state spectacles should not lead one to forget that a great number of their colleagues tries hard not to be selected. I will analogously call this group of singers spectacle evaders. Spectacle evaders Almost all spectacle evaders I talked to had already performed at Navro’z and Independence Day, and almost all were generally willing or even eager to do it again. Their main reason for hoping not to be selected was a perceived lack of current need for participation. They were satisfied with their reyting at that time and preferred exploiting it with lucrative wedding engagements instead of spending long hours at rehearsals. The young singer who dreamt of participating in the Novaya Volna ­competition, for example, had quite a clear idea about how frequently she and others should appear at the two major state spectacles: I think it is important to perform at [lit.: go out to] some celebration at least once every two years. Every time, this is not really obligatory. But there are singers who, if they do not perform every time, will not be able to any more. Yulduz Usmanova, for example, has closed Navro’z and

Staging estrada I  97 Independence Day every time for seven or eight years, this is already a tradition. And up to now it has not happened that she has missed even one celebration. (11.2005) In addition to backroom talks with O’zbeknavo officials, the most promising strategy for non-selection, singers agreed, is to actually show up at the auditions, thus avoiding potential allegations of breaching one’s licence contract, and feign a modest amount of enthusiasm on stage, but to present neither completely new nor particularly well-suited songs. Still, one can never be sure one will be passed over in the auditions, as several singers confirmed. Once the selection committee is determined to include someone, it is hard for that person to get off their list in time – that is, before rehearsals start. I cannot rule out that artists might pay to be omitted from the programme, but I do not have any data on this. The worst outcome for spectacle evaders is the same as that for spectacle enthusiasts: to be selected, maybe even made to rehearse and record a new song, only then to be dropped from the programme at the real or presumed whim of someone “at the top” shortly before the actual event. This scenario means investing a maximum amount of time in return for nothing – neither reyting (which one would have earned as part of the estrada block in its final set-up) nor income (which one would have earned had one spent rehearsal time at weddings instead). In contrast to some spectacle enthusiasts, however, spectacle evaders at least do not lose any money in unofficial payments should they fail to make the final show.

Minor concerts Navro’z and Independence Day are, without a doubt, the most important government-organised festivities in which the estrada scene is involved, but they are certainly not the only ones. There are myriad other state concerts and official events that O’zbeknavo staffs with its licensed singers. On most of these occasions, the selection process is far less laborious and lengthy than the auditions and their aftermath for Navro’z and Independence Day; often it is managed with just a few phone calls and no prior rehearsals. Nevertheless, the amount of “events determined by state and government” in which estrada artists have to perform in order to fulfil their contractual licence duties is astonishing. To provide a fuller picture of their official obligations and to explore the mechanisms of reyting beyond the two most important state spectacles, I will now turn my attention to these minor concerts. A calendar of concerts Some minor concerts are, like the major events, invitation-only. Others are so-called charity concerts [xayriya kontsertlari], meaning that admission is

98  Staging estrada I free either for the entire audience or at least for parts of it, if priced tickets are donated to certain socially disadvantaged groups. Charity concerts are frequent. In its activity report for 2001–2003, for example, O’zbeknavo lists 33 charity concerts out of a total number of 112 concerts in Tashkent for the first six months of 2002, and 190 out of a total of 410 concerts in the rest of the country for the same period (O’zbeknavo 2001–2003: 7). Smaller state holidays, inaugurations and anniversaries dominate this calendar of concerts in honour of events, cities, institutions and professions. Age groups are also celebrated with estrada, with events often taking place in connection with Uzbekistan’s motto of the year, such as 2002’s “Respecting the Elderly”, 2008’s “Youth” or 2014’s “Healthy Child”.15 The following passage from O’zbeknavo’s activity report for the first nine months of 2006 gives a rather good impression of the various festive occasions for which estrada singers are recruited: The association actively participated in organising on a high artistic level the ‘Day of the homeland defenders’ on January 14, the ‘International women’s and girls’ day’ on March 8, the ‘International day for protection of children’ on June 1, the ‘Day of press workers’ on June 26, the ‘Day of construction workers’ on August 9, the founding of the medical academy on September 4, the ‘Day of teachers and educators [o’qituvchi va murabbiylar kuni]’ on September 29. (O’zbeknavo 2006: 1, capitalisation original) Occasions for charity concerts can also be gruesome, though, lending the label an outright cynical quality. About two weeks after the Andijon events in 2005, for example, estrada artists were summoned at short notice by the minister of culture and sport and sent from Tashkent to Andijon to give a concert with the aim, as the manager of one artist related, marking quotation marks in the air with his hands, “to sing out against the terrorism and help pacify the city” (10.2005). There had also been other, earlier political incidents in which estrada artists had been deployed as a kind of musical rapid response team in order to ease tense situations or shape public opinion. In 2000, a Military Patriotism Song Festival [Harbiy Vatanparvarlik Qo’shiqlari Festivali] entitled We Will Give You to No One, Uzbekistan! [Hech Kimga Bermaymiz Seni, O’zbekiston!] assembled the superstars of the estrada scene and, according to official sources, more than 15,000 enthusiastic spectators. An attempt to dissuade young people from involvement with radical Islam and encourage them to rally behind patriotism instead, the festival was organised in the wake of various attacks earlier that year which the Uzbek government had attributed to Islamic fundamentalists (see Chapter 7). Musical missions to rural Uzbekistan, which are high on the concert agenda from about mid-September until mid-November, also have little to do with happy events. During this time, estrada artists provide entertainment to “cotton pickers and voluntary helpers [paxtakorlar va hasharchilarga]” during the cotton harvest (O’zbeknavo 2001–2003: 6). In this context, the term “voluntary helpers” is a blunt euphemism for the countless pupils, students,

Staging estrada I  99 teachers, low-ranking government clerks and other adults, altogether around one million people, who were annually forced to help out as harvest hands and support professional farmers in this hard manual work in the Karimov era. Former students I spoke to about these annual spells of involuntary labour all recalled the immense hardship of harvesting and their anger at just being pulled from their university courses. But they also recounted, how much they had enjoyed the concerts – “cultural rest” or “cultural relaxation” in official parlance – and being able to mix quite freely with young people of the same age and of the other sex without parental supervision. There are two more types of O’zbeknavo’s activities that fall under the category of charity in its broadest sense, that is, providing estrada performances free of charge: sending artists to perform at poor families’ weddings16 and holding events for young people with the goal of enlightenment and education, such as this initiative: In order to study the spiritual demand of Uzbekistan’s youth and to spiritually educate the youth, since 1 February 2001, the ‘O’zbeknavo’ EA [Estrada Association] in cooperation with the Uzbekistan National University and the “Kamolot youth movement” organises and conducts monthly talk-meetings and concert programmes on the topic “The songs you like” in the Culture palace … (ibid.: 3, capitalisation original) In recent years, these educational engagements have become much more extensive in scope, as artists are also sent to the provinces and Karakalpakstan for what is described by O’zbeknavo as “lessons in spirituality propaganda”. My last fieldtrip in March 2016 coincided with the beginning of such a mission in culturalisation – or rather spiritualisation. The end of the month saw the start of a “Youth Festival” organised by the Kamolot Youth Movement with three-day-long activities in each of Uzbekistan’s provinces as well as Karakalpakstan and spanning across more than 10 weeks altogether from the end of March until the end of May. Under the title We Are Children of a Great Country, the festival centred on a total of 18 topics, among them “This is My Homeland”, “The Parliamentarian and Youth”, “The Heroes You Love”, “Mass Culture and Youth Spirituality”, “‘The Victory Is Ours!’ Independence Marathon”, “The Conscientious Salesman”, “From Short Film to Big Cinema”, “The Kamolot Library” and “I Serve Uzbekistan”. Estrada artists were part of the programme as performers, but also as guests for talks with children and young people, and the list of participants reads like a who’s who of the 2016 estrada scene. Some of them had just finished the weeks of rehearsals for and the actual performance of Navro’z and were now about to embark on trips to various provinces and Karakalpakstan – as were poets, writers, classical and academic musicians, actors, athletes, scholars and other public figures. By chance, I met several of them at the Tashkent domestic airport. When I was waiting to take a flight to Ferghana, they were about to board a plane to Qarshi, the capital of Qashqadaryo

100  Staging estrada I province, where the festival was to begin. With Ramadan running from 6 June to 4 July that year and preparations for Independence Day starting directly afterwards and stretching until 1 September, it was clear that those singers, who had been appointed for two or three such trips, would miss a good part of the wedding season in 2016 thanks to their participation “in events determined by state and government”. In addition to providing entertainment or education free of charge, O’zbeknavo organises concerts with admission fees, albeit very modest ones. These mostly take the form of gala shows with a great variety of estrada singers. In Tashkent, at least, they are mainly autumn and winter amusements, staged either in the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples (Figure 3.2) or the Turkiston Palace. Throughout the year, Tashkent-based artists are also sent on tour by O’zbeknavo to participate in similar concerts around the country in order to, as one O’zbeknavo official phrased it, “level out inequalities in cultural supply”: In one oblast there are very many, in another very few events. For this reason, we have to take care that performers have the opportunity to travel there. The people who live in Surxandaryo, for example, it’s not their fault that they live there. For this reason, we have to take care that it is affordable/accessible and cheap for them to visit [concert] halls. (11.2005)

Figure 3.2  T  he Palace of the Friendship of Peoples, 2006

Staging estrada I  101 Occasionally, however, estrada artists are summoned in the other direction, when it is requested that a provincial O’zbeknavo organise a so-called r­ eport concert [otchëtnyy kontsert] in Tashkent, presenting the respective region’s estrada talent for critical inspection in the capital. Numbers, rewards and resentment Unfortunately, the O’zbeknavo activity reports and other internal documents accessible to me do not include exact information on the total number of events which O’zbeknavo’s head office in Tashkent or its provincial branches supplied with artists each year. A high-ranking O’zbeknavo official in Tashkent estimated a total of 100–200 charity concerts alone per year, to which a smaller number of non-charity events would have to be added (Figure 3.3). Exact figures are difficult to estimate, but at least for Tashkent, based on various conversations and my observations, I would estimate that in total and on average, O’zbeknavo needed to staff one to three events per week with estrada singers. For this, it had, in theory, access to about 500 artists in Tashkent alone with a category 1 licence, a prerequisite for performing in public concerts. In practice, however, officials needed to bestow a certain

Figure 3.3  A  poster for a charity concert organised by O’zbeknavo (second from right) between posters for a commercial concert, for a circus show and for a printer on one of the “Tashkent Announcements” boards in the city centre, 2005

102  Staging estrada I glamour on most of these events, significantly limiting the pool of artists. As one O’zbeknavo official claimed: “We are only sending the best performers.” What he means is artists above a certain level of reyting, perhaps interspersed with some still rather unknown newcomers, depending on the importance of the event. Definite numbers are not available, but estimates by officials and people in the media converged on a figure of around 50–70 singers altogether, of whom some 15–20 would be the most sought after. The composition of this narrow circle – and its core – would change with the usual fluctuations and gradations of reyting within the estrada scene. This means there is a significant number of minor concerts and related events for which O’zbeknavo could enlist an estrada singer – in addition to Navro’z and Independence Day – and the likelihood that one would actually be chosen increased with one’s reyting, at least to a certain extent. But as mentioned above, many of these events required less time and effort than did Navro’z and Independence Day – on the part of officials in selecting artists and on the part of artists in preparing and rehearsing. Furthermore, estrada singers sometimes received some financial remuneration and, at least for the smaller events, there was more room to negotiate a refusal should one receive a request to perform. On the topic of remuneration, I received divergent information, but there was more reason for me to believe artists claiming to have received money than officials claiming not to have paid any. In contrast to the commitments and risks that Navro’z and Independence Day entail, the conditions surrounding these comparably minor events might seem more favourable. They come with one crucial downside, however: Their effect on one’s reyting is also minor. Demonstrating availability and a willingness to perform would be positively acknowledged by O’zbeknavo, and maybe even by other government officials. But being included, for example, in the “Best Teacher of the Year” ceremony for the Tashkent City Medical Institute at the Turkiston Palace obviously does not secure the attention of the highest-ranked state representatives, nor does it bring with it the immense publicity and prestige or audibility and visibility that participation in Navro’z and Independence Day promises. Consequently, estrada singers are rarely enthusiastic when summoned to perform in minor concerts, and apart from real beginners who are only starting to accumulate governmental recognition, I never heard anyone express particular eagerness to participate – and most certainly not the kind of eagerness that would translate into an unofficial payment. On the contrary, the most frequent response to requests of this kind by O’zbeknavo was annoyance – slight, if one had no other plans, but profound, if this clashed with prior engagements. Not showing up when one has been appointed is a strategy some artists try to employ as a way out, but usually with harsh consequences (see Chapter 6). In conversations with me or among themselves, singers and other actors in the estrada scene cited time commitment as the most important reason behind their resentment. Another source of irritation in the context of these

Staging estrada I  103 concert assignments was the fact that they were felt to resemble musical conscriptions. One male singer said about being sent on musical missions to the provinces on the occasion of state holidays: “We are supposed to go there just like soldiers” (11.2005). A female singer of top reyting was similarly resentful: It is not like paying your licence and that’s it. They say “Go, work!” Then they call, say: “We have an event here [and you have to go]!” For some reason they sometimes relate to artists like to service staff [k obsluzhivayushchemu personalu]: “Come on, forward!”, and we don’t have a say in there, we cannot say anything. (11.2005) In 2016, a young female singer went so far as to compare her engagement for an Independence Day spectacle in one of the provinces the year before to the services of a sex worker to the militsiya, commonly called subbotnik, the same term used for the obligatory community clean-up day: “They call you, do with you what they want to, and don’t pay” (03.2016). It would be wrong to attribute these reactions to the disproportionate sensitivity of capricious pop stars spoilt by their fans’ devotion. The language used in O’zbeknavo’s activity reports to describe the allocation of singers to events, particularly the verbs used, aligns with their perception. In the four reports available to me, only once were artists “invited” [taklif qilindi] to perform in an event. In all other cases “their participation was provided” [ishtirokini ta’minlandi] and most often they were “enlisted/summoned” [ jalb qilindi] (O’zbeknavo 2007: 4). This terminology resonates with Laura Adams’ and Assel Rustemova’s observation in the context of state holidays that performers “are requisitioned in a manner similar to other supplies that the spectacle producers must acquire” (2009: 1264). It also resonates with my own experiences witnessing interactions between O’zbeknavo officials and estrada singers and among officials themselves on the topic of these enlistments. It was especially the fact that participation was often expected at extremely short notice that would provoke the anger even of those singers who did not generally oppose performing for free in minor concerts. Several times over the course of research, I heard stories from estrada artists who had already been on the way to wedding engagements or concerts outside Tashkent when they were called by O’zbeknavo and summoned to sing at an event the same day. When they refused due to prior commitments, they found their licences suspended on their return to Tashkent and these were restored only after they gave in to exhortations from O’zbeknavo officials, offered their apologies and, sometimes, paid unofficial fines. Thus, artists resent minor concerts for essentially the same the reasons they resent the two major events, Navro’z and Independence Day. But in contrast to the latter, giving (time) and taking (rough treatment) here are

104  Staging estrada I perceived not to be satisfactorily balanced by gaining (reyting) – or at least the promise of gaining. At the beginning of my fieldwork, most artists spoke about minor concerts as an unavoidable nuisance, not very profitable, but, save for short-term commitments, at least quite predictable and, taken individually, not very time-intensive. Others found them somehow embarrassing as not really fitting the glamorous image they liked to present in public. Over the course of my research, however, anger and annoyance decidedly grew, and it was very much present in March 2016 in light of the imminent engagements in the We Are Children of a Great Country youth festival. On the whole, however, the degree of resentment that I encountered among estrada artists when conversations and interviews turned to the various and often numerous duties to perform on state demand was considerably lower than I had expected. I had also anticipated that this resentment would have a different focus. To conclude this chapter, I will examine this discrepancy now in more detail.

Duty and service When I first started to get a rough idea about the immense scope of the Uzbek government’s obligation on estrada singers to perform, I automatically assumed a general and very fundamental antipathy towards these compulsory commitments on the part of artists. After all, singers of high reyting, who perform at both Navro’z and Independence Day, and who are frequently enlisted in other state events, are busy with government-mandated concert appearances at least part of the day for three to four months out of each year. At the beginning of fieldwork, my assumption that there would be reluctance even made me hesitant to openly ask questions about this subject for fear of treading on politically delicate or even dangerous ground, and I spent considerable amounts of time before interviews thinking about how to approach the topic in the most unsuspicious way possible. But people reacted with an ease and openness that thwarted my expectations and already suggested a radically different perspective from mine. What I had suspected to be a highly sensitive topic acquired instead an aura of astounding normality in conversations. Artists certainly voiced criticism, sometimes substantial, related to demands on time as well as a lack of respect in how they were treated. Occasionally there were even rumours about physical abuse. Surprisingly, however, criticism rarely targeted the system as such or the resulting proximity between estrada singers and government. For artists of top reyting, the deal of “no tax in return for concert commitments” is a financially extremely favourable one, and it enables them to accumulate immense riches. After all, some earn the amount needed to pay their yearly licence fee in just one evening in the wedding season. They can then spend the rest of their annual income on whatever they like. Judging by popular TV shows, where TV crews visit estrada stars at home, palace-like houses, expensive cars, grand feasts and luxurious holidays are

Staging estrada I  105 spending priorities. Judging from my own visits to the homes of some top reyted acts, however, not all of them live in this kind of conspicuous luxury. But among the few artists of top-level reyting that I talked to, none felt a reason to complain about the system. On the contrary, many praised it for really contributing to the development of estrada – an understanding of the term development, which is, as will be seen in Chapter 7, not very congruent with the official definition of progress that has informed estrada politics since 2001. A female singer of top reyting described it the following way: Well, I think to buy a licence – I think this is normal, because in civilised Europe it is also not the case that someone just would not pay taxes. You pay taxes, but our licence is equal in value to your yearly tax. This means, we buy a licence and we are freed from taxes. This is wonderful, I think. (09.2008) Profit margins are not nearly as high for most artists, and for many a licence fee is a substantial investment, especially, as several singers remarked, since O’zbeknavo predominantly – or even exclusively – gave out the most expensive rating group. Still, broad criticism was rare, even among artists with less lucrative profits. Since their financial gain was limited, their acceptance of this arrangement could not be based on commercial advantages. It was linked instead to the fact that quite a number of them related their activities to concepts of duty and service – as did some of the above-mentioned superstars. Both terms, duty and service, are already familiar from the legal documents explored in Chapter 1, where they are a rhetoric staple. A primary objective for establishing O’zbeknavo in 1996, for example, was the “perfection of cultural services to the population”, and it remained one of its central tasks until 2016. O’zbeknavo does not subcontract artists to fulfil this task, however. It instead acts as a kind of broker for it, turning it into an artist’s individual obligation by means of the licence system. The numerous and extensive duties to which estrada singers must consent in order to receive the permission to perform are described in a way that essentially and fundamentally casts them as their very own. Consequently, the fulfilment of these, and service in general, are considered to be a kind of personal responsibility that transcends the usually narrower understanding of a contractual framework. Some singers talked about duty and service in a way that seemed to just mechanically echo official language, which can often, of course, be related to a strategic reticence vis-à-vis a foreign researcher. For others, however, duty and service seemed to be more than just a tried and tested veneer of political expediency. They appeared to be integral, sometimes even central, components of their self-concept as artists, albeit in differing degrees and varying interpretations. Considering the fact that all professional estrada singers in Uzbekistan earn their living by performing at weddings, this is

106  Staging estrada I hardly surprising. After all, this means providing entertainment services at people’s request – and this is how they spend most of their time. Even a male singer of high reyting described his position in these terms: I am a singer, I am a small person, I am an outsider to the people, I am not a big figure. They pay me, I am like a servant. Someone you hire, pay money. Essentially, I am such a person. An elite circle does not appreciate this. (08.2008) Some singers do not like this image of musical servants, but most simply take for granted that this is an aspect of being an estrada artist and for many, the understanding of service transcends the normal boundaries of a financially remunerated job anyway. It includes ideas of social duty, for some also religious duty, and has an educative component – as it does for this male singer of high reyting in his early thirties: “I want to somehow help people with something, educate them to the good side, influence [them] to the good side. The goal in this is the service to god” (11.2005). Not everyone would subscribe to the religious aspects reflected in this estrada singer’s comment, but even many of the more secular-minded artists attribute a higher purpose to their art than the mere provision of entertainment for others – and the provision of a living for themselves. Some singers, especially those who had already been active in the Soviet era, talked about raising the cultural level and aesthetic tastes of the population through their art. Others mentioned addressing domestic or social problems and, through this, giving people moral support – or a moral example – as important for their work. Interviewing Yulduz Usmanova in the early 1990s, Theodore Levin found her expressing exactly these ideas: Yet, even with all her talk of music as commerce and her bitterness as not earning the fees to which she felt entitled, Yulduz seemed in many ways like a traditional musician. Despite her fame and her broad exposure through mass mediation, her primary musical activity was still the relatively intimate wedding performance. She still understood music as a form of social service whose obligation was to convey moral values. (1996a: 83) Female artists in particular – and Yulduz Usmanova was a pioneer – often take up subjects from women’s lives, such as the hardships of newly-wed women, true love lost through an arranged marriage or the pains of husbands’ extra-marital affairs. For her, a female singer remarked, what was crucial was “the public’s recognition, the important thing for me is to be in the heart of people” (10.2005). As will be discussed in Chapters 5 and 7, the realism and radicalism in depicting social and domestic ills have to stay within certain boundaries, but referencing such problems still has a place in

Staging estrada I  107 estrada, and many singers see it as part of their professional responsibility to address them. In a similar way, several artists spoke about their duty to serve their nation, country and/or government, and did so without just repeating staple phrases. The addressees of their obligation were often rather ill-defined, although a few explicitly excluded the current government, while considering it all the more important to serve nation and country by trying to keep up morale in hard times. This male singer, however, saw estrada artists as intermediaries between politics and people: Our task, you know – creative people like us, we should not work only for politics or only for the people. Here, it was always like this: Creative people should build a bridge from the state to the people. [So that] via us, they walked to each other, you know. Here, if politics do not harm the people, we should [bring] politics to them like a bridge, you know. The nation cries, but they [in the government] do not hear its problems. We should [bring] them its problems in creative form. I think, we should stand in the middle, you know, not there and not there. (09.2005) While some singers did indeed confirm the opinion of a radio journalist that “in their head there is only this – how to earn more” (09.2008), and others dismissed the government’s expectation of duty and service as an intrusion into their freedom and an interference with commercial aims, many singers I talked to – many more than I had expected – had deeply ingrained ideas about duty and service. Thus, being called on by the government to perform at concerts for them was just a logical and normal extension of their own thoughts about their role in society and the purpose of their activities, even though they might resent the manner and the frequency in which they were made to perform.17 Artisthood When I automatically suspected estrada artists would be reluctant to fulfil their various obligatory concert commitments, I did so from what I earlier called a totalitarianising perspective. This perspective can only imagine them to have been coerced, co-opted or duped by the Uzbek government into integrating duty and service into their self-conception. Putting coercion on the agenda is definitely not, however, what makes this gloomy interpretation problematic. Not endorsing service and duty or displaying an understanding of these concepts that diverges from the state version, can – and usually does – result in trouble for estrada singers (see Chapter 6). What does make this perspective problematic is that it presupposes a very particular, essentially romanticist concept of artisthood as an unmarked or even universal matrix, automatically relegating deviating concepts to

108  Staging estrada I the position of inferior anomalies. Accusations of co-optation only make sense if artists are imagined to be free, aloof and detached from political affairs or, if they are politically involved, being so exclusively in a critical way. But why presume a concept of musician to be universal – and relevant in ­Uzbekistan  – when, as various scholars (e.g. Botstein 2007) have convincingly demonstrated, this concept is often little more than a fantasy even in those places where it is generally accepted as the reigning ideology of artisthood? This move seems particularly strange when we consider the fact that Uzbek estrada singers are neither the first nor the only musicians in the world who embrace ideas of duty and service. On the contrary, these concepts have a long history of being prevalent, for example, among court musicians and praise singers, in religious movements and political campaigns, which could serve as a more fitting basis for comparison. When it comes to estrada in Uzbekistan, however, there is not even any need to look elsewhere for similar models of artisthood. They can be traced over centuries through the region’s own history, which has an ample tradition of musicians including service and duty in their self-concept – whether to a Muslim god, as with various kinds of musicians in the Sufi context, to the people, as with musicians providing entertainment at life cycle rituals and those engaged in healing, or to worldly power, as with the court musicians of the emirs and khans. And even today, concepts of duty and service are very common – and highly valued – among classical and folk musicians (see Levin 1996a). Older ideals of duty and service overlap or even merge with later ones. In the Soviet Union, they were harnessed to the cause of socialism in the form of culture workers. Then as now, musicians were meant to support the government in educating people and advancing ­socio-political progress, albeit with different goals.18 If the Karimov government needed to co-opt artists after independence, it was to direct an already existing self-conception towards new goals. The fact that current national independence ideology in Uzbekistan is, in fundamental respects, a continuation of Marxism-Leninism, as will be explored in Chapter 7, is a crucial reason, I would claim, why this change in goals went relatively smoothly. There are, of course, singers in Uzbek estrada, particularly younger ones, and even more so their producers or other people in shou biznes, for whom the whole idea of serving people, country or government seems an absurd and somehow shameful anachronism. They consider the duty towards the state fulfilled with payment of the licence fee – just as other people’s duty is satisfied through payment of their taxes. But in light of the longer history of musicianship in what is now Uzbekistan, it seems hardly surprising that many estrada artists today perceive duty and service as a normal part of their profession. In principle, the situation in Uzbekistan is similar to the one described by Judith Frigyesi for Hungary: It would be tempting to suggest that such a politicized attitude toward art is the result of Communist ideology and shows the attempt of the

Staging estrada I  109 leadership to control all spheres of life, including entertainment and art. The truth, however, is that in Hungary there had never been ‘free’ and ‘noncommitted’ art in the way it exists, for instance, in the United States … [Artists] have refused to retreat into an aesthetic of l’art pour l’art; they have believed in art’s and the artist’s commitment to public life. (Frigyesi 1996: 57f., emphasis original) Also in Uzbekistan, many estrada singers I talked to, particularly but not exclusively those whose careers had begun in the Uzbek SSR, subscribe to an ideal of the committed or engaged artist and consider it the normal concept of musicianship. For them, it is rather a model that posits artists as being ideally free, aloof and detached from political affairs that appears an anomaly – and often an inferior one. For most of them, this model is unattractive since it would, in their view, greatly diminish their societal relevance. Because their pride, self-esteem and sense of importance come from being involved in and needed for the nation’s “culturalisation” and the proper course of grander socio-political processes, it does not appeal to artists to imagine themselves distanced from all this. One female singer in her early thirties summed up her long monologue about the role she saw for herself and her colleagues in society with the following sentences: “You know, if it weren’t for us, everything would fall apart. Look at the state the country is in. We help to hold it together” (06.2004). Reciprocity A concept of artisthood which includes ideas about duty and service as well as endorsing the deal of “no tax in exchange for concert commitments” does not mean, however, that the relationship between estrada and the government was or is necessarily considered ideal – aside from resentments about disrespect or demands on time and other particulars related to its execution. I sometimes encountered discontent with the current arrangement on a more fundamental level: Several singers found it lacking in reciprocity. In their view, their dedication to duty and service for grander socio-political causes deserved more consideration on the part of the government than already existed. Many artists appreciated the tax exemption as well as the increase in reyting and the prospect of state awards that their various concert commitments promised. But for them, this was not enough. They would have found a proper contractual relation appropriate, one in which financial rewards for their services were not indirectly gained via the prestige economy and a – more or less external – shou biznes or wedding engagements, but through direct remuneration by the government itself – in cash, but also in kind, such as in the form of complementary flats and privileged access to high-quality health care. Particularly older singers who had experienced the

110  Staging estrada I Soviet system, where professional musicians had been directly employed by the state and received set salaries, often accused the Uzbek government of having breached its contractual obligations after independence, while demanding estrada artists continue to fulfil theirs. In their opinion, by pursuing partial deregulation and marketisation in the sphere of estrada and officially outsourcing monetary transactions to weddings and shou biznes, the Uzbek government had just furtively abdicated its own allocative duties towards them – and, more generally, towards the proper development of estrada. They experienced liberalisation as loss – in respect, prestige and financial security – and as an absurd deviation from normality in music politics (Brandtstädter 2007: 136). Indignation and incomprehension were even more pronounced among the composers I spoke to. In November 2003, for example, a composer told me about a recent meeting with state officials where singers and composers had been ordered to prepare songs for Navro’z – and was obviously annoyed: We have to provide music, and then there will be a selection, but not a real competition. You cannot ask for a salary. They expect you to do this as a duty to the homeland. There are two great holidays, Independence Day and Navro’z, and it is not asking too much, the responsible people say, to compose two pieces a year. (11.2003) In contrast to singers, composers do not have the opportunity to generate income at weddings, but often live on rather meagre Conservatory salaries. Apart from that, they are dependent on state and private commissions for compositions and faced with a non-functioning system of authors’ rights. In addition, while the government and composers themselves continue to claim that a Conservatory degree in composition or music – in short, ­professionalism – ­­is an inviolable prerequisite for writing a proper and successful estrada song (see Chapter 5), in reality, composers are faced with growing competition from people without such a solid – or even any – ­academic background in music. These competitors approach song-writing with a practical knowledge of keyboards and computers, and prove very successful. All composers who had been active in the Soviet era expressed a preference for the predictability, privileges and profits that the Soviet system had guaranteed (cf. Hann 2006: 10), Of these, only state awards had remained, they claimed. But even these have lost much of their former value due to what people perceive as an inflationary granting of these decorations. Furthermore, many – justifiably – suspect them to have been given to undeserving people on the basis of unofficial payments. Despite all this, they still function as a currency of prestige. What clearly emerged for me in conversations and interviews was that many artists and composers, regardless of whether they had experienced the Soviet system or not – did not necessarily want fewer duties and less service

Staging estrada I  111 to the state, nation and government or even the complete deregulation of estrada, but a more balanced reciprocity. While some estrada singers, particularly those of top reyting, considered this reciprocity achieved through the “no tax in exchange for concert commitments” arrangement, most others did not. They may have subscribed to a certain degree of selflessness and were willing to devote their skills and talents, at least partially, to building the new state, while otherwise concentrating on shou biznes. But they found that the current system demanded an unacceptable level of altruistic dedication. And they were not necessarily alone in that. Various government officials I talked to also found the current system unsatisfactory, but not necessarily for the same reasons. I frequently heard complaints, especially from within O’zbeknavo, about the absence of a budget to pay for artists’ services at minor concerts. And in all of O’zbeknavo’s activity reports dating from its transformation into an estrada association, which were available to me, I found criticism about the expectation of other government or public institutions that the services of estrada singers would be provided free of charge. The “urgent tasks to be solved” in the reports for 2006 and 2007, for example, asked for a top-level decision on the topic of artists’ remuneration, “taking into consideration that the association and its provincial branches are operating on a self-financing basis” (O’zbeknavo 2006; 2007: 9; see 2001–2003: 12). Some staff at O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture argued for remuneration for the same reasons as did artists and composers, namely, the current system’s imbalance, which put too much strain on singers. Others wanted command over these resources in order to enhance the allocative powers of their institution and thus also tighten their grip on singers. And there were those for whom the issue was a red rag. When the topic came up in a conversation with a singer, a senior O’zbeknavo official swiftly brushed it aside by citing one (but the only one derived from John F. Kennedy) of the omnipresent slogans decorating public space in Tashkent: “Don’t ask what independence is doing for you, ask what you are doing for independence.” Concerts and normality First and foremost, estrada artists in Uzbekistan spend a lot of time for independence – or rather for the Uzbek government’s project of sonifying the period of independence. They rehearse for and sing at myriad state concerts of various kinds, sizes and importance, ranging from “Teacher of the Year” events at suburb schools to the grand spectacles of Independence Day and Navro’z. Whether their performances are meant to culturalise presumably disadvantaged parts of country and society, to enlighten young people ideologically, to celebrate political progress already achieved, to advertise nationalist renewal, to represent Uzbekistan favourably to the global community of states, to bestow glamour on otherwise drab festive government events or to simply entertain, they are, at least on the paper of their licence

112  Staging estrada I agreements, obliged to provide their services to sound the state for free. While this contractual relation and its translation into practice give cause for grievances of various forms and of increasing severity, most estrada artists do not resent the general arrangement – and they do not regard the seemingly forced voluntarism it entails as a problematic “survival of the past”, a stubborn relic of socialist cultural policies, as classical transitology would frame it. For them, to serve the state, nation or people is a central idea of their self-concept as singers, the duty of a committed artist and part of a normal life in music – not only in an authoritarian state. But besides these attachments to the governmental take on estrada administration and the political rationale behind it, there are also alienations – beyond complaints about rough treatment and demands on time. Artists may know how to navigate the powerful economy of prestige around the concept of reyting and use to their advantage its intricate entanglement between themselves, shou biznes and government agencies under the conditions of partial deregulation. They may also know how to manoeuvre or even forge the intricate trajectories of power that the production processes particularly around the most important state spectacles Navro’z and Independence Day offer to them. And while many estrada artists may cherish or just accept this system to gain money and recognition or even wish for full deregulation, others blame the Uzbek government for having forsaken its allocative duties, for not properly reciprocating their own commitment for performing the state in sound – in short, for having deviated from a kind of imaginary normality in government-artist-relations. But what is the Uzbek government doing for estrada? If estrada artists spend a lot of time at concerts, the Uzbek government seems to spend a lot of time organising music competitions. Chapter 4 will take a closer look at these.

Notes 1 As mentioned earlier, Laura Adams has done extensive research on these two state holidays (Adams 1998; 1999; 2005; 2008; 2010; Adams & Rustemova 2009). I am grateful to her for discussing Uzbek culture politics with me in Tashkent in the summer of 2004. 2 A propiska is an official document of residential registration. Uzbek citizens cannot just move to Tashkent if they wish, and it is difficult for many to get a propiska there. For this reason, the number of people living in Tashkent without a Tashkent propiska is always high, which makes it hard to reliably assess the capital’s number of inhabitants. 3 Changes to the estrada block, which is really just a sequence of single acts without an overarching theme, appear minor in comparison to the substantial alterations or even complete deletions, which are often suffered by broader stretches of the programme that revolve around a single topic, should “foreign policy concerns and ideological dictates” come into play (Adams 2010: 71). 4 From Hitler’s interventions in music policy (Potter 2006) via Stalin’s commentaries on opera productions (Redepenning 2008: 365) to Kim Jong-il’s infamous “on the spot guidance” for films (Howard 2005: 117f.), leaders of authoritarian

Staging estrada I  113 and totalitarian states are routinely, even if sometimes wrongly, credited with extraordinary personal engagement and direct involvement in artistic matters (see also Botstein 2007: 492). A pleasant corollary of these leaders’ artistic endeavours are the anecdotes about those same leaders’ artistic incompetence (see, for example, Graham 2003: 40). 5 Just as in English, the Uzbek word for star as a celestial body is the same as the word for a popular artist: yulduz, pl. yulduzlar. This is also true for Russian: zvezda, pl. zvëzdy. In more poetic Uzbek, the Persian-derived word setora (more rarely sitora) is sometimes used. 6 There probably are people in Uzbekistan who endorse these shows as a welcome distraction from the hardships in life, as Donna Buchanan has described with regard to 1950s socialist Bulgaria (1995: 396). I did not meet any of these people in Uzbekistan, however, or if I did, they did not admit to having this type of response. 7 For other forms of Independence Day celebrations, see Adams and Rustemova on contemporary Kazakhstan (2009) and Baily on 1970s Afghanistan (1988: 140). For the pleasures of participating in Soviet parades, see Yurchak (1997: 163–166). 8 The selection committee does not wish to see certain artists, such as restaurant singers with licences from the lower categories, and it does not need to see stars whose participation is already clear. The latter may even be part of the selection committee. 9 Many people who are active in the Tashkent estrada scene have actually never heard of this centre. It might well be that it was established more on paper than in reality in order to fulfil tasks laid down in O’zbeknavo’s yearly plan or as a reaction to complaints about the low quality of patriotic songs in previous spectacles. 10 Timothy Rice proposes this approach of a referential aesthetic in the context of Muslim Rom wedding musicians in 1980s Bulgaria: “So they played Bulgarian tunes, but with a kind of aggressive ferocity that expressed wordlessly in music their hostility to a planned economy and nationalist politics that offered them very little” (1996: 186). While somehow appealing, I find this essentially hermeneutic analysis too speculative in the absence of supporting data and generally problematic for its narrow focus on the political. In his research on music in Albania, Nicholas Tochka has similarly warned of reading politics into musical sounds or situations, which might be governed by totally different concerns (2016: 125; see Rasmussen 2002: 16–17). 11 Alisher Azizkhodjaev (1953–2012) certainly had a penchant for martial arts. He is commonly said to have boxed as a young man and, later in life, he served as president of the Uzbek federation of kurash (national wrestling). However, he also held a PhD in law and the title of professor. 12 See Tochka for comparable strategies of non- or rather half-­preparation in the context of socialist Albania’s Festival of Song (2016: 78f.). 13 It might seem remarkable that the terminology to differentiate the two types of performances or hiring is a mixture of Uzbek [birrov] and Russian [dezhurka]. The Uzbek equivalent to dezhurka would be navbatchi. In daily usage, most Uzbeks I know also resort to the Russian word, when referring to the on-call service of pharmacies, for example. So this mixture of languages reflects normal speech habits, at least in Tashkent. 14 Novaya Volna [New Wave] is an International Contest of Young Pop Singers that draws the majority of its participants from the successor states of the Soviet Union and the former socialist countries of eastern Europe. From 2002 to 2014, it took place in Jurmala, Latvia, which had already hosted the late-Soviet-era All-Union Contest of Young Performers of the Soviet Estrada Song from 1986 to

114  Staging estrada I



17 18

1989. Estrada singers in Uzbekistan consider Novaya Volna to be the most prestigious international competition – after the Eurovision Song Contest, which, due to European Broadcasting Union regulations, is not accessible to them. As a consequence of political quarrels between Latvia and the Russian Federation in the wake of the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the competition has taken place in Sochi since 2015. For more information on the contest, see (accessed 7 February 2018). Since 1997, every year has been dedicated to a certain social or economic unit in Uzbekistan, which has then been awarded special attention in turn, for example, with concerts, newspaper articles, etc. For an overview of all mottos assigned so far, see (accessed 7 February 2018). I only encountered this initiative in O’zbeknavo’s activity report for 2007 (p. 5). While singers were actually sent quite frequently to weddings and other festivities on O’zbeknavo’s orders during my fieldwork, these were commonly private assignments on the part of officials and linked to personal obligations or status games in the context of patronage relations. This means the families in question were usually very affluent (see Chapter 6). See Morgan Liu (2017) for a fascinating analysis of “logics of obligation” and ideas about the beneficial “paternalistic state” in Uzbekistan. On how ideas of duty and service in the Soviet Union and in other socialist states translated into musicians’ practical commitments – across genres (see, for example, Bright 1985: 124, 127; Leitner 1994: 22f.; Naby 1974: 117; Redepenning 2008: 192f.; Yusupov 2004: 58). The most striking instances, were, without a doubt, the brigades and troupes providing frontline entertainment in the civil war and the Second World War in the Soviet Union (see Frolov 1976: 39–63; MacFadyen 2002b: 126, 152ff.; Stites 1995; Kuznetsova 1977: 371–398; Yusupov 2004: 20ff.).

4 Staging estrada II Competitions and other activities “at the state level”

Tashkent, August 2003 It is unbearably hot, the air dry and dusty, as I am leaving the pleasantly cool underworld of the metro, with its characteristic industrial smell of metal, oil and sweat. The imposing and shady plane trees on Amir Temur Skver with their dense foliage, as usual sheltering old men playing chess around the monument, soothe my passage into the glaring sunlight of the street. Like every working day for the past few weeks – and for several more to come – I am on my way to my daily Uzbek lesson through the sweltering city centre of early afternoon August. By now I could probably find my teacher’s office sleepwalking, and my initial curiosity for the surroundings has waned. When passing Oloy Bazar, mulling over the postpositions of place that I have revised for today, however, my attention is caught by a huge poster which must have been put up overnight: Nihol 2003 – Palace of the Friendship of Peoples The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ‘O’zbeknavo’ Estrada Association, Tashkent City Administration, Uzbekistan ‘Kamolot’ Youth Movement 2003 Nihol Award Festive Ceremony of Granting the ‘Nihol’ Award for Young Talents by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan 22 August 2003 19:00 Palace of the Friendship of Peoples After my lesson, I hurry to the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples’ ticket booth, only to learn that there are no tickets for sale for this event. Fortunately, friends somehow manage to get me one of the complementary invitation cards, and two days later I spend an evening that will leave a lasting impression on me. First, I am overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the Palace of the Friendship of Peoples, then astonished by what seems to me a crude conglomerate of music and dance genres at the time. Later I am dazzled by the myriad of people entering and exiting the stage, and finally, I feel frustrated because I do not recognise any of them yet, not even the top stars of estrada who act as compères.

116  Staging estrada II At least I will not face any difficulties in finding out their names and the latest gossip about them. I am squeezed next to three matronly, modestly dressed middle-aged ladies in the seats next to mine, who pile over each other – and me – trying to catch a glimpse of zoomed-in stage details on my DV camera’s screen. Luckily for me, their constant stream of observations is recorded as a continuous commentary on the footage’s audio track. Towards the end of the show, however, when a male estrada laureate starts to perform a song that I already know from endless repetitions on the radio and begins to dance suggestively, they lose their interest in my camera – and this is how what happens next will make it into my field notes (together with a page of questions): “Towards the end, at least in our row of seats, things became quite wild. The ladies who sat next to me … started to dance and scream … Unfortunately, it was too dark to film them” (23.08.2003).1 After three hours, the show closes with a hymn devoted to Nihol and sung jointly by the contestants, the award presenters and the compères ­(Figure 4.1). The atmosphere on stage resembles a school reunion, and the interaction among estrada singers seems intimate. Still glued to the spectacle on stage, I have failed to notice that most audience members have ­already got up or even left, and I quickly pack up my equipment. Walking down the flight of stairs from the Palace past the monument for the Friendship of Peoples, I feel that this has been the start proper of my research into Uzbek estrada – and it seems like a perfect one at that. What I cannot foresee at this moment is that exactly a year later, Nihol will also mark the end of my first long period of fieldwork in Tashkent. Amid preparations for my return to Germany, attending the Nihol 2004 gala concert will be a very different experience, however. The monumentality of the Friendship of Peoples’ Palace will still amaze me, but when taking my seat at this edition of the awards ceremony, I will realise that I know all the estrada singers among the participants and many of the jury members – some just by sight, others from short or long one-off interviews, most from more ­frequent informal interactions and conversations. And after the show, exactly on this flight of stairs, I will, by chance, meet one of the contestants whom I know well from the Conservatory. She will be in tears after having been replaced as laureate at the last minute by another competitor and we will both know that this is most probably related to an important, albeit veiled criterion in the oft-invoked “thorough and objective” assessment on part of the jury – the amount of the contestants’ unofficial payments.2 But in the warm ­summer night of August 2003, as I step underground into the metro and am looking ahead to the year of research before me with a mixture of awe and excitement, all this is still far away – and somehow quite unimaginable. Save for Ramadan, not a week goes by in Tashkent without some kind of music competition taking place: The media company Tarona Rekords might be showering Grammy-like glamour on the Palace of the Friendship

Staging estrada II  117

Figure 4.1  N  ihol laureates sing the Nihol hymn in the final minutes of the awards gala show at Independence Palace, 2008

of Peoples with its awards ceremony Tarona Shou, or the State Conservatory might be hosting the recently established newcomer contest New Names [Yangi Nomlar]; estrada students and other youngsters might be battling against one another in the DIY atmosphere of the self-organised (and selfjudged) Hit Review International at the Zerafshon Concert Hall, or a private businessman with producer ambitions might be hoping to find the most promising protégé by staging a contest in a rather shabby back office. In view of this, it is hardly surprising that my concert-going debut at the beginning of fieldwork in 2003 happened to be a gala show presenting the finalists and winners of an awards competition. I was surprised, however, to find out later that with Nihol, I had, incidentally, managed to start my research with the most prestigious government competition for the estrada scene in the early 2000s, a competition that was still running in 2017. What is the rationale behind the immense number – and the often immense scope – of government-organised music competitions involving estrada? How do issues of state control via musical engagement figure in these initiatives? And how do artists and other people involved in estrada judge these and similar activities “at the state level”, to use a common phrase? These questions form the focus of my explorations in this chapter – and I will start with a closer look at the two most important music competitions

118  Staging estrada II at the time of my fieldwork: the already mentioned Nihol and O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim [Uzbekistan – My Homeland].

Nihol Nihol (lit.: sprout, shoot, sapling) was established in 2000 as a presidential award for singers, instrumentalists, music ensembles and dancers up to 30 years of age “with the purpose of continuously motivating powerful youth” in the fields of classical music, folk music, academic music, estrada, classical dance and ballet (PKM-334 2000). Until 2005, candidates were recommended by institutions and individuals, with nominees selected by a jury to compete as finalists in a contest that took the form of a gala show. As such, every year in August, shortly before Independence Day, 10 winners were chosen and presented with one of the unranked awards. Receiving a Nihol award was accompanied by a substantial monetary prize, 70 times the minimum wage, which was equivalent to about $615 in 2000 and $489 in 2005. Just for comparison: a scholar or instructor at the Conservatory would receive a monthly wage of $50–60 at that time. A Nihol award also provided free admission to an institution of higher education in the fields of culture and art – free meaning without an entrance exam and without tuition fees. In 2006, Nihol was considerably enlarged through its transformation into a contest of three rounds, progressing from district via provincial to the national level, with the final selection taking place in Tashkent. At the same time, the overall number of awards was extended to 15, while the age range was limited to candidates between 17 and 25. In 2008, the head of the Department for Work with Talented Youth at the Ministry of Culture and Sport, responsible for the organisation of Nihol, explained this change in structure with reference to the decision to pay more attention to what is usually called – at least in Tashkent and in official documents – the regions or provinces (regiony and oblasti in Russian, hududlar3 and viloyatlar in Uzbek). Clearly reflecting the perspective from the capital of a very centralised country, all these terms denote anything that lies outside the city of Tashkent. “We changed the structure of the contest so the regions would feel that we care about them, too, and not only about the capital” (09.2008) was how the head of department explained the recent development. Looking at the list of winners for the first six editions of Nihol prior to this modification, a neglect of those from “the regions” is apparent: out of 56 laureates altogether, 47 came from the city of Tashkent. The regulations for the contest from 2006 onwards put a stop to this extreme bias in favour of contestants from the capital, stipulating that Uzbekistan’s 12 provinces and the Autonomous Republic Karakalpakstan should ideally be represented by one laureate each, leaving only two awards for the city of Tashkent. Reality does not entirely conform to these regulations, as there continue to be three to four winners from the capital and some of “the regions” have walked away empty-handed. But the tendency towards a more equally

Staging estrada II  119 distributed recognition of young talents across the country is undeniable. Similarly undeniable, however, is the very unequally distributed recognition of young talents across genres, at least until 2007. According to internal Ministry documents, of the 85 awards altogether given between 2000 and 2007, 48 alone went to estrada solo singers or groups, leaving only 37 to be shared among all the other music and dance genres covered by ­Nihol – ­figures that strongly support critics’ complaints about the prominent p ­ osition of estrada in cultural politics and musical life.4 Since 2008, the overwhelming dominance of estrada has waned somewhat, with classical music in particular gaining more ground, but estrada is still the genre with the most laureates across the entire history of Nihol. As befits a competition for young talents, all contestants, regardless of genre, have to prove their extraordinary artistic giftedness. But Nihol is not only about honouring outstanding and promising capabilities in music and dance. It solidly weds talent to patriotism – as this excerpt from the 2006 decree that modified and enlarged Nihol reveals: The candidate has to distinguish her-/himself in talent as well as in the artistic mastery and standard of performance culture, in the knowledge of classic models of national art, [she/he has] to serve the improvement of the nation’s spirituality, the promotion, by means of art, of independence ideology [and of] the essence of the cultural-enlightening reforms that are being carried out in our society. (PKM-169 2006, see Chapter 7) One could assume that the preference shown towards estrada in the awards is related to the fact that these requirements are much more easily met by this genre than, for example, by academic piano and ballet. While this is certainly true, and could well play a role in jury decisions, other factors seem to be more important in contributing to the imbalance. There are many more estrada singers than academic piano players or ballet dancers in Uzbekistan, particularly outside Tashkent, which draws talented people from other parts of the country at an early age, who seek the high quality tuition available there in specialised educational institutions. For this reason, applications for Nihol already demonstrate a great bias towards estrada and, as the head of the Department for Work with Talented Youth at the Ministry of Culture and Sport, remarked, the aim is to preserve a certain ratio between the number of applications and the number of laureates in one genre. Moreover, it is no secret that estrada is high on the Uzbek government’s music policy agenda, and at least some Tashkent-based students from the field of academic music have refrained from entering the competition, as they consider their chances too low in light of current government music priorities. For them, Nihol lost much of its appeal particularly after 2006, when the number of awards for Tashkent residents was reduced to two.

120  Staging estrada II The 2006 modification not only expanded and adjusted the regional reach of the event, but also its temporal spread. Whereas recommendations and applications previously had to be submitted by 1 July for the awards of the same year, after 2006, the first round took place in April, the second in June and the third in July and August. In 2011, when Nihol was again modified and turned into a biannual contest, the three rounds became even further dispersed with round one scheduled for April and May, round two for October and November and round three for June through August of the following year (PKM-295 2011). Even more remarkable than the gradual extension in time, however, is the increase in the numbers of participants. While from 2000 until 2005, a total of around 100–120 candidates were considered for the award each year, in the inaugural edition of the restructured version in 2006, the first round attracted already about 3,000 contestants. By 2008, entries for the initial stage had risen to more than 8,000, leaving 881 competitors for the second round and 89 finalists on the national level. These figures might seem impressive, but they pale in comparison to the immense scope of another contest that was organised annually during the period I conducted fieldwork: O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim ­[Uzbekistan – My Homeland]. The 2003 edition of Vatanim Manim’s award concert could well have been the event that inaugurated my field research in Tashkent; it took place just five days before Nihol’s gala show.

O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim and its successors Vatanim Manim Originally, Vatanim Manim was meant to be a one-off event in 1996 (PKM451 1995). Afterwards, a presidential decree declared this first edition “an unforgettable event in the spiritual life of our nation …, met with great satisfaction by the citizens of the state, supported with enormous enthusiasm” (UP-1550 1996). For this reason, it was subsequently made a recurring phenomenon in 1997 and repeated on a yearly basis until the mid-2000s. Open to soloists and ensembles, amateur and professional musicians, the young and older people without any age restrictions, Vatanim Manim was established as a song contest – or, more precisely, as a contest for songs as well as their performance. One could participate with any song – whether classical or academic, folk or estrada – as long as it was new and patriotic. The decree that turned Vatanim Manim into an annual event, summarised the competition’s goal in the following way: to provide ample opportunity for the creation of musical works and songs on a high artistic level, which praise our state with a great future and its innovative, generous, merciful people, urge people to cherish in their heart the soil and the independence of the sacred Homeland like

Staging estrada II  121 an apple of the eye and, should it be necessary, to sacrifice [their] life for it. (PKM-403 1996, capitalisation original)5 Vatanim Manim was a two-rounds event organised under the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, O’zbeknavo, the Union of Writers, the Union of Composers, the Council for Spirituality and Enlightenment and the National TV and Radio. Talking about the competition with staff in the Ministry of Culture for the first time in 2004, I found it almost impossible to grasp its structure – or rather, I could not imagine that what I seemed to understand was indeed correct. But it was correct in broad terms after all, as I found out later, when reading the documents that Ministry staff had copied for me. Even with the documents in front of me, the whole system still appeared extremely complicated. This was particularly the case with the first round, which always took place in spring and early summer. Part of it was organised on the provincial level, that is, by the administrative branches of the government in Uzbekistan’s 12 provinces, the Autonomous Republic ­Karakalpakstan and the city of Tashkent – on the same level as the second round of Nihol. In addition, various ministries and other state institutions were assigned to organise their own contests among the soloists and ensembles that fell under their purview. Thus the Ministry of Defence, for example, had to arrange a competitive selection among its military ensembles, while the Ministry of Public Education organised one among its Houses of Culture, and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education among pupils and students. The same applied to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Culture and O’zbeknavo. Even though this was not specified in the official decrees, numerous other government organisations, such as the Kamolot Youth Movement, often joined the explicitly named institutions in conducting their own contests. Both tracks of the first round, the provincial and what one could term the institutional, converged when sending their winners – three for every province and every institution – to the second and final round. Each year, Vatanim Manim ended with a grand gala concert and the presentation of the laureates in Tashkent’s Palace of the Friendship of Peoples on the third Sunday in August, the official Song Holiday [Qo’shiq Bayrami] that had been established along with the contest. In contrast to Nihol, the altogether ten awards for Vatanim Manim were ranked (Table 4.1). In addition, various governmental social foundations were called upon to honour contest ­participants with their own prizes in cash or kind. According to official records, each year Vatanim Manim processed more than 50,000 participants and more than 10,000 songs. With contestants ranging from groups of toddlers who could barely walk, let alone remember choreographies or lyrics, to thousands of rather well-rehearsed and well-­ behaved pupils and students, to frail elderly people with quavering or already

122  Staging estrada II Table 4.1  Prize scheme for O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim Prize

1st 2nd 3rd Motivational

Number Prize money in relative terms 1 3 3 3

110 x minimum wage 80 x minimum wage 50 x minimum wage 25 x minimum wage

Prize money in Prize money in absolute terms absolute terms (1997) (US$) (2006) (US$) 1.217 885 553 277

968 704 440 220

failing voices, Vatanim Manim drew a huge variety of people. In musical style and textual content, however, it was considerably less diverse. Estrada dominated the entries by far, and lyrics usually very narrowly interpreted the competition’s topic. Writing down song titles during the 2004 gala show I ended up with the following list: “My Country” [Yurtim], “My Uzbekistan” [O’zbekistonim], “Sacred Homeland” [Muqaddas Vatan], “Dear Homeland” [Aziz Vatan], “Live Compassion and Generosity, People!” [Mehr va Muruv­ vat Yashang, Odamlar!], “My People/Nation” [Xalqim], “My Homeland” [Vatanim], “Blossom, Blossom Homeland!” [Gul, Gul Vatan!], “My Mother Country” [Ona Yurtim], “My Homeland Uzbekistan” [Vatanim O’zbekiston]. I found it difficult at first to link this 2004 gala concert for Vatanim Manim, which was similarly splendid as the award ceremony for Nihol, to the touchingly pathetic and dismal atmosphere at one of its first round contests that I had attended in the spring of the same year. An estrada student of the Conservatory had invited me to accompany her to her performance at the House of Culture in one of Tashkent’s outer districts. The hall where the competition took place was small and quite battered, but still nice with a wooden floor and a proper stage. The sparse decorations competed – in vain – with the threadbare curtain of yellowish, but ultimately rather indistinct colour and furnished the room with the aura of a kindergarten festivity. But this is not what made the event gloomy. It was rather what happened on and around the stage: a series of performances across genres of rather low musical proficiency, badly amplified and interspersed with overdriven declamations of patriotic texts in heightened speech by the organiser. The sad climax was a choir of elderly women of Russian, German or Ukrainian descent who, in broken Uzbek and with rather shrill voices covered one of the most famous patriotic songs by estrada superstar Yulduz Usmanova: “We Will Give You to No One, Uzbekistan!” [Hech Kimga Bermaymiz Seni, O’zbekiston!]. Only afterwards I could really pinpoint why exactly I had found the mood so utterly depressing: It was the immense discrepancy between the complete lack of enthusiasm in the demeanour of the participants and the jubilant celebration of Uzbekistan, the president and independence in the songs’ lyrics and the spoken words. The narrow interpretation by the entrants of the competition’s theme, however, was certainly shared by this first round event of Vatanim Manim and its gala final.

Staging estrada II  123 Vatanim Manim’s successors When I returned to Tashkent in the summer of 2008 for a short period of fieldwork after almost two years of absence, the same member of staff at the Ministry of Culture and Sport who had originally explained the structure of Vatanim Manim to me with great patience, but limited success, welcomed me back with the following words: “The old competition does not exist any more. Something like this just outlives its appeal. You need a change, otherwise it feels like constantly eating the same food” (09.2008). What, to my surprise, sounded like a prologue for a longer report on revolutionary realignments in music policies, soon took a reverse – and more ­predictable – ­turn, when he added: “That’s why we established a new competition last year, Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir [The Homeland is Singular, the Homeland is Unique].” Vatanim Manim’s successor did indeed feature several changes in structure: In the first three ranks, it became a contest for teams of three (composer, poet and singer) with a modified award tableau that put more emphasis on motivational prizes. Overall, expenditures for prizes almost doubled, while the individual amounts to be won in the respective prize categories stayed about the same. In addition, Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir abolished the institutional track of the first round, but gained an additional round on the district level, thus following the same three-stage set-up as Nihol. Whereas these changes in structure were far from radical, if at least noticeable, it seemed almost eccentric to me to seriously speak about a change in theme – just as it would be again in 2009, when after only two editions Vatan Ya­ gonadir, Vatan Bittadir was supplanted by the contest Yagonasan, Muqaddas Vatan! [You Are Singular, Sacred Homeland!], which was still running under this name in 2018. Not only the titles of the competitions, but also the associated official documents and public announcements indicate tight thematic continuities. They all contain elaborate passages, which describe the respective competitions’ objectives – and these sound strikingly similar. In 2007, a document from the Ministry of Culture and Sport, for example, outlined the goal of Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir in the following way: The main purpose of this competition is to recognise the substantial achievements and results that are attained in all fields and branches of social life in our country in the independence years, to still more deeply ingrain in our compatriots, particularly in the heart and mind of the young generation the priceless blessing – independence, a feeling of love and devotion to the Homeland. (MinKult 2008, capitalisation original)6 Thus, notwithstanding alterations in title and structure, the Uzbek government has organised at least one extensive, countrywide song competition with a thematic focus on patriotism each year since 1996. This in addition

124  Staging estrada II to the slightly less extensive, but also countrywide talent award competition Nihol with its equally patriotic subtext. Absolutely convinced that contests such as these are a tradition to be continued ad infinitum, an Uzbek colleague made the following comment: In fact, such competitions we have had in the past, we have now and we will have in the future – and with time, there will be even more of them … And the content is always the same: to propagate national ideology and effectively implement spiritual-enlightening measures. (05.2015)7 I find it hard to imagine how Uzbek musical life would cope should this predicted increase in contests really take place. Already during fieldwork my impression was that at least the estrada scene was more than saturated with competitive music events – not only, but especially a result of state initiative. The next section will convey why.

Competitions galore It can be quite a cumbersome task to keep track of music competitions in Uzbekistan. The most important and biggest government events of this kind for the estrada scene, Nihol and Vatanim Manim plus its successors, may be quite prominently featured in the media and thus easily traceable. Others are not – and, as already mentioned above, there are many. Various state organisations regularly come up with individual or joint initiatives, most rather short-lived or even just one-off affairs, restricted in regional reach and targeted audience. To add to the confusion, titles of former contests are sometimes recycled several years later to garnish new and often very different ventures into musical competition. At the beginning of fieldwork I tried to keep an exact and exhaustive list of estrada-related competitions in Tashkent, but soon realised the futility of this endeavour – too many were the institutions involved, too numerous the occasions, too small the scope of most of them to be announced publicly. As I found out later, competitions are, in fact, an extremely popular item on the agenda of annual plans in almost any state institution in the field of culture or education and tend to spring up wherever one looks. Even when considering just the larger events, however, one already gets more than a vague idea of the demands competitions make on all involved. These, for example, were the major – and some minor – government initiatives of this kind that included or exclusively concerned estrada in Tashkent in 2003, the year I started my fieldwork: •

Mid-February: Aziz Ona Yurtim Navolari [Melodies of My Dear Motherland]: Announced in 2004 as an estrada contest, this event turned out to be the audition for Navro’z (see Chapter 3). In 2003, it was conducted as a regular competition; organised by O’zbeknavo.

Staging estrada II  125 • • • • • •

May–July: First round for the contest O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim [Uzbekistan – My Homeland]; organised by various institutions (see above). End of June: Yangi Nomlar [New Names]: Contest for young estrada singers; organised by O’zbeknavo, the Conservatory, the Union of Composers, the Union of Writers and a non-governmental Music Centre.8 July: Audition for the estrada block of Independence Day; organised by O’zbeknavo. Beginning of August: Yangi Taronalar [New Tunes]: Contest for new estrada songs; organised by O’zbeknavo (at least part of its yearly plan). Mid-August: Second and final round for O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim [Uzbekistan – My Homeland] organised by various institutions (see above); gala concert on 17 August. Mid-August: Nihol awards; organised by Ministry of Culture; gala concert with selection of laureates on 22 August.

Even when taking into account that the same estrada singers will not take part in all these events, it is worth remembering that these competitions take place in addition to and often in parallel with other obligations based on government demand, such as preparations for Navro’z and Independence Day or minor concerts (see Chapter 3). To provide a more detailed picture of involvement, I will now look at patterns of participation.

Contestants Patterns of ambition to participate in contests resemble those to participate in state spectacles explored above. For young estrada singers, these events are similarly attractive, especially the larger ones, because of the various benefits they promise: the highly valued privilege of free admission to university in Nihol and substantial prizes in cash. That at least some contestants invest part or most of these amounts in advance on songs and/or unofficial payments certainly reduces the absolute financial benefit in case of their success, but this unmistakably points to the fact that there is more to be gained from participation in contests than the officially proclaimed prizes. Just as with performing in state holidays, winning one of the major contests entails government recognition as well as heightened audibility and visibility in the media, both positively affecting one’s reyting. Many people I spoke to, artists and officials alike, even judge success in the larger contests, especially Nihol, as a kind of inaugural step into a professional career in estrada. It is also widely seen as a precursor for being considered for a state decoration. This is not only supported by figures – of altogether 85 Nihol laureates, for example, by 2008, 12 had already been awarded the honorary title Distinguished Artist – but also by the similarity in treatment between achievement in contests and promotion in the state award system. Whenever artists are announced in state-related public events – and often even when they are introduced in more formal private

126  Staging estrada II settings – their names are preceded by their successes and titles. These are also printed on posters and mentioned by compères on stage. Even the two compères at the 2003 Nihol award show, who are on close terms in real life, as I found out later, constantly included honorary titles when referring to each other on stage. In sum, all these potential benefits mean that very zealous newcomers have a variety of good reasons to compete in as many government contests as possible. And this is exactly what some attempt to do. Artists with a sufficiently high reyting and a sufficiently good relationship with the government (according to their own estimate), however, are usually not eager to participate in contests, just as they are not very keen on participating in state holiday spectacles. For singers who can easily earn the equivalent of the promised prize money on one evening of wedding engagements or even with just one birrov, these contests understandably hold little financial allure. Similarly, Distinguished Artists and People’s Artists in good standing with the government and the audience do not necessarily seek more government recognition or more publicity – at least not by engaging in an activity that is as time-consuming and unpredictable in outcome as entering contests. And in general, as several people remarked, there seems to be a reluctance among professional estrada singers to compete with amateurs in the same event – as a matter of principle, but also for fear of losing to them, as this would inevitably have a detrimental effect on their reyting. In an interview, one of the most popular estrada singers in the wedding circuit quite vehemently complained about the mix of amateurs and professionals on stage. The thematic context was the estrada block of the Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles, but the line of criticism is exactly the same with respect to contests: I like it, when they invite deserving artists [dostoynykh artistov], this is normal and not insulting. But if it continues like this, I, for my part, will not go to Independence Day any more. I will say, “There are such artists, I don’t want to perform among them”, and if they force me to sing there, I will say, “Sorry, but together with these artists, who are not capable of singing on stage, [whom] the public does not know, [of whom] it is unknown where they have come from, I will not sing. For me this is a minus.” (09.2005) It might seem that, in contrast to Navro’z, Independence Day and minor concerts, estrada artists are able to decide freely whether to perform in ­contests or not. Amateurs are of course under no contractual obligations, but even professionals do not sign any specific clauses in their licence agreements that would require their participation. Still, contests are far from a ­completely voluntary affair. While the strain to find worthy representatives for the estrada block at Navro’z and Independence Day might be

Staging estrada II  127 exceptionally and incomparably high for those responsible, there is also a considerable amount of pressure to satisfactorily staff competitions – from the first to the final round. If the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education organises a musical contest, for example, it will be accountable to those above for its success, that is, to the Cabinet of Ministers and the president himself. In this context, success means that the initiative meets with enthusiasm among potential participants, who, in great numbers and with great effort – that is, with entries of high quality – compete in a contest that is well coordinated and well implemented in all rounds. To achieve this success, pressure is continually exerted downwards to subordinate levels. The Ministry will ask the heads of lyceums, colleges and universities to supply sufficient contestants and will hold them responsible. They, in turn, will call upon their teaching staff to provide pupils or students and will hold them responsible. Thus, finally, it is the teachers’ and tutors’ task to mobilise at least part of their classes – not only the true contest enthusiasts among them, but also a portion of the reluctant rest. Conservatory students sometimes mentioned in conversations feelings of loyalty towards one’s teacher as one of the reasons for entering contests despite a decided lack of personal interest. The more frequently cited motive, however, was fear of repercussions. To compete with one’s peers in contests is seen as an integral part of becoming a professional musician, as proof of personal effort and the will to artistic development. To be perceived as someone who eschews self-improvement and lacks initiative towards professionalisation can be damaging to one’s image and ambitions, with bad or even fail marks being the most immediate and tangible threat for Conservatory students contemplating refusal. This line of thought is certainly reminiscent of the idea of “socialist emulation” and most probably a direct heritage from the Soviet era in Uzbekistan, when, as Laura Adams writes, Folklore groups participated in ‘socialist competition’ much as factory brigades did, in order to encourage productivity and to provide motivation to work harder … By 1990, there were 1.300 folklore-­ethnographic ensembles involving 30.000 participants in Uzbekistan, and these groups were expected to participate in republic- and nation-wide activities. Groups who merely performed at local occasions were criticized in Ministry documents for shortcomings such as not raising their level of professional development by attending seminars. (Adams 2008: 626, 627f.)9 For these reasons, most students I spoke to said that they felt they were not in a position to decline if asked to enter a contest, even if their chances of winning were very low. Thus the majority of non-enthusiasts simply took this obligation for granted and did not really spend any time thinking of ways

128  Staging estrada II to opt out. A young composer vividly recalled being practically conscripted into composing a song for Vatanim Manim as a student at the Conservatory: I did not have a choice. The rector sent for me, and there was a piece of paper in front of him, with the name of a poet written on it – and mine. It was just not possible to refuse. This was an immense impudence. (09.2005) Thus, in addition to the truly dedicated competitors, there will always be a great number of “forcedly voluntary” participants in contests who help to generate a level of response that will express the envisaged enthusiasm. Licenced estrada singers are not immune to similar pressures, again as part of their contractual duty “to participate in events determined by state and government”. This is especially true when O’zbeknavo has to staff competitions which take place under its own aegis. Having probed more deeply into this subject, I could better understand the gloomy atmosphere and lack of enthusiasm at the House of Culture in one of Tashkent’s outer districts during Vatanim Manim’s first round event in the spring of 2004. The majority of contestants had most likely been forced volunteers. In line with the findings of Chapter 3, however, it would be wrong to infer from their listless performances a general reluctance to sing positively about Uzbekistan. Even an estrada artist who was extremely critical about cultural politics and on very bad terms with O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture spoke passionately about preparing patriotic songs: “I write [lit.: make] them myself, because I love my homeland, my state [gosudarstvo]. For my state, I sing from [my] soul, … from [my] heart”. (10.2005). Entering contests, an activity that at first sight appeared to me to involve much more free choice than decisions to perform in state holiday spectacles, turned out on closer examination to involve a similar form of enlisting procedures. It is not only participants, however, who are more or less recruited into competitions and may feel their consequent engagement to be a burden. Almost everyone involved somewhere along the line, even those who tended to speak very positively about the numerous initiatives or the importance of contests in general, highlighted the strain their various commitments entailed.

Others involved Conservatory teachers I spoke to, for example, took pride in having laureates among their students, and they enjoyed the prestige this conferred on them. In fact, even though the concept of reyting had no valence among them, the number of their students who had won contests, or more precisely, which places they had won in which contests, with international successes being the most highly valued, certainly played a role in negotiating their status and were a frequent topic in faculty or department meetings as well

Staging estrada II  129 as in more private conversations. Still, they often resented the extra work of preparing students for a promising entry and feared damage to their image should their academic offspring not compete successfully.10 Similarly ambivalent in their attitude towards contests were the jury members I talked to. They felt honoured to be invited as judges and most considered their input important for the success of the contest or even for the development of estrada in general. But they dreaded the demand on their time and the often difficult diplomacy involved in determining w ­ inners – similarly to the members of the auditions’ selection committees, with which, in fact, there was often some overlap. Juries for competitions have a set-up similar to that of selection committees for Navro’z and Independence Day, but, at least for the final round of countrywide contests, they are usually larger. Composed of government officials, members of educational institutions, state foundations and artists, they are one very obvious case in which the boundaries between the country’s creative and administrative personnel become blurred. Another case in which composers, poets or singers are cast into more organisational roles is when they are appointed as supervisors for the execution of provincial rounds. At the first edition of Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir in 2007, for example, composer and head of the Department for Estrada Singing at the Conservatory, Dilorom Amanullaeva, was enlisted as one of seven “members of the Organisational group allocated to the regions” and assigned the task of ensuring that the contest’s first round in the provinces of Bukhara and Navoiy be carried out “on a high level” (Vatan Yagonadir 2007). Two other composers and a poet were among the remaining six people who were put in charge of the first rounds in the other ten provinces and Karakalpakstan. Finally, of course, the government’s actual bureaucratic staff spends a considerable amount of time organising competitions. Members of government institutions responsible for conducting contests obviously have a strenuous job implementing them, and most of the officials I spoke to ­experienced stress related to their immense workload. None of them, however, openly complained to me. Considering their position and the formal nature of our interaction, this is not surprising. On the other hand, government officials might also be more willing to accept these obligations. After all, in contrast to participants and the jury, their involvement is at least part of their regular job and not a set of additional tasks. Furthermore, their position at the upper levels of the chain of command enables a closer – much more personal and often much more positive – relationship with the contests they supervise. The way most of them talked about the competitions within their scope of duties made it clear that they did somehow consider them their own. Portraying the task of organising a contest as demanding, while depicting its execution as well structured and coordinated, seemed to be a common rhetorical strategy for proving bureaucratic professionalism as well as personal dedication to something large, complex and important.

130  Staging estrada II This strategy is probably prevalent among organisers of state contests and festivals in most other parts of the world, too, and I certainly encountered it in Germany. I would argue that the decisive difference compared to the majority of similar initiatives elsewhere (and a defining feature of the Uzbek setting) is the high government positions of those using this strategy. I have never ceased to be intrigued by what astonished me most while watching the audition for Navro’z 2004: Competitions, just like Navro’z and Independence Day, have an enormous reach upwards in the state hierarchy. They engage government members of the highest rank – and in large numbers. The 1996 decree, for example, that turned Vatanim Manim into an annual contest appointed people in the following positions to its 25-member Organisation Committee (Table 4.2). Table 4.2  Organisation committee for O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim 1997, according to PKM-403 1996 1. Deputy Prime Minister 2. Presidential Adviser 3. Director of the Cabinet of Ministers’ Assembly 4. Deputy Director of the Cabinet of Ministers’ Assembly 5. Senior Official of the Presidential Office 6. Minister of Culture 7. Minister of Public Education 8. Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education 9. Deputy Minister of Defence 10. Deputy Minister of Finance 11. Deputy Minister of the Interior 12. Minister of Culture of Karalpakistan 13. Head of the Governmental Press Committee 14. Deputy Head of the Presidential Office’s News Centre 15. Head of O’zteleradio [National TV and Radio] 16. Deputy Mayor of Tashkent 17. Director of O’zbeknavo 18. Deputy Director of O’zbeknavo 19. Head of the Union of Composers 20. Head of the Union of Writers 21. Head of the Kamolot Youth Association 22. Head of the Republican Centre for Spirituality and Enlightenment 23. Deputy Head of the Republican Centre for Spirituality and Enlightenment 24. Head of the Mahalla Foundation 25. Head of the International Oltin Meros Foundation

The exact composition and scope of the organisation committees for the large countrywide competitions may vary over time, with certain thematic shifts or structural modifications, but their respective member lists all assemble a similarly impressive and illustrious group of people. And it is quite clear that their appointment is far from being simply ceremonial. Thus government officials from even the loftiest levels of the state system are regularly summoned to play an active role in musical mass mobilisation via competitions. The fact that these competitions are placed in the care of such eminent politicians emphasises their importance and shows

Staging estrada II  131 “unified support for the state’s initiatives” (Tochka 2016: 111). But it was precisely this degree of i­ mportance that I did not find immediately or easily comprehensible.

The significance of competitions During my first months of fieldwork, when I would constantly happen upon yet another competition or at least discussions of them, I was truly amazed by their number and their peculiar presence in discourses about estrada. After some time, I grew accustomed to them as a regular and prominent feature of Uzbek musical life, but their meaning still eluded me. Whereas I well understood the idea behind Nihol, the support and motivation of upcoming artists, I could see little usefulness in the abundance of contests in general and in the immense scope of Vatanim Manim and its successors or siblings in particular. This made me particularly attentive whenever somebody happened to voice criticism of them. While higher-ranking officials quite frequently made critical remarks about competitions, their complaints were usually limited to details of the structure of certain contests or the fact that various competitions were running parallel. Hardly anyone questioned the necessity or value of competitions per se. A few would have liked to see them replaced by non-competitive forms, such as festivals – an idea that was directly and vehemently dismissed by most others as unfeasible due to the impossibility of securing sufficient participation and thus success for such a format. But no one seriously proposed abolishing these large musical endeavours altogether or considerably reducing their number. On the contrary, officials quite often spoke with a mixture of pride and excitement about a recently established competition or about ideas for a new one. In the summer of 2008, for example, a member of staff in the Department for Folk Creativity and the Development of Amateur Art at the Ministry of Culture and Sport passionately advertised Diyor Ohanglari [Tunes of the Homeland], a televised competition for musical amateurs in three rounds that had drawn more than 14,000 participants and run for the most part of 2006. This was the same year in which Nihol, managed by the ministerial department neighbouring his, had also been enlarged into a contest of three rounds and processed almost 3,000 participants. Diyor Ohanglari had only been a one-off affair until then, but he had high hopes that it would be turned into an annual event. Other researchers who explore musical contests or festivals with competitive elements around the world all highlight the – intentional or ­accidental – canonising and standardising effect they have on genres and performance practices. Entrance regulations delineate preliminary borders defining what is generally acceptable within the scope of the contest, until jury decisions hierarchise this generally acceptable, endorsing – ­depending on the musical breadth of the contest – certain genres, styles

132  Staging estrada II and/or performance aesthetics while denigrating others. This integral but rather implicit canonising effect of contests is often amplified and concretised by accompanying conferences, symposia or talks, where the desirable or indispensable properties of the respective musical traditions, their histories and their limits are further discussed and determined. Carol Silverman and Donna Buchanan, for example, both relate how at the Bulgarian Stambolovo festival in 1985, “directly after the competition, [musicologist] Manol Todorov held a meeting with band leaders where he lectured them about how they had corrupted Bulgarian music” (Silverman 2007: 79; see Buchanan 1996: 210). Particularly in the Soviet Union and socialist eastern Europe, where music competitions were high on the agenda of music politics, canonisation played an important role. Analysing Albania’s competitive Festival of Song, Nicholas Tochka points to its essentially allocative rationale, which was characteristic of socialist music competitions in general: “The Festival of Song exemplified the planned music economy’s driving logic to centrally develop and rationally distribute music culture. As a means to accumulate new recorded material at the bureaucratic center, the concerts succeeded admirably” (Tochka 2016: 59). Canonisation gains momentum when recording industries and mass media pick up the approved musical material and ensure its distribution. Sometimes, this link between contests and their consequent exploitation can be very tight. In Trinidad and Barbados, as Jocelyne Guilbault and Susan Harewood note, the main incentive for the governments to engage in calypso contests is to develop the local music industry – but on the basis of officially approved versions of the genre (Guilbault 2002; Harewood 2008). Donna Buchanan notes a comparably close connection, albeit with less government involvement, in two competitive festivals in 1990s Bulgaria, Pirin Folk and Pirin Fest, which she characterises as “industries unto themselves – generators and clearing houses of new material for ­i mmediate, mass-mediated production and consumption” (2006: 443; see Buchanan 1999). In contemporary Uzbekistan, Tanya Merchant detects a similar “combination of publicity and reinforcing the canon” for contests in the sphere of maqom. She has found them to “have an incredible effect on musical circles in Uzbekistan” (Merchant 2006: 100) by validating certain lineages of style and repertoire, which will consequently be promoted through heightened media exposure. The initiators and organisers of Vatanim Manim, its siblings and its successors would certainly greet a similar “incredible effect” in the sphere of estrada. Whomever I talked to among those responsible for the implementation or adjudication of these contests linked them to the desired development of milliy estrada, national estrada, an important and omnipresent concept in political and public discourses about estrada in Uzbekistan, which I will explore in detail in Chapter 5. This effect does not materialise, however, at

Staging estrada II  133 least not to a noticeable extent. Several factors hinder the successful canonisation of the contests’ output into a prominent, influential and distinct style of estrada that actually deserves the label milliy. Two factors are particularly relevant to the present context. First, in contrast to the structure of the contests in Bulgaria and the Caribbean mentioned above, there are no comparably close institutionalised connections to record companies or radio and TV stations in Uzbekistan which would help, as one Uzbek colleague put it, “sustain the life of good songs” (06.2004). Second, Vatanim Manim and similar contests do entail increased visibility and audibility in the media for winning artists, but, and this is important, not necessarily with the winning songs. In the sphere of maqom, which Tanya Merchant has looked at, this may matter less, as the performance aesthetics of musicians’ lineages and of individual artists are usually characteristic of their approach to the entire repertoire and thus discernible regardless of the piece played or sung. In the sphere of estrada, however, this can make a decisive difference. For it is variety – in repertoire and style – that counts as a sign of quality for singers of this genre. Artists, especially those of higher reyting, may be immediately recognisable through distinctive features, such as vocal timbre, ornamentation and pronunciation, but the songs in their repertoire often differ quite considerably from each other and thus defy any canonisation by proxy. These two rather structural factors are subordinate to a more fundamental aesthetic problem, however: Contests like Vatanim Manim may produce thousands of songs every year, each of them interpreting the trope of homeland in yet another variation, putting an immense number of patriotic songs at the government’s disposal. Hardly any of them, however, are ­considered to have fulfilled that ubiquitous and ominous criterion asked for in the regulations: “high artistic level”. Whenever conversations turned to entries for Vatanim Manim and similar competitions, government officials, composers and jury members commonly complained about the low standard of music or lyrics or both. Reflecting the already familiar, paternalistic, Tashkent-centric perspective on culture in Uzbekistan, they often blamed the provinces for this lack of quality, as did this senior member of the Academy of Arts commenting on Vatanim Manim: “From the oblasts, there come songs about Uzbekistan on a low artistic level. This has a detrimental effect. No one wants to hear such songs” (07.2004). Thus, only a tiny fragment of the vast annual mass of patriotic songs generated through contests is actually considered suitable to be broadcast on the radio and TV, and even fewer of them qualify for performance at the Navro’z and Independence Day spectacles. A composer remarked on this the following way: So many songs they have written, so many deplorable [people] spent time on auditions, [in a] jury, [at] competitions … They made so many songs,

134  Staging estrada II but I do not remember any, save for Sevara’s Ulug’imsan Vatanim … In 12 years only one song. (04.2004, see Exiting estrada) So while there may be structural factors impeding canonisation, more importantly, there is just not enough appropriate material to be canonised in the first place. In light of this, the standard argument for running competitions like Vatanim Manim – the organisers of Navro’z and Independence Day need suitable songs for these celebrations and, more generally, Uzbekistan needs songs which praise independence and extol its achievements – does not appear very convincing. Finding singers and songs for major and minor state concerts may even explicitly be included among the goals in the legal acts decreeing the establishment or modification of competitions. But if the intention of the Uzbek government were indeed simply to feed 50 or even 100 new songs with patriotic content into the country’s soundscape each year and to have the best of them grace Navro’z and Independence Day, it could easily devise a more efficient system than preparing yet another edition of Vatanim Manim or similar competitions each and every single year. The direct commission of suitable songs, for example, would certainly produce much more predictable and satisfying results with which to seriously advance the canonisation of milliy estrada – and it would save tens of thousands of people a lot of time and effort. While feeding a considerable number of songs with patriotic content into the country’s soundscape each year is certainly part of the Uzbek government’s music policies (and it does regularly fall back on the commission option), I would suggest that a rather implicit, but at least equally important, motivation, is the exact opposite of saving tens of thousands of people a lot of time and effort – keeping tens of thousands of people busy, and, even more importantly, keeping tens of thousands of people busy with activities considered meaningful. Engagement with song, or rather engagement with one’s homeland in song, certainly is an activity considered meaningful. When asked by a journalist in 2006 about the objectives of the newly established contest Diyor Ohanglari [Tunes of the Homeland], an official from the Ministry of Culture and Sport, for example, started his list of altogether six goals with the following two: “To ensure that the population, especially young people, spend their free time meaningfully, to recruit them into various amateur clubs”. It would be an exaggeration to conclude on the basis of this that the qualitative musical output of contests is completely irrelevant. I would argue, however, that the relevance of quality pales before the importance of quantitative input in manpower. The altogether significant number of contests, their often immense scope and the fact that they are overwhelmingly judged to be successful by those responsible – despite obvious shortcomings in results and the fairly open

Staging estrada II  135 acknowledgement of these shortcomings – suggest that their importance and success as well as their generally claimed usefulness are measured first and foremost by the number of people they manage to engage. This would also explain why initiatives for new contests, even those that replicate already existing ones in theme and structure, are usually warmly greeted.

Engaging people Due to their varying size and differing participation patterns, it is difficult to estimate how much time competitions take up from people involved in them. Some government officials are essentially occupied with implementing contests all year long, whereas for others this is only one of a number of tasks to be dealt with over the course of several weeks, as is the case for jury members and creative personnel furnished with organisational responsibilities or recruited to contribute compositions or lyrics. The time commitment by estrada singers ranges from complete abstention (those with very high reyting) to part-time engagement over several months (those eager to gain government attention and increase their reyting). Various authors have rightfully pointed to the importance of state-­ organised competitions in monitoring or even domesticating musical scenes (see, for example, Nooshin 2005: 251; Silverman 2007: 79). Based on the evidence, this applies to Uzbekistan, too, but the implicit assumption of a binary split between the monitors and the monitored needs to be challenged. In the context of Uzbek music competitions, supervision surely is a crucial factor, but, as was demonstrated earlier, the line between those who do the monitoring and those who are being monitored is extremely blurred. Due to the extensive involvement of state officials up to the highest ranks, while monitoring musical scenes, the Uzbek government essentially monitors itself. In line with the hierarchical system of responsibility, sketched above, to some degree monitoring affects everyone involved, reaching up to the very top. And just as in the context of Navro’z and Independence Day, the ultimate supervisor of events – real or alleged – is the president, and invoking him is a safe strategy for making even ministers move. How effective this supervision is on every level is a different matter. Judging from my experience with Melodies of My Dear Motherland in 2004, which was announced as a competitive festival but turned out to be merely an audition, I would not be surprised if at least some of the first rounds on the level of districts and cities existed more on paper in the annual activity reports than in reality. Even if the selection procedures were quite altered in this way, however, there would still be a need for people to choose contestants for the competition’s higher levels. This might be less demanding than running a proper round, but it would nonetheless require attention and cost time.

136  Staging estrada II Regardless of any deviations from the official structures and how precise individual estimates of participation are, it is safe to say that all events staged by government command – competitions, state spectacles and minor concerts – result in tens of thousands of people spending from several weeks up to three or four months engaged in state-organised musical activities in Uzbekistan every year. And most of these events are linked to patriotism. This, in turn, means that it is known what tens of thousands of people are doing over various spans of time and with varying degrees of intensity and authority – whether toddlers, school children or students, teachers or professors, amateur or professional artists, composers or poets, mayors, ministry staff, ministers or deputy prime ministers. Binding people’s energy and time to activities that are as structurally and thematically regulated as these concerts and competitions might look like a music policy approach that is intent on more than simply monitoring and supervising – and merits a different label, something like control. And while this was the term that I intuitively attached to initiatives of this kind, the majority of people I talked to perceived and framed them very differently.

Control vs. attention Control was only rarely raised as a topic, when conversations and interviews turned to the subject of competitions, and some interlocutors explicitly dismissed it as irrelevant, if I introduced it into the discussion. They saw the act of establishing competitions as proof of the government’s care for and commitment to the development of music in general, and judged the prominent position given to estrada in these events as confirmation of the special interest granted this genre in particular. Furthermore, for many of my interlocutors, the fact that responsibility for these events tended to be assigned to eminent political figures, was taken as evidence of the immense political importance of these initiatives and the seriousness of the state’s dedication. When talks focused specifically on Nihol, people regularly highlighted the (alleged) personal involvement of president Islom Karimov in the selection process and his (presumed) sincere devotion to the promotion of young talents. The most frequently mentioned concepts in this context were attention [vnimaniye / e’tibor], support [podderzhka / yordam & madad] and direction/ guidance [napravleniye / yo’nalish]. All of these terms are already familiar from the official documents cited above and are staple government rhetoric even beyond the narrow world of estrada. It was not only state representatives, however, who used them to evaluate these initiatives’ role in government music policies. Many of the statements made by others sounded also like passages from official documents – or only slightly edited excerpts from the extensive and overwhelmingly jubilant press coverage that usually surrounds these events.

Staging estrada II  137 Nihol laureates, for example, are regularly quoted in newspapers using phrases like this: “The attention that our president has shown us young voices today has no limits”; “The trust of the president and the people is the greatest trust”; “Only in our country, in our nation are trust in youth, attention to them, honour and respect for the culture worker so strong”; and “We walk, feeling in every step the care and attention that our president, our government shows us young people”. Being aware of these public demonstrations of gratitude in the face of government attention, I was only slightly surprised when, during a rather informal conversation, one of the young male top stars at that time made the following remark: [Contests such as Vatanim Manim] are very important, not only for proving oneself a patriot [pokazat’ sebya patriotom] – and I really very much love my homeland. It is thanks to our homeland that we have succeeded in [even] having fans. In 2003 I was nominated for the Nihol award. The president himself bestows it. This is a reward for good work [za khoroshiy trud], they give it to young people. This was very pleasant. Even the president himself trusts in us. This was pleasant and I wanted to work more. (11.2005) My primary concern here is not to determine whether all these statements are authentic expressions of heartfelt appreciation and similar emotions, or just expected renditions of well-rehearsed patriotic rhetoric. What is more important is what lies at the heart of these comments: the conviction that government attention is positive and important for music. This attention is crucial not only for the recognition, validation and hierarchical positioning of a musical genre within the overall musical field, but, more fundamentally, it is a necessary prerequisite for ensuring the proper course of its future development, if not its entire continued existence. I encountered this notion in various guises during fieldwork, but never as concisely phrased as in the following email from an Uzbek colleague in the autumn of 2014: Do you remember? I told you last summer that I am thinking of founding a Centre for [X] Music and with my friend [Y] I started to work on this project – we drafted a large proposal and handed all documentation over to the Government. Finally, people in the Government understood … that this is a very serious and indispensable National issue and now they started to pay special attention. Yes, we gave our ideas away as a present …, but in return the question … will now be dealt with on the level of a state programme. Hurrah!!! Isn’t that great? (10.2014, capitalisation original, emphasis added)

138  Staging estrada II Whatever it is that is done “at the state level” [na gosudarstvennom urovne], the most typical phrase used in this context, is done in a serious, systematic, orderly, and well-founded – in short, the proper and most productive – way. This is the widespread understanding of “at the state level” and it is not only government officials, as one might suspect, who maintain and promote it. In conversations with estrada singers, composers, teachers, journalists or fellow musicologists, phrases like “if only this were done at the state level” were regularly invoked, almost like a magic formula, promising a corrective cure for developments in the sphere of music that were perceived to be heading in the wrong direction. No one I talked to perceived the current situation in the political economy of music as ideal or stable, as a phase of attainment, a transition already completed. Everybody saw it as being somehow provisional, but opinions varied with regard to where it was heading, if anybody really knew, where it was heading, and if the endpoint of development would be something positive. Most people doubted that there was some kind of grand government plan, but they opposed further deregulation – or even hoped that the deregulation already implemented would be reversed. I rarely met anyone who would speculate that music, or certain aspects of musical life, might actually be better off if they were not dealt with “at the state level” at all, but entirely unleashed from government oversight and handed over to the market care of the capitalist shou biznes – in line with classical transitology. I had, in fact, become so used to a positive attitude towards a pronounced government involvement in culture that I was sincerely astonished when, in May 2004, a top-level employee of the media empire owned by Gulnora Karimova, president Islom Karimov’s eldest daughter, commented on the way the government tended to be invoked in all matters musical: “[People] constantly use the favourite Uzbek phrase that the state should [do something]. But the state should not deal with this at all” (05.2004). Even though this perspective certainly gained appeal over the period in which I conducted my research, it remained something like a worst-case scenario for many others, even for some who held responsible positions in shou biznes. In fact, many of my contacts found it quite impossible to imagine how culture in general and music in particular could function, develop and thrive in Germany when the country does not have a federal Ministry of Culture. That there is a state minister of culture and media (without a proper Ministry, however) and Ministries of Culture or comparable institutions in each of Germany’s 16 federal states was not seen to be adequate compensation. In their opinion, culture needed central guidance, support and attention (see Chapter 7). For most of my interlocutors this was beyond question – and guidance, support and attention were something very different from control. A senior member of staff at the Conservatory and a former member of staff at O’zbeknavo once even interrupted my asking a question about government control with the categorical statement: “The government does not control, it gives support” (02.2004).

Staging estrada II  139 The logo for the Nihol award was, in my opinion, a fitting visual emblem for these differing interpretations. The image of two hands partially enclosing a small plant – top left in Figure 4.1 – could be read as a symbol of protecting and fostering upcoming artists, but also as a symbol of confining and suffocating talents. In any case, it captured the idea of government guidance and direction very well, regardless of whether one considered this to be positive or negative. Apart from understanding the term control to be about routinisation – to check that rules and regulations are observed – many of my interlocutors believed it had the ring of an emergency intervention, of measures that transgress the normal scope of action of a government institution and that are taken in situations (rightfully or wrongfully) judged to be crises by these institutions or higher levels of the state. There was widespread consensus – in conversations and the press – that estrada in Uzbekistan actually was in a bad state, which would justify the exertion of government control in this sense. Almost everybody I spoke to pondered possible remedies, and many called for stricter countermeasures that went beyond the existing licence system, which most believed qualified as a potential tool for control but which was not being used properly. Having become quite agitated while talking about the genre’s deficiencies, a senior member of staff in the estrada faculty at the Conservatory, for example, emphatically concluded a long monologue with the sentence: “You know, Kristina, what we need? A beautiful little censorship! [Zna­ yete, Kristina, chto nam nujno? Krasivaya malen’kaya tsenzura!]” (05.2004). For others too, censorship did not have the exclusively and adamantly negative meaning that it had to me. Another high-ranking member of staff at the Conservatory, for example, commented on the ideal role of the state in estrada issues in the following way: “Well, the state could [fall back on] its simply censoring … censorship not in the bad meaning of the term, but an advisory role the state should have” (02.2004). Many others of the older generation, composers, poets and artists alike, said that it had been much easier to deal with the government as long as there had been official censorship, since once something had passed the censors, you could be quite sure to be out of trouble, and the boundaries defining what was permissible had been clearer. The official abolition of censorship did not mean, however, that ideas about what was acceptable or not were more lenient. They were just not clearly formulated, thus ambiguous, resulting in the need for self-censorship, which, as many artists said, had made things more difficult. Commanding the time, energy and creativity of tens of thousands of people on an annual basis for competitions, predominantly on patriotic themes, did not fit the widespread idea of control as an emergency intervention. On the contrary, the government’s competition initiatives were part of what it was supposed to do for the development of music; they were a sign that the Ministry of Culture and associated institutions were doing what was

140  Staging estrada II expected of them. Uzbekistan is certainly not unique in there being only a thin line separating support from control in music policies, a line that easily shifts with one’s position in the overall cultural field. An approach that automatically and instinctively categorises these activities as measures of control, however, is as problematic as a perspective that exclusively and narrowly assigns artists’ engagement in state concerts the label of coercion. The claim made in Chapter 3 is equally relevant here: It is only the powerful romanticist myth of an ideally politically detached art that can endow music with a compelling aura of aloofness from state affairs. From this perspective, the expected, claimed and cultivated stance on the part of the government towards all matters musical is interested restraint. It is no wonder then that, viewed this way, any state involvement that exceeds an attitude of attentive reserve appears as control. The ideal of music’s political aloofness and states’ interested restraint in dealing with music lends a general impression of natural universality. This presumed universal ideal is used to frame – and this means to distract from – the music policies which are, in fact, pursued and implemented under the cloak of governmental reserve in liberal democracies (see Tochka 2016: 177 f.). The absence of a central government institution for managing music, such as the absence of a federal Ministry of Culture in Germany, certainly does not turn the country into an anarchic greenhouse for music that indiscriminately stimulates the growth and blossoming of all conceivable kinds of genres. Specific music policies and, more generally, the distribution of public funds are, in these countries too, powerful instruments that are used for shaping and hierarchising the landscape of music. The scope and reach of Uzbek music policies may greatly exceed their German correlates, but the decisive difference here is not one of degree, but of kind – or rather of frame. There is simply no need for the pretence of reserve on the part of the Uzbek state. Given the generally positive image of government involvement, it is not really compelled to cloak even the most direct and radical measures of musical engineering in a simulation of restraint. Ultimately, and this will be explored in Chapter 7, music is simply considered too crucial to the well-being of the nation to be – allegedly or actually – left more or less to itself, and responsibility for it is predominantly and openly claimed by and assigned to the government. In this way, Uzbekistan certainly fits Marcello Sorce Keller’s assessment of totalitarian states’ approaches to music: “Unlike democratic societies, they take music very seriously indeed” (2007: 118). While the Uzbek government’s competition initiatives were usually judged to be proof of the state “taking music seriously” and particularly paying estrada the attention it is due, there was still quite a bit of criticism about poor planning or unsatisfactory implementation, insufficient guidance or inadequate results. Essentially, these initiatives were blamed precisely for not effecting more than merely engaging people, for not furthering canonisation or ensuring sustained support. This criticism was often even more fundamental, touching on how things were done “at the state level” in

Staging estrada II  141 estrada in general. I will now turn to these complaints and look at how they relate to the trilogy of attention, support and direction.

Complaints It was often the same people who both fantasised about fixing problematic estrada-related issues “at the state level” and those who lamented about the reality of estrada dealings “at the state level”. At first sight, this seems reminiscent of what Alexei Yurchak calls rhetorical circularity in his analysis of official discourse in late Soviet society: The ultimate circular injunctions of this discourse were that Soviet citizens should develop new approaches and methods of work by using old approaches and methods, and should continue doing the things that proved futile in the past. (Yurchak 2006: 71) On closer inspection, however, the situation in Uzbekistan proves different. At its base is a seemingly schizophrenic split trick, a clear separation of a kind of abstract or ideal version of the state from its real-life organs  – ­essentially similar to what Morgan Liu has identified as an “ideal expectation” vs. a “practical expectation” of the sociopolitical world among his Uzbek interlocutors (Liu 2017: 69; cf. Rausing 2004: 143). This logical bifurcation was most concisely expressed by one of the most highly reyted female singers in the following way: “The state gives support, but the Ministry of Culture works very badly” (11.2005). President Islom Karimov was usually assigned to the abstract part of the state and even credited with taking a serious and real interest in estrada. According to a tenacious rumour, he used to spend one day – or, in a different version of this story, one afternoon – each weekend listening to estrada songs and watching estrada clips, in order to share his opinion with his closest advisers on Monday. They were then supposed to pass on his notes about flaws in songs and clips to O’zbeknavo personnel who, in turn, were to implore artists to undertake corrective measures in their repertoire (see Chapter 6). While the flow of information down this line was already seen to be impeded by irregularities, reluctances and other obstacles, the transmission of information in the other direction, that is, upwards in the command system, was judged to be practically dysfunctional. Convinced that “if only he knew, things would be completely different” (a common assumption about Stalin, too), quite a few people I spoke to suspected Islom Karimov of being badly informed by his inner circle about the real state of things estrada in his government. At the same time, however, a favourite pastime among musicians, music teachers and musicologists at banquets was to circulate jokes about Islom Karimov’s presumed incompetence in the sphere of music, such as not knowing that a half-sized

142  Staging estrada II violin – half-violin in Russian – is not a violin sliced in two. Occasionally – in particular when people of the older generation with first-hand knowledge of the Soviet era were present – his lack of musical erudition was contrasted with that of his predecessors who were portrayed in similar anecdotes as distinguished connoisseurs of music. Incompetence Much more frequently, however, accusations of incompetence were levelled at government representatives below the president, with staff at the Ministry of Culture and O’zbeknavo the main targets. Just as the deputy prime minister was dismissed as an uncultured boxer by some (see Chapter 3), O’zbeknavo’s then director was blamed for being just a builder, which was at least an allegation linked to his primary qualification as a construction engineer. But not everyone who talked about his perceived lack of qualifications did so as politely as this senior member of staff at the Conservatory when musing about who it would be most promising for me to address at O’zbeknavo in my research: At this moment I do not see any professionals there … You can approach [X], he might be able to tell you something. But everyone else, they are far from that … For example, [the director] … can tell you very much – very much – with regard to organisational-structural matters … But why this genre develops or does not develop, why [someone] introduced these folk motives into the music or those – and [why] this is good or bad, he can answer you that like a normal listener, … on a subjective basis. But there is no professionalism, of course. However, he is a very great organiser, a very good organiser, he can do everything out of nothing. (12.2003) A very refined and distinguished composer was more concise – and more scathing – in his judgement: “[There] sit very ignorant people, very stupid, very unintelligent people – and they direct us!” (11.2005). Personal grievances and feuds certainly play a role in accusations of incompetence, not least the fact that intellectuals in Uzbekistan, as in other parts of the postsocialist world, have suffered a considerable fall in status since independence and are quick to question the competencies of government bureaucrats of a more managerial type (see Tochka 2016: 109; Verdery 1991: 434). But this attitude was not limited to those who had personally experienced a loss of prestige after socialism. And then, automatically resorting to allegations of official incompetence to explain perceived deficits in the sphere of culture is not specific to Uzbeks. One line of reasoning held that the government is not a very attractive employer financially and competent people would rather prefer to work in

Staging estrada II  143 shou biznes, as this representative of a media company claims: “[T]o say that there should work [lit.: sit] competent people in the state organs is ridiculous. They receive little money, they cannot be competent” (05.2004). Others claimed that there was a general lack of competent people in Uzbekistan for the management and development of estrada and they blamed this on the government’s failure to prepare and provide the “necessary cadres” by establishing relevant university courses – at all or sufficiently quickly. Most people I talked to, however, doubted that competence was – or would be – any significant criterion for being hired into the state’s estrada administration anyway. Aware of the fact that important government positions in Uzbekistan were regularly assigned in return for a substantial payment and on the assumption that the respective candidate would be able to channel funds upwards in the government hierarchy, they did not see how any other skills, such as a proper professional qualification in the sphere of estrada and its management – compared to a primarily economic and patronage-­related one – could become more relevant. Consequently, processes in the governmental estrada administration were seen to be dealt with primarily on the level of personal relations, and this was the most obvious sign of a lack of professionalism for many. Thus, various people I talked to asserted that individual interests and personal benefits, financial and otherwise, were the real motor behind most of the activities of O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture, as opposed to the claimed motivation to advance and support estrada (see Chapter 6). Inertia At a meeting in September 2008, an O’zbeknavo official informed me about their latest initiative. It was supposed to help sustain – or newly establish – and develop regional schools of estrada with a strong base in local folk and classical traditions. I clarified the actions to be taken: KK: How is this plan going to be implemented? By founding new institutions X:

in the provinces? No. We recommend, we direct, we observe.

At this stage of fieldwork, this had been a rather expected answer, and meeting a sound engineer later that day for dinner, I related my fresh news to him and the following conversation ensued: KK: Why, in your opinion, do they think up such things? X: They think them up just because they have to be busy

with something, they have to exist. For those on top to know that they are working, only because of this they think up such things. Oh yes (ironically), I am convinced that this – what’s he called? … KK: [Y]?

144  Staging estrada II X:

… [Y] thinks about how to support or save the traditional music of ­Qashqadaryo in estrada. No, seriously, I cannot imagine him to go home at night and think: “How do I manage to save the traditional ­music of Qashqadaryo or Surxandaryo in estrada?” Can you?

Remarks along these lines were not extremely common, as talking about the use of government posts for personal gain normally presupposed a more solid relation of trust than talking about incompetence. But I still heard them throughout my fieldwork. And sometimes, to my astonishment, I even encountered interjections of straightforward or trenchant criticism into otherwise rather calm and impersonal conversations on the part of interviewees I had only just met. In 2005, for example, a senior singer responded to a question about the work of O’zbeknavo in the following way – again differentiating between the state and its organs: O’zbeknavo does not work at all. There sits a builder, who does not understand a thing in art, who builds everything on personal relations … This is [all] in the sphere of personal interests, the state does not have any significance. They use their status, their post, on which they sit. (10.2005) This statement was almost an expanded echo of something a composer and member of staff at the Conservatory had told me in an interview a year earlier: “They don’t work, they don’t deal with their tasks, they rob artists and pay little” (05.2004). In many cases, complaints about the reality of estrada administration “at the state level” were, as in the last quote, combined with criticism of the system as such, in particular about the inadequate reciprocity in the form of artists’ insufficient remuneration for their services, which was described in Chapter 3. And while hardly anyone held the officials currently working at O’zbeknavo or the Ministry of Culture personally responsible for devising this system in the first place, most estrada singers I talked to blamed these institutions for failing to support them in changing the arrangement to their advantage. In their view, O’zbeknavo should ideally should have been a lobbyist for them, and to see its staff using it, in their view, mainly to advance personal interests instead of those of the performers filled them with anger. Many singers and others involved in estrada recounted their first-hand experiences with O’zbeknavo staff’s personal priorities, including, in a few cases, shocking degrees of outright harassment (see Chapter 6). Interestingly, there was often a kind of ambivalence in complaints about O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture. Even those who had suffered enormously from the real handling of affairs “at the state level” knew how to use the established routines to their advantage and had already benefited from being able to

Staging estrada II  145 settle things on a personal level or profited in their careers from the various boosts to their reyting that O’zbeknavo’s goodwill promised. Furthermore, O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture were, of course, not homogeneous entities, nor were they perceived as such. My interlocutors usually held a wide variety of opinions on the individuals who worked in these institutions. They knew that there were officials whom one was better off avoiding or with whom one should be on the alert, and they knew that they had colleagues who, while perhaps not disinclined from realising personal benefits from their positions, still gave sincere consideration to questions of how to develop and advance estrada and promote the careers of singers. However, many of these ideas seemed extremely cumbersome to me when I learned about them in direct contact. The following excerpt from an interview with a high-ranking O’zbeknavo official from November 2005 is quite characteristic of the seriousness attached to the task as well as the weightiness of the approach: Our task at O’zbeknavo is to examine everything, to determine by way of a plan, which way we will go in the long-term. We analyse all concerts, then we organise academic conferences with scholars, we examine [everything] together with art studies scholars. Then we give guidances [dayëm napravleniya] what to pay attention to. [Of] some performers we analyse the concert programmes and give guidance … [W]e examine all these problems, we assemble, we draft a plan, next year we will do this, this [and] that. We put together a plan, which events to pay attention to, where to conduct what, where an academic conference, where analysis. We [also] make TV broadcasts … Because of this I have a substantial task here, plans. Currently I am putting together the plan for the year 2006. What to do every month. In the oblasts, academic conferences, meetings, competitions, concerts, tours. (11.2005) In view of this, it is little surprising that O’zbeknavo officials always seemed extremely busy, and some definitely showed signs of overwork. But many of their initiatives appeared – to me as well as to others – to be more erratic ­activism than effective action. Criticism about the reality of estrada policies “at the state level” did not pertain to competitions only, however. Other initiatives were dismissed by some at least as much, if not more, for their apparent futility. The estrada conference In May 2004, I was invited to a conference on the topic of “Estrada Art – ­Mirror of National Spirituality” [Estrada San’ati – Milliy Ma’naviyat Ko’zgusi], which was organised by O’zbeknavo, the Institute for Art

146  Staging estrada II Studies, the Union of Composers and the Union of Writers. Advertised to me by an O’zbeknavo official as a “big event” by phone, the quite impressive-­ looking invitation, which I received a few days later by post, did, indeed, give promise that the great expectations the original announcement had raised in me would be fulfilled: It announced 11 presentations, framed by a welcome address, musical performances by famous estrada singers, discussions [muzokaralar] and recommendations [tavsiyalar]. With a conference room in the Turkiston Palace as its venue, the event was scheduled to start at 11:00 in the morning. Really looking forward to something which seemed to be extremely relevant to my research and assuming the conference would last into the late afternoon, I reserved the whole day for it. The afternoon before the day of the conference, however, the reaction of a senior musicologist at the Conservatory to my questioning whether he would also attend the conference, already lowered my expectations: No, I will not. They only do this conference in order to show that they are doing anything at all. This will not be a proper academic conference, but rather for ‘party applauses’ [partiynyye aplodismenty]. They will celebrate and praise themselves. There will be academically active, well-informed people participating, but this will still not be a proper, normal conference. (05.2004) And, in fact, the first paper after the words of welcome already made clear that this was going to turn into something very different. The speaker was interrupted after about three minutes and more or less politely reminded of the time of five minutes for each presentation. Then, people were constantly shuffling in and out, even the convenors, and the whole conference was over after two and a half hours. When, two weeks later, I joined a radio journalist to visit one of the senior female top stars of the scene, she greeted me with the words, “You were at the conference recently, right? It seems we always meet at these utterly useless events” (06.2004). Still, she and others who had laughingly or angrily dismissed the event considered organising conferences to be important in principle and something the government should definitely do for the development of estrada. There was a basic recognition of the essential appropriateness of the government’s endeavours and intentions, and musicologists in particular frequently suggested conferences as a necessary first step in remedying the maladies that seemed to plague the scene. Once again, the proposed cure for what was perceived to be going wrong “at the state level” was exactly the same set of measures that were deemed deficient or inefficient in their execution or implementation in the first place. But, and this was supposedly the decisive difference, as soon as they were dealt with at the imaginary ideal “state level”, they would be conducted properly.

Staging estrada II  147 Empty activism To me, the dominant overall approach of locating expertise and responsibility for the cause of estrada with the government, and the concrete and often cumbersome means of dealing with it – holding meetings, organising conferences, drafting plans, installing numerous state organs and trying to solve problems predominantly by talking – looked like a direct continuation of Soviet cultural politics. And in many respects it certainly is (see ­Chapter 7). I often had the impression that a demand for involvement “at the state level” was an attempt to calm or domesticate a confusing and complex cultural situation by reassuringly invoking a tried-and-tested ­counter-spell. However, for many people I met from within the estrada scene, this was not an unbroken, unreflective continuation of Soviet practices. Just like some of Nicholas Tochka’s contacts in Albania in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my interlocutors had experienced the outcome of partial deregulation and marketisation in the sphere of estrada and perceived these transformations and their results to be disregulation instead of positive harbingers of long-awaited liberalisation, normalisation and democratisation (Tochka 2016: 176, see also Chapter 6). For some, this had simply been a failed experiment. Furthermore, what seemed inherently and specifically Soviet to me was, for many of my interlocutors, just an unmarked practice – the normal way of organising and implementing music policies. Thus, only rarely did I encounter comments that explicitly related problems in the field of music to the survival of unwieldy administrative structures from the Soviet era, such as this from a former member of staff at the Ministry of Culture: Bureaucracy and conservatism are a problem. You have a new idea, but you are not allowed to implement it. For everything there are large meetings just as in the Soviet Union. Nothing moves and while you are waiting, everything gets even worse. (03.2004) An O’zbeknavo official explicitly denied any continuities with the Soviet Union, claiming that in the Uzbek SSR there had not been any “such planned perspectives” as there were now, and that “among the higher officials there had not been any specialists” (11.2005). Almost everybody outside O’zbeknavo, however, would have challenged this. Many of those, in fact, who had been linked to estrada in the Soviet era tended to depict administration then as much more organised and staffed in actual fact with experts. Younger female contacts of mine in particular, who also complained about the inertia of current state organs, attributed this to age and gender issues rather than to the persistence of Soviet structures. A journalist, for example, remarked that she would not expect anything expedient and

148  Staging estrada II meaningful from government institutions in culture as long as they continued to be staffed by men in their fifties and older. Whether attributed to a lack of professionalism, to corruption, to age and gender or to more fundamental flaws in the system, estrada-related actions taken “at the state level” were judged with great regularity and by the majority of people with whom I spoke to be a kind of empty activism. Many might greet initiatives such as competitions and conferences as an expression of government attention that is expected, needed and requested for the development of estrada. But they also criticise them for essentially being a pretence, a simulation of attention, entailing maybe a measure of direction, but no serious and sustainable support. Interpreted in terms of Alexei Yurchak’s model explored earlier, they placed too much weight on the performative and too little on the constative dimension. Taking this a little further, one can conclude that this imbalance helps to secure the perpetuation of the respective institutions – and to allow their staff to appear indispensable – as a result of the conspicuous and appropriate busyness on display, while all this activity remains rather inconsequential with regard to the causes these initiatives claim to advance. As articulate – and sometimes verbose – my interlocutors were in their complaints about the current situation, they were elusive and vague when I asked them for their opinion on how competitions and other estrada affairs should ideally be conducted “at the state level”. I will conclude this chapter by looking at this issue more closely.

A twin state level During my first and longest period of fieldwork in Uzbekistan from 2003 until 2004, the responses to my questions about how an ideal estrada administration would function became quite predictable. They rarely went beyond stipulating “profound knowledge in musicology or culture management or both” as a prerequisite for employment in the respective government organs. “No corruption” might be rather half-heartedly thrown into the conversation, but cynically or laughingly brushed aside for being too ambitious or utterly illusionary a goal anyway. From 2005 onwards, however, I got a clearer picture of how at least some of my contacts imagined this ideal “state level”. Interestingly, this was due to the fact that president Islom Karimov’s eldest daughter, Gulnora Karimova, decided to complement her, by then, already extensive commercial engagement in the sphere of estrada and shou biznes with additional – and ostensibly non-profit – cultural commitment. Between 2004 and 2013, when she fell from grace, was put under house arrest and was forced to cease all her activities, she essentially built up her NGO, Fund Forum Uz (FFUz), as a pseudo-governmental structure in the sphere of culture. This was most probably done with the goal of building up a loyal and experienced team around here and to increase public esteem in preparation for her becoming Uzbekistan’s next president.

Staging estrada II  149 I had first noticed the activities of FFUz in June 2004, a few months after its founding, and by 2008, the last time I was in Tashkent before Gulnora Karimova’s downfall, the organisation had already become so omnipresent and powerful in the sphere of culture that I likened it in my fieldnotes, in an attempt to somehow grasp its reach, to an octopus. The following conversation with a senior figure in the estrada scene about FFUz soon after my arrival replaced the image in my mind, however: KK: What exactly is FFUz doing? X: They do everything, starting from

children’s institutions. They organise competitions, give grants, take care of everything, from zero to stars … They also have contracts with artists who perform at their events, and they also send them on tour. KK: But then, isn’t FFUz something like a second Ministry of Culture or a second O’zbeknavo? X: It is the first Ministry of Culture and the first O’zbeknavo. KK: This means, both institutions exist in a kind of twin version now? X: No, they are not twins – or very unequal twins. One of them is brilliant, beautiful and successful, everyone pays attention to it, and the other is not. You know what I mean. (08.2008) This idea of the unlike twins was corroborated just a few days later, when a journalist told me that FFUz engagements for estrada artists were now overruling O’zbeknavo’s concert commitments. If FFUz wanted to have an artist for an event, he/she could just decline O’zbeknavo orders – and FFUz was very active in organising events, in Uzbekistan as well as abroad, co-opting or suffocating all potential rival initiatives. As I did not return to Tashkent for fieldwork between 2008 and 2016, I did not see FFUz reach its zenith in influence and activity myself.11 But I followed estrada news and gossip via the internet and stayed in touch with acquaintances from the estrada scene, some of whom had already worked or started to work closely with or in connection to one of Gulnora Karimova’s enterprises, whether in the commercial or the NGO branch. Most of them had a decidedly reserved relationship with her and were keen on keeping a certain distance. Wikileaks might have outed her as the allegedly “most hated woman” in Uzbekistan, but the people I associated with considered her the most dangerous woman in Uzbekistan. They loathed her for her notorious and omnivorous kleptocracy, while fearing her power and her habit to ruthlessly co-opt or dispose of anybody she wanted. I noticed over time, however, how my acquaintances increasingly enjoyed working in the structures she had set up around FFUz and how they praised the results of her work, often comparing it to the activities of state organs, which never managed to look good in direct juxtaposition. At some point I realised that her approach to planning, organising and

150  Staging estrada II implementing cultural initiatives was in very fundamental ways probably close to what many people had fantasised about when imagining estrada being ideally treated “at the state level”. As stated in the quote above, many of the FFUz activities actually corresponded to government activities – competitions, for example, were high on the agenda and became a staple in the FFUz portfolio. But they were furnished with a much grander and much more glamorous setting – and could be sure of fittingly grand and glamorous coverage in Gulnora Karimova’s various commercial media outlets. In 2008 in situ, and then on from afar, I heard friends and acquaintances lauding her skills: She does everything very well. She promotes an elite, urban and youthful kind of culture, she has taste. She has style and taste. This is a totally different level of culture … It would be better, if Gulnora were president. Everything would be more youthful, and she would use less money. (05.2013) Just as positive – despite a constant undercurrent of fear – were reports about working structures and relations within and in connection with FFUz that reached me in Germany. There were fewer hierarchies, more women and younger people, and more democracy. If someone had a good idea, he or she would be supported; decisions were taken quickly and services were paid – often well. According to this – ultimately quite neo-liberal – ­narrative, her attention to culture, and particularly estrada, was genuine. There was less direction than in government initiatives, but more support, and she managed, as one acquaintance said, “to really elevate the nation’s level of culture”. Still, while these initiatives might fit the positive image of deregulation and democratisation in classical transitology, most people I knew in Gulnora Karimova’s enterprises would have preferred them to be aspects of proper state politics rather than just part of an imitation of the state in the non-governmental or commercial sphere. No one I knew had assumed Gulnora Karimova really operated within the law, but when, in 2013, the full scope of allegations against her surfaced, including extensive charges of bribery, embezzlement and duress, quite a few people in the estrada scene were left in shock – if not in jail due to close association with her. Many people who had worked at her media company were questioned by the general prosecutor and it was clear that their employment at Gulnora Karimova’s companies would not count towards their pension. At the same time, the liquidation of all of her enterprises meant a fundamental reorganisation of the spheres of culture and media in Uzbekistan, and, from what I heard from contacts in Tashkent after 2013 and could see for myself in 2016, government institutions seem to have seized this opportunity to strengthen their positions again and have adopted some of the

Staging estrada II  151 FFUz’s activities – but not its working structures. A number of acquaintances who had been associated with Gulnora Karimova’s various media enterprises before had by 2016 – albeit often with some difficulty – found jobs in official culture administration. Many of them lamented the cumbersome routines, a lack of professionalism and rigid hierarchies, but greeted the fact that certain initiatives had been transplanted – or returned – from the private commercial sector to the “state level” where they, in their opinion, rightfully belonged. And most tried to inject some of their previous working routines and Gulnora Karimova-type aesthetics into their new responsibilities. These cautious and scattered personal interventions were not enough for a substantial alignment of the real “state level” with the ideal “state level” in people’s view, however, and in 2016, the latter was still regularly invoked as a magic cure for problems caused by the former. Priorities in culture politics might have shifted away from estrada since president Islom Karimov’s death in autumn 2016, but I am convinced that discussions about government attention, support and direction in the field of competitions in particular and estrada in general will persist, albeit perhaps with less prominence and urgency. The real “state level” itself, however, quite naturally has its own perspective on all of this and is rather unwilling to take the blame for problems in estrada, or at least the full blame. Many officials I spoke to conceded some flaws in music policies or their implementation, blaming insufficient funding or a lack of staff, if they did not identify the problems at institutions other than their own altogether. Others explained shortcomings by pointing to the fact that Uzbekistan is still a young country. The general thrust, however, was to shift responsibility for perceived problems and alleged deficits onto estrada artists (see Chapter 6).

“Doing the state” in competitions Every year, Uzbekistan hosts an abundance of music competitions organised by a great variety of government institutions at the local, regional and republican level. Most of these events involve estrada, some even exclusively focus on this genre, and many of them are devoted to the topic of ­patriotism – definitely the most extensive and most prestigious ones. In contrast to state concerts, which predominantly draw on estrada artists above a certain level of reyting, government-organised competitions within – or including – the field of estrada, if looked at in their entirety, target a much wider group of the population, ranging from toddlers to the elderly, from total amateurs to professionals up to a certain level of reyting. At the same time, government officials up to the highest ranks of the state are involved in organising these competitions, while mostly the country’s creative personnel staffs their juries. Despite the fact that from among the thousands of songs that are annually produced for these competitions usually not even a handful make it

152  Staging estrada II into the canon of titles deemed appropriate for the great state spectacles or for airplay – often the official reason given for the organisation of these events – music competitions are still considered important initiatives by many inside and outside governmental structures in Uzbekistan and some even call for more events of this kind. So rather than in their output, the significance of music competitions has to be seen in their input. Every year in Uzbekistan, several thousand people are busy organising, composing, writing, rehearsing, singing, playing, recording, listening, judging and reporting in connection with these competitions, more often than not on patriotic themes. Whether they are real enthusiasts or forced volunteers, ministers or infants, for days, weeks or even months these several thousand people are in some way engaged in sounding the nation, the state or both. For the Uzbek government, music competitions are certainly a convenient tool to monitor those involved, including itself, and while it may seem obvious to think about their function in terms of control, many Uzbekistanis see them as proof and result of the necessary government attention to music, of support and direction “at the state level”. Differentiating the real “state level” from an imaginary ideal “state level”, they may criticise government organs for various flaws in their handling of competitions, for general inertia or professional incompetence in their dealing with music, but they rarely question the idea that music should be taken care of “at the state level” and be an object of government attention, support and direction. For most, this arrangement is neither a bothersome heritage of socialism that will vanish with more development, as a transition perspective would suggest, nor a worrying marker of postsocialist authoritarianism, but an essentially unmarked, just the normal way of dealing with something as important as music in a normal state, in which music competitions are an integral part. Whether located at the real or the imagined ideal “state level”, especially when solidly wed to the topic of patriotism, music competitions constitute a form of aural governing on the part of the Uzbek authorities, a measure of sonic state-crafting, which forces great numbers of people to engage with visions of nation and state in sound – and often for considerable spans of time. At the same time, the organising government bodies, in themselves not homogeneous, do not command the power to completely control songs and performances – not to speak of their reception. So, when it comes to actual sounds and content, music competitions constitute a dispersed form of “doing the state” in and through the audible domain on the part of all involved. But what exactly is this audible domain in estrada? What do people actually sing at music competitions, especially when the overall topic is patriotism? Ideally, they will choose a song that qualifies as milliy estrada, national estrada. What this is I will explore in Chapter 5.

Staging estrada II  153

Notes 1 Had I already been to a wedding in Uzbekistan before attending the Nihol gala concert, I would not have been surprised at the ladies’ behaviour. Contrary to weddings I have attended in Germany, Uzbekistani wedding guests usually do not try to avoid dancing. On the contrary, to dance means to honour the bride and groom and it is thus an essential part of the procedures – for some, an important duty, for others, a great joy, regardless of gender and age. The ladies seated next to me obviously belonged to the second category (see ­C hapter 6). 2 A few days later, a person involved in the organisation of this Nihol edition told me that actually two-thirds of the jury decisions had been changed at the last minute. Tanya Merchant provides a detailed analysis of competitions in the sphere of classical music (2006: 95–102) and writes of “accusations of bribery and corruption that often come from the parents of competitors who were not selected to receive awards” (ibid.: 101). She does not disclose, however, whether they had good reasons for their allegations. 3 As hudud not only means territory, but also outskirts and border, it has an even stronger connotation of marginality. This is all the more true for the quite frequent term chekka hududlar, a kind of pleonasm, literally meaning something like “outlying outskirts” or “far-off outskirts”. 4 These 37 awards were distributed as follows: 9 classical singers, 4 classical and folk instrumentalists (including one ensemble), 5 academic singers, 8 academic instrumentalists (including one orchestra), 5 classical dancers, 1 ballet dancer, 1 bastakor [classical composer/musician/singer], 2 baxshi [reciter of musically heightened poetry], 1 xalfa [Khorezmian female musical entertainer], 1 conductor. I am grateful to various members of staff at the Ministry of Culture for providing me with copies of internal documents in 2004 and 2008 and for allowing me to quote from them. 5 Given the fact that Vatanim Manim is a song competition, it seems strange that this passage includes the phrase “for the creation of musical works and songs [musiqa asarlari va qo’shiqlarning yaratilishiga]”. This phrasing could be related to the above-mentioned fact that the word used for song here, qo’shiq, does not have the broad meaning it has in English. Thus, “musical works” might be used to indicate a certain generic breadth within the category “song”. It could also have been nothing more than an unreflective choice for a rather standard phrase by the person drafting the resolution. 6 Interestingly, this paragraph is not only similar in content to the texts on Vatanim Manim, but almost identical to the passage of the decree for Independence Day 2007 cited above: wide illumination … of the substantial achievements and results on the way of strengthening peace and stability in our country, … strengthening in the minds of compatriots, particularly of the young generation, the essence and importance of independence, feelings of love and devotion to the Homeland.  (PP-644 2007, capitalisation original, emphasis added) 7 This is an excerpt from an email, and while the rest of it was written in Russian, the last sentence of the quote was in Uzbek, giving the impression of an excerpt from a legal document, which, in fact, it well could be. 8 This information stems from the O’zbeknavo activity report for 2001–2003. In the press I found a divergent list of organising institutions, including National TV and Radio, but omitting the Union of Writers. Unable to verify this, I have decided to stick with the O’zbeknavo material.

154  Staging estrada II 9 The idea that facing competition as part of musical professionalisation is not peculiar to socialist or postsocialist thinking, however. One, historically remote, but all the more interesting parallel is Grant Olwage’s study on choralism in Victorian England. Here, according to Olwage, the introduction of music literacy certificates functioned as an incentive to ‘personal effort’. It also brought choralism more securely within the Victorian ideology of self-improvement through work … In the hierarchizing work of the certificate, then, rank served as both reward and punishment …, congratulating the disciplined singer-worker as it penalized idleness.  (Olwage 2005: 29f.) The mechanisms of expectation and disappointment, rewards and retributions surrounding the participation of students in competitions in Uzbekistan seem very similar indeed. 10 In my opinion, teachers at the Conservatory partially exaggerated how strenuous preparing students for competitions was for them. In some cases, students had already surpassed them in technical mastery and expressive proficiency and had started to practise and prepare for competitions independently. 11 I did, actually, do an interview with one of FFUz members of staff in 2008 in their offices, but the information I received there hardly went beyond what I could access via the internet or through FFUz promotional material.

5 Nationalising estrada The concept of milliy estrada

In spring 2005, Oriat Dono, one of Tashkent’s Uzbek language FM radio stations, was the scene of a small scandal. A young estrada singer – a studio guest for a live interview – claimed milliy estrada, national estrada, did not exist. He argued that most instruments and tunes commonly designated as Uzbek, are, in fact, widely shared across Central Asia, or even beyond, and thus defy any monopolisation as exclusively Uzbek. In a similar vein, he doubted that the Uzbek SSR’s first estrada star, Botyr Zakirov, could really be promoted as a narrowly national figure in view of his international repertoire and style. This unusual deconstruction of the term milliy was not received well by others at all – and it certainly constituted an audacious advance into sacrosanct territory. Estrada superstar Yulduz Usmanova phoned in during the programme to complain, and in the wake of the show, the studio host nearly lost her job for letting her guest talk freely that way. Shortly afterwards, Oriat Dono invited a number of senior estrada figures to an on-air discussion on the topic of milliy estrada – an extraordinary decision by a radio station, whose non-music slots in the programme never exceed a few minutes. On this radio talk show, all participants essentially agreed on the existence of milliy estrada, but some became so agitated over the issue that they resorted to swear words. The singer who had caused the commotion in the first place was not allowed to join this circle – and was strongly advised to consider refraining from a career in estrada altogether. Milliy estrada was probably the most widely used and discussed concept I encountered during fieldwork, in conversations as well as in the press.1 The omnipresence of the term was, however, not in any way matched by a clarity of meaning (see Bekov 1994: 8). In fact, there had been no serious attempts at producing a clear definition, nor would there be over the years. A senior musicologist completely surrendered with the statement “I have no idea what this is supposed to be” (08.2004). Other people I spoke to followed a kind of ius soli principle for milliy estrada, claiming that all estrada made in Uzbekistan was by default milliy, but the overwhelming majority opted for a ius sanguinis approach. That is, they demanded estrada should have certain ingredients deemed specifically Uzbek to deserve the label milliy, and most

156  Nationalising estrada of them had their own, sometimes quite idiosyncratic, ideas about these constitutive elements and their relative importance in the overall mix. Often musicologists were blamed for not having, as one O’zbeknavo official put it, “scientifically and thus objectively” determined the parameters for milliy estrada, which could then serve as a binding framework for musical production and evaluation. In 2005, there were rumours about a department for estrada research that would soon be opened at the Institute for Art Studies to meet this lack of academic guidance, but the plan never came to fruition. Besides differences over the characteristics of milliy estrada, another issue that divided commentators was the scope that milliy estrada should have in relation to estrada in general. While O’zbeknavo and other state officials all propagated an omnivorous ideal in the vein of “all estrada has to be milliy” (11.2005), most others wanted only a portion of the overall estrada repertoire in the country to be milliy. Some complained that milliy estrada took up too much space already, such as this Conservatory student: “Here, behind milliy estrada everything else has started to vanish” (09.2004). Taking these contradictions and ambiguities into account, in this chapter I will delineate a kind of convergent definition of milliy estrada, collating the various interpretations that I encountered without glossing over points of dissent. In structuring this chapter, I follow the topics of discussion that dominate discourses in Uzbekistan. My primary aim is to give a rough but concise understanding of one of the most central and most contested concepts at the time of my fieldwork, more often described in terms of what it is not or what it should not be rather than with reference to its desired characteristics. A secondary aim is to show how discussions around milliy estrada are embedded in wider socio-political issues. Since milliy estrada as a concept and topic of debate has survived the age of estradisation – and will most probably do so for some time to come – I will stay in the present tense in this chapter.

Lyrics Language Milliy estrada is sung in Uzbek. Only two people I talked to considered language choice irrelevant and maintained that a song with Russian, Tajik or English lyrics could also qualify as milliy estrada. The almost undisputed position accorded to the Uzbek language in definitions of milliy estrada became strikingly obvious during the auditions for Navro’z and Independence Day 2004. Among the hundreds of songs presented there, fewer than a handful were in Russian, the rest were in Uzbek. In one case, the selection committee decided after hearing only a few bars that the song in question would make a good contribution to Uzbekistan – Our Shared House [­O’zbekiston – Umumiy Uyimiz / Uzbekistan – Nash Obshchiy Dom], a “friendship and culture festival” for minorities living in Uzbekistan (Figure 5.1).

Nationalising estrada  157 Thus, in terms of language preferences, milliy estrada clearly tends to define “national” in the narrow terms of Uzbek nationality and not in the more encompassing terms of Uzbek citizenship, which would more accurately reflect the country’s multinational population.2 The priority given to the Uzbek language in milliy estrada, however, follows general policies of linguistic Uzbekisation since independence, which have decidedly decreased and ­delegitimated the formerly important role of Russian in politics and everyday life (see ­Djumaev 2001: 324–326; Fierman 2009; Mesamed 2004). The lyrics of milliy estrada can take up regional dialects of Uzbek, such as, for example, Khorezmian, but there was broad consensus among my contacts that they should not fall back on lower class speech, youth slang or swear words. Adequate lyrics are provided either by new poems composed by contemporary professional Uzbek authors, older – even centuries old – verses by writers such as the fifteenth-century poet Alisher Navoiy, adaptations of Uzbek folksong texts or parts of epics that are prevalent in Uzbekistan. Only a small number of people, all linked to the sphere of media, considered youth slang appropriate as a welcome sign that milliy estrada was in fact close to the nation – or rather to the nation’s largest age group: young people. Opinions are divided on whether texts originating outside the territorial confines of Uzbekistan in its contemporary form and written in languages

Figure 5.1  A  t the festival Uzbekistan – Our Shared House, 2016

158  Nationalising estrada other than Uzbek (or the now extinct pan-Central Asian Turkic language Chagatai) could, in Uzbek translation, serve as the textual basis for milliy estrada. Many people I spoke to found this contradictory to the idea of milliy on principle, but most conceded to have never really thought about this as being an option so far. Some said their judgement would depend on the texts’ content. If it expressed or fit “Uzbek mentality”, as one musicologist put it, poems by non-Uzbeks in languages other than Uzbek could, in translation, serve as lyrics for milliy estrada. Content Besides the question of language, content is certainly the second big issue when it comes to lyrics. Asked about suitable subjects for milliy estrada, an O’zbeknavo official came up with the following assortment of desired and impermissible topics: One can sing about love, about the homeland, about anything, but it is forbidden [zapreshayetsya] [to sing about] religion, … or to propagate terrorism, rape … Shoot, rape people, that is not allowed. He should sing about the homeland, about love, about what he wants, about flowers, [there are] so many topics. [But] there are several topics which one must not touch: prostitution, pornography, drugs, terrorists, religion. (11.2005) Songs “about the homeland” [vatan haqida / o rodine] are certainly the jewel in the crown of milliy estrada. It is the content of the lyrics that determines whether a song will be labelled as a vatan song, whereas musical properties are more or less irrelevant – at least in practice, if not necessarily in theory. There are two understandings of what constitutes a vatan song in Uzbek estrada, one narrower and one broader. Songs that directly praise the country, the nation, the president or any combination of these three form the core of this category. A well-known vatan song of this kind is Yulduz Usmanova’s “We Will Give You to No One, Uzbekistan” [Hech Kimga Bermaymiz, Seni, O’zbekiston], first sung on Independence Day 1999, again at Independence Day 2000 and, as mentioned earlier, used as the title for a Military Patriotism Song Festival in Tashkent the summer in between – a musical call to unity, patriotism and vigilance (Video 5.1). In the broader understanding, the category of vatan songs accommodates a wider spectrum of topics, such as important historical events and figures, contemporary politics and the very general and elusive notion of o’zbekchilik, meaning something like “Uzbek traditions, morals and objects” as well as “doing things the Uzbek way”. In keeping with this, lyrics extolling the beauty and bounty of Uzbekistan, celebrating the gentleness and generosity of its people or depicting colourful traditions and customs can qualify for the label of a vatan song. Here, however, vatan songs tend to blur into the

Nationalising estrada  159 more general category of milliy estrada and their designation depends on personal perspective or political position. Asrasin by Ozoda Nursaidova, which sealed my choice of research topic, belongs to the category of vatan songs as more broadly defined as do, for example, two songs plus elaborate and costly video clips by female trio Setora [Star], “You Are There” [Sen Borsan] (2000) and “The Spirit of the Ancestors” [Ajdodlar Ruhi] (2001) (Video 5.2).3 They also take up the topic of threats – the contemporary one posed by Islamists as well as the historical one posed by Mongols – and show the bravery of Uzbek soldiers and their ancestors in fighting these enemies. Both were extremely popular among young people at the time of their release and were still around when I started fieldwork in 2003. Even years later, people fondly remembered these hits and officials continued to name them as exemplary. It might seem surprising that religion, and particularly Islam, is not considered a suitable topic for milliy estrada and is mentioned in the same breath as prostitution, pornography, drugs and terrorists by the O’zbeknavo official quoted above.4 After all, the revival of Islam has ostensibly been a crucial issue for the Uzbek government since independence, and according to ­official statements, Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, just as being Uzbek means ­being Muslim. In line with this reasoning, any ethnic Uzbek choosing conversion from Islam is subject to harsh consequences from the government. On the other hand, the Muslimness, which is propagated as good, acceptable and essentially Uzbek, is extremely narrowly defined. It is more an understanding of religion as cultural asset than as belief system – and in place of Islam, the more diffuse concept of spirituality gradually gained prominence in official writings during the Karimov era (see Chapter 7). Consequently, anyone opting for stricter adherence to Islam than officially prescribed faces equally harsh or even harsher consequences from the government than do converts from Islam.5 The alleged threat of Islamic fundamentalism looms large in Uzbek politics, and the exclusion of religion from the suitable topics for milliy estrada has to be seen in this context. Following this logic, propagating religion equals propagating terrorism. Terrorism, however, can and does appear in milliy estrada, if depicted in a decidedly deterring way, as in the video clips mentioned above. The same is true for prostitution and drugs. Contrary to what one might expect, the exclusion of Islam from estrada has nothing to do – and was never linked in conversations – with the problematic relationship between Islam and music, which, for example, is a major topic in music policies in Iran (see Youssefzadeh 2000: 41; see also Nooshin 2005). Uzbekistan’s Sufi heritage seems to play a decisive role here. A number of people I talked to explicitly referred to the importance of music in Sufism – and the Sufi basis for Uzbek classical music – to explain the lack of discussions about the fundamental compatibility of music with the teachings of Islam. Love is an appropriate topic of milliy estrada, if the lyrics very poetically depict states of intoxication or rapture (in itself a central characteristic of

160  Nationalising estrada Sufi poetry), focus on forms of family love, such as children’s love for their parents and vice versa, or if portraying chaste forms of affection in a heterosexual setting. Pre-marital or marital intimacy is acceptable only if it is hinted at and wrapped up in morally impeccable allusions. This also concerns descriptions of female beauty, which should stay, as an O’zbeknavo official remarked, “above the neck”. He negatively compared the physical traits praised today with those that received attention “in the past”: “Earlier, singers described beautiful eyes, beautiful eyebrows, beautiful hair and beautiful lips … Now they sing about the waist and the bellybutton. Everything has moved downwards [hammasi pastga tushdi]” (11.2005). A famous estrada composer similarly compared the old way of portraying desire, suitable for milliy estrada, with new ways that should be impermissible for milliy estrada, but was more explicit and more agitated about the topic: [P]reviously, in Uzbek estrada such a song was bashful, openly no one said, “I want you, I wait for you.” No one said it in such a way. They talked about this subject [in this way]: “I walked around the garden, I met you. I am afraid of my mum, she does not let me close to you. Ooh, go away, [if] my mum sees [us], she will be angry.” And now? “I want you, I cannot be without you. I remember your eyes, your hair. I kissed your lips, your whatever.” Everything is open now! Do you ­understand? … And now the content has become so mundane. “I call you, I’m driving in my car.” Something like this did not exist earlier. “[I call you] on my mobile phone.” … This is all obscene and very vulgar. There should be allusive poetry. But even if it is allusive poetry, it should be allusive poetry in an ethical way [po eticheskoy linii]. (08.2004) While the physical references criticised here even stayed “above the neck” (save for “your whatever”, of course), they were scolded for another flaw that equally made them inappropriate for milliy estrada: banality. And this composer is certainly not an exception in voicing this kind of judgement. Common terms used to describe the textual quality one is looking for in milliy estrada include rich in content [soderzhatel’nyy] and relevant [znachimyy]. Particularly for female listeners I talked to, songs that take up – and take ­seriously – domestic problems or, more generally, the world of women’s emotions not only fall under the label of milliy estrada, but are a crucial part of it. Several singers argued in a similar vein when speaking about the social responsibility of artists and framing their activities in terms of duty and service to society, as was explored in Chapter 3. The type and degree of realism and social relevance considered preferable, suitable and permissible for milliy estrada are far from an uncontroversial debate, however. Singing about flowers, as the O’zbeknavo official suggested, when specifying topics considered appropriate for milliy estrada,

Nationalising estrada  161 might seem a blatant banality to others, but for him, it would be milliy, at least if done in a poetic way. On the other hand, tackling pressing ­real-life problems, such as the habitual mistreatment of young brides by their ­mothers- and sisters-in-law, would not qualify for milliy estrada in his, and undoubtedly in many others’, view, whereas praising Uzbek soldiers battling fierce Islamic fundamentalists would. And while for some, the depiction of teenage life worlds using Tashkent youth slang is a sure sign of estrada’s downfall, for others, this is a part of a vital realism that is necessary to keep the genre alive and meaningful across generations. I will return to these divergences and, more generally, the topic of realism in milliy estrada in Chapter 7, where I will discuss the workings of milliy estrada in the context of national independence ideology.

Music Older Uzbek traditions Milliy estrada should have discernible references to older Uzbek musical traditions by including elements from either folk or classical music. In 2006, two senior officials from O’zbeknavo and a musicologist from the Institute for Art Studies very emphatically demanded this connection in their joint publication Uzbek Estrada Singing Art: Imitation and Interpretation [O’zbek Estrada Qo’shiqchiligi: Taqlid va Talqin]: [T]he question, does estrada music live in the system of folk music or not, has not been removed from the agenda. Naturally, of course [it does]. Folk music [Xalq musiqasi], as an intact phenomenon, puts only the real life [haqiqiy hayot] in song. [If] estrada is not from the start shaped and then developed in a form resembling [folk music], [it] consequently cannot, as a distinct musical art form, show itself as a folk-­ appropriate [xalqchil] phenomenon. (Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev & Norbo’taev 2006: 51)6 Recourse to older Uzbek traditions can be direct and substantial, when, for example, folk songs are adapted wholesale to an estrada idiom, or they can be indirect and subtle, when just a few traits are worked into an estrada piece or entirely new compositions copy the character of older traditions. Opinions vary on how much folk and classical music there should be in estrada to deserve the label milliy – or the label estrada for that matter. A few people complained that much of what is hailed as milliy estrada by others is in fact just electrified folk songs that have nothing to do with estrada and, at best, belong to the lirika genre. Others argued that much of what is hailed as milliy estrada reduces associations with older Uzbek traditions to the superficial level of a merely decorative garnish and is thus not really milliy. What these seemingly extreme opposites share is their rejection of a purely

162  Nationalising estrada mechanical processing of musical elements without what a senior member of the Conservatory called “artistic penetration” or what Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev and Norbo’taev, who are cited above, would understand as “interpretation”. Another point of convergence between otherwise discordant perspectives is the recognition that classical traditions are more difficult than folk music to adjust to estrada due to their greater complexity, intricacy and seriousness. Many people I talked to considered the melody to be the decisive criterion for determining whether an estrada song is milliy, such as this government official who phrased it very concisely: “The construction of the melody, the melody itself, this should be purely Uzbek, the basis” (11.2005). More elaborate on this topic was a sound engineer, who explained it the following way: You can change the fundament as you like, it can be as you like, but the melody decides everything. You can do it purely doira [frame drum], tanbur [plucked long-necked lute] and play everything in an Uzbek way, but if you play Beethoven, it will not become Uzbek music. But you can do the whole fundament rock, invite Metallica, and they play [their way], but the melody, the pitch inventory, will be Uzbek, this is already Uzbek. Important is the pitch inventory and the melody, and how it is constructed. This determines to which nation this or that melody, element belongs to. In my opinion, this is what it depends on. (07.2004) He later detailed what he meant by an Uzbek melody construction: a line based more on seconds, quarts and quints than on thirds, which in turn influences the harmonic structure of estrada in such a way as to reduce the use of the dominant. For him, these peculiarities in melody – and consequently harmony – are a characteristic that deserves the label milliy. More precisely, he believed only songs featuring these peculiarities truly deserve this label. Uzbek musicologist Davlat Mullajonov similarly highlights the dominance of seconds, quarts and quints in melody construction, but goes even further in positing the integration of specific tune motifs from older Uzbek traditions into estrada as a prerequisite for considering it milliy (Mullajonov 2004). I will return to his approach in more detail in Chapter 7 when discussing the socio-political workings of milliy estrada. Outside the relatively narrow circle of people with a conservatory education or at least an upper-level secondary education in music, however, no one I spoke to framed her or his desire for a tight relationship between estrada and folk or classical traditions with references to intervals and harmony. In any case, the qualifier milliy is bestowed in more general usage on a much wider scope of songs than those conforming to these criteria. A much more frequent topic in discussions about milliy estrada’s musical specificities is the preservation and reflection of the regional differences in Uzbekistan’s various folk and classical traditions. As mentioned

Nationalising estrada  163 in Chapter  4, in 2008, O’zbeknavo officials were even contemplating how to establish schools or sustainable traditions of local estrada varieties. One rationale behind this proposed initiative was to counterbalance an obvious orientation towards Khorezmian music in the scene, which was not only due to a strong presence of singers from the province in Tashkent, but because many singers from other regions were tapping into the then current popularity of Khorezmian-style estrada on the wedding circuit. This fashion was particularly noticeable in 2003 and 2004, and at the auditions I witnessed, the selection committee regularly admonished singers to stick to their own home region for inspiration. Essentially, this kind of exhortation reveals an extension of the principle of milliy estrada onto cultural entities one rung further down, so to speak: Just as Uzbek milliy estrada is supposed to be different from the milliy estradas of all other countries, so too, within Uzbekistan, should one province’s milliy estrada differ from that of another. It is thought that artists originating from a particular province are best equipped to represent that province’s folk and, when relevant, classical traditions in estrada (Video 5.3). Opinions varied on whether this ability is a consequence of socialisation or genetic heritage (see Chapter 7). Rarely discussed or even mentioned is the fact that Uzbekistan shares some older musical traditions with neighbouring countries. This means they consequently lack the exclusivity deemed necessary for the label milliy, leaving their suitability to contribute to milliy estrada in doubt – the topic that caused the small radio scandal mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Ornamentation Besides some melodic connection to Uzbek folk and classical music, another feature that is frequently mentioned as either necessary for or at least desirable in milliy estrada is the application of vocal techniques drawn from these older traditions, first and foremost a characteristic kind of vibrato [nola], as well as constrained forms of voice production, which are, for example, common in the province of Surxandaryo in southern Uzbekistan. In a conversation on the properties of milliy estrada, an Uzbek colleague emphatically and elaborately argued that these, as he called them, “national timbre associations” should be transferred onto instruments, such as the electric guitar in order to enhance the sound’s milliylik, its “nationalness” (01.2004). At the same time, he vehemently dismissed the (already long accomplished) adoption of foreign vocal styles: “We do not need people here who sing like Ella Fitzgerald” (11.2003). This, however, is an opinion not widely shared, and equally vehemently objected to by others – as with this member of staff at the Conservatory’s estrada faculty, who became very agitated over the subject: “This is just some kind of very subjective opinion. We need [singers] of the type of Fitzgerald, Patricia Kaas, Tina Turner, Gaynor. We need such singers … Of course we need them!” (02.2004).

164  Nationalising estrada Musical instruments Instruments are a less controversial topic, generally considered to be an essential ingredient for forging milliy estrada. Almost everybody I talked to agreed that the standard estrada line-up of guitar, bass, piano and drums – or now rather their synthetised equivalents, often conveniently packaged into just one keyboard – should be augmented by various kinds of instruments regarded as Uzbek. The same applies to orchestral variants of estrada, which, in the form of the Estrada Symphony Orchestra (ESO) at National TV and Radio, has already followed this practice for decades. Instruments considered primarily suitable are the doira (frame drum), nay (flute), tanbur or dutar (long-necked plucked lutes), g’ijjak (short-necked spike fiddle) or sato (longnecked fiddle) and, as a specificity of Khorezmian folk music, the accordion.7 The doira’s full potential for milliylik in estrada is often described as realised only, when, instead of being exploited merely as a sonic marker, it contributes metro-rhythmic patterns from classical music [usul], even though most of these patterns are considered too intricate to be compatible with the typically regular 4/4 or 6/8 metres of estrada songs. Using synthesised sound libraries for these instruments – rarely available anyway – or close sonic approximates is generally considered to be less milliy than playing the instruments themselves. For many people I talked to, however, this was more a matter of principle than an aesthetic conclusion based on aural experience, as they often conceded having difficulty in differentiating real from synthesised sounds when listening to songs. Even if certain instruments are not used in the soundtrack of songs – whether real instruments or their synthesised sounds – they are often at least visible. It is very common to include them in video clips or as part of the line-up on stage at concerts, thus referencing milliylik at least visually. In contrast to debates about style, however, I rarely encountered expressions of doubt that instruments used beyond the borders of Uzbekistan for centuries – which basically includes all of those mentioned above – could not sonically and visually signify the unique character of Uzbekistan’s music and thus contribute to estrada’s being truly milliy. Foreign influences A last and frequently discussed criterion for milliy estrada related to its musical properties concerns the world of music beyond Uzbekistan’s borders, or rather, how this world of music is dealt with. Some people I talked to in government positions pursued an essentialist approach, seeing no place for foreign elements in something dubbed milliy. This might seem strange considering the fact that estrada itself is originally a foreign import and continues to feature a whole myriad of components that are comparably new to Uzbekistan, such as keyboards or harmony. From an external perspective, it may be tempting to explain this puzzle with reference to theories

Nationalising estrada  165 of indigenisation or domestication – with time, imports just shed their foreignness, are appropriated and turned into something of one’s own. But this does not in any way reflect local understanding of the situation. I will elaborate on this in more detail in Chapter 7, but this hard-line stance, which indiscriminately views all foreign music as a threat to estrada’s national identity, is only taken by a small number of people anyway. Most regard the world of music beyond Uzbekistan as a welcome source of necessary enrichment that can be digested into something milliy. This official from O’zbeknavo believes so, but he highlights certain gradations and conditions: Whether we are under the influence of German, American, Italian, French [music], thank God, this is never threatening. On the contrary, [if there are] more styles, this is development. This does something good. It is wrong, [that] some people say, [this is] a threat … How can something that helps be a threat? We enrich each other. There is no threat whatsoever. If a person gets to know more, the more he is engaged in, the more enrichment there will be … If a person is intelligent, a normal creative worker [normal’nyy tvorcheskiy rabotnik], he, on the contrary, should study all styles. I should be embarrassed if I did not know [them]. (11.2005) This senior member of the estrada faculty at the Conservatory identifies a condition necessary if the integration of foreign musical elements is to represent a gain – and highlights what is considered by many to be a major flaw in current estrada: [W]hen an influence is at the beginning filtered, digested and then mixed, processed and released, this is … a mutual enrichment, a mutual penetration, which befits every civilised society. But we do not have this, we take ready music from there. We put Uzbek lyrics to it, and that is an Uzbek song for you. No, that is not right. This variant does not suit me at all. Or the inclusion of stray phrases, bars, melodies. This is not professional, very primitive, on an amateur level. This will not enrich Uzbek music. Enrichment comes only from that which is really selected, chosen …, mixed. (04.2004) One prerequisite for Uzbek estrada to be milliy despite the incorporation of foreign elements is that these elements are subjected to thorough processes of conscious selection and wise reworking. This mandatory approach, in turn, presupposes deep knowledge and proper penetration of the alien musical material. In interviews and conversations, these requirements regularly surfaced in various terminological guises. The criteria for differentiating profound interpretation from shallow imitation, to draw on the antagonistic phrasing

166  Nationalising estrada from the title of Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev and Norbo’taev’s book (2006), remain extremely vague and elusive, however. Almost no one would count the example cited above, that is, wholesale cover versions of foreign songs with Uzbek lyrics, as milliy estrada, provided they are recognised as such in the first place.8 But as soon as the mix gets more complex, assessments often seem arbitrary and unpredictable and are thus difficult to retrace. The same is true for a second, related precondition that I frequently encountered in discussions about the integration of foreign material into milliy estrada: Uzbek music should always take priority in these amalgamations, relegating foreign elements to a subordinate position. Thus even if the first condition is met by proper reworking of the material, there is still a question of relative weight, which is, of course, also difficult to measure in any objective way. The ambiguity inherent in both criteria – the demands for thorough interpretation and the right balance between own versus foreign in the appropriation of alien musical material – make them very convenient instruments of power in the context of the issuing and withdrawing of licences, as will be seen in Chapter 6. It also leads to disputes at auditions. At those for Independence Day in 2004, for example, a singer’s presentation was interrupted by a member of the selection committee with the following remark: This is Caucasus, completely Caucasus. Since how many years have I been telling you “super voice, super lyrics”? But the music is always Caucasus, Iranian, Armenian. Caucasus is the easiest way, but … it has to be milliy … (07.2004) A final point in discussions about musical borrowings in milliy estrada is the origin of the material used. Whereas none of my interlocutors categorically ruled out specific influences based on provenance, most formulated clear preferences based on proximity. Proximity is only partially determined in geographical terms, however, with additional criteria, usually perceived to be interlinked, being musical affinity and similarity in civilisational standard, an assessment based on widespread evolutionist ideas of socio-political development. Thus, while Asian music is generally thought to be easily fused into milliy estrada, an amalgamation with the folk traditions of two of Uzbekistan’s direct Central Asian neighbours, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, for example, is considered rather difficult – and not really desirable. This is due to their nomadic origins, which many of my interlocutors claim to be very dissimilar to and of lower civilisational standards than Uzbek culture with its roots in sedentary lifestyles.9 For reasons of allegedly even greater musical and civilisational distance, there is also widespread scepticism regarding the possibilities and advantages of inserting into milliy estrada music with roots, for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa or South America, unless it has already been processed into what one of my interlocutors called

Nationalising estrada  167 “world phenomena”, such as samba or rumba. In contrast, Indian, Iranian, Turkish, Arabic or Azeri traditions were frequently cited as suitable and interesting sources for adding flavour to milliy estrada, while, at the same time, constituting a major danger exactly because of musical similarities.10 As Carol Silverman and Donna Buchanan have convincingly shown with respect to Bulgaria, many government policies are designed to combat an “orientalisation” of culture feared to take shape through – very widespread and very popular – recourses to the country’s Ottoman musical heritage, which is seen as endangering Bulgaria’s “rightful” place as an essentially European nation state (Buchanan 1995; 1996; Silverman 2007). In Uzbekistan, there are certainly also fears about “the oriental” deep in the heart of estrada policies, particularly with regard to the perception of Asian influences as a danger. In contrast to Bulgaria, however, they do not concern “the oriental” as such. The country and nation are considered oriental anyway. Thus, the anxiety is not about becoming oriental, but becoming indistinctly oriental, drowning in an undifferentiated orientalness – in and beyond music. Many people I talked to warned that integrating elements from other Asian, particularly western Asian, musics carries the risk of burying and thus subverting Uzbek estrada’s specific milliylik in a blurred pan-oriental sound and, consequently, is a task to be approached with great care. In contrast, incorporating musical traits from Europe and Russia – to use the geopolitical division common in Uzbekistan – poses less peril in this respect. An additional advantage often mentioned is the fact that such mixes advance Uzbek estrada’s aspirations to higher levels of sophistication, again drawing on ideas of cultural evolutionism. In this vein, statements like “we haven’t yet reached the level of estrada that you have in Germany” or “as a European, you know how things should be done in estrada and you can give us advice” were a recurring phenomenon during fieldwork. Crucial in this context is a distinction generally made between the national specificities of other peoples’ estrada traditions, thus carriers of their respective milliylik, and what is either termed “pure estrada” [chistaya estrada / sof estrada] or “world estrada” [mirovaya estrada / jahon estradasi], denoting varieties or properties of the genre considered to be nationally unmarked and neutral, such as the standard line-up of guitar, bass, piano and drums or the use of harmony mentioned above.11 Like all the other distinctions mentioned thus far in the delineation of milliy estrada, this demarcation of the national from the universal is far from clear-cut. But as it is a topic of great relevance for the politics of music in Uzbekistan generally, I will elaborate on it in more detail in Chapter 7. Now I will turn to yet another marker of the ideal form of milliy estrada: professionalism.

Professionalism Professionalism is considered a vital prerequisite for elevating estrada to the “high artistic level” on which it is supposed to be located, whether milliy or

168  Nationalising estrada not. A phrase as ominous as it is omnipresent, and a regular occurrence in legal documents, “high artistic level” is also a staple formulation in O’zbeknavo’s activity reports and, as noted in Chapter 1, one of the duties that artists vow to fulfil by signing their licence agreements: “to conduct anniversaries, festivities on a high musical and artistic level”. Professionalism is not an invention of independent Uzbekistan, however. It was already an important concept in Soviet-era musical life, as Terry Bright observed in 1986: Leafing through Soviet periodical reviews and critical volumes devoted to art and music, anything from the fine and elitist to the common and popular, one finds that the sole criterion for value in creative work is professionalism. For Soviet critics, professionalism means the nearest thing to purity and perfection, two other major values in the Soviet understanding of culture. This theory clearly suggests that non-­professionalism is a bad thing and that only formally-­educated, ­specially-trained, controlled and trusted elites – in other words, ­professionals – have the right to influence public taste (Bright 1986: 358, emphasis original) Here, Terry Bright already mentions one facet of the demand for professionalism, which is itself posited as one of the two guarantors of a high artistic level in current Uzbekistan: the educational background of those involved in the production of estrada. The other facet concerns the division of labour during this process. Both are referred to in the following statement by Uzbek musicologist Davlat Mullajonov: Of course, the achievements and certain failures in the process of the development of national estrada in the republic are directly linked to the knowledge and level, to the talent and work of creative people. Corresponding to the character of estrada art, highly artistic results are, as a rule, born as a result of joint creative efforts of singers and instrumentalists, composers and arrangers. (2003b: 135) In the following passages, I will look at both. Collaboration The creation of estrada is professional if it is accomplished as a joint endeavour, as a collaboration between composers, poets, singers, instrumentalists, sound engineers and, if necessary, arrangers. The insistence on a collective approach has less to do, however, with the survival of a socialist work ethic than with an attempt to differentiate estrada as a professional art form from an amateur version of the genre. This distinction, in turn, draws on an important Soviet conceptual binary in the field of culture already

Nationalising estrada  169 mentioned earlier: the opposition between professionalism and amateurism, literally something like “self-doer-hood” in Russian and “enthusiast-hood” in ­Uzbek [samodeyatel’nost’ / havaskorlik]. Although – or perhaps because – the formerly decisive marker for professionalism in the Soviet era, artists’ employment and payment by the state, is no longer a valid criterion for differentiation since the Uzbek government almost completely abandoned this role in the field of estrada after independence, the collective mode of creation has remained a crucial feature of distinction between the two spheres – at least for those who regard this separation as being important in the first place. Thus, a singer-songwriter type of musical production, which is celebrated for expressing an artist’s authenticity, credibility and versatility of talent in other scenes in other parts of the world and in bard song in Uzbekistan, is not deemed appropriate for Uzbek estrada.12 In conversations and interviews, government officials and musicologists in particular, but also a number of singers, poets, composers, journalists, Conservatory staff and sound engineers, expressed their dismay at the rising number of estrada singers who deviate from the pattern of labour division by producing their songs single-handedly, sometimes just faking collaboration, or with the support of just one or two other people, predominantly non-professionals themselves. For critics of this approach, it is not so much its alleged amateurishness as such that is problematic, but the fact that the number of proponents of this approach is growing steadily, as is their presence in places that should be reserved for professionals. If songs produced in this manner, that is in an amateur style, were just played at Houses of Culture in fringe districts of Tashkent or at provincial weddings, they would face less criticism, if not necessarily receive critics’ endorsement, because they would be seen to be restricted at least to their proper, that is subordinate and less public, place. Their dissemination via radio, TV and concerts, however, resulting in the mixing of the two spheres, is not only considered an assault on the prerogatives of estrada professionals, who fear – and concede to already suffer – a loss of privileges, status and income, but an assault on the essence of estrada as art. A well-known composer described the situation as such: Our tragedy lies in the fact that now, in the final years of the 1990s, starting in 1996, 1998, now in the 2000s, amateurism has grown like mushrooms [vyrosla kak griby], professional art and amateurism are on one level. This has to be separated [Nado otdelit’]! (12.2003; see Mullajonov 2004: 22) The concept of art is important in this context. While the joint effort that is promoted in the production of estrada might resemble the common division of labour in mainstream western pop, where most stars sing songs with music and lyrics written by others and might, for this reason, sometimes be

170  Nationalising estrada belittled for not having their own creative input, the Uzbek ideal of collectivity is modelled more on the common distribution of skills in the realm of academic music. There, most stars sing songs written by others, too, but are never belittled for not having their own creative input, at least not for this reason. In addition, composers and lyricists have a prominent position in the presentation and perception of the final product in academic music, particularly the composer, who is often even more prominent than the singer (the German term Interpret for a performer of academic music captures this role quite well). In mainstream western pop, in contrast, composers and lyricists are frequently not even named or their importance pales in comparison to the performer’s prestige. Despite some deviations in opinion about the hierarchy among the people involved in creating a professional estrada song (representatives of the various professions tend to attach the most weight to their own), singers, composers and lyricists are generally considered the core personnel. The singer eventually becomes most closely identified with the song as its public face, but the names of composers and poets are usually still announced at concerts, printed in the programmes for Independence Day and Navro’z and sometimes inserted in video clips. Arrangers, instrumentalists and sound engineers may be of secondary importance in comparison, but their involvement is still thought to enhance the professionalism of a song. As can be expected, the many singers who are blamed for following an amateurish approach to estrada and undermining the genre’s status as art do not necessarily share the negative assessment of their own activities or agree with the definition of professionalism underlying this accusation – or the positing of estrada as art in the first place. Most have a different idea of professionalism, as this financially successful but frequently scolded young singer remarked in an interview: “Of course, I am a professional estrada artist. I live on singing” (09.2005). He went on to explain that his aim was to make money by making people dance at weddings, adding a short excursus on ideas of social duty and service. For him, singing estrada was first and foremost a job in music, which he tried to accomplish most profitably by involving as few other people as possible. Making art in extensive creative joint ventures was clearly not part of his career goals. This essentially commercially based perspective on professionalism in estrada obviously clashes with the notion of professionalism promoted by the Uzbek government and other actors in the scene. When I visited O’zbeknavo in November 2005, one of its members of staff told me about a singer who had already hung up posters announcing a solo concert around the city: But when he presented the programme to us, there was written everywhere: lyrics, music, arrangement himself. We said that this is impossible. Who works that way? This is without perspective. Only very few people in the world are able to work as poets, musicians and arrangers at the same time. That someone wrote magnificent poems, magnificent

Nationalising estrada  171 music and sang magnificently – this has never happened in history [takikh v istorii ne bylo]. They think they can do everything themselves. (11.2005) Consequently, this singer was denied the one-off tour-concert certificate necessary for organising his concert. In addition to the issuing and suspending of licences and certificates, which is a powerful, albeit limitedly effective tool for enforcing the idea of professionalism through collaboration, as will be seen in Chapter 6, O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture regularly came up with various others measures to advance their model. Initiatives such as “talk-meetings”, broadcasts and educational concerts (see Chapter 3) were meant to inspire a taste for professionally perfect milliy estrada among the audience, especially among young people. Similarly, organising workshops for singers, distributing complete songs to them or poems and actively forging – or forcing – creative collaborations were efforts directed at inculcating artists with this collective sense of professionalism. Efforts to enforce the preferred order of creative activities – the lyrics should come first followed by the music and not the other way round – were severely hampered, however, by the generally known counter-example of the current Uzbek national anthem, for which its Uzbek SSR predecessor was musically adopted wholesale and merely furnished with new lyrics. One estrada composer spoke to me at length about the composition process and demands on lyricists as well as singers. There are not many people writing estrada songs in Uzbekistan who, I would argue, have a comparably painstaking and reflective approach to this activity – and a similarly ­pronounced sense of professional superiority: [T]he poem has to appeal to me. It should be a professional poem, a new poem, there should be interesting words. Occasionally, poets bring me poems, [their] content is good, but there are such difficult words which do not sound [good] in music. But I need a poetic text with subtle words. I love symbolism in poems, when there is talk about one thing, but you see another … In addition, I like highly intellectual poems, I like deep philosophical meaning. I am interested in such categories, such fundamental questions of life: What is this – life? What is this – karma, fate? What is this – love? What is this – disgrace? What is this – to sin? A song is first and foremost linked to poetry. A song has success and lives long only when there is a strong poem. The music, of course, opens up the poem, but the poem also helps the music, [this is] interdependent. For every word, every thought, you have to find exactly this intona­ tsiya, that melodic phrase which would correspond to these lines, these thoughts which are there. Occasionally we have non-professionals and even professional composers [who] write such songs – the poem is one thing, the music a totally different one. But here, everything depends on

172  Nationalising estrada talent, on professional competence … [Also] [t]he singer should be highly intellectual. If she stems from the village, even if there is talent, voice, … she cannot master my songs. There [should be] intellect … My demands [stem] from a highly professional position. (02.2004) Education Attaining the “high artistic level” necessary for estrada to deserve the label milliy presupposes, as mentioned above, the existence of a second facet of professionalism, which is directly related to the first: education. Ideally, the creation of an estrada song is a collaboration among highly qualified specialists. In fact, it is this specialisation which makes the division of labour necessary in the first place. For composers, arrangers and sound engineers, professionalism in this sense is usually defined by a Conservatory degree in composition, or, for engineers, in audio engineering. Depending on the quality of the creative output, however, the completion of upper secondary education at colleges and lyceums or even just having attended a school with a special focus on music may also be deemed sufficient.13 Working as a composer, arranger or sound engineer without any kind of formal training in academic music is usually labelled amateurism, with one notable exception: so-called bastakorlar (plural of bastakor), composers (and almost always also performers) in the monodic tradition of Uzbek classical music and predominantly without institutionalised music education, are known and appreciated for contributing fine and appealing milliy melodies to estrada songs, which will then ideally be harmonised by professional arrangers or composers (see Bekov 1994: 13). While demands for more professionalism are omnipresent and prominent in discourses about estrada in Uzbekistan, there are also some voices questioning the need for it – or, more precisely, the need to make all estrada a professional affair. As a senior musicologist remarked in a conversation: Ninety per cent of all estrada groups are without music education. Estrada is not only art, it is also just culture … And the question is: Do you need a professional education for estrada? What do they do with their diplomas? Where will they go? Can’t they work without them? (08.2004)14 Similarly, in his PhD thesis on Uzbek estrada, musicologist Olim Bekov exhibited some doubt on the necessity of education, pointing to the fact that neither French chansonniers, nor “gypsies” or the first ragtime musicians had any institutionalised education – in addition to strongly voiced demands and praises for professionalism in other parts of the text (1994: 13). Nevertheless, only very few people I spoke to, and they exclusively numbered among those who pursued solely commercial interests in estrada, advocated

Nationalising estrada  173 completely forsaking the idea of estrada being an art form that is created by professionals in the sense outlined here. In the case of poets, a university degree in literature or a related subject is considered the optimum qualification for producing “highly artistic” lyrics, and a number of well-known poets whose works are widely appreciated and used for creating milliy estrada do or did, in fact, have such backgrounds.15 The demand for formal education in this sphere is much less pronounced than in the realm of music, however, for several reasons. First, there is no university course in Uzbekistan that would offer specific training to become a poet or lyricist, such as creative writing. Furthermore, milliy estrada can be based on poems from the pre-tsarist era, a period in which no formal education existed, at least not outside the sphere of religious teaching. Finally, and similar to the situation with respect to bastakorlar, contemporary talent for poetry qualifying as milliy is also recognised to exist in the classical and folk traditions – or even just as an individual gift that might be found anywhere in society. In any case, criticism of unprofessionalism in music or lyrics will be directed at the singers of the songs in question, mostly in the form of reproaches for not having chosen their “creative collective” wisely. At the same time, singers are themselves affected by the demand for professionalism through education. Again, a degree in estrada from the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan constitutes the optimum proof of a relevant education. It conveniently also counts as one of the factors that positively influences one’s reyting as a vocalist. To have graduated from Uzbekistan’s highest educational institution in music – and the only one of its kind in the country – is considered prestigious and a seal of quality. It is also positively acknowledged by government institutions involved in estrada administration and may, as several singers remarked, result in more respectful treatment by officials. These positive effects have led already accomplished singers to enrol in the vocal department of the estrada faculty just to earn this official seal of professionalism (Figure 5.2). Even though the possession of a conservatory or university degree as evidence of musical training already carries with it some weight in the scene, the relationship in estrada between professionalism and education is, of course, about more than just printed diplomas. At least in theory it is about musical knowledge, as this former member of the government’s estrada administration remarked: For this [creating estrada] you have to deliberate and accomplish everything with intellect [mozgami]. And not as if without thinking. There has to be education [obrazovaniye], there has to be intellect. For this you have to study [uchit’sya], you need professionalisation. (02.2004) And while students and graduates from the Conservatory are credited with commanding or acquiring an extraordinarily thorough and thus superior

174  Nationalising estrada form of musical knowledge, simply having passed subordinate levels of the music education system can be – but is not always – judged to be a ­sufficiently professional background for singing “highly artistic” estrada. Importantly, however, it is not only a training specifically in estrada – a comparably new addition to the curricula of most educational institutions in Uzbekistan anyway – that is usually considered to provide relevant knowledge. Vocal and instrumental expertise in other parts of the overall musical field – academic music, folk music and classical music – can achieve equal recognition.16 Again, having successfully completed a formal education is a particularly strong proof of the desired professionalism. In the sphere of folk and classical music, however, these institutionalised types of transmission intersect with other – and older – models of professionalisation, such as master-pupil relationships (ustoz-shogird)17 or the a­ cquisition of singing and playing skills through socialisation. ­Consequently, ­alongside degrees and diplomas, sheer ability can also count as evidence of adequate knowledge in music – for singers as well as for instrumentalists. Expanding the understanding of musical education and professionalism in this way is certainly is a very reasonable move. There are accomplished estrada singers who have never received any formal music education. In addition, quite a few singers and some instrumentalists from classical and

Figure 5.2  T  he State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, 2016

Nationalising estrada  175 folk music – with and without a conservatory background – regularly cross over into estrada for financial reasons and play the wedding circuit, many of them highly esteemed for being well versed in these traditions that are supposed to be the foundation of milliy estrada (Merchant 2006: 205–225). The application procedures for licences at O’zbeknavo reflected the more expansive perspective on this facet of professionalism – as well as the high value accorded to formal education and accolades of any kind. As mentioned in Chapter 1, among other documents, applicants had to hand in: notarised copies of documents (certificates, attestations, diplomas) confirming the existence of the performer’s musical education, the obtainment of state awards, awards, prizes, etc. In exceptional cases (when unique ability and talent clearly exist), in accordance with the decision of the Group of creative assistance under the Council for the development and coordination of National estrada art, documents for licensing can be accepted without copies proving the existence of musical education. (PKM-285 2001, capitalisation original) As compellingly logical as it may be, using musical ability as an indicator of musical education ends up making this criterion for defining professionalism in estrada extremely vague. It can therefore by manipulated in an almost arbitrary manner when it comes to issuing and suspending licences, not least because licences have predominantly been granted on the basis of recordings and artists have only rarely been required to prove their singing skills live in the process. Furthermore, given that the Uzbek government not only condones playback performance – the law only states that this has to be announced on posters advertising concerts – but actually lends immense credibility to this practice itself by conducting almost all of its own concerts in this manner, the repeatedly and insistently voiced demand for musical education as a presumably important facet of professionalism and a prerequisite for producing “highly artistic” estrada is consistently subverted by estrada reality. Already the ability to sing is not very widespread, particularly among the top acts of the scene. Insiders attest that only about 6 out of the 25 artists with the highest reyting have the vocal skills to give a live concert – or, in some cases, to perform even just one song with correct intonation. Having witnessed some recording and mastering sessions myself, I have no reason to doubt the truth of this more or less openly shared secret. Interestingly and against all logic, recorded songs by these artists, which are usually produced over numerous takes and with meticulous pitch correction, can still qualify – and are sometimes even lauded – as good examples of milliy estrada. These circumstances result in the quite absurd situation that many singers who are required to and actually do possess the ability to sing are found

176  Nationalising estrada outside top-level Tashkent estrada, often working in contexts that are looked down upon by the prominent representatives of the scene. This includes singers in the standby combos at weddings, the dezhurka, or those entertaining restaurant guests to a keyboard backing or a playback track [kabachnyye (pevtsy)] (Figure 5.3). Both kinds of singers cover other artists’ songs and have to command an immense repertoire – the current dance hits and all-time favourites for Uzbek weddings for the first, the current dance and slow hits of Uzbek and Russian estrada and the all-time favourites of pan-Soviet estrada for the second. A journalist described the restaurant singers’ work in the following way: This is a separate profession, because a restaurant singer … has to sing more extensively [boleye obshirno] – Tatar and Russian and Uzbek and Armenian [songs]. KK: That is, [from] the whole of the former Soviet Union? X: Yes, because you don’t know which group will come today. Five people will come, and they are all Armenians, and they will [want] Armenian songs. On the next day, Georgians will come – Georgian songs. [If] a group of ex-prisoners comes [gruppa zekov] – they will want prisoner [zeskiye] songs, jail [tyuremnyye] [songs]. (08. 2009) X:

Figure 5.3  A  singer and her playback DJ at the Bek restaurant, 2005

Nationalising estrada  177 Restaurant singers and standby singers at weddings might be professionals in the sense that they earn their living by performing estrada. But they are not professional estrada artists in the way that is promoted by the Uzbek government. This would require them to possess their own repertoire or, in the case of cover versions, creatively remodel the original. Even if reworked with exemplary professionalism and artfulness, however, prisoner songs – and many others in the restaurant repertoire – would never q ­ ualify as milliy estrada due to the values promoted in them. But standby and restaurant singers follow – and are particularly acclaimed for – a reverse approach ­anyway: They try to stay as close to the original as possible, preferably ­using, if available, the original minus for the songs performed as well as imitating the vocal style and expression of the artists covered. Established estrada artists might speak about standby and restaurant singers with some disdain, if they mention them at all, but I found these spheres to intersect more than most conversations seemed to imply – and definitely more than the governmental estrada administration would wish for. In fact, many students in the vocal department of the Conservatory’s estrada faculty, who, by completing degrees in music, easily fulfil the education requirement in terms of professionalism, actually work as cover singers in standby combos at weddings or restaurants – after and, to the annoyance of their teachers, frequently instead of attending their classes. There is a certain division along ethnic lines in these activities: It is mostly ethnic Uzbeks who provide music at weddings, while those identifying as ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Koreans or Tatars tend to perform at restaurants. As ethnicity/nationality is also a point of discussion in the definition of milliy estrada, it is to this that I will now turn.

Ethnicity/nationality Despite the officially proclaimed vision of an ethnically inclusive state in which minorities are in all respects considered equal to the titular nation and together constitute the unranked Uzbekistani citizenry, in socio-political reality, there has been a strong thrust towards an ethnically and thus more narrowly defined Uzbekisation since independence. Minority cultures may be celebrated once a year with the festival Uzbekistan – Our Shared House, discussed above, and generally valued for the diversity with which they embellish the country. But participation in society has become increasingly dependent on the willingness and ability to adapt to the diffuse, but powerful notion of o’zbekchilik, Uzbekness, in which proficiency in the Uzbek language is only the most conspicuous – and probably least elusive – aspect. At the same time, the Uzbek government takes a strong stance against racism in the media, and there is little tolerance towards – at least open – discrimination on ethnic/ national grounds in public institutions such as schools or universities.18 In the context of estrada, this means that if, for example, ethnic Ukrainians with Uzbek citizenship create a variant of estrada based on what they

178  Nationalising estrada consider their specifically Ukrainian milliy traditions, the result would not be counted as a representative of Uzbekistan’s overall milliy estrada. It would be a kind of Ukrainian milliy estrada produced on Uzbekistan’s territory. As had already become obvious with regard to language choice in milliy estrada, milliy references nationality/ethnicity, and not citizenship, which would include everyone living within the borders of the nation state. However, as Matteo Fumagalli remarks in his analysis of ethnicity politics in the country, “Uzbekness is a notion open to all those who embrace Uzbek customs and traditions, regardless of ethnic belonging. It is construed as a territorial, or civic type, of national consciousness” (Fumagalli 2007: 113). In the microcosm of estrada, this means that singers who are not ethnically Uzbek are thought of as being in principle able to master and become representatives of Uzbek milliy estrada – as long as they fulfil the criteria outlined above. Ethnicity does not immediately impede successfully meeting the requirements related to the two facets of professionalism, collaboration and education, or those related to desirable and undesirable content or the inclusion of elements and instruments from older Uzbek traditions. A major hurdle in the production of Uzbek milliy estrada by Uzbek citizens of non-Uzbek ethnicity, however, is often language. Tajiks tend to be the exception since most of them have a good-to-excellent command of Uzbek. But as Uzbekistan’s most numerous minority, they also boast their own separate and sizable ­music circuit, musically oriented towards Iran and using Tajik lyrics, which limits both interest in and a need to pursue a career in Uzbek milliy estrada. The country’s Tatar, Ukrainian, Russian and Korean communities, on the other hand, are not large enough to make catering to a specific audience of one’s own ethnicity/nationality a financially viable, let alone lucrative, option for prospective professional estrada musicians. This is all the more true, given the fact that these communities’ penchant for furnishing their festivities with original and locally produced live music is much less pronounced than among Uzbeks, while the workings of shou biznes in Uzbekistan rule out the option of living on income from concerts, royalties and the sale of records instead (see Chapter 6). Consequently, aspiring singers with Tatar, Russian, Korean or Ukrainian backgrounds who hope for a professional career in Uzbekistan’s estrada scene have no choice but to play by the rules – among them the language rules – of milliy estrada, at least with respect to a portion of their repertoire. Most of them, however, not only grow up in Russian-speaking households, but, due to the existence of separate Russian and Uzbek-language branches at all levels of the education system in Uzbekistan, also complete their schooling and, possibly, even their higher education in Russian. As a result, their Uzbek language skills are often rather poor or almost non-existent. Not surprisingly then, during estrada singing lessons at the Conservatory, the pronunciation of Uzbek lyrics by non-native Uzbek speakers is always a prominent topic, and practising the accurate articulation of particularly

Nationalising estrada  179 those Uzbek consonants that are not part of the Russian phonetic system can take up a considerable amount of time. At estrada recording sessions, non-native Uzbek speakers usually have someone accompanying them who supervises and, if necessary, corrects their pronunciation. At concerts, this lack of fluency in Uzbek forces them to resort to playback, even if they possess the necessary vocal skills to sing live. A young estrada singer of Slavic descent described her difficulties and her way of dealing with the Uzbek language in the following way: Your mother tongue is Russian. Is it not difficult for you to sing in Uzbek? X: … Over the course of seven years I have got used to it so much, such an interesting language, that it is pleasant to sing in it. At the beginning [it was] difficult, of course, I almost broke my tongue … But I am keen on this (lit.: my soul lies to this [u menya dusha lezhit k etomu]), probably every person is born in the place destined for him/her. Because I was born here and have lived my whole life here, because this has all soaked into me [v menya vsë vpitalos’], because of this, this is even not a foreign language, but a native one. KK: Did you study the language? X: Not thoroughly [Ne tshchatel’no]. Basically, I just picked [it] up from here and there. I understand the meaning, but basically [I learned it] from songs. In a song I understand every word, and because of that I can already say something, a little bit [nemnozhechko], but I feel embarrased [stesnyayus’], I am afraid that I will say something not in the right way. KK: Do you also work together with someone in the studio? X: Yes, yes, definitely! There is a person sitting in the studio who corrects [me]. The only time that I recorded a song without people, everything ended in having to sing the whole song again. I sang something up there, one letter [different] and already a different word. I have already got used to it so much that, in principle, I do not make crude mistakes. Even if a person sings with a small accent, this can lend some flavour to a performance. (11.2005) KK:

In the early years of my research, an oft-cited example for the success of non-Uzbek speakers was Larisa Moskalyova, an ethnic Russian who in the late 1990s and early 2000s had become famous and praised for singing estrada “like an Uzbek”, even undertaking – and mastering – excursions into folk and classical traditions (Video 5.4). A recording engineer described her career strategy the following way: X:

What did Larisa Moskalyova do? Regrettably, now she does not work here in Uzbekistan. She sang folk stuff in the original. She made an effort [stremilas’], she studied and she did it not badly, and even better

180  Nationalising estrada than some Uzbeks, and because of that she was in people’s hearts. Many started to venerate [her], “she sings wells and also dances [well], see, a Russian girl has learned [this]”. And when she started to sing in ­Russian, the people accepted this, too. The trick is, to give the people [narodu] what they want at the beginning, and then, when you become what they want, you can do your own stuff. KK: Many say that it is difficult for Russians [in estrada] here. X: On the contrary. It is easier for them. There are many Uzbeks, [it passes] unnoticed, [if another one enters estrada]. But if a Russian enters, and does it well, they accept him immediately. (09.2005) The ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and Tatars I talked to, however, did not really subscribe to the positive assessment of their career prospects in Uzbekistan’s estrada provided by this ethnic Uzbek. It also did not align with my own observations. In fact, I met some people with estrada ambitions who contemplated hiding their non-Uzbek ethnicity by choosing an Uzbek stage name to improve their career chances. And there were some who clearly resented that their success depended on an obligatory adherence to the ideal of milliy estrada. In 2005, after about a year of absence, I ran into a young Tatar singer in Tashkent shortly before she was supposed to perform at a gala concert. I had interviewed her in 2004 and knew about her longtime dream to become a professional jazz singer. To my surprise, she was wearing an atlas silk dress with a matching skullcap, a very classic form of Uzbek women’s attire, and about to sing a song in Uzbek, in which I knew she was not very proficient. She countered my remark, “Wow, that looks milliy!” with “Oh, Kristina, you are back. Help me, please! I want to leave [the country]. This is just a horror here [Eto prosto uzhas zdes’]”, pointing at her outfit (09.2005). Another Tatar showed even more disdain for the mandatory Uzbekisation as a prerequisite for a professional career in estrada. She found it quite unimaginable that she would have to learn Uzbek properly and earn her living by performing at weddings. In her case, this abhorrence of milliy estrada was based more on her feeling of civilizational superiority as a Crimean Tatar than on her passion for a different genre. Once, when meeting members of her family, I found myself embroiled in outpourings of embittered rage against “the Uzbeks” who, as one of her relatives maintained, “are, at heart, nothing more than bazar sellers, culturally primitive, regardless of how finely they dress. They drive around in big cars, but have only just descended from their donkeys.” I had experienced forms of desperate defiance among non-Uzbeks before. Relegated to a subordinate position in the course of the country’s nationalisation policies, also others I had met had tried, at least verbally, to reclaim their former cultural supremacy and privileges lost since independence. But I had never encountered – and would never again encounter – such blatant displays of racism.

Nationalising estrada  181 Although success in Uzbek estrada is regularly declared to be open to everyone independent of ethnicity, and non-Uzbek singers may receive some – often rather paternalistic applause – when mastering milliy estrada, it is nevertheless difficult even for those willing to fulfil all the prerequisites of milliy estrada to embark on – and sustain – a professional estrada career. Among the then-active 50 top stars of the scene in the early 2000s, there was no one identifying as Tatar, Russian, Ukrainian or Korean. Larisa Mos­ kalyova, who was often presented as an example of Uzbek estrada’s ethnic egalitarianism in a similar way, as she was in the interview cited above, was no longer performing, and rumours oscillated between her having stopped singing altogether and her pursuing a lucrative career in Kazakhstan instead, where, in addition to a taste for Uzbek estrada, musical versatility was said to be more appreciated. The young singer of Slavic descent I mentioned earlier cautiously hinted at the problems she had in earning a living, while her father, with whom I also had the chance to talk to, was more outspoken: Uzbek estrada is a very narrow style. Only weddings are important. [She] sometimes sings at weddings, sometimes for friends, but no one dances. Everything is supposed to be national, milliy, now. For someone like [her], there is little space at the centre [of estrada]. (11.2005) Outside the scene’s centre, however, there is some space especially reserved for estrada artists from among the minorities: at the above-mentioned festival Uzbekistan – Our Shared House. There, alongside other performers, non-Uzbek estrada singers regularly appear and win prizes for being worthy musical representatives of their respective ethnicities – not only young, aspiring vocalists, but also acclaimed estrada veterans. Having been celebrated as Soviet artists before independence, without much attention paid to their ethnicity, these singers often resent being allotted to ethnic slots now even more than their younger colleagues. In contrast to winning at this festival, however, being granted a presidential Nihol award, is of course a recognition straight from the very centre of things, and some estrada newcomers of non-Uzbek descent have been presented with one. As one member of Nihol’s jury confided to me, however, he and his co-jurors decided for these singers against the express wish of one of the deputy prime ministers, who, two years in a row, had claimed Uzbekistan had no need for such ­artists – and thus no need to acknowledge them with awards. The opinion that singing in Uzbek with a Russian accent can add an interesting touch to a performance of milliy estrada, as claimed by the young Slavic singer quoted above, is not widely shared. Faulty pronunciation of lyrics is a recurring topic in the press and an aspect commonly cited in complaints about the deplorable state of estrada. It was also frequently discussed at O’zbeknavo and in the Conservatory, as it was among members of my host family. It is important, however, to note that this criticism is not

182  Nationalising estrada only directed at singers of Ukrainian, Russian, Korean or Tatar descent. Ethnic Uzbeks who come from so-called yevrolashgan, Europeanised, families and who have grown up in a Russian-speaking environment, completed Russian-language education and whose knowledge of Uzbek is just as poor or non-existent as that of their non-Uzbek colleagues, are just as frequently the target of this criticism – if not more so. Nevertheless, their chances of a successful professional estrada career are considerably greater. Two of the most highly reyted singers at the time of my fieldwork did not speak Uzbek – and many people thought that there was not much point in them improving their language skills since both, allegedly, did not have the vocal ability to sing live, anyway.19 Surprisingly, the accent one of them had when singing and speaking a few words in Uzbek on stage or at weddings, became very fashionable among teenage girls, and many, at least in Tashkent, began to imitate it. Apart from a lack of language proficiency, another critique which ethnic non-Uzbeks frequently face is the inability to adorn their singing with ornamentation techniques derived from folk and classical traditions – the so-called nola, mentioned above – thus rendering their performance less milliy. Opinions vary on whether this shortcoming is due to a different musical socialisation, a lack of training or a certain degree of unwillingness, or whether there are some more fundamental reasons, such as innate disposition. As I will explore in Chapter 7, resorting to ethnic essentialism, even crossing straight into genetics, is also a common strategy in claims for the socio-political necessity of developing and promoting milliy estrada. Tellingly, those advancing arguments about innate vocal inabilities are often the very same people who praise, for example, immaculate renditions of classical Uzbek repertoire by singers of Korean descent at Uzbekistan – Our Shared House, which obviously subverts the first assumption. In any case, criticism along these lines can be withering – as is this remark by an O’zbeknavo official about Oksana Nechitaylo, a young female singer of Ukrainian descent: “Her song begins, there are real instruments, Uzbek flavour [kolorit]. But then she starts to sing, purely European [chisto po-­ yevropeyski]. And then it is clear: She is lying [aldaydi]” (11.2005). Oksana Nechitaylo was a student at the Conservatory during my first period of fieldwork, and I frequently heard rumours from teachers and other students of the estrada singing department that she was preparing to leave the country and pursue a career somewhere else. Due to the fact that her overall style was really quite far from milliy estrada and because she had recently released a song in an Uzbek and a Russian version, I also had doubts that she really saw a future for herself in Uzbek estrada. And, indeed, when I returned to Tashkent in 2008, I found that she had left Uzbekistan and started to work quite successfully in Russian estrada under the pseudonym Sogdiana and with the kind of pan-oriental style for which, as was explored in the introduction and will be further explored in Chapter 6, Uzbek estrada had been celebrated during the Soviet era, but

Nationalising estrada  183 which would have had difficulties being considered milliy estrada by Uzbek standards (Video 5.5). By 2016, all former estrada students of non-Uzbek ethnicity whom I had met at the Conservatory between 2003 and 2005 had left Uzbekistan to pursue careers in Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Russia or Korea. It is not only artists of non-Uzbek ethnicity who choose to work abroad, however. Ethnic Uzbeks also take this step, whether in search of more money and fame or because it is their only chance at actually continuing a career in estrada if they have fallen out with the government over their art – or if their domestic life has become too tumultuous for a true representative of milliy estrada in Uzbekistan. The concept of milliy estrada makes demands not only on music, lyrics and professionalism, but also on singers’ appearances and demeanour – on the concert stage, in video clips, at weddings and in private life.

Appearances and demeanour Concerts Concert performances should have a measure of glamour, elegance and grandeur – after all, they are about estrada – but to deserve the label milliy, they should also maintain a certain level of modesty, restraint and dignity. The stage outfit is an important factor in this. For women, dresses made of atlas silk or material that draws upon, but modifies the characteristic look of the ikat weaving technique are preferred. They can be fitted, figure-­hugging and extravagant, but they should not be too sexy. Too sexy would be any of the following styles, individually or in combination: shorter than just above the knee; with a low neckline or spaghetti straps; long, but high-slit; chaste in every other respect, but very low-backed or with revealing cutaways in other parts. In short, anything apart from the head, arms, lower legs and knees plus a moderate décolleté should ideally be covered. In 2016, there were rumours that O’zbeknavo had recently issued a directive demanding female singers not reveal legs and shoulders on stage, but the 2016 edition of the gala show You Are Dear and Sacred, Woman honouring Women’s and Girls’ Day on 8 March did not show any evidence of this. Appropriate clothing in general, however, had certainly become a more prominent issue in Uzbekistan by 2016. A dress worn by singer Lola at a concert the previous year – very low-backed and mega-mini on one side – had sparked heated discussions and temporarily cost Lola her licence. In addition, there were now posters in various public places urging young people in particular to wear modest, clean and neat clothes, showcasing appropriate styles (Figure 5.4, compare the outfit in Figure 5.5 on p. 191). It is not a sign of immodesty, but rather a fulfilment of the audience’s rightful expectation of glamour, however, when female singers change their outfit several times during a concert – backstage, of course. There tend to

184  Nationalising estrada

Figure 5.4  “In clothes there is a reflection of spiritual values”: girls in milliy style and demeanour according to official standards (Andijon, 2016)

be two or more dresses among these without references to atlas silk or other allusions to standard Uzbek female clothing, such as the classic combination of trousers and tunic. A dress can incline towards western fashion in the form of a gala gown or it can take up forms of oriental or wider Asian couture, but it should still adhere to the mandate of modesty and dignity outlined above. Thus, anything resembling belly dancing attire – which is actually quite popular among younger female stars – is neither accepted as milliy nor seen as being appropriate to estrada as such. It does not qualify as milliy because it consists of a scant amount of material that reveals more than it conceals while also being, as an Uzbek colleague said, “an unnecessary cultural borrowing” and too indeterminately oriental. Nor does it befit estrada, which requires sufficiently cultured, elegant and sophisticated attire – in short, it is just too vulgar to present art. An O’zbeknavo official complained about this fashion by criticising one popular female singer: “[X] dances very suggestively, Arab style, in a high-slit dress. This is not appropriate for milliy estrada. There is modern milliy clothing, [made from] atlas. There should be a difference between art and pornography” (11.2005).

Nationalising estrada  185 Similarly inappropriate, however, (but not popular anyway) are stage costumes that are more or less the opposite of belly dancing attire and resemble the plain, cloak-like garments worn by many Muslim women in the Arab world. An exception are playful adoptions of the paranji, the burqah-like robe of settled, predominantly urban women in pre-Soviet Central Asia, or allusions to contemporary practices of bride veiling in the context of weddings when this corresponds with the song’s content. Headscarves, either tied at the back as a reference to an almost indispensable female accessory in Uzbek domestic life, or loosely draped, in Grace Kelly-like cabriole fashion and worn with a stylistically fitting dress, for example, are acceptable. If headscarves are tightly bound, however, hiding hair plus neck, they become problematic due to their religious connotations. Both, veiling robes and closely fitted headscarves, could be interpreted as propaganda for Islam, which, as discussed above, is not part of the concept of milliy estrada. Among audiences, however, opinions vary widely, on what should be considered appropriate female dress for milliy estrada, and, as almost anywhere in the world, age usually plays a decisive role in the assessment. In a friend’s parental house, for example, there were often heated discussions among the female family members about women’s stage outfits or their clothing in video clips, with this friend’s mother advocating a much more conservative style than she had sported herself in the Soviet 1970s, when she was the singers’ age. Her photo albums, which showed her in dresses made of atlas silk, but with a hemline ending well above her naked knees and worn with high heels, gave her away. Discussions about women’s hair – length and style – in estrada are rare, not because this aspect is irrelevant to milliylik, but because preference for long natural hair for women is extremely widespread in society in general, and most Uzbek women actually do have such hair. There are female artists with cropped hair, but this is more frequently found among singers above the age of 30 or 40. Once during fieldwork, however, I did witness female hair become the topic of heated debate. This happened after Independence Day 2004, at which superstar Yulduz Usmanova had sported something that looked like a bleached straggly mop on her head. Almost everybody I talked to about the show mentioned her hair – its inappropriateness for estrada in general and at an event of such national and international importance in particular. “Undignified” [nedostoynyy] was the politest way that people phrased their criticism, “like a prostitute”, the bluntest. For men, it is considerably easier to choose an appropriate stage outfit and hairdo, as they are under no pressure to look particularly glamorous. It suffices if they look elegant, and this is a demand easily met by donning a suit or even just dark trousers plus formal shirt or T-shirt. Nor do they need to get changed during the performance. Younger artists can get away with a more casual look, such as slacks and T-shirt, but they might also be criticised for sloppiness in dress – and this attire is certainly not considered milliy. In contrast to women, however, there is less need for men to include

186  Nationalising estrada references to milliy clothing anyway. A common connection is made by putting a chopon, a quilted coat made of cloth or velvet, on one’s shoulders over a suit. But I would argue that suits have actually become male milliy dress in Uzbekistan. Worn on stage, they can be single-coloured or patterned, plain or of bright colour, velvety or shiny and even glittery, but preferably not made of atlas or other material in ikat style, as this is associated too much with female fashion. Likewise, men should wear their hair cut short and not resort to colouring or fancy styling so as to avoid an overly effeminate appearance. As with clothing, younger singers are granted more leeway here than their older colleagues, but at least among the girls and women I met in Uzbekistan, hardly any of them found long hair on men at all attractive. Longish male hair, however, had become quite fashionable during my first period of fieldwork, at least among the many female viewers addicted to the South Korean serial Winter Sonata, whose main male character wears a layered haircut with a long fringe falling into the eyes, the hair on the sides covering the ears and reaching almost down to his shoulders at the neck. This haircut also became popular among male students (as did the film hero’s style of draping his scarf). Whether due to this influence or something else, this style also found its way into estrada around that time (where it had already existed, particularly in the 1980s), but, as will be seen in Chapter 6, it was not approved of by O’zbeknavo or other state institutions and even seen to violate the ideal of milliy estrada. In addition to dress and hairstyle, another important aspect in assessing a concert performance’s milliylik is the artist’s behaviour on stage, especially his or her way of dancing. As was very clear in the statement by an O’zbeknavo official cited above, anything resembling belly dancing, commonly labelled “Arab dance”, is considered too sexy for a female representative of milliy estrada – even of estrada in general. In fact, any kind of suggestive dancing by female singers, whether Arab or not, was regularly branded by O’zbeknavo officials as un-milliy. But for male artists too, making any sexually suggestive movements is problematic. Hopping around the stage is also frowned on, for men and women alike, unless they are still kids or very young adults. In contrast, and not very surprisingly, including movements from the more restrained Uzbek classical and folk dance styles is welcome as part of the show. This applies to both female and male artists, but the latter more often refrain from moving much anyway and leave dancing altogether to the chorus line or its soloists, which are a feature of concerts anyway regardless of the singer’s sex. Ballet, breakdance, standard, jazz, modern, Latin and other forms of dance definitely do not qualify as milliy. As with musical borrowings, opinions vary widely, on whether these dance styles should be part of an estrada concert at all. At least some of them are based on movements that are not compatible with the dignified and elegant behaviour expected of a performance of art, and there is debate over whether a concert that incorporates them can be said to still conform to the ideal of milliy estrada overall. Some musicologists and officials involved

Nationalising estrada  187 in estrada administration take a strict stance against these borrowings: “[A]ny kind of dance that is not related to milliy movements does not enrich a performed song’s content [qo’shiq mazmunini boyitmasdan], it stays separate with oddness [alohidaligi bilan ajralib turaveradi]” Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev & Norbo’taev 2006: 58). The majority of people I spoke to, however, mostly artists and audience members, see diversity in dance style to be an absolutely essential show ingredient. They like to present – or see – variety, which is part of a concert’s appeal, and they do not really care, whether this is considered milliy or not. And suggestive dancing, whether performed by women or men, is usually greeted with a lot of applause at concerts – and across generations: recall the matronly Uzbek ladies in their fifties who went wild over a young male singer making sexy dance moves at my first Nihol gala concert in 2003 (Chapter 4). Video clips and weddings The factors that determine whether video clips and weddings demonstrate milliylik are basically the same as those for concerts. Weddings might require slightly less glamour in appearance from singers, but morality, dignity and elegance are certainly still demanded. In addition, as is explicitly laid out in their licence agreements, artists vow to “conduct anniversaries, festivities on a high musical and artistic level” – a duty as encompassing as it is vague. Video clips, on the other hand, are, in a certain way, a condensed form of everything that milliy estrada is about. They concern the song’s music and content, but also the entire visual plane – beyond a singer’s and other actors’ appearance and behaviour, all of which should conform to the rules regarding what is desirable and undesirable in terms of song lyrics detailed above. Private lives Ideally, artists are not only representatives of the notion of milliy estrada when they are at work, but also in their private lives. This is a difficult demand to fulfil for both male and female estrada singers alike. They might be celebrated and venerated as stars, and their services might be highly sought after – by private individuals planning weddings and by the government organising concerts – but their profession as such is not a very respectable one essentially. A quite reliable indicator of this can be found in parents’ opinions on this career choice, in singers’ chances on the wedding market and in the hopes and plans they themselves have for the future of their own children. In interviews and conversations, artists almost unanimously recounted that their parents and other elder relatives had disapproved of their wish to become an estrada singer. Many related that their spouses were – or could only be – from the world of art or from yevrolashgan families, who did not mind their job. A young part-time estrada musician I met said that he would stop playing the wedding circuit as soon as he approached the age of marriage himself, as this activity would be a strike against him for the

188  Nationalising estrada family of any prospective wife and thus narrow the circle of eligible brides. Another one announced he would quit singing a few years before his own children reached the age of marriage and would look for a more decorous job in order to enhance his children’s chances of finding good partners (which he did not do in the end). And two female students from the estrada singing department contemplated transferring into music pedagogy and musicology respectively so they would appear to be more respectable brides in the eyes of matchmakers. Only very few estrada artists I spoke with could imagine allowing their – already existing or future – children to embark on the same career. For some fathers of daughters, it was an absolutely unthinkable choice. For male estrada artists, the lack of respect accorded to their profession is linked to the fact that singing at weddings basically means serving someone and thus puts them in an inferior position. It also has to do with the fact that the evening wedding parties where estradniki perform are events associated with alcohol, the more or less free mixing of the sexes and a certain lowering of normal moral standards. The world of shou biznes beyond weddings has an even worse reputation and is widely suspected to be a realm of utter moral laxity if not depravity – an assumption I will explore in more detail in Chapter 6. A well-known and respected singer, who would become the epitome of milliy estrada a few years later, commented on the situation: Earlier, twenty years ago, no one here gave his daughters [into marriage] to a singer. They did not give [them] to him. He is a singer, you should not give him a daughter. Slowly, this already passed. They thought that a singer has many wives. … Today, they admire us. But when I want to give my daughter into marriage, this interferes … KK: Would you give your daughter into marriage with a singer? X: I would give her to someone who is a good person (lit. to a human being [cheloveku]; meaning: yes, I would give her to a singer, if he is a good person). KK: And if your daughter wants to become a singer, will you allow [her]? X: Never! (08.2004) X:

While it might not be very respectable for men to work as a service provider and in a morally dubious environment, in contrast to women, they are at least expected to work at all and their honour is not harmed if they are accused of pre- or extra-marital sexual relations. Female estrada artists, on the other hand, already partially damage their reputation just by working. In the eyes of many Uzbeks I met – men and women, young and old, in and beyond Tashkent –, the most respectable and thus proper position for a woman is that of a housewife and mother, regardless of her qualifications. Even in the eyes of those who, in general, think it normal or even important for women to have a paid job – mostly people who have been socialised in the Soviet era, with its attempts to achieve

Nationalising estrada  189 gender equality by promoting women’s right and duty to work, among other c­ ampaigns – the profession of estrada singer is a problematic career choice. For them, its glamour, a certain degree of sexual objectification and the usually open display of riches are incompatible with the inherited socialist and partially still prevalent ideals of social sameness as well as female plainness and, related to this, a measure of desexualisation. Quite a few women with senior positions in estrada administration or education, themselves examples of strong, independent women directly involved in teaching or managing female estrada singers and decided proponents of female employment and emancipation, found it noticeably difficult to acknowledge this profession as a decent one for women. They praised it for the incomparable – and in their view often admirable – societal freedom it allowed singers above a certain reyting, but they had clear reservations about it because of its disrespectable reputation. I was witness to and sometimes a participant in various conversations between them and female estrada students at the Conservatory, in which they regularly warned their aspiring and often enthusiastic protégés that they would not have a “normal future life”, that they would maybe have to forsake “female happiness” (commonly meaning to have a husband and children),20 and thus advised them to seriously think twice about their choice of a professional career in estrada. In an interview, an unmarried female singer in her early thirties described the dilemma female estrada singers face in the following way: It is difficult to be a good wife and a good singer, you can be a wife and a good singer or a good wife and a singer, you know. Of course, you can be a bad [wife], but you have to make an effort to be at least a normal [wife], but you cannot be an excellent wife and an excellent singer … For this reason, it is very difficult. In our customs, [this] mentality [is] somehow difficult. I do not say that it is very [difficult], but you have to take everybody into account, you have to take into account your mahalla [neighbourhood district], your parents, your husband, your relatives. In our oriental/eastern21 customs this is very difficult. You have to take everybody into account. (06.2004) A younger singer was also very outspoken about this topic: For example, if it is about marrying. Who is a singer, [they will say about her] “This is a disgrace for our family. How can this be, in a family like ours? A singer – no way!” As if I were working as a prostitute, yes? Or as, the hell, whatever. (04.2004) During my first period of fieldwork in 2003–2004, there was only one female singer among the higher reyted stars of the scene whom everyone, without exception, conceded was of impeccable moral reputation: Nasiba Abdullaeva.

190  Nationalising estrada At the audition for Navro’z in 2004, I talked to a young artist who was trying hard to also earn – and keep – such an image. She thought a career in estrada to be exciting, but exhausting – and said: “You can lead the life of a saint, but still everybody thinks you are a singing prostitute” (02.2004). Regardless of whether female estrada singers really “lead the life of a saint” or not, they all have to contend with the stigma of moral laxity and licentiousness, much more so than do their male colleagues, whose – alleged or real – promiscuity can be easily reinterpreted as a sign of manliness. Thus, for women, there is already an inherent contradiction between the milliy and moral values they are expected to – and often do – represent in their art, on the one hand, and the values they are assumed to live by in their private lives on the other. This is a fragile construct, and it is quickly and easily destroyed if there are public signs of indecency. These might be un-milliy photos posted by themselves in social media where they pose suggestively and are wearing little; they can also be rumours or more concrete incriminating evidence that they are not conforming to the expectations of either a chaste unmarried girl or a dedicated wife and mother. And this situation can be easily – and regularly is – exploited: by rivals in reyting, by furious ex-partners, by people who just love scandal and by government officials. In 2006, for example, Shahzoda, a famous estrada artist (Figure 5.5), had allegedly been filmed having sex outside of marriage. There was a video circulating on the internet and despite the fact that it was so blurry and coarsely grained that it could have depicted almost any woman with dark hair – and almost any physical action in addition to sex – it was enough to grind her career in Uzbekistan to a halt for some time. She had her licence revoked and lost a lucrative advertising contract – practically overnight, the posters vanished from the city. There were various hypotheses about who had launched this campaign against her. One stipulated that it had been a female colleague of similar reyting who was hoping for a career boost by side-lining her. Another, which surfaced much later, maintained that the sex film had only been a pretext to silence her for political reasons in a game of proxy. Her father, Bahodir Musaev, branded a dissident, was to be pressurised by this move endangering his daughter’s career into abandoning his critical activities, while, at the same time, the politically problematic family background rendered her quite unsuitable to represent estrada anyway.22 Whatever the true background to this story, by 2008, when I returned to Tashkent after two years of absence, Shahzoda had shifted almost all of her performance activities to Kazakhstan. By 2016, however, she had been rehabilitated. Her inclusion in the youth festival We Are Children of a Great Country, organised by the Kamolot Youth Movement, was an unmistakable sign of that (see Chapter 3). This incident – and there have been myriad others, mostly, however, without a political background of this sort – already clearly indicates how far the concept of milliy estrada can haunt singers in their private lives, up to and including the point of questioning the notion of privacy as such.

Nationalising estrada  191

Figure 5.5  Shahzoda in un-milliy style and demeanour according to official standards, 2005

Ideally, estrada artists are not only to be epitomes of the moral values they are supposed to advocate in songs, but they are to narrowly embody the government’s line on politics and religion as well – wherever they are (see Chapter 7). Odiljon Abdukaxxarov, then head of O’zbeknavo’s licence department, was very clear about that in February 2017, when he summed up concisely what had already been the official position for years: Every month, we hold special hours of spirituality [chasy dukhovnosti] with them [estrada singers], call them to order. Every day, we monitor [their] sites in social networks. Upon detection of indecent [nepodobayushchikh] photos and videos we force [them] to immediately delete them … Some think that the placement of this or that picture on public networks is an artist’s private business. This, however, is a wrong assumption [oshibochnoye utverzhdeniye].23

The power of indeterminacy Quite expectedly, the concept of milliy estrada relates to issues like music, lyrics and performance behaviour, but it is much more encompassing. It extends to areas such as professionalism and ethnicity/nationality and even reaches as far out as into artists’ private lives. While being quite clearly defined in some aspects, it stays rather elusive and indeterminate in most others. In Chapter 6 I will look at how milliy estrada translates into practice,

192  Nationalising estrada that is, how this concept is wielded as the central instrument for turning estrada into Uzbekistan’s state sound. I will scrutinise how the issuance and suspension of licences and certificates function as a key tool in making the genre milliy – and for making artists behave according to its principles. I will then turn my attention to this processes’ successes and failures. An important factor in all of this is the ambiguity and fuzziness of the concept of milliy estrada, as detailed above, which might seem like a serious flaw, predictably causing complications in its implementation. While this is certainly true, there are still a great many songs that fit the label milliy estrada without any debate or discussion (Video 5.6). On the other hand, I would suggest, the concept’s diffuse meaning is actually a crucial factor in its functioning and an essential condition of its power.

Notes 1 With the conceptual combination of milliy and estrada, ideas about music in ­Uzbekistan differ markedly from Tajikistan, where these two terms are not paired but considered mutually exclusive (Spinetti 2005: 187). In ascribing ­e strada the potential to be national, the discourse about milliy estrada in ­Uzbekistan bears more resemblance to the situation in Israel, where various forms of popular music are marked and discussed as national music (Regev & Seroussi 2004). Motti Regev and Edwin Seroussi even found the belief “that popular music is the cultural form that most strongly signifies Israeliness” (2004: 2) to be widely shared. Similarly, but not identically, many of my interlocutors believed milliy estrada to best signify the independent and modern Uzbekistani nation state, whereas they thought classical or folk music to most strongly ­signify ­o’zbekchilik, Uzbekness. 2 Uzbekistan has a population of about 31 million. Its ethnic composition is roughly as follows: 75 per cent Uzbeks, 10 per cent Tajiks, 5 per cent Russians, 2.5 per cent Karakalpak, 7.5 per cent others (Kazakh, Tatar, etc.). In Uzbek official statistics, the number of Tajiks is usually estimated to be lower than what is estimated in the scholarly literature. 3 For an analysis of the clip, see Martin (2001) and Megoran (2005: 564ff.; 2008a). 4 Consequently, I would not subscribe to Alexander Djumaev’s conclusion that “[a]n appeal to Islam is taking place in all layers and spheres of Uzbek musical culture” (2005: 179). Nor do my observations of developments in jazz, bard song and alternative music support this assertion. 5 For Uzbekistani citizens of non-Uzbek and non-Tajik ethnicity, adherence to Orthodox, Lutheran or Catholic Christianity is generally accepted, while there is much less tolerance for religious groups such as Charismatic Christianity, the Bahá’í faith, the Hare Krishna movement or Jehovah’s Witnesses. For detailed research on the mandate to be Muslim, the government’s stance against conversion and the activities of various religious groups in Uzbekistan, see Hilgers (2006; 2007; 2009). 6 To translate the Uzbek term xalq musiqasi as folk music is slightly misleading in this context. Xalq musiqasi is often used not to narrowly connote folk music, which is its literal translation, but it has a wider meaning, encompassing folk as well as classical music. Transcriptions of the Bukharan shashmaqom, for example, appeared under the title O’zbek Xalq Musiqasi in a nine-volume edition of folk and classical traditions within the borders of the Uzbek SSR, published between 1955 and 1962. The wide application of this designation is, on the one hand, related to the Soviet idea that true creativity lies with “the people”, so the shashmaqom was declared to have its sources in folk music. On the other

Nationalising estrada  193 hand, to label the shashmaqom folk music in the Soviet era saved it from being forever banned as an outdated feudal remnant – a fate it actually met for several years. 7 The karnay (long trumpet) and surnay (double reed instrument) are rarely mentioned among the instruments suitable to milliy estrada. The main reason for this is that they are associated less with music in the strict sense than with signalling, as mentioned earlier. 8 At the 2004 Independence Day audition, a young singer sitting next to me in the auditorium started furtively to laugh, when the selection committee was discussing the inclusion of a song, which they obviously all considered suitable – and thus sufficiently milliy – for the show programme. This was despite the fact that the song in question was what they, in theory, all abhorred most: a straight cover of a Turkish hit with Uzbek lyrics. Shaking her head and still quietly chuckling, she leaned over to me and whispered: “That’s our experts for you – what an assembly of ignorance!” 9 In addition to the factor nomadic vs. settled culture, which was frequently mentioned in the conversations I had, it seems plausible to assume that the impetus to borrow from Asian music cultures beyond the former borders of the Soviet Union rather than from those previously within its confines, is also linked to the heritage of ideas about socialist cultural development: Just as one could not fly from Tashkent to Tbilisi without going through Moscow, cultural borrowing had to go the same route, since Moscow set the standards for what constituted ‘international’ culture. Given that national cultures were to be ‘developed’ through internationalization …, it was not acceptable for the cultures of the less-developed periphery to borrow from one another … Artists found no profit in adopting the culture of another Soviet republic …  (Adams 2008: 629)

10 11 12 13


As I will explore in Chapter 6, however, Uzbek artists did find profit in ingesting musical influences from what in the Soviet era was – and in Uzbekistan often still is – commonly called “the foreign east/orient” [zarubezhnyy vostok]. Besides, the adoption – and preferably faithful rendition – of songs originating from other national or ethnic groups within the Soviet Union played an important role in demonstrations of respect and reverence as part of cultural diplomacy. See Harris (2005) for a fascinating account of musical borrowings in Uyghur popular music and the discourses around them. The term “world estrada” is also used in the sense of “estrada of international significance” (see Chapter 7). Why bard song in Uzbek today adheres to this system of prestige – as it formerly did in the Soviet Union – can be explained by the fact that it is defined more as poetry than as music (see Bright 1986: 365). Musical literacy is often considered an important marker of professionalism across the world (see, for example, Buchanan 1995: 389; Harewood 2008: 214). In Uzbekistan, I never found this specifically mentioned – not because it is irrelevant, I would claim, but because it is generally taken for granted (see Merchant 2015: 110). These questions are particularly relevant for the instrumentalists who graduate from the Conservatory’s estrada faculty. The majority of singers do not have their own bands but just perform with a minus or plyus, and those singers that do perform with a band often have a reputation for paying their musicians badly. Furthermore, the Estrada Symphony Orchestra at National TV and Radio is not an attractive career option, as salaries are low, and the heyday of orchestral estrada has definitely passed. All Conservatory students in the instrumental estrada department I talked to saw this as a big problem, and quite a few considered emigrating.

194  Nationalising estrada 15 The late Muhammad Yusuf (1954–2001), a venerated poet, studied Russian language and literature, for example. Usmon Azim (b. 1950), another highly valued writer, studied journalism. 16 A vocal training in academic music is considered a good base for estrada with regard to fundamental singing and intonation skills, but, as teachers in the Conservatory’s estrada faculty, some of them trained academic singers themselves, frequently remarked, it is also difficult to convert or to re-build an opera voice into an estrada voice. On the one hand they explained this with divergent sound aesthetics, on the other, with the fact that opera is more about vocal fach, whereas estrada is more about individualism. 17 The principle of ustoz-shogird teaching exists outside the institutions of music education, but is also integrated into them. Particularly in the sphere of classical music, students at the Conservatory commonly regard their teachers there as their ustozlar (see Merchant 2015: 65–67). In the sphere of estrada, I rarely encountered such relations. There are cases of senior estrada artists having younger protégés, but these connections have less to do with transmitting s­ pecific musical knowledge and skills and thus building or continuing aesthetic lineages. They are more about extra-musical support and maybe repertoire a­ dvice, but most importantly, for the younger singer, the mere association with a senior figure from the scene enhances his or her reyting. For a detailed account of ­ustoz-shogird transmission in Uzbekistan’s Ferghana valley, see Sultanova (2009). 18 I am grateful to Nick Megoran for sharing his insights on Islom Karimov’s ethnicity/nationality politics and “authoritarian conflict management” with me in Tashkent and Andijon in March 2016 (see Megoran 2017b: 212–216). 19 Just as Tanya Merchant did among Conservatory students of classical music (2006: 223), I also frequently encountered people mocking these singers’ lack of language proficiency, among them other estrada artists. Unlike Merchant, however, I never found any hints in these remarks that I could have interpreted as a kind of post-colonial Uzbek defiance vis-à-vis Russian as the language of the former oppressor. Most people I met, while welcoming the more important position granted to Uzbek, actually deeply regretted the decline of Russian as a former lingua franca. By many, this was interpreted as a sign of de-­modernisation and re-provincialisation (see Chapter 6). 20 In addition to this interpretation of “female happiness”, I found another that circulated exclusively in female-only gatherings. Here “female happiness” was discussed in terms of true love: loving someone and being loved, having an attractive, interesting and caring partner at one’s side and experiencing sexual fulfilment. This, however, was rarely seen to be achievable in arranged marriages, but rather as an unofficial second wife to a married man or as an unmarried, divorced or widowed woman with an unmarried, divorced or widowed man as the partner of one’s own choice. For most women, this kind of “female happiness” was something that came after an unsuccessful arranged marriage. 21 The Russian term vostok and the Uzbek term sharq denote both: east and orient. 22 This kind of punishment by proxy was a common tactic by the Uzbek government under president Islom Karimov in its attempt to silence dissident voices. I met several people who feared – probably rightfully so – children, grand-­ children or other family members being beaten up or abducted as a measure to pressure them into giving up activities critical of the government or to keep them from religious conversion. 23 Cited in: “Pornography in Uzbek: What Tashkent Chases Its Stars for”:­ uzbekskih-pevits/ (accessed 7 February 2018).

6 Authorising estrada Licences, certificates and the status of milliy estrada

Hamburg, June 2013 Before today, it took the weight of Gérard Depardieu for Uzbek estrada politics to make it into the western daily press beyond the narrow circuit of world music. In December 2012, he recorded a song plus video clip in Tashkent with Gulnora Karimova, alias Googoosha, once again proving his infamous penchant for the company of postsocialist despots and provoking the by now predictable media outrage.1 Today, however, Uzbek estrada has managed to become a topic by itself in one of Europe’s major newspapers. Amid coverage of mass demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, the aftermath of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, flooding in India and the start of the Tour de Congo, The Guardian’s international section online sports the headline “Uzbekistan bans five Uzbek pop acts for failing to praise the motherland” (Elder 2013). The report mentions Gérard Depardieu’s politically dubious collaboration as well as Gulnora Karimova’s musically deplorable singing endeavours from a few months earlier, but it more directly concerns news that five Uzbek estrada soloists and groups are now “barred from performing live because [their] songs lack ‘patriotism’”. They have had their licences withdrawn due to their songs being deemed “meaningless from musical and lyrical standpoints” and lacking in “artistic value”, whereas seven other acts have got away with being ordered to rectify their “creative shortcomings” by 1 July.2 An unnamed representative of O’zbeknavo is quoted saying “Their songs do not conform to our nation’s cultural traditions, they contradict our moral heritage and mentality … We should not forget about our duty to praise our motherland, our people and their happiness.” Over the next few days, several commentators to The Guardian article will wonder, whether the reported bans were actually due to Gulnora Karimova’s machinations and an attempt to boost her own career by eliminating competitors. This, however, can be ruled out completely. If the neutralisation of local rivals in music had been her goal, she would have resorted to other, more discreet, more effective, probably nastier and certainly more long-term measures than having O’zbeknavo de-license other artists. While

196  Authorising estrada she has had a hand in many unpleasant dealings in Uzbekistan, she can definitely be exonerated from the suspicion of playing a role in these events.3 The suspension of licences has been a regular, almost weekly occurrence in Uzbek estrada ever since the licensing system was introduced in 2001, and discussions about who is currently banned [v zaprete] and why, who has had his or her licence restored and how, are an essential part of the scene’s gossip and an omnipresent topic of more serious discussion in the estrada administration. In fact, whenever I met senior officials from O’zbeknavo, I could be sure that conversations would start with a listing of artists who had had their licences suspended recently, usually presented in a grave voice and with a facial expression of paternalistic concern. Contacts from radio and TV were another steady source of information on licence suspensions, reliably commenting on the problems they posed for programming as well as the tricks used for circumventing them. Just as the suspensions themselves were no surprise, the statements quoted in the article were what one would expect. They are staple phrases, formulaically echoing the legal parlance already familiar by now, the obligatory tropes used whenever the state of estrada is discussed publicly in print or speech in Uzbekistan – as powerful as they are vague. What is surprising, however, is that this news has made it into the UK press at all. This time something must have been different from all the dozens of other licence suspensions over more than a decade that had passed completely unnoticed by correspondents such as Miriam Elder in Moscow, who reported on this particular incident for The Guardian. My curiosity is piqued, and I decide to trace this piece of information back to its original leak. The Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, mentioned by Elder as her source, has covered the incident in similar words yesterday under the headline “Uzbek Pop Stars Banned From Stage for ‘Meaningless’ Songs” on its English website. It referred readers to O’zbeknavo’s homepage.4 Also yesterday, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official newspaper of the Russian Federation’s government, had run a short article entitled “Uzbek Singers Punished for ‘Meaninglessness’ of Lyrics”. It compared the measure to a purge [chinovniki proveli ‘chistku’] and asserted that the singers in question “have been excluded from participation” in Independence Day, while those with only suspended licences still “had the chance to perform at the celebration concert” – something I would suspect at least half of the artists named not to be very keen on at all (Aleshina 2013). Author Marina Aleshina acknowledged the Central Asian news agency Fergana as the source of her information. It reported on the incident two days before with the headline “Uzbekistan: At One Sweep Several Estrada Singers and Music Groups Punished for ‘Songs’ Meaninglessness’” and included a link to an Uzbek-language piece of news item on the O’zbeknavo website.5 Inconspicuously entitled “Attention: News” [Diqqat: Axborot] and dating from three days ago, this text is not only the source of all of the coverage on the incident so far and that to come in the next days and months. It seems to

Authorising estrada  197 be the reason for the sudden attention to Uzbekistan’s time-tested estrada politics in the first place.6 Up to now, O’zbeknavo has never issued a press release of this type, at least not to my knowledge. The fact that the Uzbek Ministry of Culture and Sport posted a statement of almost identical content on its website the very next day will have accelerated the spread of this news. Furthermore, its sensational title, “‘O’zbeknavo’ Has Divested Some Singers of the Right to Sing” [‘O’zbeknavo’ bir nechta honandalarni [sic] qo’shiq aytish huquqidan mahrum qildi], could well explain why journalists further down the chain of information have concluded that the withdrawal or suspension of licences entails a complete ban on performing, which, in theory, it should do, but in practice never does (see below).7 The first sentence of the original O’zbeknavo press release is an intricate 142-word structure – a monstrosity even by the standards of Uzbek syntax, with its seemingly miraculous ability to arrange an almost infinite number of words into one logical entity. Broken up into smaller units for reasons of intelligibility, it reads as follows: In its second meeting, ‘About the developing processes of Uzbek estrada art’, held on 23 March 2013, the Council for the development and coordination of national estrada art has sharply criticised [the following]: [Even though] at present, from our Government’s side all necessary conditions [barcha zarur shart-sharoitlar] are created for performers who are active in the field of estrada art, many estrada singers, instead of using these opportunities correctly [to’g’ri foydalanish o’rniga], misuse them. [Y]oung singers, and especially those singers who have received a [government] title, have lost ambition [talabchanlik] and are given to complacency, indifference [hotirjamlikka, o’zibo’larchilikka]. [I]n the majority of cases, the songs that have taken an [important] place in singers’ repertoire [show] shallowness in content [mazmunan sayozligi], emptiness in [their] artistic aspect [badiiy jihatdan bo’shligi], music and performance skills are not up to the required level. [As] singers are mostly busy with wedding events, they do not pay enough attention to the production of new creative works, furthermore, they create songs that oppose our national-spiritual values, the norms of good manners and ethics, and our mentality [milliy-ma’naviy ­qadriyatlarimizga, odob-ahloq [sic] me’yorlariga va mentalitetimizga zid bo’lgan], [and that are then] passed to the airwaves [radio]. (capitalisation original) This is an astonishing collection of criticism, but in the next paragraph, only one reproach is focused on – and declared to be the decisive one for the sanctions imposed: a lack of productivity, or rather a lack of orderly, that is, contractually determined, productivity. Some singers are accused of not having prepared new songs in due time [o’z vaqtida], particularly in

198  Authorising estrada light of the upcoming Independence Day, a failure that, as the text details, constitutes a breach of their licence agreement. After citing various legal documents and listing the de-licensed artists, the press release closes with the following statement by an unnamed O’zbeknavo official: “Let us never forget our duty to praise [madh etish] the homeland, whose ground is sacred to us [tuprog’ini ko’zimizga to’tiyo aylab], to sing the praises of its people, its happiness!” It is quite obvious that it is this last sentence that led the Fergana correspondent, who first reported the incident in Russian and whose reporting informed all additional coverage of the topic, to directly link the singers’ loss of licences to a lack of patriotism in their oeuvre while skipping over the reason actually given in the press release. This shortcut conclusion certainly has some truth to it, but the complete omission of references to the contractual basis for the sanctions – regardless of how strange and restrictive this may appear to outsiders – has a clear, and maybe calculated, effect. It totalitarianises the situation by making O’zbeknavo’s actions seem arbitrary and thus even more authoritarian than they actually are.8 O’zbeknavo cannot have released an official press statement about its de-licensing measures for the first time in the hope of invoking a mixture of amazement, amusement and dismay abroad, which was the dominant tone of the international coverage. The statement also does not read like a concerted effort to convey a very different image abroad that has somehow gone wrong, or an attempt to have O’zbeknavo’s estrada dealings noticed beyond Uzbekistan’s borders at all. The press release and the comparably grand round of sanctions seem instead to be a – more or less desperate – attempt to prove O’zbeknavo’s importance and power to superior levels of the Uzbek government, probably following criticism for excessive lenience and lack of sufficient assertiveness in handling estrada singers and obliging them to adhere to the ideal of milliy estrada. After all, these kinds of clampdowns and similar flurries of activity as a reaction to pressure from above have been a common occurrence in the past years. And who would furnish a press release intended for wide circulation with such a nondescript title, begin it with such an unwieldy sentence and quote so many legal acts that are only known and relevant to insiders? All this, plus the excessive, almost invocation-like repetition of standard official rhetoric conveys the impression of a hastily contrived demonstration of power, which actually manages to only thinly conceal the opposite: weakness and obedience to higher ranks of the state. So, after all, the difference in this particular round of de-licensing is not the nearly quotidian act in and of itself, but the fact that it miraculously made it into the western press for the first time. The issuance and suspension of licences and certificates, which this flurry of reporting in the foreign press was all about, are a central tool in the Uzbek government’s attempt to forge milliy estrada and regulate the estrada scene in practice – besides the organisation of competitions and

Authorising estrada  199 concerts. In many respects quite powerful, it is very ineffective in others. While ­Chapter  5 analysed milliy estrada as a concept, here I will explore milliy estrada as practice. What role does milliy estrada play in licensing procedures? How is milliy estrada implicated in the world of shou biznes, if at all? And what are the results of these government and commercial dealings? More exactly, what is milliy estrada’s status in the overall field of estrada today – and how does it compare to nationalised estrada in the Uzbek SSR? These are the central questions that I will address in this chapter and I will start with a closer look at the mechanisms of licensing – and de-licensing.9

Issuance Licences As detailed in Chapter 1, estrada singers need a licence to perform. Licences were issued based on the decisions of the so-called Group of Representatives of Creative Support, an organ under the Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art. Its 19 members, among them writers, composers, scholars and journalists, met once or twice per month and reviewed documents from first-time applicants as well as from artists wishing to prolong their licence or change their licence category. Before these meetings, documents had already passed through O’zbeknavo’s Office for Repertoire and Control: We particularly check the lyrics before applications go into the Group. They must not be against the state. They should be beautiful. KK: What, for example, counts as beautiful? X: Love for the homeland or just love. KK: What percentage of the lyrics have to be changed? X: About 50 per cent. KK: What are most songs about? X: Sixty per cent are about love, also in a wider sense. (11.2005) X:

At every meeting, the Group reviewed between 15 and 80 applications and decided whether to grant a licence at all, and, if yes, in which of the two categories (before 2003: in which of the three categories, see Chapter 1). This means it determined whether artists were only allowed to perform in restaurants and bars, at weddings and other private festivities (category 2) or whether they were additionally permitted to give public concerts and appear on radio and TV (category 1). Based on an estimate of an artist’s proficiency and fame, her or his reyting, the Group also determined how much she or he should pay for the licence by allocating her or him to one of the four rating groups for category 1 or to one of the two for category 2.

200  Authorising estrada Licences were granted for periods between three months and five years, depending on what the applicant had asked for, on her or his reyting and previous conduct. The Group was meant to take its decision on the basis of an artist’s educational background, successes so far (prizes and awards) and current repertoire. Sometimes it required artists to re-apply with an improved repertoire, or it formulated recommendations, even if a licence was directly granted. Most frequently, these recommendations required artists to adhere more to the tenets of milliy estrada, be it in music, lyrics or dress, but they were, as a senior O’zbeknavo official made very clear, more than just recommendations: We recommend. We can only recommend, so that the style was national, so that there were [national] instruments, that they worked with professional poets and composers. But to say “You must not”, so categorically, no. They all regard themselves maybe not as famous, but already as singers. We can tell this to an advanced [singer] and a top [singer] and also a low quality [singer] … Any of our decisions is law for them. There is nowhere else they can turn to. For this reason, they have to listen to our recommendations. When they are young, and when they are famous. (11.2005) For most of the period of my research, artists were not required to perform their repertoire live in the licensing process; they handed in audio and video material as well as sheets with lyrics. Current and former members of the Group I spoke to consider this method a major flaw, as recordings can easily conceal even a total lack of vocal ability. This critique was also widely shared among singers (with vocal ability), musicologists and journalists. The temporary change to an audition format in 2014, promoted by then director Bahodir Axmedov, considerably reduced the number of artists reviewed per session – and the number of those licensed in general. Not requiring live performances in the course of licensing decisions was a crucial difference from earlier administrative practices in the Soviet Union and socialist eastern Europe. Auditions used to be standard procedure in the Uzbek SSR, for example, in the approval – or rejection – of new repertoires and the evaluation of professional ranking (and thus, artists’ payment, concert and touring duties, etc.). But, as discussed in Chapter 3, these have survived as a routine procedure only in the context of selecting singers for participation in major government concerts. And even there, artists often perform to a plyus, a full playback track. Judged an even greater flaw than taking decisions based on recorded material, though this was more often cited by non-members, for obvious reasons, was the Group’s alleged propensity to grant favours and take unofficial

Authorising estrada  201 payments. What was considered even worse was O’zbeknavo officials circumventing the Group altogether, either for their own benefit, financial and otherwise, or, more frequently, because they were acting as an accessory to plots concocted “higher up”. Almost everybody outside O’zbeknavo and its related structures blamed these institutions, or at least certain officials in them, of basing licence decisions on prospective personal advantages instead of ideas about the state and improvement of estrada. A former member of the Group even claimed that half of licences were granted without consulting the Group, and in 2016, a producer gave me the following advice, laughing bitterly: “You should establish Nemisnavo [terminological equivalent to O’zbeknavo for Germany]. You will become rich, you will become more important than Merkel. You can take someone from O’bezknavo with you as a consultant [sovetnikom]” (03.2016). In addition to accusations of incompetence among presumed experts in responsible government organs, corruption was the most often cited explanation for the glaring ineffectiveness of an instrument as powerful as the licensing procedure. Despite the fact that the government had devised a smart strategy to improve the quality of estrada, as critical interlocutors usually did acknowledge, there were hundreds of artists with licences who would never have been granted one, had the Group and O’zbeknavo staff done their job properly according to official provisions and the standards of milliy estrada. I myself was often astonished about the blatant discrepancy between claims about the presumably rigorous selection system and its questionable outcome from the standpoint of milliy estrada or even simply vocal ability. A senior Conservatory teacher even became quite agitated on the topic when asked for her opinion: For all this dirty rubbish [gryaznyy musor], O’zbeknavo and television are to blame. Why are they granting so many licences – and what for? Let them all audition live. And why does television show such video clips? Where women walk around in underwear? (03.2016) Although I was not permitted access to the meetings of the Group or other official internal O’zbeknavo discussions and could not in any other way personally verify the allegations of corruption, I have little reason to doubt widespread claims about its existence and the various stories about its workings. This factor undoubtedly played a role in turning the licensing procedure into a shady and unpredictable endeavour, which could, as I will look at in more detail below, include outright harassment. At the same time, widespread knowledge that performers could compensate for their deficiencies in talent or repertoire with financial or other favours, in addition to the fact that auditions were – and are – usually conducted with pre-­recorded material anyway, meant that the hurdle performers had to clear was significantly

202  Authorising estrada lower than officially claimed. This knowledge could be used by singers to their advantage – and it frequently was. Most singers I talked to regarded the initial issue or regular prolongation of their licences as a formality rather than a serious examination. And, as detailed in Chapter 3, many, particularly those of high reyting, were happy about the deal they struck – to be completely exempt from paying tax for a yearly fee that they could earn in one day by performing at weddings. In return for this, they did not mind highlighting the most milliy part of their repertoire in the licensing documents – if they had to distract from the remaining parts at all. Others, such as a young group who performed in a type of humorous rap style with a lot of slang and thus somehow still counted as estrada, if not exactly milliy, described the procedure more as an unpleasant but almost ritualistic nuisance similar to school boys getting a routine lecture from the headmaster and having to vow better behaviour. And a few, while appreciating the financial advantages it entailed for them, considered the licensing procedure a kind of uniquely Uzbek abnormality and absurdity, inappropriate for a modern nation state. Many estrada singers try to avoid licensing procedures altogether. This predominantly concerns those who would apply only for a category 2 ­licence – artists who perform in restaurants and bars or as dezhurka, the standby combo at weddings, mostly with a cover repertoire (see Chapter 5). They do not fear being refused on the basis of not being milliy enough. Most frequently, their motivation is purely financial; they hope to avoid having to pay a licence fee in order to save money. People who were well versed in the intricacies of the wedding circuit all agreed that, financially, the licence system was a blessing for singers above a certain reyting, but a burden for those below this level or even outside of this system entirely. For those people, the licence fee was not money that could easily and quickly be recouped, but actually a substantial investment.10 The same applies to rock musicians or rappers and others who are active in popular music styles that are considered neither strictly estrada nor at all milliy. For them, a licence would just mean a major expense without any advantages. Their music is not in demand at weddings, and their sporadic live gigs in clubs or underground venues generate hardly any income, if at all. Their status in the overall system has always been a bit vague. Often left more or less to themselves, their scenes occasionally rather suddenly came into the focus of government attention during the period of my fieldwork, followed by – sometimes subtle, sometimes v­ iolent  – ­measures intended to curb their activities. This is linked to the fact that the official position on rap and rock oscillated widely in the K ­ arimov era. P ­ olicies were sometimes based on the conviction that rock and rap could be brought safely into the fold of milliy estrada – and made administrable – with the help of the licence system, a view that was promoted by a presidential adviser on cultural matters in a conversation with me in 2008, for example.

Authorising estrada  203 The rationale behind his ideas was similar to socialist Albania’s treatment of dance music in the 1960s: In raising these marginal practices for discussion, critique would help to shape them into an audible domain of concern within the music field. Increasingly audible through radio broadcasts, performances, and on the pages of prominent critical organs, entertainment or dance music soon became governable as an integral part of the music economy … Within Albania, singers and repertories that had been firmly ensconced in the Albanian music economy’s margins were drawn over the next decade into its center. (Tochka 2016: 52) Rap and rock policies in Uzbekistan might have taken a similar course, and had a similar effect in the long run, had the government’s estimation of their potential for incorporation not radically changed. At other times, rap and rock were assumed to generically defy “nationalisation”, and once, in 2011, they were branded “satanic music”, “created by evil forces to bring youth in Western countries to total moral degradation” and “approaching as dark clouds over the heads of Uzbek youth” (cited in Pannier 2011).11 Government attitudes were rarely unanimous, however, and even with the allegation of satanism still being floated, acts that clearly sported rap ­aesthetics  – ­musically and otherwise – were included in the great government spectacles celebrating Independence Day or Navro’z. While the output of Uzbek rap tended to be very tame anyway, some of the most prominent rappers of the scene have produced some of the most patriotic songs, such as, for example Shoxrux’s “My Homeland” [Vatanim] (Video 6.2). On the whole, there was much less resentment about the licence system as such than I had initially expected, and there was not even much talk about it – until conversations touched upon flaws in its functioning, when resentment could turn into rage. Financial benefits aside, my contacts overwhelmingly approved of the idea that the government should somehow have a grip on who was singing – and who was singing what – in the country. This was linked to the widespread conviction that culture should ideally be dealt with “at the state level”, as explored in Chapter 4. Some regarded this as to be an ongoing task of any state and were quite surprised to hear that Germany did not have a licence system. Others instead explained it more as a necessary interim measure, to be used until Uzbekistan became more consolidated – and thus more in line with ideas about transition. A friend of mine, a recent graduate of German philology, even became quite agitated when I suggested that Uzbek estrada might do better without a licence system and without O’zbeknavo: “No! Of course you need something like this. I mean, how could it be otherwise? Then anybody who wants to be a singer could just become one. But this is impossible! Just imagine!” (08.2004).

204  Authorising estrada For older estrada singers, the licence system is in many respects just a continuation of the Soviet model, and while some resent no longer being paid by the government (see Chapter 3), others freely and openly appreciate the immense riches the new system makes possible. For many younger singers, it is something they just take for granted, do not waste too much thought on and grudgingly or impassively accept it. The number of people who disapproved of the licence system altogether grew considerably more over the years of my research, however. Some completely reversed their opinion, such as this former member of the licensing Group at O’zbeknavo, who had still been an ardent advocate for licensing in 2008: Do Sting or Robbie Williams need a licence? No, of course not. Why do people with a diploma from the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan need a licence to be allowed to work? In my opinion, this is against the constitution, against the right to work. Does a surgeon who has a university diploma need an additional licence to be allowed to perform surgery? Do you have to ask him before an operation: “Do you have a licence?” For which he would have had to pay? No! (03.2016) But while the demands of milliy estrada are impossible for Tashkent’s rock musicians and rappers to meet, most of the repertoire of most estrada artists is already quite milliy anyway. This is not in response to O’zbeknavo orders, but to popular demand and their own musical preferences. I will come back to this point below. One-off tour-concert certificates One-off tour-concert certificates, which artists of licence category 1 needed in order to stage concerts, were issued according to a procedure that resembled that for performance licences. As explained in Chapter 1, decisions were taken by the so-called Expert Commission, a small circle of O’zbeknavo officials, on the basis of a concert scenario, a list of participants and, upon the commission’s request, additional documents such as song lyrics, copies of participants’ licences, the compère’s text and information about decorations, posters, etc. The Expert Commission frequently required alterations to scenarios and song lists, when it considered their “ideological-artistic level” too low, and quite a number of applications for certificates were refused entirely. This, however, was usually due less to dissatisfaction with content than to irregularity in formalities, such as the inclusion of artists without licences in the line-up or a lack of security personnel. A relatively large number of concerts were planned and conducted without a certificate – so-called “illegal concerts” in O’zbeknavo parlance – simply to avoid paying taxes on the part of producers, to present artists who did not hold a licence or to save the hassle of preparing documents. As the various O’zbeknavo activity reports

Authorising estrada  205 relate, this practice of evading certification was also quite common among O’zbeknavo’s own regional branches and other government institutions. Most artists and concert organisers I spoke to considered the preparation of documents for a certificate to be a cumbersome affair, but they did not find it difficult or too problematic to align scenarios, as requested, with “national and pan-human spiritual values” or even to include “feelings of devotion to the Homeland”. As explained above, for estrada artists, concerts are basically a promo event, a kind of live auto-advertisement for the wedding season. Consequently, in order to meet a wide range of musical tastes and thus be attractive as a potential wedding entertainer to as many people as possible, singers tend to offer a very varied programme anyway. And even though “songs about the homeland” are not part of the wedding repertoire, it is usually not difficult to integrate them into the show. Some singers expressly include them in the hope of pleasing their audience. Rayhon, a young female superstar, for example, made a troupe of real soldiers march through the audience in 2005 to her song “Brave Young Uzbek Man” [O’zbek O’g’lon] and was still extremely happy about her concept a few months afterwards: Of course, nobody expected that, when the doors [to the foyer] opened and the lights went on. Everybody thought: “[What a] shame, what [kind of] concert is this – the lights go on, the doors open.” … They go to a concert, but when there is some “Oops”, when something like this happens, everybody goes “Oooh”, and they have something to talk about. And when they suddenly saw that these were soldiers, I think, there were even happier. (10.2005) Other singers said that they preferred to display patriotism in a softer form, such as praising Uzbekistan’s beauty or the generosity and hospitality of its people. Some claimed their audience was fed up with songs telling them how great the state was and how even greater its future would be, but still all the more in need of positive images and self-affirmation as a nation in these hard times.

Monitoring and inspections O’zbeknavo officials monitored whether concerts adhered to the set-up outlined in the documents submitted with the application for a one-off tour-concert certificate, and its activity reports contain information about a number of events where checks were made. This is an excerpt from almost four pages of concert critiques in the 2006 report, which make up nearly half of the entire document: When studying the concert programme of the group ‘[X]’ and other young singers also performing at the ‘Zarafshon’ concert hall, it was

206  Authorising estrada noted that there were included performances of singers without permission [meaning: without a licence], the concert programme was artistically of low level [badiiy jihatdan past saviyada] … It was noted that the solo concert programme of Uzbekistan people’s artist [X] in the palace of the ‘Friendship of peoples’ from [x] April until [y] May was conducted on a high artistic level, the programme was well prepared, the participants of the programme were dressed in a way befitting our national traditions [milliy an’analarimizga mos ravishda kiyinganligi], special attention was paid to the decoration and the stage culture, but there were instances when the singer went beyond the scope of the scenario … It was noted that the concert programme of [X] in the palace of the ‘Friendship of peoples’ from [x] May until [y] June was of lower artistic quality compared to previous years, also the singer used words during the concert programme that were not shown in the scenario and that do not befit stage culture and our national values [saxna [sic] madaniyatiga va milliy kadriyatlarimizga [sic] mos kelmaydigan]. (O’zbeknavo 2006: 6–8) O’zbeknavo occasionally also conducted inspections in Tashkent restaurants together with officials from the city’s taxation and internal affairs departments. The purpose of these visits, however, was not to check the singers’ cover repertoires for adherence to the tenets of milliy estrada, which they would not do in any case since they predominantly consist of songs from the Soviet and wider post-Soviet world (see Chapter 5). They served instead to identify singers who, for financial reasons, had not applied for licences and who would then, after receiving a lecture at O’zbeknavo, be obliged to apply and pay for one. Until 2008, similar inspections at weddings were a recurring topic at O’zbeknavo, whenever I spoke to one of its members of staff. Besides catching unlicensed singers red-handed and bring them into the fold of estrada administration, a second goal would have been to check on the sufficient promotion of milliy estrada at private celebrations. But for years, such raids [reydy], as they were labelled, were more wishful thinking than reality. Three reasons were habitually given for this unusual restraint. O’zbeknavo staff complained that there was too little support from other state organs for these missions to be carried out and O’zbeknavo lacked the means to organise them on its own. Outside O’zbeknavo, many people assumed that O’zbeknavo simply did not dare to implement such measures, since intruding on and subsequently ruining one of the most important life cycle rituals would provoke too much anger among the population. And, finally, some people expressed doubts about there being a proper legal basis for entering the private property of those holding a wedding party in order to cite or arrest for licence evasion singers who only happened to be on these premises.12 In the 2010s, O’zbeknavo obviously found ways to address at least

Authorising estrada  207 some of these problems. When I returned to Tashkent in 2016, there were a lot of rumours about raids that had taken place, and a former member of the licensing Group at O’zbeknavo related how singers who had been caught had then been summoned to appear in front of this body. But no one I talked to had witnessed a raid first-hand and they appeared to be a still rather sporadic affair. O’zbeknavo had partially outsourced the responsibility for checking licences, however, to so-called wedding houses [to’yxonalar], which is a far too modest name for the huge, mostly neo-classicist buildings with pompous names and sumptuous interiors that have sprung up all over Tashkent and other Uzbek cities in the recent past to host wedding parties for hundreds of guests. In March 2016, wedding house managers asked their customers whether the artists they were planning to invite had licences and recommended artists from their own database. It was therefore lucrative for singers to get onto these lists, and upcoming artists in particular tended to send out promo material to wedding house managers. Managers were motivated to take care of licence issues on behalf of their guests less from a sense of altruism than the fear that a wedding raid would ruin their to’yxona’s reputation or even jeopardise its remaining in business. In 2016, weddings were under more scrutiny with regard to singers’ licences than they had been at the beginning of my fieldwork, when the ­licensing system had just been implemented. Still, there are limits to direct or remote measures of control. It is a common practice among wedding guests to present the newly wedded couple with a surprise birrov by a famous artist (who may not have a licence), which cannot be anticipated by even the most alert to’yxona manager, for example. And when they are celebrated in a family’s private courtyard, weddings are obviously still off-limit to raids, as acquaintances maintained. Furthermore, weddings are still secondary to another estrada outlet that, because it is located in the public and not the private sphere, has always had priority for O’zbeknavo’s licence monitoring practices: radio and TV. O’zbeknavo would have liked radio and TV stations (Figure 6.1) to verify with them the licences of the singers whose music they put on their programmes. Radio and TV stations, however, are by default not interested in limiting their playlists and, as a rule, withdraw artists from their programmes only if explicitly told to do so. This usually happened when a singer’s licence had just been suspended, about which they were informed by someone “from above” either by phone or, more rarely, in writing. As will be examined in more detail in the next section, suspensions were generally prompted by the release of songs and videos or evidence of singers’ behaviour that O’zbeknavo or representatives at higher levels of the state judged to be incompatible with the tenets of milliy estrada and/or the terms of the licence agreement. In these cases, financial considerations were only indirectly relevant. Singers do not earn anything from their songs being played on the radio; on the contrary, most of them pay for it. The rationale behind

208  Authorising estrada

Figure 6.1  The entrance to National TV and Radio [O’zbekiston Milliy Teleradiokompaniyasi], 2005

banning artists from being broadcast was to discipline and restrict them by curbing their means for publicity. And if the reason for the withdrawal of a licence was a specific song or video clip (as opposed to “on account of conduct”), it was just as important, according to O’zbeknavo, to withdraw this from circulation in order to stymie its influence on the population. Radio and TV stations may not have been eager to show pre-emptive obedience in licence matters, but they risked harsh sanctions if they did not exhibit reactive compliance, even if this made running a programme difficult. In September 2008, a radio host told me that she was having severe problems finding suitable music, as so many singers that fit her radio station’s format were currently suspended, and even some of those with valid licences had been put on a blacklist around Independence Day. What made matters even worse was that a prohibition against playing Tajik, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Turkmen and Iranian music had just been issued, too. This left her with little in her playlist to choose from and she – half-jokingly, half-desperately – said: What shall I do? Maybe I should just say something like “For the next 3 minutes there should have been a song by Sevara Nazarkhan, who, unfortunately, is currently banned” and then just keep 3 minutes of silence. (09.2008)

Authorising estrada  209 Some stations dare to circumvent these bans by including tracks from singers they know to be suspended or to have had licences withdrawn in their late night rotation. But all radio and TV people I talked to agreed that this was a dangerous game, as a radio host from another station said in 2005: “They can just close down the station at any moment” (09.2005). And this is something to which the Uzbek government has resorted on occasion. Curiously, the radio and TV outlets belonging to Gulnora Karimova were, while they existed, a kind of haven for banned estrada singers and riskier acts. She could take liberties that nobody else could – as long as her father did not intervene personally, no one dared to touch her. So there was music on her stations that could not be heard anywhere else. Still, her staff was always alert not to push the boundaries too far, primarily in order to avoid personal repercussions. To its own great dismay, O’zbeknavo could only react to the release of, in its view, unsuitable songs and videos ex post facto. Neither it nor any other state organ was equipped with the tools to directly control the production of estrada songs and video clips.13 Pre-emptive measures such as O’zbeknavo’s monthly “spirituality hours” for artists, mentioned in Chapter 5, or other lecture-style meetings to convince singers in general and newcomers in particular to conform to milliylik, were a rather futile endeavour in this respect. This means once artists had a licence, they were free to record the songs and shoot the clips they liked and have them broadcast – at least, until someone found them problematic when noticing them on TV or radio. An O’zbeknavo official himself pointed to this gap in administration: [H]e today receives a licence for a certain period, for example, for a year, and in the course of the year, he continuously works, learns new songs. We authorised this repertoire [points to a pile of documents], he received [the licence], tomorrow he learns new songs, but he cannot completely guarantee that tomorrow the lyrics, the music will be the same. (11.2005) In all of O’zbeknavo’s activity reports that were available to me, a short “recommendations and suggestions” section at the end repeatedly mentioned the need to find a solution to monitor production and broadcasting. It is not only O’zbeknavo, however, that regretted the absence of a single government recording centre. While show business representatives, who made a good living from music and clip production, found this a rather absurd prospect, quite a number of journalists, musicologists and composers considered the establishment of a centralised state music production basically the only countermeasure to what they considered to be estrada’s plummeting decline in quality. Most were very sceptical about the chances that such a huge project would be realised, but some maintained with surprising confidence and transition optimism that, with further consolidation, the Uzbek state would surely tackle and accomplish this important task. And those familiar with

210  Authorising estrada Soviet practices all pointed to the former success of the Melodiya state record company, with some dreaming of a revival of its Tashkent branch as a national Uzbek enterprise. Currently, estrada songs and clips are produced in a wide variety of approaches, ranging from complete home-manufacture with just a computer and a cheap camera in people’s living rooms to very elaborate and expensive recording and film projects in professional studios with excellent equipment and a large crew of specialists. Once songs and clips are finished, singers themselves or their producers offer them to radio and TV stations, which, if they fit their format, will agree to include them in their programmes. Save for singers of top reyting whose releases radio and TV stations are interested in playing anyway, artists have to pay for radio and TV promo, and written or oral contracts regulate the frequency of rotation, occasionally the programme slot, the term of contract and the price. Unable to prevent un-milliy songs and clips from coming into existence, O’zbeknavo would have at least liked to have been able to prevent their broadcasting, but its power to directly intervene at this point of the process was rather restricted, so it aimed for a kind of remote form of monitoring, similar to the one recently established with to’yxona managers. Over the course of my fieldwork it convened various meetings in order to oblige radio and TV stations to adhere more strictly to the tenets of milliy estrada in their choice of musical material for programming. There were frequent calls for the establishment – or rather re-establishment – of so-called khudsovety, “artistic councils”, which had been organs for selection in broadcasting and other spheres of culture in the Soviet era. In interviews and conversations, some people would talk about khudsovety as if they held the key to solving almost all problems perceived to be afflicting estrada, endowing the term with a kind of magic ring. This composer fondly remembered them: But here in Uzbekistan [Uzbek SSR], there was no place for amateur artists in TV and radio, little space was granted. We always had big khudsovety, a commission worked for the selection of music and singers. Their lyrics, the music were studied meticulously. Is there no plagiarism, [does it have] originality, is it new? All this was deliberated and discussed … Before, when I was young, in the 1970s, 1980s, there was not a single song, not a single singer, neither on radio nor on TV, that had not passed through a khudsovet. They listened to our songs many times. They looked at all categories, what kind of music, performance, what recording quality, even to the clothes, they paid attention … (10.2003) When I returned to Uzbekistan in the summer of 2008 after two years of absence, at least some radio and TV stations had, indeed, organised a khudsovet. Still believing in the fantastic powers ascribed to this institution, I imagined them as strict and secretive censorship boards. When I actually

Authorising estrada  211 attended a khudsovet session by invitation, I was quite surprised to find myself in a rather informal meeting of seven people, who, in a focused but chatty and friendly atmosphere, reviewed the material received. With two exceptions, knowledge of Uzbek was too low among the participants to fully understand the songs’ lyrics, and milliy estrada was only once a topic: No, that’s too patriotic, Independence Day has just passed. But we still need something patriotic for Teachers’ Day. X: Yes, but that doesn’t fit our format. I play [songs] ‘about the homeland’, but it should show young people as they really are. Modern, with computers or such. X: Y:

The final selection did, in fact, include quite a number of songs that O’zbeknavo would have approved of as milliy estrada, but those present had made their decision on the basis of very different criteria: aesthetic novelty and suitability to their format. Leaving the office, I wondered whether the station had simply re-christened its weekly editorial meetings khudsovet in order to placate O’zbeknavo. A radio host I talked to shortly afterwards confirmed my impression: KK: At O’zbeknavo … they said … that there is a khudsovet everywhere now.

Is that true or not? X: Well, here is [lit.: sits] your khudsovet (laughs & points to himself and his col-

league in the room) … They told us “Go and put together a khudsovet.” Who is our khudsovet? Me, [Y], well, we are three now. And what do we say? I say “No, this song is bad.” They say, “Yes, bad.” I say, “This song is good.” They say, “Yes, good.” That’s all. (09.2008) The term had definitely lost its former magic ring for me and it never again managed to conjure up fantasies of fierce censorship.14 This was also due to the fact that various people corrected my initial impression about the nature of khudsovety in the Soviet era. Composers in particular tended to describe them more as working meetings with intense discussions among professional colleagues than strict and arbitrary gatekeeping commissions (see Tochka 2016: 109). In autumn 2008, an O’zbeknavo official told me about plans to staff the radio and TV stations’ khudsovety with at least one of its members of staff, thus testifying to their, in his view, ineffectiveness despite their imposing name. As far as I know, however, this did not happen. O’zbeknavo was still only able to intervene after new songs and clips had already been released and broadcast. It did this, however, with reliable regularity and great zeal – and often harsh consequences for singers. There were various paths through which O’zbeknavo received information regarding the airing of songs and clips that were not compatible with the ideal of milliy estrada. Some

212  Authorising estrada journalists spoke about a special department in the government whose staff engaged in constant monitoring of all the Uzbek radio and TV stations and informed O’zbeknavo, when they discovered a problematic song or clip. Others doubted the existence of such a permanent media watchdog unit and dismissed it as a government-invented chimera meant to scare and thus secure obedience from the media. Whether on the basis of concerted supervision or chance spotting, however, it is certain that O’zbeknavo was often notified “from above” about songs and clips these higher-ups deemed questionable. As mentioned earlier, a few of my interlocutors claimed Islom Karimov himself to have regularly watched estrada clips at the weekend and that his advisors passed his views down the government hierarchy to O’zbeknavo early the following week. Like some of my other contacts, though, I consider it more likely that high-ranking politicians pretend to speak in the president’s name in order to lend more substance to their often personally motivated, rather than politically oriented, slander of singers – an assumption I will come back to later. While in previous years, “above” in political terms had usually meant the Cabinet of Ministers, by 2016, the term was almost invariably used to denote the National Security Service [Milliy Xavfsizlik Xizmati (MXX) / Sluzhba Natsional’noy Bezopasnosti (SNB)] – if the word was even uttered at all and not replaced with a gesture in which one tapped the index and middle finger of the right hand on one’s left shoulder, as if to mark an epaulette. The conviction that the SNB had actually taken control of most aspects of politics was widespread; increased numbers of people felt they were being spied on or bugged, and there were rumours that every estrada artist above a certain reyting had been allocated a personal SNB member charged with monitoring her or him. When passing the building of the Ministry of the Interior, home of the SNB, an elderly acquaintance summed up the heightened feeling of fear and being watched by saying: “Look, Kristina, our Gestapo!” (03.2016). Whatever or wherever the ominous-sounding “above” actually was, when it came to estrada, O’zbeknavo staff sometimes reacted with anger to notes sent from the upper strata of the government. Complaints from there often included accusations that O’zbeknavo officials had insufficient control over “their” estradniki – accusations that these officials found unfair, as the government, in their opinion, provided them with too little power and too few legal means to actually control them. In any case, in addition to acting on hints handed down to them, O’zbeknavo officials also checked radio and TV programmes and they followed up on critical comments in newspapers and on social media on certain songs and clips. If a singer’s repertoire was found to be at fault, she or he might have just been summoned to O’zbeknavo for “recommendations” [rekomendatsii] and “direction” [napravleniye]. Depending on the particular aspects of the song or clip that were considered incompatible with the ideal of milliy estrada, she or he might then have been exhorted not to compose music oneself but to collaborate with professional composers, not to cover Turkish songs, not to

Authorising estrada  213 write lyrics oneself but to draw on the work of professional poets, to use more Uzbek instruments, not to use slang words, to show beautiful Uzbekistan in clips and not some foreign country, to dress more decently (women), to get a haircut (men), not to sing about Islam in any kind or to show life more positively – in short, straightening out anything that was deemed to deviate from milliy estrada. She or he might have got off with this warning, particularly, if she or he was a newcomer and was being admonished for the first time. Unless the song or clip in question could easily be altered, however, it would have remain blocked from being broadcast. As several singers told me, this is a fate that has befallen almost everybody in the scene at some point of their careers. This is not necessarily because artists were intentionally out to provoke or rebel, but because they misjudged what would be acceptable, not least due to the often highly erratic nature of O’zbeknavo’s decisions. And it is exactly because of the often highly erratic nature of these decisions that artists also tested boundaries, not with regard to grand political themes – as mentioned above, if artists were interested in political subversion, they would not work in estrada – but certainly with regard to the degree of sexual overtones, slang and dress, in the hope of broadening their fan base.15 Interestingly, radio stations could be just as strict or even stricter than O’zbeknavo was. When, in 2005, Davron Ergashev released the song Mario with matching clip, O’zbeknavo was, for various reasons, not delighted: the whole storyline was too focused on physical attraction, the women were clad too sexily and not at all milliy, the male hero was a notorious womaniser and there was too much slang. Still, song and clip went into heavy rotation and became a super hit. However, it was played on one radio station, Oriat Dono, only in an extra version that had had the section with the heaviest slang cut in order to make the song fit the station’s format (Video 6.3). Often, however and particularly in the case of singers with a high reyting and/or a record of previous official admonitions, artists would not get away with just being summoned or called on to alter something; O’zbeknavo would suspend their licences. As was detailed in Chapter 1, singers’ duties were rather vaguely phrased in the licence agreement and thus a claim that they had been breached was easy to make. Particularly the following clause could be, and often was, invoked in the context of suspensions based on repertoire: “The performance of works that are opposed to our national and pan-human spiritual values is forbidden.”

Suspension Occasionally singers were officially informed about a suspension, but often, as this producer remarked, they were not: “No one tells you directly that you have lost your licence. You just happen to find out. Through the media, on the phone: ‘You have a problem!’” (09.2008). Suspended artists certainly did have a problem, but they did not suffer a complete ban from working. Those

214  Authorising estrada affected tended to have a category 1 licence, which allowed them to give public concerts and have their songs played on radio and TV. This was in addition to the activities permitted by a category 2 licence, such as singing at weddings and other private festivities, as well as in restaurants and bars. Although there was no legal basis for this regulation in theory, a suspension of a category 1 licence continued to allow singers to exercise the rights of a category 2 licence in practice. This means they could still perform at weddings, and thus continue the work that secured them their living, just as they would when in possession of a category 1 licence.16 But the suspension was intended to somehow affect them negatively, of course – and it did. Due to the licence inspections by to’yxona managers, at least in recent years, suspended singers would most likely receive wedding invitations only for parties held at private homes, thus decreasing the number of engagements and lowering their income. In addition, artists were not allowed to give concerts and they were banned from being broadcast. This ban affected not just the one song that caused the suspension, but their whole repertoire. This might have initially saved them money since they earned nothing from concerts or from radio or TV play; on the contrary, they, or their producers, usually invested in this. But it also meant that they were cut off from all the usual channels of promotion and, unless given airtime by some station, left without a chance to advertise new songs, the main currency for entering or securing one’s position on the wedding circuit. In short, a suspension could have a devastating effect on one’s reyting and income, not because one’s audience turned away after one’s fall from governmental grace, but because one might have simply sunk into oblivion after suddenly losing public visibility and audibility. By 2016, however, a form of music TV had appeared which quite obviously operated independently of licence issues. Several video clip channels, such as ZIZI TV provide entertainment solely for restaurants, where they are broadcast on screens scattered throughout the premises. To my surprise, various suspended estrada singers were part of the rotation – with their contact phone numbers inserted. Though these media outlets have not yet boosted suspended artists’ careers again to a significant degree, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before these channels are made to adhere to licence regulations, too, regardless of the form these regulations will take after the dissolution of O’zbeknavo. There are singers who were already so established on the wedding circuit by the time they lost their licences that they managed to stay among the most highly reyted artists despite being barred from promotion for months or even years. They are the rare cases, mentioned in Chapter 3, where a high reyting is not congruent with state recognition; but most singers could not count on a similar streak of luck. There were no official regulations on how to effect an early repeal of one’s suspension, and artists as well as O’zbeknavo officials were very reserved when talking about this topic. People with affiliations to either government or shou biznes agreed, however, that money or favours could help lift a suspension ahead of schedule or even

Authorising estrada  215 instantaneously, while the subsequent release of an ostentatiously milliy song would restore a good relationship with O’zbeknavo, other government organs or just individual officials again. Knowing how these mechanisms can be used does not mean that all estrada singers are willing to use them. Although they might risk a setback or even the end of their careers, some artists I met were quite defiant and refused to engage in such acts of subservience. They were predominantly those whose licences had been suspended not due to presumable flaws in repertoire, which are generally quite easily straightened out, but, as it was usually termed within and even beyond O’zbeknavo, “on account of conduct” [iz-za povedeniya]. The form of behaviour that was most often sanctioned by suspension was artists’ refusal to perform at government concerts – either by just not showing up or, more rarely, by verbally rejecting the order when they were told they would perform. As described in Chapter 3, while most estrada artists were even rather eager to participate in the grand government spectacles on Independence Day and Navro’z for reasons of reyting and government recognition, they were not keen on being enlisted for minor concerts, particularly if they were to take place outside of Tashkent. Being sent to sing at one of the provincial Independence Day or Navro’z celebrations, to entertain cotton pickers or to advance the “culturalisation or spiritualisation of the regions” was rather unpopular with anyone in the Tashkent scene who was not an absolute newcomer. Many Tashkent artists tried to avoid these obligatory musical missions, but they were often caught out, most frequently when they were seen performing at lucrative weddings instead. Apart from the hassle of travelling, financial considerations were the main incentive for circumventing these mandatory appointments. But some artists’ reluctance was at least as much caused by a dislike of their conscriptive nature, as discussed earlier. As participation “in events determined by state and government” was one of the duties to which artists formally consented to assume, when signing their licence agreements, absence from these events, unless convincingly justified, constituted a breach of this obligation and usually entailed a suspension for several months. In O’zbeknavo’s activity reports, these instances appeared in the following form: Due to the fact that Uzbekistan’s distinguished artist [X] did not participate in the 2,750th anniversary concert programme for the city of Samarqand …, the Group of creative assistance under the Council for the development and coordination of estrada art revoked the validity of his licence according to Decision number 17 of the meeting on 21 August 2007. Due to the fact that singer [Y] did not participate in the concert programme conducted on the 16th anniversary of ‘Independence’ holiday without any reason, the Group of creative assistance under the Council

216  Authorising estrada for the development and coordination of estrada art revoked the validity of his licence according to Decision number 19 of the meeting on 18 September 2007 for three months. (O’zbeknavo 2007: 7) Twice, singers called off interviews with me, having been informed earlier the same day that their licences had been withdrawn “on account of conduct”. Both had performed at weddings instead of singing at assigned concerts. They cancelled our meetings because of time constraints, as they were busy trying to repeal the suspensions as quickly as possible, but also, as one of them revealed at a later date, to play it safe by avoiding any additional trouble. Giving interviews can be a sensitive issue, particularly if foreigners are involved, and several estrada singers who had toured abroad faced problems on their return due to allegedly having said things to foreign reporters that placed Uzbekistan in a negative light or could, at least, be interpreted that way. “Did they give interviews?” was also the first guess a journalist ventured when informed about the latest list of suspensions by an O’zbeknavo official in a conversation I happened to overhear before a meeting in 2008. And sometimes, the “bad press abroad” mechanism even worked by proxy. In 2016, acquaintances from the estrada scene linked senior star Farrukh Zakirov’s alleged licence suspension to public comments made by his niece, singer Nargiz Zakirova, who had emigrated to the US about 20 years before and who now lives and works in the Russian Federation. On social media she had written about the “true hell of Uzbekistan” and renounced it as her homeland: “I am not yours and have never been [yours]! Neither by religion, nor by character, nor by soul, nor by heart. My homeland – this is the US, Russia, Dagestan, India, China!”17 Compared to other forms of behaviour, however, statements in the foreign press were a less frequent cause for suspensions – not only because the majority of artists are well aware of the possible repercussions and are very careful about what they tell journalists abroad, but also because ­Uzbek estrada singers do not frequently go on concert tours. Engagements abroad are predominantly wedding invitations in neighbouring countries and therefore not typical occasions for interviews. Domestic interviews, on the other hand, are rather tame, because interviewers also risk problems for themselves if they ask potentially critical questions. Suspensions “on account of conduct” could also be imposed, if artists were deemed lacking in respect towards their audience or propagating amorality. Keeping one’s audience waiting for too long at solo concerts was sanctioned in this way, as were scanty dress and sexy dancing at concerts, indecent photos or videos on the internet, a scandalous private life, or “immoral behaviour” at weddings.18 Often, O’zbeknavo claimed its licence suspensions were a reaction to outrage among concerned citizens about artists’ alleged misbehaviour, which presumably threatened to subvert public morality. These claims are difficult to substantiate, but the commentary

Authorising estrada  217 sections on YouTube and Uzbek shou biznes news sites clearly show that there are people in Uzbekistan who do feel offended by artists’ perceived indecencies, whether public or private. But the same sites also reveal a significant amount of incomprehension over these allegations and support for the respective singers. In 2005, Ozoda Nursaidova, who had not only given me my first ever experience of a vatan video clip in 2001, but was one of the most popular wedding singers in the mid-2000s, was accused of inappropriate behaviour when a video recording of a recent performance at a sunnat to’yi, the celebration of a boy’s circumcision, became public. It showed her verbally interacting with a male guest, who was obviously mentally handicapped, probably drunk and dancing extremely eccentrically. When he pretended to be in sexual pain and faked an erection, first with a cigarette or some strip of paper and then later with an empty plastic bottle, she jokingly commented on the size of his penis – to the great delight of the other guests, judging from the background laughter. Almost everybody I met in Uzbekistan admired Ozoda Nursaidova for her expressive singing, her great qualities as an entertainer and for her talent to cope with difficult, that is drunk and sexually importunate male guests without offending them. Many people from the estrada scene who actually watched the recording might have found her style of dancing towards the end of the wedding too sexually allusive – it was certainly not milliy – but they did not understand the allegation of shocking immorality and thought that she had handled the situation rather well. In fact, they were more interested in discussing who could be responsible for leaking a private recording of a wedding to the public and assumed this to be part of a rival singer’s plot intended to harm Ozoda Nursaidova’s career. After I had just arrived in Tashkent in 2005, a journalist told me about her suspension: KK: Why did they withdraw her licence? X: For bad behaviour. KK: But [a wedding] is [a] private [event]. X: This doesn’t matter [Baribir]. It counts

as public [obshchestvennoye]. An artist is supposed to educate society [vospytivat’ obshchestvo]. I believe that this was a frame-up [podstava] … I don’t know, [but] in my opinion it was a frame-up, someone framed her. There is unhealthy competition [nezdorovaya konkurentsiya] here. (11.2005)

The longer rumours spread, the more fantastic and outrageous Ozoda ­ ursaidova’s indecencies grew, for most people who talked about the inN cident had not actually watched the recording. In fact, by the time I finally managed to get hold of the video, my own expectation had been built up so much that I was rather unimpressed when I actually saw myself what had happened. But judging from comments on YouTube, many Uzbeks did

218  Authorising estrada find her behaviour completely unacceptable. O’zbeknavo too considered it incompatible with her obligation “to conduct anniversaries, festivities on a high musical and artistic level”, as explicitly mandated in her licence agreement. Ozoda Nursaidova’s suspension was lifted some time after this incident, but in 2006 she again lost her licence and has, to my current knowledge (March 2017), not recovered it since. Her last official concert in Uzbekistan was in 2006; O’zbeknavo’s activity report for 2007 already notes that “[o]n 28 December, an illegal concert programme with participation of singer Ozoda Nursaidova in Navoiy city was stopped” (O’zbeknavo 2007: 8). This makes hers one of the longest suspensions in Uzbek estrada. In fact, it has been so long that it might more correctly be termed a withdrawal.19 Her reyting at the time her licence was revoked, however, was so high that for several years she managed to keep her status on the wedding circuit even without the promotional effect of concerts, radio and TV broadcasting. In recent years, however, it seems to have declined considerably, and in 2016 several people described her as a broken and sad figure. Even though she has somehow managed to continue working as a singer and, increasingly, as composer, it is clear that her domestic career and her life in general suffered in response to the loss of her licence. The fact that she has not recovered her licence is attributed by those who know her well to her having a defiant character and to the high political status of her opponents. Like other artists under longer-term suspensions, Ozoda Nursaidova started to work abroad, collaborating with musicians in Turkey, India and Egypt. Unlike other artists, however, she has been quite outspoken about the negative effects of her suspension. On her homepage she states that difficult times started for her in 2006 and she mentions bans, threats and the cancellation of concerts.20 In 2014, she even publicly, on Twitter, blamed Shavkat Mirziyoyev, then Uzbekistan’s prime minister, for her situation and threatened to take him to court: “MISTER MIRZIYOYEV! Is it not ENOUGH for YOU that you have made my life hell for so many years? Now you have started [to go for] my HOME?? Is there no law for you?” (NN 2014, capitalisation original). While some artists have profited from changes in the personnel in power in the aftermath of Islom Karimov’s death in 2016, and even seen their longterm licence suspensions reversed, it is questionable whether Ozoda Nursaidova will do: For her nemesis, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is now president of Uzbekistan. Besides its devastating personal repercussions, this particular long-term licence suspension is also unfortunate from the perspective of estrada politics. It has obstructed an artist who, at least until the mid-2000s, was a strong promoter, rather by default, of milliy estrada. The lyrics of some of Ozoda Nursaidova’s songs might not be compatible with the ideal image of women in milliy estrada – such as, for example, the title “If You Are Gone, There Will Be Another One” [Sen Bo’lmasang, Boshqasi] – but she is loved for

Authorising estrada  219 her candid depictions of women’s life-worlds by female fans, and other songs and clips, such as Asrasin, my first patriotic video clip experience, are even straightforwardly patriotic. Even more importantly, with a Conservatory education in classical singing as background, she essentially embodies the ideal of a milliy estrada artist – save for a penchant for Turkish pop – and is praised as one of the few singers among the top reyted estrada stars who can actually perform live for hours. In accusing an individual of playing a role in the suspension of her licence (in addition to more general malice) in the tweet just cited, Ozoda Nursaidova addressed a situation that many singers, particularly women, but also others involved in the estrada scene consider to be one of the biggest problems related to licences: the personal factor in decisions and the immense power of those involved. While suspensions could always somehow be explained as resulting from breaches of the licence ­agreement – and its clauses were just ambiguous enough for this –, more often than not, individual motives of influential people seemed to play a greater role. Most artists were rather steady licence holders. They may have occasionally been threatened with suspension or their licence may even have been suspended for some time, but they never got into long-term or really serious trouble. A few, however, have had a very volatile career in this respect – and, consequently, in many other respects too. Yulduz Usmanova has probably trod the most widely oscillating course in terms of government standing: several times from official prima donna to persona non grata and back. Save for a fierce tirade against Kyrgyz people in the aftermath of interethnic clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in and around the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh in 2010 – “To the Kyrgyz” [Qirg’izlarga] – which was immediately banned from airplay, her repertoire has, throughout all this time, been of almost spotless reputation from the perspective of the Uzbek government. She has, however, variously run into serious trouble “on account of conduct”, with her formerly high status in official circles and, in particular, proximity to Islom Karimov making matters considerably worse. I will return to this in Chapter 7. Several journalists, scholars and Conservatory staff I spoke to all agreed that licensing decisions with personal involvement from someone “above” were the worst. There were situations where even the person in question had forgotten about whatever problem she or he had had with the singer that led to a suspension in the first case. No one, however, would dare to lift a ­suspension, unless this person directly gave the order, which would naturally never come, as she or he did not remember the incident; and no one would dare to approach her or him about it. An even worse situation was when someone imposed a suspension as an act of pre-emptive obedience, interpreting perhaps unrelated comments from someone “on top” or just guessing how the higher-up felt about the matter. A former presidential

220  Authorising estrada adviser described this situation as happening even at the highest levels of the state: They gather in a small circle. The president remarks that someone has not sung well and everyone around him says “Remove him [uberite yego]!”. If someone is prohibited already for a long time, no one risks asking him, whether they can lift the ban. It is the people around him that make the weather [i.e.: take decisions]. (09.2008) Threats of denying or cancelling a licence were an important form of leverage in these personalised dealings in estrada administration – as were promises of granting one. Several singers spoke about being called by someone from O’zbeknavo and sent to sing at weddings or other festivities organised by important people, characterising their treatment as like that of pawns in private power games of patronage – without payment, often at very short notice and with no option to decline. In many of these cases, O’zbeknavo officials were not the originators of these requests, but just the brokers for the demands of others. Regardless, they were the ones who had the power to sanction in the case of a refusal, and sometimes they were accused of sending singers to what they pretended were unpaid engagements, while, in fact, they were acting as agents and would keep the payment for themselves.21 Threats do not even have to be spoken out loud, everybody knows about the consequences of noncompliance. Two radio hosts told me at a dinner in 2008 about a recent incident of this kind: Singer [X] left her own birthday party to sing at a wedding of a friend of mine who married someone from the Ministry of Culture. KK: Did she do that because she hoped for some advantages from the government’s side? A: No, you just can’t refuse. You are obliged. Someone called her. KK: Could she not just have turned off her phone on that evening or ignored the call? B: This is of no use. If they want to find you, they will find you anyway. (08.2008) A:

Compulsory performances at weddings or other private festivities on personal request affected male and female artists alike. For female singers, however, they were certainly the lesser evil, as personal requests could also involve sexual favours. The few people who spoke openly about this topic with me may have differed in the degree of directness with which they talked about sexual exploitation on the part of state officials, but they all described it as a rather endemic ill – and an open secret. Also outside the estrada scene, women’s stories about sexual harassment and blackmail in interaction with government representatives are widespread. These accounts and

Authorising estrada  221 my own experiences during fieldwork with advances by senior state staff, although just a very faint echo of what female friends of mine confided in me as having suffered in this respect, left little doubt about at least the plausibility of even the most horrendous rumours. During most of the period of my fieldwork a senior official in estrada administration had a notorious reputation for treating younger female artists as his personal singing harem. Apart from trading licences or a place in the line-up of Independence Day for sex, it was also claimed that he not only demanded certain singers for his own pleasure, but he also passed them on to other men. A senior member of staff at the Conservatory with whom I was speaking about the difficulties women face when embarking on a career in estrada provided details about how these personal requests function. She explained this in a very matter-of-fact way, as if relating something as mundane as preparations for a picnic: “He calls her and says ‘Get ready, I will send you a car in 15 minutes.’ She sings for his gap [circle of friends] and then they all have sex with her” (11.2005). What she refers to is a sexual practice which, according to male Uzbek friends, has its own designation in Uzbek – pochcha [brother-in-law] – and denotes a group of men having sex with the same woman one after another. They described it as part of male bonding and a sign of good friendship. Whoever spoke with me about this topic also had a good idea about which young female singers were currently dealing with this or similar kinds of harassment – and who managed to keep aloof, mostly by being constantly watched, escorted and shielded by male relatives. For understandable reasons, none of the female artists involved would have spoken about this – and I never asked them. Another singer, who was trying to stay out of these situations, was rather outspoken and very agitated when talking about the subject: The people who sit on the posts of control of art, for example, [at] O’zbeknavo, they follow personal interests … If I do not greet [him], he will put me under a ban [pod zapret otdayët]. Things do not work that way, in art, they do not work that way. It is better not to work at all then … He summons the girls who sing to the sauna. This is abuse [oskor­ bleniye]. It would be better not sing at all any more … It would be better to work somewhere else [lit.: on the side]. I will not, I do not like to hear scorn [izdatel’stvo]. I openly say that they scorn artists, everywhere, because I have self-respect … You understand, for me this is abuse. How is this possible? … Before I lose my honour [chest’], I would sooner not work in this system any more. My honour is important to me. I cannot discard my honour and endure [this]. I cannot … [go] to him to his birthday party, [go] to him to the sauna. (06.2004) Whatever this system of sexual harassment provoked, whether fear, disgust, compliance or resignation, it exposed the demand for milliy estrada and the

222  Authorising estrada issuance and suspension of licences to be an intricate game of double standards. State representatives privately enjoyed what they publicly condemned and officially prohibited: scanty, even Arab-style dress, suggestive dancing and allusive lyrics. This was all quite removed from milliy estrada, and under other circumstances a female singer caught in comparable pre- or extra-­marital sexual activities would have immediately lost her licence “on account of conduct”, which, certainly, do not fit the ideal of milliy Uzbek female morality.22 In comparison to this, the indecencies of which Ozoda Nursaidova was accused at the wedding described above, seem rather innocent. A young female singer vividly illustrated this paradox situation: They say, “You should dance, spin around.” But I say, “Sorry, I am a singer and not a dancer” [who are of worse moral reputation, at least in the context of weddings]. And when I started to dance, they say, “Oh, what has become of her?” And then [I say], “Sorry, this [was] your advice. You told me yourselves, and now you do not like it?” (11.2005) Besides undermining official claims of the importance and necessity of forging milliy estrada, the role of private interests and the weight of personal power in the context of licensing quite noticeably contributed to disillusionment with how things estrada are dealt with “at the state level” in reality, as opposed to the frequently invoked imagined ideal, described in Chapter 4. Whereas unofficial payments were usually seen as something rather normal on the part of singers, even if they complained about them, sexual harassment lay beyond the boundaries of normality. Interestingly, some O’zbeknavo officials, who certainly did not all engage in voracious sexual foraging among young female stars, described these practices that others associated with government staff to be instead characteristic of the sphere of shou biznes, using nearly identical phrases and expressing just as much moral dismay. Exploitative dependencies are indeed a feature of the commercial side of estrada, too, and politics and business are often closely intertwined. In fact, it is impossible to fully understand the successes and failures of licensing procedures and government efforts to forge milliy estrada without a complementary look at shou biznes in Uzbekistan.

Shou biznes Unless singers, or their parents or other relatives, have sufficient means themselves, they are dependent on financial support to start or advance their careers in estrada. They need songs, they need to record songs, they need to shoot clips, they need to pay for their songs and clips to be broadcast, for coverage in newspapers and magazines, for stage costumes, etc. Until 2013, when Gulnora Karimova’s businesses were liquidated, one option for securing this support was to get signed either by her corporation,

Authorising estrada  223 Terra, or by Tarona Rekords, the other big Tashkent media enterprise, both of which, apart from being recording companies, also had their own media outlets – Tarona in radio, Terra in radio, TV and print. Tarona was still in business in 2018, but the second, and much more common option, is to find a sponsor, either a private individual who is interested in producing one or several estrada singers or a company that is unrelated to estrada but invests in artists. At the time of my fieldwork there was, for example, a window manufacturer, Akfa, which sponsored a number of newcomers, and a student from the Conservatory was funded by the Mining and Smelting Plant in the city of Navoiy. Sometimes the roles of sponsor and producer overlap, but often they are separate and singers may have both. Ultimately, none of these forms of support has altruistic or necessarily artistic motives; they are oriented towards producing revenue and maybe bestowing some show business glamour on the sponsoring party. And unless it promises profit, milliy estrada is not a priority. While all or most of the expenses mentioned above are covered by the record company or private or corporate sponsor, contracts vary mainly in the rights and the income they grant to singers. In the case of recording companies, singers may or may not have a share in record sales, they may keep all their earnings from weddings or just a certain percentage, or they will only get a fixed salary, while all income generated by them at these events flows to the company (Figure 6.2).23 Corporate and private sponsors who do not directly profit from record sales always take a portion of the earnings from weddings, again either a percentage or by paying singers a salary. In 2008, I knew of an estrada duo who had a 20 per cent share of the money earned by them; in 2014, a friend told me of a male singer with very high reyting who was bound for several more years by a contract leaving him only 10 per cent of his wedding income. All singers I spoke to agree that finding financial support is a difficult task, as contracts, which are often concluded only orally, always operate on a power imbalance and dependency which can be, and often is, exploited – ­financially, but also sexually. A journalist described some of these sponsorship deals in estrada as a disguise for forced sex work; various people likened them to slavery and an O’zbeknavo official recounted the following story: I know a girl from Surxandaryo. She found a producer and I was present at the negotiations. He said, “I’ll get you a flat in Tashkent and pay you 40,000 so’m per month [ca. $35 at that time]. All income from weddings will be mine.” I advised her against this. Some time later, he came back with a new suggestion: “I’ll take you as my second wife.” (11.2005) Women who were already established in the estrada scene and financially independent were often outraged when they saw female newcomers with notorious producers, worrying about their reputation and their future chances of becoming a respected wife and mother. But, as a government representative

224  Authorising estrada

Figure 6.2  A record store on Bobur Street, 2006

told me, there are quite a number of women too who take the role of dubious sponsors. She said: “Of course, she can’t take the girl as her second or third or fourth wife herself, but she will tell her ‘You will be the second or third or fourth wife of this man’” (03.2004). Private producer-artist relationships are certainly more prone to sexual abuse, but contracts with record companies, which do not commonly degenerate into physical forms of exploitation, can also turn out to be disastrous for artists. In 2004/2005, the popular three-girl-group Setora wanted to change the terms of their contract after having been with Tarona for several years. According to some people I spoke to, it stipulated a comparably meagre salary, while according to others, they were given only a small percentage from wedding revenue. Tarona refused and terminated the collaboration, but they kept the group’s name, all their songs and the rights to them. Shortly afterwards, it cast three new girls for a group of the same name, who, from then on, performed the songs of the former Setora to plyus versions recorded by their eponymous predecessors. The original group renamed themselves Setanho. However, they had not only lost their repertoire, which had made them famous, and needed a new one, but they had difficulties in placing recordings and clips for promo. Tarona would not broadcast them, neither would Terra, the result of a contractual agreement between the two companies, nor would any other station linked to Terra.

Authorising estrada  225 For the same reason, Terra would not sign them, and they could not even draw on composers and poets who were somehow bound to Tarona. This basically was the end of their career in Uzbekistan, and they turned to the Kazakh market instead.24 Ethnomusicologists who have done research in Uzbekistan have been rather positive about what is often described as the renaissance of private patronage in music. Their focus has been on the classical traditions, and although I have heard some stories about sexual harassment in that sphere, too, the situation may be different from the world of estrada in many respects. Theodore Levin writes of “neo-feudalism with a human face” in this c­ ontext, and although there are artist-producer/sponsor relationships in estrada that could be labelled as such or even described as very respectful, correct and fruitful collaborations, many estrada artists I know would rather scrap the “human face” part of this phrase (Levin 1996a: 30; see Levin 1993: 57). They certainly do not hail the reincarnation of patronage relations in shou biznes as a fortunate return to older local forms of music economy that had unfortunately been suppressed during the Soviet era, or as welcome steps in a transition towards a capitalist normality. For them, these relations, and the withdrawal of the state, which enabled and necessitated them, are instead part of a transformation which they experience as de-­normalisation or de-modernisation, of moving backwards towards feudal conditions, which socialism once set out to combat (see Brandtstädter 2007: 142; Tochka 2016: 184f.). Women in the sphere of estrada in particular often commented on the patriarchal and exploitative structures, which many of these patronage relations entailed, and linked them to a general – and, from their perspective, problematic – re-traditionalisation of society since independence. Based on their own experiences with the commercial side of estrada or stories told by their colleagues, many artists do not much trust that Uzbek shou biznes will develop in a way that would offer them better conditions, at least not until the government re-establishes a functioning system of copy­ right protection and royalty payments. As noted above, even though governmental estrada administration shows no promising signs of providing a more pleasant working environment any time soon, an astonishing number of people fantasised about the advantages of a centralised state-led recording and production company. Whereas I do not see that this would necessarily decrease levels of coercion, dependencies or harassment, many of my interlocutors again drew from an ideal understanding of work “at the state level” rather than an assessment of actual conditions and structures. Their fantasy was thus free from all the current ills of estrada administration (see Chapter 4). While their motivation is mostly very different, their call for stronger government presence curiously echoed O’zbeknavo’s demand for more influence in shou biznes in order to better forge milliy estrada. Producers and sponsors as well as representatives of media companies, while certainly profiting from partial deregulation in estrada, were not necessarily happy with the current situation either – but for different reasons.

226  Authorising estrada As already mentioned in Chapter 4, they found the remaining state involvement inappropriate for the postsocialist situation and frequently lamented the obligatory and – for them – financially unprofitable engagement of their protégés in government concerts as well as the demand that performers adhere to the mandate of milliy estrada. On the whole, I met no one who was really content with the present system of music economy or who saw Uzbekistan’s “own path of renewal and progress” in this sphere as having transited to a successful endpoint, a state of normality. Some looked backwards for a normality they considered to be universal, as opposed to a specifically Soviet socialist one; others looked abroad for a normality they considered universal, as opposed to a specifically (neo-)liberal capitalist one. Among the latter were those who were confident that the current model was only provisional and would eventually lead them to this end point. “But we are not ready for it yet”, a member of staff at the Ministry of Culture told me in 2004. And then there were others who experienced the contemporary situation in estrada as a stagnation, as a transition that had got stuck. Most, however, did not particularly care about glances backwards, abroad or much further ahead. They were busy enough coping with the circumstances that they somehow took for granted as constituting the currently normal life in music. Where does all this actually leave milliy estrada in musical life – a system of licensing which, in theory, seems tailored to advance its development, but turns out to be considerably less efficient in practice, and a shou biznes which pursues commercial aims? I will conclude this chapter with exploring milliy estrada’s status in the wider field of estrada in contemporary Uzbekistan and also look at its Soviet pre-history.

The status of milliy estrada and its Soviet pre-history The frequency of suspensions – or even the existence of the licence system as such – as well as constant lamentations in the Uzbek press about the bad state of estrada could easily lead one to conclude that milliy estrada is very difficult to promote.25 One might even go a step further and, assuming a classic antagonism of state vs. artists, posit that the whole project is met with great reluctance by estrada singers and, possibly, not endorsed either by the audience. While milliy estrada certainly does not provoke only unrestricted enthusiasm, and I will come back to this below, it would be wrong to conclude it is met with general antipathy or even a reason for embarrassment or remorse, as an attempt to read the situation according to Michael Herzfeld’s concept of cultural intimacy would suggest (Herzfeld 2016: 11). As already hinted at above, the repertoire of many estrada singers naturally happens to be milliy, at least to a great extent. Musically, this is just how they imagine Uzbek estrada to be: rooted in folk or classical traditions and sung in Uzbek. This is also how most wedding parties imagine their evening entertainment to be. As truly intergenerational events, they demand a kind

Authorising estrada  227 of compromise in music and content that will serve the taste of the younger generation, but not offend the aural and moral sensibilities of the highly respected elders, who often join in the dancing just as their grandchildren do. The popular practice of birrov, described earlier, that is, artists performing only a two-to-four song set and then leaving again, offers a good opportunity to achieve this kind of compromise while furnishing wedding parties with a certain variety. It allows organisers to present a row of acts that do not directly require consensus, but focus on particular age or taste groups instead. This turnover in style might leave younger guests bored with some old-fashioned estrada for the first 20 minutes, while elders might be equally bored or even shocked in the next 20 minutes by a kind of youth slang music sketch. Musical consensus is thus not a continuous factor, but will be reached over the whole length of the evening. I have found elderly people in Uzbekistan much more open to all kinds of music than their peers at comparable festivities in Germany and considerably more relaxed when faced with hours of pop music at ear-splitting volume. Still, they would not like a wedding to turn into an evening of rap, rock and techno or approve of a litany of offensive lyrics – neither would anyone else I met, regardless of age. Consequently, much of what the concept of milliy estrada entails in terms of music, language, content and even dress, widely resonates with the audience’s expectations and with the ideas many artists have about their music. Furthermore and as already mentioned above, several artists I talked to stressed the political necessity of milliy estrada as a musical symbol of Uzbekistan, but also as a tool in uniting the nation. Some spoke about their duty, a few about their pride in contributing to this kind of musical ­nation-building, which, of course, finds its culmination in vatan songs, songs about the homeland. This young female singer of top reyting was very explicit about this: You were awarded the title Distinguished Artist this year … How did this come about? With what did you serve Uzbekistan? Oh, what did we do? We sang patriotic songs, we called [prizyvali] the people to patriotism, young people. Because musicians have a measure of influence on young people. Well, it is everywhere the same, when little boys and girls see an ideal, yes, they think. I am of the opinion that our state gave me the opportunity to take up my favourite profession. And I, as any other patriot, am just obliged to repay my dues [prosto obyazana vozdat’ dolzhnoye]. So, for example, I have written patriotic songs, where I have called for and tried to evoke [prizyvala i pytalas’ vyzvat’] patriotic feelings in our young people. (09.2005)

KK: X:

Of course, I cannot know for sure that with this statement she was not just reeling off expected phrases of political engagement. But as she was otherwise openly critical of procedures in estrada administration, I have

228  Authorising estrada little reason to doubt her sincerity – or that of others who pronounced similar views on duty and commitment. It would thus be misleading to dismiss milliy estrada as nothing more than a brainchild of culture politics, an official ploy to bother artists, co-opt them for an unpopular state project and annoy audiences with sonified patriotism in the form of vatan songs. It would be equally misleading, however, to disregard the existence of various forms of discontent related to the concept of milliy estrada and dissatisfaction with its implementation. Most people outside O’zbeknavo and the Ministry of Culture consider the official expectation that an artist’s entire repertoire, or even all of Uzbek estrada, be milliy to be wrong – and constricting. Even if they are convinced that milliy estrada should exist in Uzbekistan, that the country needs milliy estrada and maybe even in great quantities, the majority of my interlocutors wished for more variety in estrada, not necessarily in the form of an increase in foreign music imports, which are widely available and broadcast anyway, but also and even particularly in terms of local production. Some singers I spoke to want to pursue experiments for artistic reasons and find themselves restricted by the milliy estrada mandate, but also by their economic dependence on weddings, which tends to tip the scope of musical options more strongly towards danceable songs. Several singers, but also other people I spoke to, complained about the necessity for estrada artists having to perform at weddings, in order to earn an income. In their view, it was unfair for the government to criticise them for hastily produced songs and a low “artistic level”, when the current system did not offer them the opportunity to financially support themselves in any other way. If, for example, they received royalties from radio play instead of having to pay for it and if concerts were a vehicle for earning as opposed to investing money, they said, they would be happy to spend more time thinking about and producing music. Ultimately, they blamed the government for not establishing a better system. They were supported in this by some composers I spoke to, who lamented the absolute absence of any protection of authors’ rights. When asked about the frequency of his wedding engagements, a famous singer, who was known to almost always sing live, answered as follows: Twice for four hours daily. During the day and in the evening. If you are a well-known person and you mingle with the people, you get tired of the people. Well, it is like that: They make a palov [Uzbek national dish], they drag you there. From this you get tired, unnecessary things. If you do not go, they are offended, [thinking] that he does not acknowledge us. Such things. If we had other revenues from other sources … then we would say “I do not go here, I do not want to, I go there.” (10.2005) Not everybody has artistic goals in mind, however, when complaining about the narrow frame of milliy estrada. Other singers want to widen the stylistic

Authorising estrada  229 range of their repertoire on purely commercial grounds and, for example, respond to the audience’s penchant for Turkish and Iranian estrada, which count as lighter, faster and more energetic than their Uzbek counterpart. For them, furnishing Turkish hits with Uzbek lyrics is a way to earn good money with little effort, while also being attractive for wedding parties. Most, however, endorse variety for both artistic and commercial reasons, and quite a few hope to enter markets abroad with a specifically Uzbek version of pop, rock, rap, electronic music or jazz. Apart from incomprehension or even rejection of the idea that all Uzbek estrada should be milliy according to the meaning promoted by the government, and aside from the fact that the concept itself is so ambiguous, there is also dissatisfaction with the narrowness in the understanding of the concept milliy in the first place. Several people I spoke to wondered why milliy could not accommodate more styles, more types of – or more realistic – content and more diverse performances and costumes on stage. Those who had experienced Soviet estrada themselves, or just knew about its socialist life, tended to refer to the shape and status of the genre in the Uzbek SSR as a role model. They pointed to singers like Botyr Zakirov or the VIA Yalla, who had been successful not only in the Soviet Union but also in the rest of the eastern European socialist world – and even beyond. Yalla’s performances in the East Berlin Friedrichstadtpalast, and especially Botyr Zakirov’s concert in Paris’s Olympia in 1966, were often cited in this context as proof of the extraordinary attractiveness of Uzbek estrada in the period from the late 1950s to the 1980s and as evidence of its international reach. People welcomed the fact that Yulduz Usmanova and Sevara Nazarkhan had entered the world music scene in the 1990s and 2000s respectively, but many of those I talked to did not consider this to be an equally successful foray into, as they called it, “world estrada”. They argued that world music was only a kind of e­ thno-niche of the global music market and not its centre, where Uzbek artists would be in the same league as real stars like Madonna, Céline Dion and Mariah Carey, just as Botyr Zakirov had allegedly been with Edith Piaf and Yalla with Alla Pugachova.26 In the context of discussions about milliy estrada, however, it is the music that allowed Uzbek estrada’s earlier success that is really important. What was promoted as the specifically Uzbek brand of Soviet estrada was, in fact, not at all strictly Uzbek. As I explained earlier, singers, composers, arrangers, poets, stage and costume designers all drew rather freely on elements from other Asian countries, commonly called the “foreign east/orient” or “foreign Asia” [zarubezhnyy vostok / zarubezhnaya Aziya], to create a kind of diffuse internal orient within the Soviet Union – aurally and visually. Sometimes this was a timeless orient, sometimes an orient in the process of modernisation, but it was very successful in both versions. In addition to arrangements of Uzbek folk songs or newly composed pieces in Uzbek and Russian in the repertoire of Botyr Zakirov and his

230  Authorising estrada sister Luiza Zakirova in the 1960s, for example, there were songs from Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, India, Indonesia, Korea, Afghanistan and the ­Soviet republics Tajikistan and Azerbaijan (Bekov 1994: 48; Yusupov 1990: 14; 2004: 45).27 They sang these songs in a new arrangement for estrada-­ symphony orchestra, but in the original language, mostly dressed in a dark suit and short cocktail dress, but occasionally also alluding to their songs’ places of origins in their stage outfits (Video 6.4). Apart from gaining popularity with his rendition of these “eastern” songs, Uzbek ones among them, Botyr Zakirov also won fame for a cover version of Enrico Macias’ 1964 French hit Les Filles de Mon Pays. Shows in the Tashkent Music Hall like The Travels of Sindbad the Sailor – or Oriental Fairy Tale (1973), based on motifs from the Arabian Nights fables, or Yalla’s concert programme The Teahouse Forever (1988), all ­referenced a general orient into which everything specifically Uzbek was subsumed.28 In the 1980s, when Yalla rose to fame as a VIA and swapped the big orchestral sound for a classical band line-up of drums, percussion, keyboard, guitar and bass, enhanced with some Uzbek or other Asian instruments, they increased the number of newly composed songs. But also these tended to d ­ epict a diffuse orient rather than something recognisably and unmistakably Uzbek, such as Yalla’s undoubtedly most popular song “The Musical Teahouse” [Muzykal’naya Chaykhana] (Video 6.5). Even when they took their titles from Uzbek cities, songs continued to draw on rather unspecific oriental connotations. Knowing this, it is less surprising that the video clip for Yalla’s early 1980s song “The Blue Domes of Samarkand” [Golubyye Kupola Samarkanda] was actually shot in Almaty, then Alma-ata, in the Kazakh SSR. And as they were mostly geared towards a Russian-­speaking audience, many of the original estrada songs at that time were written in Russian. Anything genuinely Uzbek might have been absorbed into the general “orientalness” of much of estrada in the Uzbek SSR with its covers of songs from across the Arab world and much of Asia and its new compositions that textually, often musically and, in clips or performances, also visually referenced an imagined orient. Still, this whole mixture was widely labelled and received as Uzbek – simply by equating the oriental with the national. In his PhD thesis, written in 1990, Leonid Yusupov almost consistently uses the terms “national” and “oriental” interchangeably, and when he describes how the two concepts collapsed into one, it becomes clear that this is essentially an effect of the Russian perspective on Uzbek estrada. Ultimately, he attributes it to a lack of ability to differentiate: For the listener, who has been socialised on the musical tradition of European polyphony, the performance of Uzbek, Tajik, Lebanese, Afghan or Arab melodies is associated with the understanding of ‘music of the East/Orient’, but if performed by the estrada orchestra of Uzbekistan and its soloists, it becomes Uzbek estrada music … Turning to the music

Authorising estrada  231 of the peoples of the East/Orient furthered the reconsideration of the canons of making estrada music, it enriched the intonatsiya sphere of Uzbek estrada music, determined its specificity and national traits. (Yusupov 2004: 51, 74)29 One could, of course, conclude that in this self-orientalisation the Soviet Uzbek estrada scene was just a victim of a power imbalance, forced to please Russian eyes and ears with the sights and sounds of imaginary journeys through the orient.30 But one could also claim that by musically and visually travelling the orient, estrada in the Uzbek SSR mobilised a sort of alternative “friendship of peoples”, which maintained transnational cultural ties dating from pre-Soviet times, and in so doing, clearly transcended the ideological frame and geopolitical space of socialism (see Levin 1984: 100f.).31 Uzbek estrada of the Soviet era is still extremely popular under the label retro, and some of its greatest stars, such as Yalla, are still around and active. Whether estrada in the Uzbek SSR was already milliy is a subject of ­discussion – or rather, a subject, on which discussions are best avoided, at least with respect to the government. Questions like “Would you call Botyr Zakirov’s oeuvre milliy estrada?” always provoked a noticeable unease among officials, and most tried to evade an answer. Given the fact that the Soviet era has been more or less scrapped from official historiography (see Chapter 7), this was not surprising. On the other hand, I would have expected art forms like estrada, which are clearly a Soviet heritage, but still positively received, to have been furnished with a consistent and more or less convincing official pre-history that evens out any possible contradictions. This, however, has not been done yet. The following passage quite clearly illustrates the problem the government has in accommodating estrada’s past in light of the new mandate for milliy estrada: [I]t is far from our mind to imply that professional composers have only just begun to master [o’zlashtirilishi] the art of musical estrada or that the creation of works based on milliylik has only just started. The reason is that even before the independence era the works of a number of composers (arrangers) …, even if [these works were] only small in number, included numerous pieces relying on milliylik. So, in those days, even if only to a small degree, searches [izlanishlar] into milliylik began to be visible in the works of various composers. (Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev & Norbo’toev 2006: 9, emphasis added) Uzbek musicologists Olim Bekov and Davlat Mullajonov formulated a more clearly positive assessment, writing of various Soviet-era composers and performers that “thanks to [their] works the basis for a firm foundation of contemporary Uzbek estrada singing art was laid, it [estrada] came to possess perfect professional-artistic qualities” (2001: 140).

232  Authorising estrada In any case, when I spoke to government staff, no one clearly labelled Uzbek estrada of the Soviet era as milliy, and it was very obvious that the topic was a difficult one. In these conversations, however, the Soviet-era penchant for musics of the east in Uzbek estrada was always praised as a highly artistic interpretation and categorically differentiated from the current taste for Turkish or Iranian music among estrada singers, whose approach was dismissed as amateurish imitation. Despite this, I am convinced that the majority of original estrada songs from the Uzbek SSR with their pan-oriental approach and the many covers of Asian and Arab songs, would not qualify as milliy estrada today and would, if presented as new songs, threaten their singers with licence suspensions or at least warnings – as would some of the stage clothing worn by Soviet-era female estrada performers from the 1960s through the 1980s, for being far too revealing and thus sexy. For most people outside of O’zbeknavo and other government organs, however, Tashkent estrada productions in the Soviet era were specifically ­Uzbek and thus, if we can retrospectively apply a term that was not ­commonly used then, certainly or at least sufficiently milliy estrada – r­ egardless of all the influences they incorporated. In this widely shared view, these incorporations had enriched the genre while still leaving it recognisably Uzbek, and particularly for those who remember life in the Soviet Union, these songs demonstrated an important commitment to the “friendship of peoples”, which they valued. A senior member of staff at the Conservatory said: “Of course, estrada in the Uzbek SSR was milliy. Now it is less rich” (02.2004). In any case, most people I spoke to consider the period from the 1960s to the 1980s to be the genre’s golden age, and Soviet-era estrada has a firm place in the curricula of the Conservatory’s estrada faculty.32 In its current, thoroughly Uzbekicised understanding, the concept of milliy estrada no longer leaves much room for accommodating other musics, and for many people I talked to, this narrowly national turn means a step back, a move towards provincialism. A formerly high-ranking official in Soviet Uzbek estrada called milliy estrada, as it is currently promoted, “just contemporary Uzbek songs plus electronics, which do not deserve the name estrada any more” (08.2008). One of the top stars of Soviet-era Uzbek estrada was even rather cynical about it: Milliy estrada? This is only something for Uzbekistan, but we want to present Uzbekistan to the world. On the other hand, now Uzbekistan is the world. After all, on the globe on Independence Square there is nothing but Uzbekistan. (02.2004) For many singers I talked to, the provincialism implicated in the mandate for milliy estrada – or in the narrow understanding of the term milliy – was part of a more encompassing sense of parochialism. Most explicitly articulated by those who had begun their careers in the Soviet era, but also by

Authorising estrada  233 some younger artists, the impression that the world has become smaller since independence was quite widespread. Usually hailed as having brought increased mobility, greater freedom and more exchange, independence has, in the experiences of many Uzbeks, within and beyond the world of estrada, restricted them in many respects and even deepened their isolation. What Madeleine Reeves has termed – and criticised – as “celebratory narratives of post-Soviet emancipation” (2011: 310) are very common in the world music coverage of Central Asian music. World Music: The Rough Guide claims that “[s]ince the last century the region has been largely isolated, due to its incorporation into the Russian and then Soviet empire, but things are changing in the post-Soviet era” (Sultanova & Broughton 2000: 24). In a similar vein, Sevara Nazarkhan’s 2004 Real World album Yol Bolsin [sic] was hailed as “the first fusion of Uzbek and Western musical culture” from a region which is “opening up to the world again” by Garth Cartwright for the BBC.33 Considering the fact that for about seven decades the Uzbek SSR was basically a laboratory for fusing Uzbek and western music, these claims are hard to sustain. The hardening of boundaries within the former Soviet space from intrastate borders between constituent republics to international state borders hinders movement considerably (see Megoran 2017a; 2017b; Reeves 2014). It is made even more difficult by strict visa regulations for many destinations that were previously part of the Soviet Union, to say nothing of the only recently abolished requirement that one secure an exit visa from the government in the first place. Countries outside the former socialist bloc are, of course, technically easier to reach now, but, again, border regimes render many of them almost as inaccessible as before. Touring outside Uzbekistan is thus cumbersome and for many artists basically impossible, all the more so now that the government has withdrawn from promoting Uzbek estrada beyond its borders by organising trips abroad, to say nothing of the fact that musical administrative networks within the former socialist realm broke down with the end of the Soviet Union. Finally, time and again and obviously with increasing success, O’zbeknavo tried to prevent estrada artists from travelling to countries with whom Uzbekistan had problematic diplomatic relations (see Chapter 7), thus further curbing their mobility. On top of that, concerts by foreign artists are rarer now than they were in the Uzbek SSR, when Tashkent was one of the main stops on their so-called gastroli. Older artists, in particular, but also scholars and composers, tend to complain about a lack of international exchange and a feeling of insularity. One of the stars of 1960s and 1970s estrada summed up a long monologue on what he found to be the dissatisfactory current situation with the comment: “We are left to stew in our own sauce” – a metaphor I often heard in interviews and conversations (07.2004). Of all the Central Asian capitals, Tashkent might have been hit the hardest by these changes. It was not only the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union, which was a source of pride for its inhabitants, but, as Laura Adams rightfully remarks,

234  Authorising estrada In the post-war era of prosperity and Soviet expansionism, Tashkent became the model city of third-world cultural and economic development, serving as an example for Marxist regimes and political parties around the world. It also served as a model of internationalism in culture, hosting the Soviet Union’s main film festivals, art exhibitions, and writers’ conferences attended by artists from all over Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Thus, cultural modernization in Soviet Uzbekistan, perhaps more than in other places, was accompanied by a strong emphasis on internationalism in art. (Adams 2005: 341) A theatre director confirmed all of this in an interview: Tashkent was one of the cultural capitals of the Soviet Union. There were things that a capital could have, [those] for a city and for villages. Tashkent was in the first category … Foreign performers, of whom there were not many, travelled only to Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Tashkent. Benny Goodman was in Tashkent, Paul Robeson was in Tashkent. This [was] a major city in the Soviet Union, so it should also have access to foreign performers, including Japanese estrada, “days of music”. When I grew up, I heard Emil Gilels from among the famous [performers]. I was at a concert where Rodion Shchedrin conducted … Now, Uzbekistan … is a little Soviet Union for poor people. (09.2004)34 Of course, there is often quite a thick coating of embellishing nostalgia in reminiscences about the Soviet era. And certainly, the life of an estrada amateur in a provincial Uzbek SSR town who did not manage to become a professional artist was very different than the lives official stars at that time enjoyed in Tashkent, with all their privileges in terms of travel, lifestyle and, of course, glamour. Even so, even those people who had just been part of the estrada audience in the Soviet era in Uzbekistan, perceived the current situation as something of a downgrade. This was not necessarily the same complaint as the government’s grievances about the rise of amateurism in estrada.35 These older people’s impression of decline was linked instead to a much grander context: the status of their home country in the world. Several of my contacts maintained – and regretted – that the unsolicited and sudden change from being a citizen of the Soviet Union to being a citizen of Uzbekistan entailed an immense drop in prestige. In their view, the breakdown of the Soviet Union left them in a country without any notable standing in the world. One older estrada singer was particularly explicit about this: The Soviet Union, I mean, what a country this was! Big and powerful, everyone was in awe. If you said, “I am an artist from the Soviet Union”, that was something. You were something. But now? “I am from

Authorising estrada  235 Uzbekistan.” What kind of impression does this make? Most people do not even know where it is. (07.2004) From his perspective, he and his colleagues performed a specifically and recognisably Uzbek version of estrada in the Soviet era. But this estrada, and he himself, were part of and represented something larger and grander, Soviet estrada, which, in turn, had – or was at least thought to have – an honourable place in “world estrada”. Now, in his perception, left to fend for itself, Uzbek estrada struggled and, in his view, had so far not managed to recapture the status it had earlier enjoyed thanks to the supporting framework of Soviet estrada. Just like Uzbekistan as a country, its estrada was of little significance in the contemporary world. And for him, the narrow mandate of milliy estrada was the soundtrack to this provincialism, representing and cementing the state’s insularity.

Successes and failures As powerful an instrument for forging milliy estrada into audible state ­insignia as it might seem on paper (and sometimes also in practice) – the issuance and suspension of licences and certificates have proved to be of only limited success, if judged from the official imaginary governmental ideal that “all Uzbek estrada should be milliy”. For various reasons, there is still a lot of non-milliy estrada around in Uzbekistan. One reason is built-in inefficiencies and loopholes in the mechanisms of licensing which enable artists to produce and distribute estrada which does not adhere to the tenets of ­milliylik. Another reason is the willingness of government officials and – at least, if it is to their advantage – the willingness of artists to bypass the proper legal procedures (see Chapter 1) in favour of dealings on a personal level and with estrada-unrelated aims, which open up room for diverse manoeuvres, among them stylistic ones. A third reason is the existence of shou biznes as a commercial player in the sphere of Uzbek estrada, which usually supports the production of milliy estrada only, if it is financially profitable. A fourth reason is the simple fact that the ambiguities in the concept itself lead to a situation where someone’s milliy estrada is non-milliy for others. Contrary to what the elaborate policies and the various difficulties in their implementation might suggest, milliy estrada is actually very popular in Uzbekistan – among estrada artists as well as their audiences, especially at weddings – and much of estrada is rather naturally milliy without government intervention. Beyond personal taste, for a lot of people in Uzbekistan, it is just normal – or even necessary – for an independent nation state to have its own musical state emblem such as milliy estrada. Many artists even consider the system of licensing the normal way for a state to handle estrada and create a state sound, at least in theory. What most artists do not judge as normal, however, is the way, this system of licensing works in

236  Authorising estrada practice, being thwarted by government officials up to outright harassment, even if the same artists might at times profit from the bending of rules and the dispersal of power this bending can entail. Another point of criticism of licensing procedures is the narrow focus on milliy estrada – and even more so the narrow understanding of the term milliy itself. This resentment is widely shared, by artists and audience but also by other people involved in estrada, including some government officials, who all prefer more stylistic variety within the field of estrada than what milliy estrada allows – and here lies the final reason for the at least partial failure of policies to guarantee milliy estrada more prominence. This criticism is often coupled with positive references to estrada in the Uzbek SSR, which, by incorporating a variety of Asian and Arabic influences might have been more pan-oriental than specifically Uzbek in sound, text and visuals from today’s perspective, but was still claimed and marketed as a truly national representative of estrada – and very successful outside the republic. Compared to this Soviet brand of national Uzbek estrada, rich with foreign elements, today’s more Uzbekicised milliy estrada may seem sonically drab. But more importantly, for many of its critics, milliy estrada is the sonic incarnation of what they perceive to be a provincial, backward and isolated country – Uzbekistan, carved out of the remnants of a formerly great and important state, the Soviet Union. Although the idea of sonic incarnation is central to the Uzbek government’s take on milliy estrada, what it should epitomise in sound is very different in official perspective. In the next and final chapter, I will look at why milliy estrada is considered politically so important and how it is thought to work – and move from the question, what the Uzbek government under Islom Karimov did to forge estrada into state sound to the question to why it selected this genre for the task.

Notes 1 From 2005 until 2013, Gulnora Karimova was sporadically active as an estrada singer under the pseudonym Googoosha, not to be mistaken for the Iranian singer Googoosh. She produced two albums, and her songs and video clips were first and foremost aired by the TV and radio stations belonging to her own media company. The song she recorded with Depardieu is called “Heaven Keeps Silent” [Nebo Molchit] (Video 6.1). 2 Accusations of meaninglessness were common in the Soviet era, too. A 1961 document produced by the Uzbek SSR’s Ministry of Culture, for example, orders about 50 songs to be withdrawn from the repertoires of various soloists and ensembles as “the texts of many vocal pieces are of low ideological-artistic quality [ideyno-khudozhestvennogo kachestva], meaningless [bezsoderzhatel’nyye] [sic], which without doubt has a negative effect on the education of the aesthetic tastes of the people” (Central State Archive; f. R 2366, o. 2, d. 236, l. 2). 3 For everyone involved in Uzbek estrada, it was clear from the beginning that Gulnora Karimova’s singing ventures were only the pastime of a “first daughter” and she certainly had no ambition to enter the regular estrada circuit and

Authorising estrada  237 its reyting machinery. In fact, Gulnora Karimova’s ambitions were very different and much loftier – for some time she was tipped as her father’s successor and she herself did much to fuel these rumours (see Chapter 4). Considering these very credible dynastic aims, her outings into estrada were judged to be rather unfortunate by absolutely everyone I talked with in Tashkent – not so much due to a lack of talent, but rather because of the morally dubious image of female estrada singers in Uzbek society, which she, as a prime player in Uzbek shou biznes at that time, was certainly aware of. Whoever took notice of her estrada caprice commented on the serious damage it inflicted on her popularity which she had enjoyed at least among parts of the population due to her charity work – mostly among the poor and elderly female. If she really had had any serious musical aims, which she at least pretended to have, they would have been internationally oriented, and to reach those, she would not even have had to bother about contenders in the domestic scene at all. 4 This anonymously published article has been moved to the following website in the meantime: (accessed 7 February 2018). 5 See (accessed 7 February 2018). 6 The original press release has been removed from O’zbeknavo’s homepage, but can still be found via an internet archive search engine: web/20130923064143/ (accessed 7 February 2018). 7 See (accessed 25 March 2017). 8 A totalitarianising strategy was also used in various press reports in October 2013 when singer Jasur Umirov had his licence suspended on the grounds of – ­allegedly – having feigned an illness in order to avoid having to perform for cotton pickers. Several headlines, in some cases even complete articles, were phrased in such a way as to suggest that the singer had actually been requested to pick cotton (see, for example (accessed 7 February 2018). While the provision of entertainment during the cotton harvest actually is included in the licence agreements, wrapped up in the duty “to participate in events determined by state and government” (see ­Chapters 1 and 3), picking cotton is not and I personally never heard of singers being sent to help as harvest hands by O’zbeknavo. 9 Under president Shavkat Mirziyoyev licensing will persist, but details about continuities and changes are not clear yet at the time of writing (March 2017). Here I present the system as it was in use at least until February 2017. 10 On the part of O’zbeknavo, the percentage of artists who actually were licensed was commonly deemed to be far too low. In 2005, a senior official said that from an estimated number of 5,000 active estrada artists in the country only 10–15 per cent were licensed. This was not because the applications of the remaining 90 per cent had been declined, but because most of them had never filed one. O’zbeknavo’s provincial branches in particular were often criticised for their laxity in licensing, and, if O’zbeknavo’s activity reports are to be believed, this criticism seems justified at least with respect to the first two years of the licensing system’s existence: In Karakalpakstan only one person had been licensed by June 2003, and together with those issued in the country’s 12 provinces, the number rose to a meagre 243, which equalled about 7 per cent of all artists estimated to be active outside Tashkent city (O’zbeknavo 2001–2003: 11). Using activity reports from 2001–2003, 2006 and 2007 as a basis for analysis, between 2001 and 2007, the total number of licensed artists varied between 654 (2006) and 971 (2003). Women made up only around 20 per cent of licensed artists, and the average age ranged between 24.6 (2006) and 28 (2003). In 2006 and

238  Authorising estrada


12 13



2007, there were almost twice as many licences of category 1 than of category 2, whereas in 2003 numbers were roughly equal (if we add the then still-existing category 3 to category 2). Rejections were 34 (2006) and 87 (2007). Licences given free of charge to newcomers were 34 (2006) and 67 (2007). This sounds like the standard voice of “concerned parents” or conservative members of the cultural elite, which at various times and in various places have condemned certain styles of popular music, pointed to their questionable origin and warned about their devastating effects on teenagers (see Vuletic 2008: 868). Also in the Soviet Union, the spectre of the morally and ideologically degrading influence, particularly of rock music – whether imported or locally produced – was always present. In 1987, rock was even labelled “the moral equivalent of AIDS” (Ramet, Zamascikov & Bird 1994: 189). For a more detailed insight into official criticism of rap in Uzbekistan, see Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev and Norbo’taev (2006: 39–42). In early 1990s Afghanistan, in contrast, authorities did break up wedding parties. While licences also played a role here, the issue was rather playing certain prohibited types of music (Baily 2009: 153f.). In this, Uzbekistan markedly differs from some other countries with a heavily administered music sector. In Iran, all recordings need a release permission of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (Nooshin 2009: 266), and in China, all music “appears on the market through a publishing house, and all the publishers are state-owned”, while piracy is endemic (de Kloet 2003: 170f.). From 1978 until the mid-1980s Yugoslavia followed a rather bizarre practice – not to control, but to qualitatively stratify the record market: Music that was considered of low quality was singled out by so-called “šund [trash] taxation committees” and released at a considerably higher price than music considered non-šund (Rasmussen 1995: 255). I cannot say whether khudsovet sessions at National TV and Radio are similarly lax, as I have never witnessed one. I would suspect, however, that they are conducted in a more formal manner; and I know that criteria for selection are stricter. I found most Uzbek estrada singers to be taking a stance similar to that described by Edward Larkey for several GDR bands: They were [not] willing to engage in political confrontation with the Party and jeopardize their professional careers for the sake of making a political point. Their primary interest was to maintain or expand their stature within the field of popular music while upholding their political integrity as subaltern participants.  (2005: 202)

16 In this, the situation of estrada artists in Uzbekistan under Karimov differed from that of Arabesk singers in 1980s Turkey, where a performance ban was total and forced many of the latter into exile (Stokes 1992a: 215). 17 For more background and detail on Nargiz Zakirova’s statements, see the web article “Nargiz Zakirova has Suffered Insults and Hostility in [Her] Homeland [Nargiz Zakirova podverglas’ oskorbleniyam i goneniyam na rodine]”, available at:шоу/343912 (accessed 7 February 2018). 18 Sanctions on the grounds of alleged misbehaviour were common already in the Uzbek SSR. At a meeting of the Uzgosfilarmoniya directorate in January 1957, for example, several artists were criticised for a lack of discipline, such as entering the stage with a dirty and torn suit and without shoes (Central State Archive f. R 2366, o. 2, d. 150, l. 1). In 1959, an Uzbek musician was jailed in Moscow for ten days for “drunkenness and hooliganism” (Central State Archive R. 2366, o. 2, d. 198, l. 15), in 1965, a singer was scolded for “unnecessary screams in the

Authorising estrada  239


20 21

22 23




form of ‘Jamaica’” on stage (Central State Archive f. R 2366, o. 2, d. 303, l. 28), and in 1977, a female singer had her salary cut for misbehaviour at a wedding (Central State Archive f. R 2366, o. 2, d. 529, l. 5). Outside estrada, however, in the field of lirika, suspensions have been even longer. Sherali Jo’raev, for example, suffered a decades-long ban on public performance under Islom Karimov and his songs became officially barred from radio. He remained, however, an extremely popular, respected and highly paid artist over all those years and his licence was recently reinstated. Dadakhon Hasanov’s – at least partially – similar fate has already been described above (see Chapter 2 and Kendzior 2007). See (accessed 7 February 2018). Ozoda Nursaidova changed her name to Ozoda Saidzoda in the 2000s. Hiromi Lorraine Sakata writes of similar treatment of musicians in late 1960s/ early 1970s Afghanistan (1983: 93), as does John Baily with regard to the 1990s (2009: 154). In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin was known to invite estrada singers to sing for him privately (MacFadyen 2002b: 25ff., 67). I never heard of Islom Karimov indulging in exclusive command performances of this kind at his residency. With reference to Afghanistan, John Baily describes a similar indulgence of the powerful in otherwise prohibited practice (Baily 2009: 163), as does Carol Silverman with reference to 1980s Bulgaria (2007: 76). In interviews and conversations, several singers whose contract guaranteed them a share in record sales, suspected recording companies of cheating them by falsifying sales numbers. See Silverman for similar complaints among Bulgarian musicians (1996: 241; 2007: 85). Kazakhstan is not only a good market for artists who suffer long-terms suspensions, but popular with almost any Uzbek estrada artist who manages to enter it due to the much higher level of payment. Everybody spoke about the fantastic profits Kazakhstan promises, even for restaurant singers, and although I could not verify this, a journalist claimed that Uzbek artists of very high reyting were able to earn up to $15,000 for one birrov. One scholar was already quite fed up with the constant criticism: “What they lament about now, [that] the music is bad, the lyrics are bad – these lamentations were around already 20 years ago and even earlier” (11.2005). And indeed, when sifting through the documents in the Central State Archive, I was surprised to come across so many familiar complaints. One frequent criticism in the Uzbek SSR, however, is certainly no longer around: That singers do not renew their repertoire often enough. There was no advantage in that when one received a regular state income, as in the Soviet era. But now, with dependence on the market, save for some all-time greats, novelty is important on the wedding circuit. However, not everyone was familiar with the rather narrow reach of world music, and I often encountered exaggerated ideas about the degree of fame that Uzbek estrada artists had achieved abroad. The nephew of a radio journalist said that he was proud that in the USA, posters for Yulduz Usmanova’s concerts were put up next to those of Michael Jackson. Also Sevara Nazarkhan’s popularity with western audiences was frequently imagined to have reached fantastic heights – “just like Madonna”, someone I met at a dinner remarked. In a similar vein, a musicologist claimed that Ravshan Namozov was “loved” in Germany and in the USA “negroes went to the shops to listen to him. They understand him” (01. 2004). But even long before world music had become a convenient marketing category for Uzbek music, Uzbek estrada was widely thought to have conquered western markets: “Everybody in the west knows Botyr Zakirov”, one senior member of Conservatory staff said.

240  Authorising estrada 27 Similar, albeit smaller concerts with a similar topic had already taken place much earlier. Olim Bekov mentions a concert with the title Oriental Evening in 1924 in Samarkand (Bekov 1994: 38), and in many respects, the estrada singers in the second half of the twentieth century continued what Tamara Khanum had become famous for in the first half: programmes devoted to Songs of the Peoples of the World. 28 For detailed descriptions and analyses of these concert programmes, see Yusupov (2004) and Bekov (1994). 29 Interestingly, Leonid Yusupov differentiates between the national and the oriental only when he accuses the Tashkent Music Hall of having been too generally oriental and too little specifically Uzbek (2004: 111). It remains unclear, however, what the criteria are on the basis of which he criticises the Music Hall, but praises the repertoire and concert programme of Yalla. 30 For orientalism in Russian composers’ approaches to “internationalising” Central Asian academic music, see Tomoff (2004) and Frolova-Walker (1998). 31 The orient had also a great presence in spheres beyond estrada in the Uzbek SSR. In 1972, for example, at the Conservatory, a Department for Eastern/­Oriental Music was established, where – as another instance of self-­orientalisation  – older Uzbek traditions were and still are studied alongside foreign musics. 32 In fact, at the Conservatory, the curricula expect estrada singing students to cover a wide range of the genre and do not restrict them to learning milliy estrada, although vatan songs are a fixed part of tuition. The BA state exam for estrada singing students, for example, requires them to master – and present – the following repertoire: Aria from a modern musical with elements of jazz improvisation. Vatan song by an Uzbek composer. Estrada romance or ballad. New original song by an Uzbek composer [original, meaning: no arrangement of a folk song]. Two dissimilar works in different languages with support of a vocal ensemble. 33 See shtml (accessed February 2018). See Merchant (2005b) for an analysis of Sevara Nazarkhan’s productions for the world music market compared to her local output. 34 On feelings and perceptions of provincialism and isolation after independence, see Weil and Djumaev (1998: 158), Adams (1998: 2; 2010: 80), Djumaev (2003: 30), Levin (1996a: 29) and Akbarov (1995: 28). 35 Alexander Djumaev is an explicit critic of what he sees as cultural devolution in Uzbekistan: [T]here is a general process of degradation, of cultural ‘banalisation’, a decline of the cultural level of the population … There is the possibility of either passing to a higher level of cultural changes or, renouncing what has already been achieved, to turn back.  (2003: 29f.) I will take a closer look at evolutionist approaches to cultural and socio-political development in Chapter 7.

7 Mobilising estrada Independence ideology, nationalist realism and the workings of milliy estrada

Tashkent, 2005 It is a late August afternoon, and I am sitting in the veranda of my flat, the standard sun porch in Soviet-era concrete architecture in Tashkent. Verandas usually turn into giant ovens if exposed to the sun in summer, and into oversize fridges, or even freezers, in winter. Mine did exactly this during my first winter in Tashkent one and a half years ago, when temperatures fell to minus 15 degrees, the frost covering the window panes with ice flowers and turning the water that I stored there into huge solid cubes. As soon as summer approached and hit the city, however, the veranda’s transformation veered off the habitual track. Being shielded by lush trees, whose longest branches brush the window grids when fanned by a faint breeze from the Ankhor canal in the near distance, the veranda stayed cool and shady even during summer chilla, the yearly 40-day heatwave in June and July. It felt like an oasis – or rather like a huge aquarium, having been painted a bright, shining turquoise, with wafting shadows on the irregularly plastered walls resembling the reflections of moving water in sunlight. I left Tashkent at the onset of autumn last year, finishing my first long period of fieldwork, and have returned yesterday for three months to the city – and to my old flat. I am happy to be here and I am excited. But as soon as I arrived, there was a familiar anxiousness creeping in, a feeling that had been a steady companion during my first stay and is related to the political situation in Uzbekistan, which has once more worsened since the year before. Most of today I have spent taking a long exploratory walk through Tashkent. As usual, with Independence Day approaching, the city centre has been full of activity, ranging from numerous brigades of town cleaners, rather leisurely clearing gutters or refreshing the paint on tree trunks, to myriads of workers on various building sites hurrying to gloss old ­buildings – or finish new buildings meant to be inaugurated in a few days as monuments to the country’s progress. Apart from just wanting to get a feel for the city again, my stroll also had a musical mission. Along the way, I have visited various record stores and bought the latest estrada output to catch up on what has happened in the scene during my absence.

242  Mobilising estrada Now, tired and with sore feet, in the pleasantly cool underwater-like world of the veranda, I am sitting, or rather sprawling, on my ko’rpachas – soft and colourful plushy cotton mattresses, probably the most important and most versatile items of furniture in Uzbek households. Amid streaks of light from the already sinking sun, with dozens of CDs spread around and a small CD player in front of me, I start to listen to what I have managed to capture in my first musical haul. More absent-minded than attentive, I am flipping from one song to the next. Some titles I have already heard on the radio, others at a restaurant where I had dinner yesterday, most are new to me, but nothing seems really extraordinary – nothing, until after three fast dance tracks a slow, whining and agonised-sounding accordion sets in. An ornamented melody, strangely meandering between being in and out of metre, punctuated by a patchy bassline and soon doubled by strings makes me listen more closely. I know, this is a song by Feruza Djumaniyozova, a young female singer from the province of Khorezm in the far west of the country, where the accordion has been a staple instrument in folk music ever since it reached the region via tsarist soldiers stationed in Orenburg in the nineteenth century. After a few bars, in a slightly restrained and hushed voice, Feruza Djumaniyozova starts to sing the following lyrics in Uzbek: If you ask of what lineage and origin I am – I am a beloved one of my free homeland, I am an Uzbek girl and a child of my holy Uzbekistan1 I am a truly dear one to my father and my mother2 I am a child of my blooming oasis home Khorezm. From what I can catch from the Khorezmian dialect, she then goes on to praise abundance in food, hospitality, respectful behaviour, socialising and music, before repeating the first and second line of the song several times until finally ending on: I am a child of Khorezm. I have heard dozens of these vatan songs before, songs that are spilled out in a thousand variations by competitions such as Vatanim Manim and standard fare at Independence Day and Navro’z. Up to now I have been interested in them, or rather in their existence, as a topic for research, but beyond professional attraction, on a more personal level, I have dismissed them as annoying, pathetic or kitschy – or all of those in one. And probably it has been my own disdain of nationalism that has led me to conclude that these vatan songs, with their blunt and clumsy patriotism, their blatant adulations of the president, their eulogies to the greatness of the country, its past and its future cannot possibly positively resonate with anyone or even have any patriotising effect. Those who have claimed the opposite were, I was sure, not to be believed.

Mobilising estrada  243 But now, lying in the darkening green of my veranda and listening to the last bars of Feruza Djumaniyozova’s O’zbegim, I am deeply moved – and I am embarrassed about it. I am thinking how beautiful Uzbekistan is, how friendly and hospitable its people, and just how much I love this country. I cannot believe my reaction; I am ashamed, and I want this emotion to disappear. Envisioning comparable song lines such as “I am a German girl and a child of Lower Saxony”, which I would simply find ridiculous and which would only make me laugh, does not help. In disbelief, I want to test myself, but playing the song again, twice, a third time, does not help either. On the contrary, it just affects me even more, until I am feeling really low. For this unexpected emotional outburst is not about joyous or light jubilance, it is a painful and bitter sadness, heavy and haunting. I finish my auto-experiments with estrada and patriotism for that day and, quite irritated, leave the flat to meet friends for dinner. The next morning, with some nervousness, I have another try, but already after the first bars I feel my throat tightening, my eyes filling with tears and immediately stop the music. In the weeks to come, from time to time, I attempt to find a logical reason for my reaction. One guess are the Andijon events in May that year. As already mentioned earlier, in the wake of the arrest, trial and imprisonment of 23 men charged with terrorism, the Uzbek military killed hundreds of people – protesters and bystanders, men, women and children – who had gathered on a square in this Ferghana Valley city. The incident put me in a state of shock, and I can imagine the song to have functioned as a kind of catalyst for emotional relief. This hypothesis at least explains why it was sadness and not joy that the song evoked in me – and it helps me, as I begin my second spell of fieldwork in Tashkent, to somehow accept what I still consider a shameful penchant for patriotism. While there might be some truth in this connection, with more distance I ceased to muse about a possible reason for my reaction and started to cherish it as a valuable experience in itself. I still cannot claim to know how vatan songs affect Uzbek listeners, but at least I know now that one can be affected by them – completely off guard and without much logic. However, up to now, O’zbegim by Feruza Djumaniyozova has been the only one of the many vatan songs I have heard in Uzbekistan that has managed to move me this way – but I have been on the alert since then, and in the meantime, I would actually welcome another experience like this, just out of curiosity (Video 7.1). I am certainly not among the original addressees of vatan songs, the ­effect, however, that Feruza Djumaniyozova’s O’zbegim had and will probably ­continue to have on me, is what the Uzbek government under Islom Karimov hoped for in promoting milliy estrada, national estrada. In this chapter I will look at how milliy estrada is supposed to function – and why it was considered so important that an elaborate administrative system for its monitoring and disciplining was deemed necessary and justified by the Uzbek government. First, however, I will outline the main tenets of

244  Mobilising estrada Uzbekistan’s national independence ideology – not only to elucidate the wider ideational and political setting of milliy estrada’s remarkably prominent role in Islom Karimov’s music politics, but to get to the bottom of milliy estrada’s imagined workings, which are intricately linked with this ideology.

National independence ideology Between taking office in January 1992 and his death in September 2016, Islom Karimov published regularly and extensively, from his first book ­Uzbekistan – Its Own Path of Renewal and Progress (1992) to his last The People That Has Deeply Breathed the Air of Freedom Will Never Sway from Its Path (2016). Besides his own editions, which are predominantly collections of his speeches, there is an enormous number of related publications by various intellectuals that either expound and undergird his thoughts with academic reflection or simplify and condense them into textbook and dictionary format to make them more accessible, especially to younger readers.3 Since the late 1990s, an important topic in Islom Karimov’s writings on Uzbekistan’s past and future, a continuous common thread, is national independence ideology [milliy istiqlol g’oyasi / ideologiya natsional’noy nezavisimosti] which, over the years of his rule, became a fixed term denoting a – more or less – fixed theory of socio-political development.4 In his lifetime, Islom Karimov’s books and their exegeses were widely, almost aggressively, distributed, and knowledge about them was a decisive factor for success or failure in entrance and exit exams at institutions of higher education.5 National independence ideology was – and at the time of writing, in early 2017, still is – taught as a separate and substantial compulsory course at universities. Academic theses at any level were expected to feature quotes from Islom Karimov’s books and there were even competitions on expertise in his writings. Since former prime minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev became the new president of Uzbekistan in December 2016, however, the future prominence of Islom Karimov’s writings in public discourse is not guaranteed. There might not be a complete dismissal, but perhaps at least a re-evaluation of national independence ideology, which for more than 15 years served as an important ideational framework for state politics in Uzbekistan and as the rationale behind its estrada policies. In the following sections I will give a synopsis of national independence ideology as it was valid until Islom Karimov’s death in 2016. Premises and destiny Islom Karimov’s publications not only acquired the status that the classic works of Marxism-Leninism once had in the Soviet Union; national independence ideology superseded Marxism-Leninism itself as an all-­encompassing socio-political theory, substantiating and legitimising the government’s rule of the state (March 2003: 212; Megoran 2008b: 25–27). At the same time, national independence ideology owes one of its most fundamental principles

Mobilising estrada  245 to this predecessor – the tenet that socio-political development follows scientific laws and inevitably proceeds in an ordered form of unilineal, teleological evolution, passing through set stages along the way. Communism, the former destination of this continuous advance, however, was discarded and replaced. Instead, an independent democratic nation state was posited as the apex of socio-political progress, as the culmination of a nation’s self-­ realisation and the fulfilment of its pre-determined fate – similar to classical transitology. In a secondary source, Independent Uzbekistan. A Scientific-­ Popular Dictionary, this ultimate goal is summarised in the following way: [A] free and flourishing Homeland, a constitutional democracy and civil society, in which develops a harmonious personality that possesses ideological immunity. (Xanazarov 2007: 116, capitalisation original; see Karimov 2000a: 482) Some definitions of national independence ideology include a market-based economy as yet another element of this future sound state, and in addition to these rather inward-oriented promises, there are more outward-oriented future prospects for Uzbekistan. Having reached its ultimate, ideal stage of development, the country will also have its firm and honourable place among the global community of developed states and itself make “a worthy contribution to world civilization” (Xanazarov 2007: 222; see Karimov 2000a: 483). Until then, national independence ideology has the important task: to unite the people in the name of a great future [vo imya velikogo budu­ shchego], to motivate every citizen of this country, independent of his nationality, linguistic or religious affiliation, to feel permanent responsibility for the fate of his Homeland, to foster pride in the very rich heritage of the ancestors, the cumulated spiritual values/treasures [nakoplennyye dukhovnyye tsennosti] and precious traditions [blagorodnyye traditsii], to form highly moral [vysokonravstvennykh] and harmoniously developed state citizens. (Xanazarov 2007: 114, capitalisation original; see Karimov 2001: 203) In actual fact, this ideology is a recent invention by the president of a country that not only became independent more or less by chance, but that also owes its current borders and much of the formation of its titular nation to the ethno-political engineering of the Soviet Union. The claim, however, is that national independence ideology derives from a very different source and has much deeper historical roots. Folk basis and specialist refinement National independence ideology is thought of as a collective creation of the Uzbekistani citizenry, essentially shaped by the common man and woman

246  Mobilising estrada (Karimov 2000a: 488; see Karimov 2001: 203). Notwithstanding the fact that the ethnogenesis of the Uzbeks is generally dated to around the sixteenth century by scholars, national independence ideology is supposed to comprise “spiritual peculiarities, specific and unique and sacred traditions and aspirations of our nation that have been shaped during many centuries and thousands of years” (Karimov 1998: 14; see Karimov 2000b: 460; 2001: 202f.).6 Despite its presumably long history, national independence ideology should not, however, be imagined as a ready-made, solid and fixed entity: The people, the nation perfects [sovershenstvuyut], enriches its national ideology throughout its whole life. Because ideology is not a collection of congealed dogmas [sovokupnost’yu zastyvshikh dogm]. It is a perpetual process, and as long as [the nation’s] life continues, in step with its development there will constantly emerge new demands, which are made on the ideology. (Karimov 2000a: 487, emphasis original) Described on the one hand as already existing among the people in the form of a fluid and fragmentary ideational framework, its folk version is presented, on the other hand, as a still too amorphous structure that needs the collating and ordering hand of experts to become a properly functioning, unified ideology (ibid.: 488). Presented as the latest in a line of famous thinkers and great leaders who had come before him on what is now Uzbek soil, it was Islom Karimov who, among this circle of experts, was seen to serve as “the outstanding theoretician of the transition period from totalitarianism to free market relations, to a democratic society”, a phrase, that echoes the terminology of classical transitology, save for the appearance of the “outstanding theoretician” (Xanazarov 2007: 114). Notably, the task of forming a proper national independence ideology out of its folk prototype, which was presented around 2000 as still being under way, had, by the mid-2000s, obviously been accomplished, making national independence ideology seem something considerably more solidified then. And indeed, there was to be little variation in the ideology’s main content over the subsequent years. While some definitions might have been more elaborate and broadly encompassing than others, the core elements always remained the same. Content National independence ideology’s ingredients are commonly differentiated between specifically Uzbek components and universal human values. The first comprise the following: a life in friendship, good neighbourliness, peace and harmony; close cooperation with all peoples; the sacralisation of the concepts of homeland, family and mahalla; respect for parents, elderly

Mobilising estrada  247 people, and women (“the embodiment of love, beauty, tenderness, symbol of eternal life” Xanazarov 2007: 115); care for the younger generation; love for the native tongue as the source of the nation’s spirituality; tolerance, mercifulness and industriousness; honesty and integrity. As Andrew March has rightfully pointed out, these presumably particularly Uzbek elements “are just the opposite: virtually generic values that almost all cultures would claim to value” (2003: 217). The alleged world-wide validity of a number of the ideology’s presumably universal elements, on the other hand, is rather contestable: religious tolerance; the rule of law; the guarantee of fundamental rights and the freedom of man; respect for representatives of other nationalities, their culture and national treasures; the adaptation of the best achievements of other countries and peoples (Xanazarov 2007: 15). Besides religious tolerance, maybe quite surprisingly given Islom Karimov’s ostentatiously worn Muslimness, religion plays a rather minor role in national independence ideology. In its stead, another concept became quite central: spirituality [ma’naviyat / dukhovnost’], which evolved from a kind of synonym for the people’s proto-ideology in the early 1990s to a term that by the end of the decade denoted an internal state of mind, a primordial, intrinsic property of every Uzbek. Across the centuries and against all odds, spirituality has supposedly held the nation together; it is something like its aerial life sustenance.7 Spirituality’s rise to prominence – and its shift in meaning – have to be seen in connection with Islom Karimov’s attempt to severely curb the role, power and influence of Islam and the Islamic authorities in Uzbekistan since the late 1990s, while, at the same time, claiming to promote the religion and presenting himself as a devout Muslim – as in his often cited statement, “I was born a Muslim and I will die a Muslim.”8 The importance given to spirituality can be read as a kind of concession to deep-seated feelings of religiosity among much of the population, but by encompassing and enfolding Islam, the concept robs the faith of its specificity, ultimately suffocating and delegitimising it. By 2011, in an exegesis of national independence ideology, Islam was already discussed almost exclusively with reference to the topic of extremism (Saifnazarov, Kasymov & Toktaev 2011: 48–59). Implementation and cultivation As a framework that is supposed to be built exclusively on elements present among the folk, national independence ideology is ultimately thought of as something pre-political. It became political, however, according to the official line of reasoning, when Islom Karimov collated and edited it and made it the principle he used in ruling the state (March 2003: 223).9 Thus, like Marxism-Leninism before it, national independence ideology is not only meant to be “the source of spiritual-moral strength” in life, but also its “scientific base”, the ultimate yardstick of reality (Karimov 2000b: 450). Consequently, all occurrences and events of social life are to be evaluated

248  Mobilising estrada “according to the degree of their consistency with the goals and tasks of national development. If something doesn’t correspond to the interests of the nation, [the ideology] includes in its action the mechanisms of correction” (Tadzhiev 1999: 45; cited in March 2003: 228). This is the role of the state and its organs, which are meant to take corrective measures and bring deviating phenomena into harmony with the ideology’s tenets. In the implementation of national independence ideology, the government was assigned the role of guardian, with Islom Karimov acting as something like the chief custodian, expert in ideology and supervisor of the country’s inherently natural progress.10 But why did national independence ideology and Uzbekistan’s scientifically based and thus automatic progress require guardians, custodians and experts at all? National independence ideology needs care and cultivation. Despite the fact that it supposedly emanates from the people themselves, not everyone is fully or sufficiently permeated by it (Karimov 2000b: 451). The speed of socio-political development, however, is seen to be dependent on the nation’s degree of saturation with its very own ideology. In fact, it is not only the speed that depends on this, but astonishingly, even the success: “[A] society, that does not operate on its national idea, is doomed, it will inevitable stray from its path” (ibid.: 452). This is, of course a direct contradiction to the presumable inevitability of Uzbekistan’s progress, evoked by images such as “no power will be able to reverse the caravan of the people” (Karimov 2000a: 493) – a contradiction that is never resolved. It is the people’s individual duty to strive to be more thoroughly impregnated with their own ideology, but it is also the task of the government, as the guardian of this process to guide the population and instil more ideology into them. For this reason, national independence ideology is more than a mere roadmap for the nation’s automatic progress. It is also an instrument “to organise and mobilise people towards its realisation”, “to educate the population in the spirit of the determined ideas” and it is, more generally, an overall “programme for action” (Xanazarov 2007: 113). This also means that national independence ideology is more an ideal than a reflection of reality. Dangers and protection A more profound suffusion of the Uzbek people with its own national independence ideology is particularly important in the face of other ideologies that threaten the nation. This way of thinking draws on a very simple mechanism from the realm of physics: If someone is filled with one ideology, there is no space for another, but if she or he is only half-filled, other ideologies can intrude into the empty space. Only if the people have incorporated national independence ideology to such an extent that there is no space left for any other, can the country’s swift progress on its pre-determined path be

Mobilising estrada  249 guaranteed (see Karimov 2000a: 481): “If somewhere there is an ideological vacuum, it is naturally ruled over by an alien ideology … At the present moment ideological grounds are more dangerous than nuclear ones” (Karimov 1998: 4, 6; see Karimov 2000a: 478; 2000b: 453).11 In keeping with the logic in the assertion that Uzbekistan’s national independence ideology is the Uzbek people’s own creation, all alternative ideologies are, by default, alien and foreign and thus dangerous – and are always labelled as such. The possibility that Uzbeks could come up with rival models of socio-political development and ideology by virtue of their own imaginative and intellectual prowess is ruled out. Anyone toying with such ideas can only have been indoctrinated by external forces or enemies of Uzbekistan’s prosperity (Megoran 2005: 563). Not surprisingly, alternative ideologies and various other dangers occupy a prominent position in Karimov’s writings. Uzbekistan may well always be depicted as a country with a great past as well as a great future and praised for its already substantial achievements. But it is also presented as something extremely precious that is constantly imperilled by great and substantial dangers. At varying times with varying intensity since independence, and depending on foreign policy priorities and domestic problems, pan-Turkism, political Islam and commercialism as a purveyor of western amorality have been claimed and treated as the worst menaces in the field of ideologies. In contrast to these rather elusive threats, diverse forms of unrest in neighbouring countries have provided a much clearer geographic demarcation that was used to concoct a powerful vision of Uzbekistan as an island of stability, peace and calm surrounded by a tempestuous sea of chaos, upheaval and insecurity (Fumagalli 2007: 106; March 2003: 213ff., Megoran 2005: 561f.; 2008a).12 The past Just as Islom Karimov was presented as the successor to famous figures from history, the contemporary ideologies that currently besiege the nation also have a famous, or rather infamous, precursor – communism. In official writings under Karimov, the Soviet era was invariably depicted as a bleak period, one in which the Uzbek nation was subjected to the rule of an illegitimate colonial power, forced to live by a foreign, false and artificial ideology while continually fighting for its independence (see, for example, Karimov 1998: 11). Consequently, apart from serving as a gloomy backdrop and save for a few figures who were rehabilitated as defenders of the national cause during difficult times, the country’s past life as the Uzbek SSR has been almost completely eradicated from official historiography. Uzbekistan’s libraries were widely cleansed of publications with obvious Soviet references and, for several years, even the word Soviet was banned from public discourse.

250  Mobilising estrada Thus, with regard to the past, national independence ideology  thrives on processes of rigorous selection. The Soviet Union, often quite indiscriminately thrown together with the preceding tsarist rule of Turkistan, is the only era, however, that has been more or less completely erased from the nation’s history. When it comes to earlier history, the principle of selection has been coupled with the principle of incorporation in order to procure the afore-mentioned line of famous thinkers and great statesmen, some of whom merely happened to live on the territory of what is today ­Uzbekistan, but who were claimed to have had advanced, over the course of millennia, the Uzbek nation’s quest. These are figures like Amir Temur ­(Tamerlane), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Jalal ad-Din Manguberdi, Ulugh Beg and, as the only one Soviet era politician, Sharof Rashidov (see Djumaev 2001: 330f., 339; March 2002: 374–381). The future and the present The Uzbek nation’s great past, created in this way, has a worthy counterpart in its great future. National independence ideology exudes an almost exuberant optimism, and slogans confidently predicting national glory and grandeur clutter public space in Uzbekistan. Just like Marxism-Leninism as well as classical transitology, national independence ideology “reverses the linear time vector and writes the present from the point of view of the future” (Ssorin-Chaikov 2006: 366). But what does it say about the present – if anything at all? In Uzbek national independence ideology, it is the attainment of independence, the formation of the Uzbeks’ own state, presumably after millennia of struggle, which is celebrated as the major achievement of a somehow expansive present, as a huge step already taken towards the progressive fulfilment of the nation’s destiny (Megoran 2008b: 16). The actual problems of the present, on the other hand, are either declared normal teething problems of a new nation state still in the phase of consolidation or as externally induced troubles, such as, for example, the Andijon events described above. In dealing with these and other challenges, Islom Karimov basically gave himself and his government a carte blanche to adopt any means they deemed appropriate, even if these were outright authoritarian in nature. Since he was supposedly committed to eventually turning Uzbekistan into a democratic nation state, all measures taken along the way would ultimately contribute to realising this aim and were consequently a priori justified (March 2002: 372). Context and consequences in the field of culture Islom Karimov’s heightened concern about the formation of a national independence ideology around the year 2000 is surely no coincidence. Already in his 1997 publication, Uzbekistan on the Threshold to the 21st Century: Threats to Security, Conditions for Stability and Guarantees for Progress, the

Mobilising estrada  251 overwhelmingly confident, content and optimistic tone marking his writings from the immediate post-independence years had become subdued through the evocation of multiple threats. Nearly the entire first third of this book is devoted to a vivid depiction of all the dangers putting the country at risk. In the years that followed, two incidents substantiated this portrait and lent some credibility to the bleak picture. The first was a series of bombings in Tashkent on 6 February 1999, attributed to Islamic terrorists by the government, but actually of rather unclear provenance. Some suspect Islom Karimov himself to have been behind them in order to create a pretext for justifying a further move towards authoritarianism. The second were two incursions of the so-called Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) from its base in Tajikistan into the Kyrgyz Batken region, which borders both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, in 1999 and 2000. These events provoked a crackdown on all kinds of opposition, Muslim and otherwise, the issuance of various restrictive laws and the heightening of security measures (see Megoran 2017b: 35). They also heralded the begin of more concerted patriotisation policies in Uzbekistan. The creation of national independence ideology in a far more canonised form than it had previously assumed, a task that was pursued with hectic urgency in 2000, not only promised a simple and convenient context for legitimising draconian and drastic political measures. As in the sense fostered by the image of ideological impregnation, it provided a tool for preventing the population from sympathising with any of the dangers that were essentially lurking everywhere, for aligning them instead behind a purportedly common goal. Finally, it aimed to win their hearts and minds by drawing on very widely shared values – and the force of propaganda: What alarms me is that already the ninth year is passing, that we have achieved independence, but, unfortunately, we have still not created such a source that would serve as the base, “the weapon” in our ­agitational-propagandistic activity … But the question of the national idea, of national ideology – for us this is a question of life and death. (Karimov 2000b: 456, 459) Patriotisation had, of course, been a topic in independent Uzbekistan before. After all, when the competition O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim was established in 1996, song entries were already expected to reflect “ideas of love for the Homeland and of devotion to independence on a high artistic level”. But it became a far more important and far more institutionalised issue after 2000 – also in the field of culture, which was to play a crucial role in the shaping of Uzbek citizens’ subjectivity and consciousness. Telling in this respect are the various legal acts that regulate the work of the Ministry of Culture, whose scope of responsibilities in independent Uzbekistan was first delineated in 1992 and then again in 2004. Whereas in 1992, the Ministry’s main tasks were concisely summed up as “the

252  Mobilising estrada development of culture and art in the republic” and “the restoration and allsided development of the rich national traditions“ (UP-360 1992), by 2004, they had been widely elaborated: the renaissance and further development, on the basis of the idea of national independence, of the high spirituality that has been formed by centuries, of the traditions and customs, of the rich cultural heritage of the people. (PKM-272 2004) Similarly, the sub-task that in 1992 had been phrased as “activating and charging with concrete content the cultural-enlightenment work among all strata of society“ (UP-360 1992) had, by 2004, become: “based on the idea of national independence, on the cultural and spiritual-moral traditions of the people of Uzbekistan, the implementation of cultural-­enlightenment work among the population” (PKM-272 2004). While the mandate to adjust cultural activities to the tenets of national independence ideology thus came to pertain to all the arts, it was estrada that was affected most by these mainstreaming measures. The reorganisation of O’zbeknavo in 2001, from a “tour-concert association” into an “estrada association”, has to be seen as part of the newly prioritised patriotisation policies. And from the moment that O’zbeknavo started its second life as an agency solely devoted to estrada, its work was solidly wed to national independence ideology. As detailed in Chapter 1, the association and its various organs were ordered by law to further “the development of ideological-artistic styles in relation with national and pan-human spiritual values” and “teach young people love for the Motherland, [educate them] in loyal spirit to the ideas of national independence”. Ten years later, this link was affirmed very ostentatiously once again, this time in the form of a self-commitment. The preface to a copious collection of all the legal acts that provided the basis of O’zbeknavo’s activities, most of which, save for the very prominent Karimov quotes, reads like a very general version of the association’s yearly activity reports, is surprisingly entitled “A Sacred Feeling” and closes with the following statement: Regardless of who we are and in which field we work or which art we make, we connect our own fate with the fate of our nation, our people, our Homeland. After all, in this world there is no greater and holier feeling [boshqa ulug’ va mo’tabar tuyg’uning o’zi yo’q] than that [for] the dear Homeland … [T]o live with care for our Homeland and to give [one’s] life for it [uning uchun jon fido qilish] will be our holiest civic duty. A feeling for the Homeland – this means the boundless belief in our dear Uzbekistan, to sincerely love it and to be devoted to it. And let this sacred feeling never abandon us. (Haydarov 2011: 6, capitalisation original)

Mobilising estrada  253 For various reasons, in 2001, estrada was chosen as a major instrument to inculcate the newly canonised national independence ideology in the population, thus amplifying the power of Islom Karimov’s writings and supporting his plans for an ideological permeation of society. Estrada was meant to be more than a mere medium, however. As milliy estrada, its imaginary ideal form, it was to become the sonic incarnation of national independence ideology itself, Uzbekistan’s acoustic accompaniment on its predetermined path to becoming a sound state. Why it was estrada that was considered particularly suitable for this role, and how it is understood to work, that is, affect people and take effect in the wider world, is the subject of the rest of this chapter.

The workings of milliy estrada at home “Our new estrada was mobilizing viewers, teaching them, educating, developing, and perfecting their taste – while entertaining and making them happy.” This statement which could very well have been made by an O’zbeknavo official appraising the success of the association’s work for milliy estrada so far, actually comes from Leonid Utësov, a prominent representative of Soviet estrada and dates back to 1961 (quoted in MacFadyen 2002b: 118). The compatibility might seem astonishing, but it is actually a rather logical consequence of the flourishing afterlife of Soviet understandings of culture and its politics in independent Uzbekistan. For just as national independence ideology owes much to Marxism-Leninism, the concept of milliy estrada and ideas about its functioning draw on one of the central Soviet directives in the sphere of culture: socialist realism. Introduced in the 1930s and maintained, albeit with varying emphases and diminishing intensity, until the perestroika years, socialist realism was officially the one and only governmental mandate for all artistic production in the Soviet Union over a period of about five decades. As phrased in the “Statute of the Union of Soviet Writers” in 1934, socialist realism demanded a true, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development. Further, it ought to contribute to the ideological transformation and education of the workers in the spirit of socialism. (quoted in Keller 2007: 109)13 With Uzbekistan’s independence, the spirit of socialism has, of course, been bottled and then stored away on the dusty shelves of darkest history; there are supposedly no more revolutions on the country’s teleological path of progress, and while the importance of workers is still acknowledged, they have lost their formerly prominent position in public discourse. If just slightly re-phrased, however, the definition of socialist realism quoted above quite perfectly captures the ideal of milliy estrada:

254  Mobilising estrada a true, historically concrete representation of reality in its orderly development. Further, it ought to contribute to the ideological transformation and education of the people in the spirit of nationalism. Modified in this way, the doctrine certainly does not deserve the label socialist any more. It remains a form of realism, however, a variant that could be termed nationalist realism, one that still shares a number of central traits with its predecessor beyond a general proclivity for optimism. But what exactly links milliy estrada as a representative of the nationalist realist approach to music to socialist realism? Nationalist realism The most obvious parallel, by now probably so self-evident that it hardly needs mentioning, is that, at least in government discourse, milliy estrada is conceived as serving a higher purpose beyond providing pleasure or income. More than merely an aesthetic reflection of reality, it is thought of as an integral part or even motor of socio-political development itself, closely intertwined with the country’s progress as such through its ­subjectivity-forming qualities. Olim Bekov and Davlat Mullajonov, two of the three Uzbek musicologists who have focused on estrada in their PhD theses, are very explicit about estrada’s capacities and role in their entry on “National Estrada ­Music” in a large, popular scholarly book devoted to Uzbek arts and edited by the Institute for Art Studies: [I]n strengthening peace …, in perfecting the people’s moral qualities and in educating and raising their aesthetic tastes, estrada has its own position among the art forms … [I]n the instrument of estrada music there lies the possibility to express [those] feelings that are considered the most noble and sacred, [that is, feelings] of love, kindness and devotion to the Homeland [mehr-muhabbat va sadoqat], and to place them in the heart of millions … The glory of our dear homeland, which develops day by day and implements socio-economic reforms step by step, [as well as] the bright future of its independence are directly linked to singing praises to spirituality, first of all to love and kindness to the Homeland, and to our eternal values. (Bekov & Mullajonov 2001: 136, 138, capitalisation original) Inaugurating the Conservatory’s new building in 2002, Islom Karimov himself commented on this link, referring to music in general: Today, … we are building on our soil a free and flourishing society. Indisputably, we will only be able to reach these our great goals, to make our life still richer, lighter and more complete, if we turn art, music into our spiritual companion. (Karimov 2002: 294)

Mobilising estrada  255 When Uzbek musicologist Sadyr Vakhidov wrote his book Uzbek Soviet Song14 in 1976, the close connection between music and socio-political life he described was not actually very different. Interestingly, it also acknowledged music was able to inspire “devotion to the Homeland”, although the term homeland, at that time, did not refer to the Uzbek SSR, but to the Soviet Union as a whole, a decisive difference in denotation that I will come back to in the conclusion, Exiting estrada: On the basis of the method of socialist realism, common for soviet art,  … being one of the most active forms of propaganda of socialist ideology, song began to help the people [narod] “build and live”, to educate people [lyudey] of the communist society in the spirit of modernity, devotion to the Homeland [predannosti Rodine], to the ideas of revolutionary brotherhood … Inspiring uzbek workers in the fight for the victory of communism, [song] realises folk ideals, stages of the formation of a new, socialist society in the uzbek republic. (Vakhidov 1976: 4f., capitalisation original) Not explicitly mentioned, but certainly informing this quote – and the one from Bekov and Mullajonov cited above – is the assumption that just as society develops, so too does estrada. It does so, not in a wayward manner, but it advances in an orderly way, in line with the general momentum of socio-political progress. This idea of musical evolution and, ultimately, improvement, is also the rationale behind the peculiar forward thrust that is so characteristic in official documents, in independent Uzbekistan as it was in the Uzbek SSR. Whether the development or further development, the enhancement, elevation or perfection of estrada as an art form, of individual singers’ repertoires, of cultural-enlightening work or the provision of cultural services, of the population’s cultural level or the artistic level of concerts: these demands and goals are staple tropes in laws, protocols and reports, from the 1940s through to today. A senior member of the Conservatory staff found an apt image for this powerful movement forward: “Uzbek estrada is like a train. Maybe it is not at the world level yet …, but the train goes at full speed and will continue to do so” (11.2003). It is not only these ideas about the evolution of music, the inseparability of music and socio-political development or even music’s indispensability for progress that independent Uzbekistan adopted as a basic conviction about the workings of art from political thought in the Uzbek SSR and the wider Soviet Union. Also inherited was the belief in the extraordinary suitability of the genre song for this almost symbiotic proximity, a belief which is, of course, not an exclusively or originally Soviet phenomenon, but which has determined musical action among earlier and other political or religious entities wishing to further their goals through music. Like Sadyr Vakhidov, who saw the basis for song’s socio-political power in its simplicity, catchiness, and “alert responsivity to whatever phenomena

256  Mobilising estrada in life” (1976: 4), many people I talked to during fieldwork described estrada as easy to grasp, quick to react and close to real life.15 And almost everybody pointed to the mass character these qualities lent the genre – ­including this composer: An estrada song is such a song that captures a million listeners, it enters millions, it has an army of listeners. Of course, opera we all love, but not everyone understands opera, not everyone goes there, in order to understand it a person should already be prepared. Not only opera, [also] our professional maqoms. (12.2003) Estrada’s appeal among young people in particular was a frequent topic in conversations and interviews. But rarely were such vivid images invoked as the ones used by this journalist: Estrada’s role in society? Well, it is a mass [phenomenon]. It is not for nothing that here, at the government level, they now pay attention, ­because this has political, ideological as well as spiritual [importance]. You see yourself what is happening. The people/nation breathes [estrada], lives on [estrada] [Narod etim dyshit, etim zhivët]. Most young people – all young people, one has to say, they live on it, feed on it [oni etim zhivut, etim pitayutsya]. (11.2005) In “A Sacred Feeling”, the above-mentioned preface to a collection of legal acts, O’zbeknavo’s director at the time, Azamat Haydarov, even resorted to illogical phrases to stress estrada’s eminent role with respect to Uzbekistan’s young generation: With regard to turning our youth into a perfect generation [barkamol avlod] in a state of high spirituality [yuksak ma’naviyat ruhida], time has shown the extremely infinite importance [ahamiyati juda ham beqiyos ­ekanligini] of estrada art, which, compared to other art forms, particularly attracts the heart of young people from every angle [har tomonlama]. (Haydarov 2011: 3, emphasis added) But how exactly is estrada to achieve all this – strengthen peace, perfect morality, deepen spirituality, raise aesthetic tastes, inspire patriotism, further the glory of the homeland and its progress towards the bright future of independence? One crucial part of its powers can be found in its content. Just as national independence ideology, with its strong thrust towards the future, is always a bit ahead of life and thus more an ideal than a reflection of reality, the genre, at least in the form of milliy estrada, is meant to be in a similar relation of asynchronous homology to current affairs. It is meant to

Mobilising estrada  257 depict reality, but a slightly better, brighter and thus somehow heightened version of it, a kind of refined reality, anticipating life as it would be further ahead on Uzbekistan’s path of progress. This take on the present is solidly shared by what I have termed nationalist realism and its predecessor, socialist realism, providing perhaps the strongest argument for the terminological parallel. In 1966, the Soviet Encyclopaedic Musical Dictionary [Entsiklopedicheskiy Muzykal’niy Slovar’] quite elegantly described socialist realism’s specific approach to time as a combination of “a feeling for contemporary reality with a leap of the imagination into the future” (quoted in Brown 1974: 557; see Fox 1977: 210). Milliy estrada does actually leave quite ample space for “contemporary reality”, but there are also definite boundaries that require either some adjustments in the depiction of this reality, “leaps of the imagination into the future”, or outright silence. As was detailed in Chapter 6, topics such as problems in romantic but chaste teenage love, petty family quarrels, even the numerous threats that engulf Uzbekistan according to national independence ideology can all find their place in milliy estrada as “contemporary reality”.16 But love that becomes physical, family quarrels that degenerate into domestic violence or Uzbekistan’s bright future seeming questionable are not subjects for milliy estrada despite their very obvious place in “contemporary reality”. In 2007, for example, the song and clip “Moth” [Tungi Kapalak] by rap formation Radius 21 disappeared from TV and radio just one day after its release. Its storyline shows a girl in her late teens having a rich married lover in his late fifties or early sixties, both unaware of family relations and thus ignorant of the fact that she is to be married to his grown-up son.17 At the wedding ceremony, lifting her veil, the man recognises his lover in his son’s bride and commits suicide the next morning (Video 7.2). In 2008, I was talking about the incident with a radio journalist: X: There was a call from above that KK: Was there any reason given? X: No, but it was very obvious why. KK: Why? X: Too close to reality.

it should not be played.

Shortly afterwards, another song by Radius 21, entitled Dubai and inspired by a recent band trip there, met a similar fate. What was judged problematic was not so much the fact that one of the all-male band members was wearing thawb and ghutra in the clip or that there was a woman in a fitted evening dress with a low neck- and backline who occasionally danced sexily (the rest of the track mostly showed the band sitting on sofas in front of a stage, ­playing, singing and drinking tea and was thus inoffensive anyway). Nor was the overall content of the lyrics considered too indecent, despite a reference, tinged with a sense of retrospective melancholy, to an extra-marital affair of 12 days in a hotel on a beach, at the end of which the man returned

258  Mobilising estrada to his wife, children, parents – and homeland. As another journalist later told me, the main point of criticism was the song’s title and, even more so, its refrain, which in a mix of English, Uzbek and Russian goes: “Dubai, Dubai, Dubai, Dubai. If we should not see each other any more – well, my darling, goodbye. Just look, don’t forget my love!” In this, government organs saw too obvious a reference to the – officially ­unacknowledged  – reality that many Uzbek women temporarily migrate to the United Arab Emirates and work there as housekeepers, but also – many by force, others voluntarily – as sex workers. But even something seemingly rather virtuous such as travelling to Mecca to perform the hajj, which certainly is part of “contemporary reality” in Uzbekistan, is incompatible with the nationalist realism required for milliy estrada. In 2005, a newly released – and immediately sanctioned – clip by Davron Ergashev with precisely these images was a hot topic in O’zbeknavo offices. Quite agitated, one of the senior officials said that Davron Ergashev had produced “an Arab film, completely Arab! [arabcha kino, v polnost’yu arabcha!]”, and another one, equally enraged, quoted from his talk with the singer: “I told him ‘What kind of ideology is this? Explain that! Who is the producer?’ Estrada and religion must not be mixed” (11.2005). According to show business rumours circulating in the days following the incident, Davron Ergashev’s own ambitions with this release were, far from being related to religious proselytisation, in fact commercially oriented. Having been scolded for one of his recent songs, which young people had loved but more grown-up listeners had found too indecent, he had just hoped to appease his critics and please his fan-base with a swing towards religion. Some commentators claimed this move very clearly revealed his ignorance, if not idiocy. Islam is an even more sensitive issue than immorality in estrada. It is even more sensitive in estrada than in national independence ideology, given the anxieties attached to the genre’s presumably huge propaganda potential, which, admittedly, is probably decidedly greater than that of Islom Karimov’s writings. Video clips that reference homosexuality or transsexuality are considered equally problematic for the related reason of the fear of instilling in people un-milliy ideas. While both certainly do exist in Uzbekistan, they are not part of nationalist realist ideas about society, gender identity and relations. But like most withdrawn clips, they continue to be available on the internet, if they were not put up there anonymously in the first place. In 2013, for example, a clip named “Honey Tea” [Asal Choy], which shows a cross-dressed male singer infatuated with his male office head, appeared on YouTube, shocking not only the members of the Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art, who branded it as “immoral” [axloqsiz], but also, as the comment section on YouTube reveals, many ordinary Uzbek viewers (Video 7.3). But why are such songs and clips considered so dangerous? How exactly is milliy estrada thought to function? In what way and by which mechanisms

Mobilising estrada  259 is its nationalist realist depiction of life supposed to have an impact on people? And what do officials fear will happen, if someone listens to songs or watches video clips like the ones just mentioned? Power and impact Official documents reliably and routinely stress estrada’s pedagogic value, and I cannot remember even one conversation or interview which did not, at some point, touch on the genre’s educational effect. One senior composer even spoke about “the colossal education of people” through estrada, as through the arts in general (11.2005). Education in this context, however, is not meant to offer people something to critically reflect on and ponder that will, subsequently, promote intellectual growth. It is conceived more as an automatic process of instilment, an immediate and unfiltered depositing of ideas and feelings into a person’s mind and heart. Thus, the concept of “education through estrada” basically assumes a similarly simplistic mechanism like that of ideological impregnation, presented in the preceding section. Just as the wholesale suffusion with national independence ideology is meant to leave no space for other ideologies in people, the consumption of estrada is supposed to leave a person thoroughly soaked with the ideas and emotions carried therein. This is what makes estrada so attractive for exactly the task of spreading national independence ideology among the population. According to this logic, making a person listen to milliy estrada in its best form is bound to have a positive influence on her or him. It will further moral and spiritual growth, deepen love for the homeland and perfect his or her aesthetic understanding, all of which are important factors for Uzbekistan’s rapid progress on its path of socio-political development.18 Allowing a person to listen to estrada that is not milliy, on the other hand, can have serious negative, even devastating consequences, not only for her or him as an individual in the development of her or his personality, but for the future of the nation as a whole. In short, immense power is attributed to estrada – due to its topicality more than to other genres of music and due to its aural immediacy more than to other art forms. Again, at the inauguration of the Conservatory’s new building in 2002, Islom Karimov talked about “the extraordinary influence of music on the spiritual world of people”, saying that “music unfailingly finds resonance in [a person’s] soul” and that “[i]n this divine gift called music, is enclosed a magic power, which is understandable to everyone and affects us” (Karimov 2002: 289, 290). Already a few years before, he had also noted the dangerous side to music’s magical workings: “It is not a secret: through some seemingly harmless tune, naive [sic] screened cartoon film or an advertisement sometimes very definite and not unselfish ideological goals and aspirations are implemented” (Karimov 1998: 9, emphasis added).

260  Mobilising estrada In January 2009, the newspaper Voice of Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Ovozi] even claimed mass culture to be “more dangerous than terrorism”, as “mass culture is aimed at carrying out disgusting acts of completely eliminating the identities, images, and values of all nationalities and peoples of the world” (cited in Pannier 2011). Talking specifically about estrada, or rather about estrada that is not milliy enough, an Uzbek colleague resorted to military metaphors, evoking the probably strongest image possible for describing the genre’s power – as well as its instantaneous and inevitable effect: You listen to [a popular song] at home, you walk on the street, it will be played [on radio and TV] the whole day, it subconsciously takes effect, it is always there, it does not go away. This means, it is a strong weapon. I consider a song an atomic bomb. It can explode. It has no weight, no colour, no smell. It injures the heart and is just gone. Like the radiation disease after Hiroshima, it will destroy the roots. (10.2004) There might be some diversity in opinions about whether estrada affects people’s mind, heart, soul or psyche, but regardless of its point of impact, the extraordinary power it is presumably charged with helps to explain why the genre is paid so much attention “at the state level”, up to being endowed with its own institution in the Karimov era, and why some seemingly trivial pop songs can cause so much agitation among officials. Its alleged power also holds a key as to why, in the context of patriotic song competitions, the government expends considerable effort every year – and obliges others to expend considerable effort – on producing immense numbers of vatan songs (see Chapter 4). Apart from keeping officials, singers and listeners busy with milliy ­estrada – and consequently from engaging in tasks less milliy – this investment in almost absurd abundancy appears rather reasonable, considering the mechanism of the genre’s workings. If estrada really does just permeate a person unimpeded, as the logic described above holds, a large quantity of vatan songs promises to have a particularly strong and steady patriotising effect. The frequent claim, voiced by officials, composers and singers alike, that milliy estrada was needed to keep young people in particular engaged, is therefore double in aim: It provides them with a meaningful activity that simultaneously keeps them from non-approved pastimes, such as using drugs, loitering around, stealing or gambling and, second, it exposes them to the genre’s subconsciously edifying effect.19 Another Uzbek colleague summed this up quite concisely and very much in line with national independence ideology’s image of the country as engulfed in danger: If you look at Iran or the Taliban: Uzbekistan is surrounded by Islam. There is the possibility of war. Here are a lot of young people. What do

Mobilising estrada  261 they need? They could go to the mosque and learn, rebel. Now, they have courses in ideology during the semester, and during the holidays, they have estrada. (08.2004) Singers Estrada’s alleged extraordinary power also awards its singers an extremely influential position. One well-known male singer in his thirties was particularly aware of and outspoken about this: Milliy estrada – it has great power. For example, myself … [M]y fans … sit at [my] concerts. I see they are crying from [their] soul. I see that, I don’t hypnotise them, nothing of that sort. I only sing [about] sorrow, you understand? … [If] I have made a person cry with my sorrows, this means I can influence people. This means, I own this power. You only have to put the right words. Where do I want to direct young people, for example, help the politics of the state? I direct my words, my sorrow there. If [my fans] take it, this means, [I have] great power. Very great power, even a stadium will cry. If a mayor goes there, regardless of how much he will shout there, they will not cry. This means, our power is greater than theirs, you understand? This means, we can be used in politics or wherever. Uzbek estrada, I openly say that, for example, a maqomist, someone who sings classical [music], a whole stadium they will not assemble. Who can assemble [that]? Only estradniki. Estradniki, apart from them no one. This means we have great power. (10.2005) The Uzbek government is certainly aware of estrada singers’ power to influence their audience, and it is doing much to draw on this power and channel it in line with state interests. And just as the government is supposed to be the custodian and supervisor of the correct implementation of independence ideology, it is also the custodian and supervisor of the correct sonification of independence ideology in the form of estrada. It is not by chance that the term I probably heard most in O’zbeknavo’s offices was “to direct/to guide” [napravit’/dat’ napravleniye], used of singers and their repertoires alike. I encountered a particularly striking accumulation of these terms – ­ further reinforced by the excessive use of the related word pravil’nyy [right, correct] – in an interview with a senior O’zbeknavo official in which we were talking about the role of higher education in estrada: There is the estrada faculty, the Estrada-Circus College. [They are] needed so that correctly …, so that they found their creative path correctly. Very much depends on their teachers, how they will direct them into this channel. When a teacher is good, strong, knowing his

262  Mobilising estrada profession well, they will [direct] this performer correctly. If a teacher will not responsibly devote himself to this, … they will direct themselves. For this reason, a lot depends on their teachers, in order to direct new performers to the correct direction. If you cannot correctly elucidate and explain to a student, they will search their own direction … For this reason, if our teachers will work correctly and direct them, estrada will grow normally. (11.2005, emphasis added) These frequent reiterations, which sometimes seemed almost like a conjuration, also revealed the concern about what would happen, if singers were not “directed”. This concern not only pertains to singers’ repertoire and their stage persona, but to their behaviour as private individuals too. Another senior O’zbeknavo official described the situation as such: Singers are idols. They influence the people and we try to influence the singers. For example, some singers went to Andijon and performed there with the governors. This had a great effect. People will now vote for them … If O’zbeknavo didn’t exist, this would be problematic. Now there are many extremists who come to Uzbekistan from foreign countries. If such an extremist tells an estrada star “sing this” and he does it, then people will listen more to [the extremist]. Alone he would not reach 500 people. Estrada stars are idols. What they do, is law for many. If a star wears a red T-shirt, everybody immediately wears a red T-shirt. Money plays a big role for estrada stars. Extremists could exploit that, in that they offer stars money for singing about certain topics. (11.2005) In the late 1990s, a certain number of male singers – people have told me of three – apparently experienced the fatal consequences of having such an immense power over their audience attributed to them. When they decided to quit estrada for religious reasons, two of them were jailed – following a very particular interpretation of “on account of conduct”. It was not because they propagated Islam in their songs, nor were either of them what in Uzbekistan is called a wahhabi, a proponent of political Islam. They had just become more devout Muslims and it was feared that some of their fans might follow their example. When they were released, the government allegedly forced them to take up singing again. One continued performing for about a year and then emigrated; the other never again returned to estrada and completely withdrew from public life. A similar, but still slightly different case is presented by Ozodbek Na­ zarbekov. He was a devout Muslim, but his songs did not have any missionising tendencies and he had never had any problems on this count. Nor did he intend to leave estrada. Still, in the 1990s, he was jailed, suspected

Mobilising estrada  263 of wahhabism. He remained in prison for about a year and continued his career afterwards. When I started fieldwork, in 2003 and 2004, he was a well-known singer in the wedding circuit with a repertoire that was very milliy. In 2005, he seemed a friendly, modest and slightly shy person who had just provided the wedding season with a major hit, but he seemed far from ­stardom – and his past problems were a subject not to be touched. By 2008, his reyting had increased immensely and he counted among the country’s top artists; in 2016, people even spoke about him as the “official state superstar” [gosudarstvennaya syuperzvezda] and “master singer of the White Palace” [the presidential inner-city residence] [Oqsaroy hofizi]. Many people attributed his ascent to the fact that the audience had started to endorse milliy estrada more enthusiastically. Some, however, claimed that his career boost was linked to the Andijon events in 2005. They were convinced that his rise in fame was the result of targeted government intervention. With a nod to the power ascribed to singers, they conjectured that the government had built up Ozodbek Nazarbekov, who is from Andijon province himself, in order to placate the city and the region. In their view, officials had wanted to show Andijon national acknowledgement and highlight someone whom the province and its capital could be proud of by providing the people there with an estrada star from among their midst. More importantly, they saw it as a strategy by the state authorities for deflecting the more critical local voices in music and installing a reliable mouthpiece – not someone for hard political propaganda, but someone who would more subtly represent the official line or divert listeners completely from politics.20 In 2017, Ozodbek Nazarbekov became deputy minister of culture. Sound as a vehicle Interestingly, many people who spoke about estrada’s propagandistic effect relegated the level of sound to a subordinate position, viewing it more as a vehicle, a medium for transporting textual and visual content rather than an additional and separate track of meaning. This composer did this too, attributing the damaging influence of estrada on its lyrics: “Very many dirty songs are resounding. Horrible songs. The lyrics are terrible there. Because of this estrada, here, the Uzbek mentality has changed. It has changed the mentality of Uzbekistan” (08.2004). From the perspective of sound as a vehicle, the demand that artists ­integrate elements and instruments from older Uzbek musical traditions into estrada to make it milliy appears to be not much more than a call to draw on the standard inventory of accessorised Uzbekness, which in ­addition to musical instruments such as the dutar, tanbur, ney and g’ijjak also includes such things as atlas silk, wrestling, palov and various kinds of flatbread. And indeed, at concerts or in video clips, instruments often fulfil precisely this – and only this – decorative role. They are not part of the actual song,

264  Mobilising estrada but there is a line-up of musicians inaudibly playing these instruments on stage or on the visual track. It is presumed that the audience would like to hear, or at least see them, and, similarly, that it would also like to have melodic and rhythmic references to folk or classical music in estrada. For many estrada singers, heightening the appeal of their music by drawing on a local musical heritage may be part of a commercial strategy, but, as explored in Chapter 6, for most, it is primarily a very normal and natural consequence of being an artist from Uzbekistan. At the same time, due to their presumably greater appeal they hold for listeners, songs with a decidedly Uzbek sound are thought to get their messages across more effectively. Herein lies the importance and value of the sonic level with respect to ­propaganda – it assists and aids the transmission of content, like a kind of carrier that facilitates the flux of meaning. The logical inverse of this line of reasoning is that foreign estrada should have difficulty in conveying the meaning of its lyrics. This might explain why the Uzbek government pays so much attention to its domestic estrada production but so little to pop music imports (which, for the most part, are actually very far from the ideals of milliy estrada), but it cannot sufficiently account for the constant expression of official concerns about the adoption of too much foreign musical material into Uzbek estrada. There is, however, an alternative approach to the role and effect of estrada’s sound – an approach, which actually attributes immense importance to a song’s sonic dimension.21 Sound and genetics In its more popular variant, quite common among singers, officials and audiences, this approach is based on the belief that the ability to make and understand certain kinds of music is genetically determined and that this biological predisposition follows national lines (see Merchant 2015: 68).22 This means, an ethnic Uzbek is already born with an inclination towards Uzbek music, whereas someone of mixed ethnic heritage will have an innate appreciation for the various musics specific to the nations to which her or his parents and ancestors belonged. Education is said to play a role, too, but genes will always make themselves felt, as one of the most famous female singers at the time of my fieldwork maintained, when she, ethnically Uzbek, but Russian (or rather yevrolashgan, Europeanised, in Uzbek parlance) in upbringing, talked about the stylistic mix of her repertoire: I never put any goal before me, everything always happens spontaneously. Probably, it somehow comes from inside, because, from my roots, I am an oriental person, but my education I received in European classes. I think, this also left its mark. (09.2005)

Mobilising estrada  265 A month later, a senior member of staff at O’zbeknavo elaborated on this theory of musical genetics and tried to make it clearer for me by drawing on an example from European music: The Beatles have used Indian music. This was probably linked to the fact that in John Lennon’s gene pool there was something Indian. This depends on the blood … Of course, we have all descended from Adam and there is assimilation. In a few generations, Arabs living here will be Uzbeks, but in their blood there will always be something Arab. (11.2005) I commented that, if we follow this line of reasoning, we could explain Uzbeks’ current predilection for Turkish and Iranian music with reference to Turkish or Iranian ancestral blood in their veins. He countered this argument in the following way: True, Uzbek was a transit region, a place of passage, especially during the Silk Road era. The gene pool is mixed, many nations came together. For this reason, for many people, Iranian or Turkish music is their own. I, for my part, like Iranian music. But there is an important difference: If something is, for example, purely Turkish, then it is good, but if everything is mixed, it is bad. (11.2005) There are, of course, various problems with this view, apart from the very fundamental problem of trying to define nations genetically and the concomitant neglect of socialisation. When, for example, is ethnogenesis supposed to be so advanced that one will shed previous genetic – and m ­ usical  – ­predispositions? And why should a musical mix be bad, if this blend might represent exactly some people’s genetic mélange? As detailed in Chapter 6, government politics does not oppose in principle the creation of transnational musical syntheses in milliy estrada and the official I quoted above later expressed exactly this view in our conversation – in line with independence ideology’s tenet to adapt the “best achievements of other countries and people”. Imitation is rejected, but interpretation accepted – wherever the boundary between the two. Even in the case of a successful interpretation, however, the result should still be recognisably Uzbek if it is to qualify as milliy estrada. This means that in contemporary Uzbekistan, regardless of the population’s ethnic make-up or individual citizens’ heritages, milliy estrada should, according to this logic, first and foremost cater to those with a dominantly Uzbek genetic imprint – or, put another way, address the Uzbek portion of any particular individual’s genetic background, if any exists. These discussions about the quality of a musical mix are directly linked to the question of how estrada is supposed to interact with one’s national

266  Mobilising estrada genetic predisposition. Essentially, the mechanism is one of consonance: If estrada is properly milliy, its sound will somehow resonate with this inner national essence and strengthen it. If there are too many foreign musical elements in Uzbek estrada, however, not only is there no reinforcing resonance, the result is even worse: The national essence itself might be affected and modified, losing its specificity. The likelihood of this happening is smaller if foreign music is directly recognisable as such – if it is, as quoted above, for example, “purely Turkish”. The chances are greater, however, if foreign musical elements are mixed with Uzbek ones and can thus somehow hide or disguise themselves. Quite obviously, there are contradictions in this theory of the sonic workings of estrada similar to those in national independence ideology. In both, something is extremely stable and extremely fragile at the same time. In the case of the latter, the country’s scientifically predetermined and thus unstoppable progress towards a bright future is endangered by myriad powerful inimical forces that constantly threaten to throw it off its path. In the former, a genetic code might undergo spontaneous and hazardous mutations just by being sonicated with the wrong music. And in both scenarios the stakes are high, for the fate of the nation is at risk. Whenever anyone talked about the dangerous influence of foreign sounds in estrada with me, they did so with the utmost seriousness. The academic version of this theory still presupposes a national genetic essence, but it avoids some of the pitfalls of the popular variant by locating this essence in music and not in people. Sound and intonatsiya While various Uzbek colleagues and some officials spoke about estrada’s musical properties and their effects in terms similar to those discussed above, up to this point, only one musicologist from Uzbekistan, Davlat Mullajonov, has expounded on and applied this approach extensively in writing (2003a; 2003b; 2004).23 In his studies, he directly draws on one of the most influential theories of Soviet musicology, Boris Assafjew’s concept of intonatsiya – not to be mistaken for the term intonation in the more common meaning of correctly or wrongly managing pitch in performance. Already developed in the 1920s and treated in his book Musical Form as Process (1930), Assafjew most extensively presented the concept in the early 1940s in “Intonatsiya”, which was added as a second part to Musical Form as Process in 1947 (Assafjew 1976).24 Essentially a semantic theory of music, intona­ tsiya was to become the main methodological key for adapting the principle of socialist realism, first formulated for literature, to the sphere of music, and it was widely taken up by other musicologists for further elaboration and exegesis. As a broad ideational framework capable of explaining the grand lines of musical evolution as well as specific compositional processes, intonatsiya also turned into an important analytical tool in musicology and music criticism – in the Uzbek SSR as throughout the Soviet Union and socialist eastern Europe (see Levin 1984: 87).

Mobilising estrada  267 According to Boris Assafjew, music is reality put into sound by humans, a phonic rendition of thoughts and emotions. For him, the term intona­tsiya first and foremost denotes the process of this transformation, but in the Soviet era it was also used – and increasingly so in the application of his approach – in a more objectified sense: as a designation for musical motives declared to be separate semantic units. What is intoned – and how – are specific to each social group, but a group’s characteristic intonatsiya is something that links all its musical genres, and for group members, music’s meaning is clearly decipherable without miscommunication. A group’s fund or dictionary of intonatsiya evolves over centuries, but it is never static. For just as reality changes, intonatsiya changes. As a consequence of this homology, in times of socio-political upheaval, there can be crises of intonatsiya, when old forms of intoning are no longer suitable, but new ones have not yet solidified. Boris Assafjew did not tailor his theory of intonatsiya specifically to explain national differences in music, but it did come to play an important part in delineating and consolidating national musical cultures in the Soviet Union and was widely used by scholars focusing on folk musics. In drawing on Boris Assafjew’s theory as well as later interpretations and applications, Davlat Mullajonov attests that Uzbek estrada is in a crisis of intonatsiya, caused by the unregulated integration of numerous foreign intonatsiya patterns into Uzbek estrada since independence, predominantly, but not exclusively, by amateurs (Mullajonov 2004: 13f.). According to him, the increased spread of foreign intonatsiyas since independence is linked to a new musical openness: [N]ow [meaning: since independence] the opportunity has come to freely use [erkin foydalanish imkoni] mass song styles (disco, reggae, hard-rock, rap, etc.) that were “forbidden” [man etilgan] in the recent past [meaning: in the Soviet era]. [Since independence] mass songs from the countries of the Near and Middle East, Latin and North America, Western Europe and Russia have started to sound in our musical estrada … (2004: 64) The presumed novelty of all these imports is, however, clearly contradicted by the sheer musical evidence of Uzbek SSR estrada, which, as was explained in Chapter 6, was actually quite voracious, particularly with regards to music from the Near and Middle East. Furthermore, archival documents about musical life in the republic as well as the numerous stories I heard from Uzbekistanis about their public and secret musical activities in the Soviet era do not support the evoked image of extreme isolation, which, however, perfectly fits national independence ideology – and world music discourse. A crisis of intonatsiya, as identified by Davlat Mullajonov for contemporary Uzbek estrada, is a normal corollary of the enormous socio-political changes taking place in the country. At the same time, this situation entails a serious danger, particularly since the re-working and establishing of

268  Mobilising estrada intonatsiyas to fit the new socio-political situation are proceeding slowly: “The stream of new intonatsiyas could make worthless [qadrsizlanishiga olib kelishi mumkin]” the national intonatsiyas which “have appeared during the many-centuries-old traditional life of our people” (Mullajonov 2004: 88, 56) and which are something like the genetic code of Uzbek music (pers. comm.). Just as national independence ideology has evolved over the centuries, so have intonatsiyas. In an ideal scenario, this code is thought to be continuously instilled into people through socialisation, already starting in the pre-natal phase: The first genetic codes [of music] a child [acquires] in the womb of its mother, it already knows the voice of the father. Science has shown that. Or when the mother gives birth, she sings a lullaby. Through them [lullabies] the genetic codes settle in, and then further [through] children’s songs … [T]he national [intonatsiya] dictionary is written. Then, this dictionary becomes larger. And [when] he has come of age, he knows, what is this, maqoms, katta ashula. Although he is no musician, [but] an engineer or a tractor driver. This accompanies [him] through life. When he hears something national in an estrada song, he already looks at it as something familiar. (01.2004; 06.2004) A characteristic Uzbek intonatsiya, for example, which is supposed to be immediately recognisable in estrada and understood by everyone in the same way, is the so-called yor-yor pattern, a short motive descending in two steps – minor second and major second: This extremely concise intonatsiya formula awakens dear, at the same time extraordinarily delicate feelings in our people’s comprehension. Specialists have noted that in it, at the same time a sorrowful (crying) state [mungli (yig’i) holat] as well as feelings of joy [shodlik kayfiyatlari] are mixed. (Mullajonov 2004: 57)25 If people – particularly children and young people – are confronted with and thus socialised on so many foreign intonatsiyas instead, however, the nation itself can ultimately be put at risk. Davlat Mullajonov unfortunately does not elaborate on how exactly melodies built mainly with minor thirds on a “beat rhythm” or cover versions of Turkish songs with Uzbek lyrics constitute “dangerous intonatsyia processes” in Uzbek estrada that can “cause social national thought to completely change” (ibid.: 87). Are people able to understand the meaning ingrained in foreign intonatsiyas and absorb ideas that are not compatible with national independence ideology, as Islom Karimov suggested when accusing “seemingly harmless tunes” of being capable of implementing foreign ideologies? Or do they become so

Mobilising estrada  269 permeated by foreign intonatsiyas, which are ostensibly undecipherable and thus meaningless to them, that there is little space left for their national ones? Do they even mistake foreign intonatsiyas for their own? What about their meanings then? Davlat Mullajonov might reveal little about the mechanisms that foreign intonatsiyas set in motion in individuals, but he is quite explicit about the consequences of their onslaught: It cannot even be imagined to what extent the consequences of this are spiritually degrading [ma’naviy nechog’lik tanazzulli]. We should not forget that [if] songs appear in such a process and [if] our young people eat “spiritual food” [ruhiy oziqa] on this base they might eventually be left without a deep feeling for our mother language, for the beauty of our national intonatsiyas, moreover, for their worth … [A] separation from national intonatsiyas certainly means a separation from our national values. (2004: 133; 2003a: 24) However, the wide spread of foreign intonatsiyas in estrada not only affects individuals, but ultimately targets the national intonatsiya dictionary as such: “If we do not stop this course now, then the skeleton, the intonatsiya, dictionary will completely vanish … Here, Uzbeks may lose their genetic code“ (06.2004; 01.2004). This, in turn, endangers the nation as such, for only when hearing national intonatsiyas the people feels itself as one body, one soul [bir tanu bir jon] … [A] person, in whose heart have settled national intonatsiyas, more quickly understands the value of the nation, begins to sense a feeling of national pride [milliy iftixor tuyg’usini] … Nowadays intonatsiyas have come to be “transported” mostly by the field of estrada. As this is so, for the sake of strengthening the priorities noted in our national ideology we have to intensify the national spirit [milliy ruhni] in estrada music … In other words, what is needed exactly is an Uzbek estrada that is rich in brilliant, beautiful, unique melodies [ jilvador, tarovatli, betakror navolarga boy], in an oriental/eastern style [sharqona]. (2003: 24f.) Thus, in the scholarly approach to the sonic workings of estrada, music’s impact rests ultimately in its semantic charge – beyond, or rather maybe below, the level of lyrics. Like an orator who uses rhetorical formulas, in its ideal form as milliy estrada, estrada speaks to people through phonic tropes, national intonatsiyas which, via the meanings encoded in them, tell them about their national idea, reproducing, asserting and uniting them as Uzbeks.26 What remains unclear, however, is why a decisive event such as independence and the radical socio-political change it entailed are, on the one hand,

270  Mobilising estrada said to certainly need new intonatsiyas, but then are considered to be best and necessarily represented by already existing ones.27 Even within the framework of the intonatsiya theory, enthusiasm for Turkish and Iranian estrada could be explained perfectly well by the often proclaimed new openness of the country, such that the integration of their intonatsiyas into the current dictionary would just be a particularly adequate expression of, for example, of feelings of cosmopolitanism or pan-Turkism among the population. In most conversations and interviews, this enthusiasm was explained by a lack of “culturedness”, a deficiency in musical knowledge and aesthetic refinement among the population – either because people were said not to have reached this level yet or because it was claimed they had regressed from the previously higher level of the Soviet era. This situation, in turn, was often cited as demanding attention – from the government, intellectuals, composers and singers. A composer phrased it in the following way: Art should lead the people. Art should heighten the level of the people. You know, the level of thinking, of culture, of psychology, the understanding of the world … But here, things are this way: Music follows the people. What do the people demand? They have a low level. You see, music follows the people. It fulfils the demands of the people, but it should be the other way round … One has to write such music so that the people grow. That among the people, aesthetics grow, [that] in a listener, culture grows. (12.2003; 08.2004)28 Milliy estrada, however, is not about the truthful reflection of reality as it is. It does not, as discussed above, take listeners and their tastes just as they are. It is about nationalist realism, about the depiction of a refined reality – the musical adaptation of national independence ideology, where the nation is the paramount and sacrosanct collective entity, while cosmopolitanism and pan-Turkism count as dangerous foreign ideologies. For this reason, the proposed perspective on foreign intonatsiyas, even if logically possible within this theory, is not at all viable politically. Other scholars and government officials who are familiar with Davlat Mullajonov’s writings vary in their assessment of his approach and results. Officials in particular welcome them as a scientific confirmation of their repeatedly voiced demand for more reliance on folk and classical music in ­estrada, and many subscribe to the need for urgent and concerted ­intervention – after all, the doomsday scenario also justifies all kinds of measures “at the state level”, not to mention the very existence of institutions like O’zbeknavo. Some criticise Mullajonov’s work for relying on “an old, Soviet method”, as one composer phrased it (08.2004), whereas the new era actually calls for new theories. And one former senior government official dismissed the approach as “complete abracadabra” (02.2004) for its utterly pessimistic assessment of the nation’s and its music’s perseverance. Nevertheless, these two critics, among others, welcomed the fact that musicology was finally attending to the problem at all.

Mobilising estrada  271 Agreeing that estrada was currently in turmoil, that it had an effect on its listeners in some way and therefore was an issue of political importance, they saw it as musicology’s duty to formulate recommendations on how estrada was to proceed in order to best suit the Uzbek nation state and meet its requirements. As they are experts on the matter, musicologists are expected to find a solution to this problem (see Mullajonov 2004: 5). They are to do this not based on spontaneous conjecture, however, but by pursuing so-called “searches” [poiski]. Just as during the Soviet era, where “searches” were omnipresent, today’s “searches” can also be conceptualised to be a kind of tentative foresight into the future of estrada. What enables scholars to foretell estrada’s future is thought to be, on the one hand, their specialist status as intellectuals and, on the other, the basic assumption that musical development is not a wayward process, but an orderly progress of unilineal evolution. As mentioned above, it is not only the nation, but estrada too that is widely thought to develop along a certain path that is, paradoxically, as predetermined as it is endangered, and thus in need of constant care and attention. And musicologists have both the ability and the duty to look ahead on this trajectory, to anticipate – or rather discover – what kind of music would be the correct, as Islom Karimov called it in the quote above, “spiritual companion” to socio-political development. A senior member of staff at the Conservatory described this process in the following way: This is a period of intensive search for those right paths, that will, maybe, subsequently give such already standard results of quality. At this moment, we are searching, we are still searching … We are very young. These years can, of course, help us orientate ourselves in searching for the right path. And we will not blindly test ourselves in this or that direction. No, in comparative analysis [we will] find out what gives more results. If there is to be such selective choosing, I think, we will not be worse than others. (12.2003; 02.2004) This final phrase, not be “worse than others”, already hints at the fact that the presumed workings of milliy estrada are not confined by Uzbekistan’s borders, but also reach beyond the country’s limits. And indeed, arguments regarding the necessity of forging milliy estrada often included the favourable impression that would be made abroad by the genre in this – and only in this – form. In the field of estrada, as in many others, Uzbekistan is certainly what John Heathershaw has termed a “global performance state” (2014). I will conclude this chapter by looking at what Uzbek milliy estrada is supposed to effect abroad.

Milliy estrada abroad Many people who are professionally involved with estrada spoke about milliy estrada as if they were talking about Uzbekistan’s coat of arms, its hymn or its flag. In their opinion, milliy estrada was – or should be, when

272  Mobilising estrada properly constituted – part of the “face of the state” [litso gosudarstva] in the international arena, alongside these other insignia of a modern nation state. And just like a coat of arms, hymn or flag, the existence of milliy estrada would, at the same time, be proof of the country’s rightful place in the “world community of civilised states”, of having understood and being able to play their game. Estrada would necessarily have to be thoroughly milliy, however, if it were to succeed in being this sonic emblem. Only in this form could it be a unique and immediately recognisable musical insignia – a state sound for the sound state of Uzbekistan. Folk and classical music could, of course, also – and probably more ­easily  – meet expectations of sonic singularity, and they do play a role in representing Uzbekistan abroad, but they do not seem to qualify as fulfilling the demands of a national musical symbol. Besides problems of choice – which region’s folk music or which genres of classical music should be selected – both folk and classical music come with a serious downside. They may perfectly express Uzbekistan’s particularity and its historic rootedness, but they fail to reflect another central, complementary component of the country’s self-image: being a modern and civilised nation state. This facet, most of my contacts maintained, could only be captured by showing skill in mastering an internationally recognised form of music. During the Soviet era, the ultimate yardstick of a nation’s musical prowess and progress had been its accomplishments in academic music. If, at that time, there was talk about bringing Uzbek music “up to the level of world culture”, this meant excelling in academic music (Slobin 1971: 7). Symphonies, oratories, operas and their institutions still have their place in independent Uzbekistan, academic music is widely taught in secondary schools and in higher education institutions and successful participants in international competitions of academic music are celebrated as a source of national pride. However, academic music has essentially been branded a colonial cultural import, preserving only a tainted form of prestige and surviving on crumbling support. It is something a civilised country must have, must engage and excel in, but it is more a concession to real or presumed international expectations than a priority of cultural politics – or an art form that would be considered suitable as a national sonic emblem of independent Uzbekistan. Estrada, on the other hand, has miraculously escaped joining academic music on the list of problematic items of Soviet heritage and has thus avoided the charge of being a musical beacon of colonial oppression. Universal estrada vs milliy estrada There is actually a very thin and blurred line in Uzbek politics separating the marked “western” or “European” from the presumably unmarked “international”, “universal” or “pan-human”. This is as true with regard to the Soviet heritage as it is to new outside influences. If cultural practices are declared to be western or European, for example, they risk being branded

Mobilising estrada  273 as colonial relics from the Soviet era or as contemporary carriers of foreign ideologies. This means, they are deemed either unnecessary or dangerous – but essentially alien in any case. If declared universal and thus neutral, on the other hand, cultural practices are considered part of the achievements of world civilisation and proficiency in them is something that any nation state should aspire to (see Kale-Lostuvalı 2007: 554). In line with older Soviet ideas, they are conceptualised as something like floating vessels that are at the disposal of every nation state, and it is up to these states to grasp and fill them with their specific milliylik. But they can also be used in an unmarked way – sof or chistyy, meaning pure. For this reason, estrada is officially viewed neither as a Soviet relic, nor of Russian heritage in Uzbekistan today; it is not seen as an Uzbek translation of a Russian original (see Stokes 2007: 13), nor as a domesticated version of an art form that travelled from centre to periphery. Approaches of this kind, which all entail ideas about origins, power and hierarchy, are essentially alien to how estrada is perceived in contemporary Uzbekistan. It might have entered the Uzbek SSR via the Russian SFSR, but essentially it is an unmarked, universal art form, and Russian Soviet estrada was also just one of its specific national variants (see Adams 2010: 78f.).29 These labels marked or unmarked, however, are not stable, and they can change quickly with shifting foreign policy priorities. They are, of course, also in the eye of the beholder. Musicians from the sphere of academic music usually still defend their art as universal and a sign of being cultured (see Merchant 2015: 116–120). When presenting my research project among musicologists at the Conservatory in autumn 2003, a specialist on academic music became very agitated and reproached me for my choice of topic: “This is unbelievable. In Germany, Bach, Beethoven, universal composers, are all at your doorstep. You could study them easily, everything is there. But you come here. And you study estrada” (09.2003). ]A number of musicians from the sphere of classical music I spoke to, however, dismissed academic music as a European import – just as they dismissed estrada.30 During the Soviet era both academic music and estrada were recognised as universal, but in independent Uzbekistan, it is only estrada that has been able to maintain this label without reservations – and many people emphasised distinctions between the universal and the western or European, or between sof and milliy, in conversations and interviews. One composer said, for example, “I rather write universal music, I cannot say that it is European” (08.2004), and once I stumbled into an animated discussion between two Conservatory teachers about whether the repertoires of various European pop singers were milliy, that is, markedly French, English or Italian, or sof, universal estrada without any national specificities. Consequently, since it is a genre that is considered to be free from historical stigma, estrada qualifies quite perfectly for showcasing mastery in an internationally familiar form of music, on the one hand, and for epitomising modernity, even more than academic music, on the other.31 As mentioned

274  Mobilising estrada above, estrada will only function as a sonic emblem for ­Uzbekistan, however, if it is milliy, that is, if it is sufficiently suffused with national particularities. As Abdurakhimov, Rasultoev and Norbo’taev maintain, integrating elements from older musical traditions is the basis for “Uzbek estrada’s ­national uniqueness and this uniqueness is a factor for its rise to ­universal rank” (2006: 52). They resort to European estrada to prove their point: “[T]he reason for the Beatles group’s professional level and world fame … was the fact that they attached importance to the use of ancient Celtic musical folklore” (2006: 24). If there are too few particularities from one’s own traditions or too many particularities from other countries’ traditions, estrada cannot fulfil its representational role in the international sphere – as this O’zbeknavo official remarked. ­ ussian, If there is not milliy estrada, then there will be no difference – R Ukrainian, German, Uzbek. [It will look] as if we want to resemble someone. You understand? The development of American, German, Italian [estrada] – it is not necessary, they [already] have their fundament, their tradition. But here, … if we do not recognise our basis [meaning: older musical traditions], then it will not be possible for us to be different from others. (11.2005) The country that was most often cited as having successfully forged an emblematic estrada and that could serve as a role model was Turkey. But there were also others, according to this musicologist: Well, Turkish estrada – that is immediately clear, when you hear İbrahim Tatlıses, he exudes Turkishness. So, Turkish estrada has a face. The same you can say of Indian estrada. Iran – the same. And this tendency they want here, too, so that Uzbek estrada would have a face, a national identity, as they say … Arabs, they have a recognisable estrada … India, Turkey, Egypt. You hear them at any place in the world, and you will recognise their origin. (11.2005; 08.2004) Apart from leaving Uzbekistan sonically too indistinct, failing to craft a truly milliy estrada would make it appear as though the country were not able to master an expressive form of world civilisation.32 As mentioned earlier, the success of estrada singers Yulduz Usmanova and Sevara Nazarkhan in the world music market are generally not seen as sufficient proof of this kind of musical proficiency; proper recognition would require leaving this kind of niche market and entering the mainstream. This task, to somehow balance the particular and the international and integrate them into a convincing musical whole for both the domestic sphere

Mobilising estrada  275 and the outside world, is neither unique to Uzbekistan nor extremely new.33 It is not unique, because it is a conundrum to be solved by any nation state that wants or is expected to showcase itself musically in an international context, such as at festivals and competitions, where participants or contestants are meant to represent their countries of origin. It is not new because juggling the national and the international was a central mandate of cultural politics throughout the Soviet era, and it made those active in this sphere experts in acts of musical amalgamation. While the products of these activities in the Soviet era were to prove the nationally specific stage of musical evolution in the Uzbek SSR to the Union level or beyond, that is, to the rest of the socialist world, now, with Uzbekistan having entered the global arena of independent nation states, the overall framework may have changed, but fundamentally, the task is still the same. An Uzbek colleague even called the demand for milliy estrada a purely Soviet question. There are tens of thousands of works from the Soviet era on questions of the national and the international. When I was studying at the Conservatory, once a lecturer asked whether Chopin was a national composer. Everybody said yes. Then he asked whether he was also an international composer. The answer was also yes. Then he concluded, that now everything was clear about Chopin. Everybody was so fed up with these questions. (05.2004) Musical ambassadors Besides continuities with regard to the overall task, there are also continuities with regard to the role singers are supposed to fulfil when touring outside Uzbekistan. In line with the importance assigned to milliy estrada for negotiating Uzbekistan’s standing on the international level, government officials and staff of other state institutions in particular, but also some journalists and singers themselves, perceive performances abroad not as private excursions and exhibits of individual talent, but more as official missions in cultural diplomacy, regardless of who is organising these trips and where the concerts take place. Whether an estrada artist was considered worthy of representing Uzbekistan beyond its borders, whether her or his repertoire was suitable for such purpose, whether she or he had behaved in a dignified – or at least somehow proper – manner at these occasions: these were frequent topics of discussion during my fieldwork, particularly in state institutions. Success abroad, such as, when Sevara Nazarkhan was awarded a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in 2004, was usually claimed as a recognition for Uzbekistan that would raise the country’s prestige as a whole, as if there were a reyting system among the global community of nation states. Bad behaviour, on the

276  Mobilising estrada other hand, such as when a singer was accused of stealing cosmetics during a trip to Germany, was condemned as reflecting badly on Uzbekistan’s international image. Estrada singers react differently to being stylised as musical ambassadors. Some voluntarily accept the responsibility of acting as cultural representatives of their country, seeing it as part of their duty towards the nation and state in line with their self-perception as engaged artists – or even as a prestigious privilege. Others accept this role grudgingly, but would actually endorse it if the government treated them as it treats real ambassadors – that is, paid them for their services – or at least organised their concert trips abroad. And a few dismiss the expectation to perform the state abroad as an absurd infringement on their artistic individuality and freedom. For the majority of the period of my fieldwork, the Uzbek government had, in fact, little control over estrada singers’ foreign activities and this situation was a constant source of discontent for O’zbeknavo. While a 2011 document by the Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art demands artists present their invitation and “have a conversation” [suhbatdan o’tkaziladi] at O’zbeknavo before trips abroad, as long as artists possessed an exit visa, there was basically no legal means to keep them from travelling wherever they wanted. O’zbeknavo did, however, have the opportunity to act on the artists’ return, and as it did sometimes resort to sanctions, artists often preferred to keep concert trips secret.34 Between 2008 and 2016, however, O’zbeknavo’s grip on artists’ activities abroad seems to have considerably tightened. When I returned to Tashkent in March 2016, several artists and other contacts from the estrada scene told me that singers’ journeys abroad had become closely monitored – at least those of singers above a certain level of reyting. According to these accounts, if singers tried to cross Uzbekistan’s borders, whether for concerts, wedding engagements or completely private reasons, border guards would phone O’zbeknavo and ask whether the trip was authorised. The producer of a well-known male singer became very agitated when talking about this issue: “For all trips abroad, estradniki have to ask permission from O’zbeknavo now. That’s just like in the Middle Ages, during the Inquisition! But we are supposed not to live in the slave era any more!” (03.2016). Due to poor foreign policy relations at that time, some countries had become no-go areas for concerts and weddings, such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Turkey. For precisely this reason, friends of mine had not been able to engage Uzbek artists for the wedding of their daughter in Kyrgyzstan. It had become unmistakably clear to me in 2005, how strong – and how consequential – this concept of estrada singers as state artists was in Karimov’s Uzbekistan, when Yulduz Usmanova, estrada singer of top reyting and good government standing at that time, sang at the invitation of then Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov. This engagement caused an uproar in the government and dealt a severe blow to her career from which it

Mobilising estrada  277 would never really recover in Islom Karimov’s lifetime. The problem with her performance was not, however, that she had accepted an invitation by a ruthless head of state and sang for him. The problem was that the invitation had not been filed through official channels and approved by Islom Karimov himself. Initially Saparmurat Niyazov’s negligence, his lapse in protocol became Yulduz Usmanova’s fault when she did not ask for official permission to perform when the invitation was addressed to her p ­ ersonally  – a permission that most probably would have been granted. That she, allegedly, went to Turkmenistan on Niyazov’s private plane and, also allegedly, was presented with expensive gifts (among them, according to some rumours, a horse), made matters worse. As one journalist said: “You just cannot do this, if you are a singer on the government level” (08.2006). In contrast to 2016, however, in 2005 only about a handful of singers would have been considered official state musical ambassadors and subjected to this kind of ­monitoring – and sanctioning. How the situation will change with new priorities in Uzbek cultural politics under president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, remains to be seen. But whether promoters of milliy or defenders of a more voracious kind of estrada, when it comes to Uzbek estrada’s successes abroad, still almost everybody concedes that it is not in shape yet – or not in shape again – to make a grand entrance in the global music market and function properly as state sound abroad.

Conclusion Islom Karimov’s national independence ideology is key to understanding why the Uzbek government selected estrada as state sound – and what milliy estrada is imagined to effect within and beyond the borders of Uzbekistan. Even though questions of ideology had been an issue earlier, from the year 2000 onwards they were formed into a more fixed canon of socio-political theory, not only codifying the country’s history, but also defining its future path of development and determining its final destiny. Until Islom Karimov’s death in 2016 they remained the central ideational foundation for his presidential rule and government politics in Uzbekistan. National independence ideology adopted some of the main tenets of its predecessor, Marxism-Leninism, among them the basic principle that ­socio-political development proceeds as a unilineal, orderly progress towards a predetermined endpoint – now towards a democratic nation state instead of communism, echoing classical transitology. It also kept an understanding of the role of the arts in state and society that accorded them considerable importance. They were to be a vital part of, if not the impetus for socio-political development, a means to enlighten and form citizens’ consciousness, thus moving them along the path of progress. In the realm of the arts, it was estrada that was considered most suitable to instil newly codified independence ideology into the Uzbekistani population and thus became an integral part of authoritarian state-craft. The institutionalisation of this new

278  Mobilising estrada patriotisation initiative via music was effected in 2001 by the reorganisation of O’zbeknavo into a government body solely responsible for estrada. Estrada’s ability to react quickly to socio-political affairs and its popularity with young people made it particularly suited for this task. At the same time, its ability to signify modernity as well as rootedness – at least in its imaginary ideal form as milliy estrada – qualified it to represent independent Uzbekistan in sound more accurately than any other musical tradition in the country. The ascription of this capability is essentially linked to the fact, that in Uzbekistan estrada is generally not categorised as a direct heritage from Soviet Russia, but defined as a neutral, unmarked, international genre that can be enriched and thus nationalised with local musical substance and which just happened to enter the Uzbek SSR via the Russian SFSR. This understanding rendered the choice of estrada as musical state insignia unproblematic despite Uzbekistan’s strong de-Sovietisation policies at that time. Under the aesthetic mandate of what I have termed nationalist realism, milliy estrada was to sonify national independence ideology – to represent an enhanced reality, life as slightly ahead of time, while ignoring more problematic facets of current reality. Whether sound is thought to transport textual content or to affect people more directly at a subconscious level, as in the theory of intonatsiya, the genre is attributed immense powers and the ability for immediate impact. And because of this political potency, the estrada and estradniki need government direction and administration. For if estrada is milliy, so government reasoning goes, it will instil ideology, strengthen the nation and contribute to crafting the state; if it is not milliy, but charged with too many foreign elements, it will jeopardise a person’s identity and pose a threat to the nation’s progress, if not its very existence. Also beyond Uzbekistan’s borders milliy estrada was to have an effect in the Karimov era – as proof of Uzbekistan’s ability to master an international art form and thus be a normal member of the global community of civilised states, but also as a sonic emblem of the independent country as a modern, but rooted, nation state. On the whole, however, questions of cultural diplomacy abroad were secondary to concerns about milliy estrada’s workings at home in the Karimov era. But what actually were the results of these imaginary workings? I will conclude this book by looking at the outcome of 15 years of elaborate estrada administration in Islom Karimov’s Uzbekistan.

Notes 1 Lit.: “my holy Uzbek” [muqaddas O’zbegim]: this is a poetic way of saying Uzbekistan. 2 Lit.: “to my father and my mother I am truly linked via the liver” [ jigarband­ iman]: “linked via the liver” is an expression for an extremely close and affectionate relation. 3 Like other heads of state, Islom Karimov had staff to aid him in writing speeches and other texts or to ghost-write them for him. This means that much of what

Mobilising estrada  279 was published in his name was in fact the outcome of a collective effort – with or without his personal involvement (see Megoran 2017b: 27). While perhaps interesting in itself, this fact is of minor importance here; what counts in this context is the attributed authorship. 4 Islom Karimov most concisely expounded national independence ideology in Karimov (1998; 2000a; 2000b; 2002). The most detailed analyses of Uzbekistan’s national independence ideology in western scholarship are those of Andrew March (2002; 2003), Nick Megoran (2008b) and Sarah Kendzior (2014). 5 Conservatory staff often complained to me about the great share that non-­ musical subjects such as national independence ideology, spirituality, Uzbek history and Uzbek language had in the overall result of entrance exams. To their dismay, this, in their view, unbalanced scheme of evaluation often left them with students who did not have the necessary musical qualifications, while musically talented applicants who lacked proficiency in these subjects did not have a chance (unless they resorted to unofficial payments). Expertise in the same non-musical subjects, however, was a prerequisite for Conservatory staff, too, who, at least by 2016, had to regularly take and pass an exam, a so-called attesta­ tsiya, which tested, among other things, proficiency in Uzbek and independence ideology. Some pedagogically interested estrada singers did not even bother applying for Conservatory positions because of the prospect of having to sit these attestatsiyas. 6 There actually has been an extensive debate on the ethnogenesis of the Uzbeks and their subsequent formation into a nation. See Ilkhamov (2006a; 2006b) and the diverse responses to his paper on the “Archaeology of Uzbek Identity” in a special issue of Anthropology & Archaeology of Eurasia in 2006 (see also Finke 2014). 7 Islom Karimov’s most detailed writing on spirituality is High Spirituality: An Invincible Force (Karimov 2008), which is also the focus of some exegetic literature (see, for example, Qarshiboev 2008). Sarah Kendzior has produced a profound analysis of the concept of ma’naviyat within and beyond national independence ideology. In contrast to her, who translates ma’naviyat as morality, I prefer the translation “spirituality” in order to differentiate ma’naviyat from axloq, which is the more common term for morality. As adjectives, both terms are often combined to denote something of spiritual-moral quality (ma’naviy-axloqiy). 8 One can easily trace how Islom Karimov tried to somehow show reverence to Islam, while at the same time being extremely uncomfortable about its role in national independence ideology. Whereas in April 2000 he proclaimed that “[w]e do not imagine our life without the sacred Muslim religion” (2000b: 457) and included Islam in the list of national independence ideology’s components, a month later he maintained that Islam should have a place in the ideology, but that this was a “delicate and difficult” question (Karimov 2000a: 490f.). Already in 1998, Islom Karimov had significantly restricted the activities of religious organisations, though not only Muslim ones, with a new law on “Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations”. On Uzbek policies directed towards Islam, see, among others, Hilgers (2009: 24–37) and Steinberger (2003). 9 Nick Megoran has, however, shown that in his own analysis of the Andijon events, Islom Karimov shunned independence ideology as a framework and used other schemes to explain what happened and to justify his reaction (­ Megoran 2008b). 10 This strategy of denying Islom Karimov’s conscious agency and individual responsibility for the design and implementation of national independence ideology can be seen as the main reason for the conspicuous lack of a proper personality cult for Islom Karimov in Uzbekistan, which functioned more subtly by proxy instead (Adams & Rustemova 2009: 1270).

280  Mobilising estrada 11 Alternatively, Islom Karimov used the metaphor of vaccination in this context; this is what the term “ideological immunity” in the first quote of this section refers to. Karimov’s successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, took up this metaphor in one of his February 2017 decrees, where he writes about the “strengthening of the immunity to alien ideas of radicalism and extremism” (UP-4956 2017). To avoid a metaphor confusion, I will stick to the image of the liquids. 12 The image of Uzbekistan as a thoroughly endangered country has also been reproduced in western scholarly discourse (see, for example, Everett-Heath 2003). In western public discourse, however, Uzbekistan is perceived more as a dangerous place. 13 Socialist realism has been quite widely studied, also outside of the Soviet Union and socialist eastern Europe. For concise overviews, publications from the 1970s are particularly useful, such as Fox (1977), James (1973) and Laing (1978: 20–45). For an introduction to socialist realism in music, see Redepenning (2008: 301–322); for primary sources, see, in particular, Zhdanov ([1934] 1950) and ­Gorodinskiy (1933). See Frolova-Walker (1998) for socialist realism in academic music in Central Asia and the Caucasus. 14 In the 1970s, when Sadyr Vakhidov’s book was published, the term estrada still partially denoted the art of variété performances, which did, however, include, songs. Most of what Vakhidov described as Uzbek Soviet Song in his book would be labelled estrada today. 15 The ability to quickly react to current events was also emphasised for estrada when it was still understood as the art of variété performance: One of the principal specific features of estrada … is the sharp socio-­political up-to-dateness of the treated subjects, the topicality, the quick reaction to events that are occurring in life. This feature has been expressed in the famous aphorism: “In the morning in the newspaper – in the evening in the kuplet [satirical song]”.  (Anastas’yev 1976: 24) 16 An important difference between socialist realism and nationalist realism is their take on negatively judged eras of history. Whereas in socialist realism, depicting enemies and hardships of the recent past was an important topic, representing foes and miseries of the Soviet era is not a subject for nationalist realism, at least not for milliy estrada, probably because there are too many continuities in ­p ersonage – in government, with Islom Karimov leading the way until his death, as well as in estrada. One continuity from the Soviet era, however, is the use of military terminology, when describing the role of art or the importance of ideology. A document from 1949, for example, explicitly stated that “to wage a deadly war [vesti neprimerimuyu [sic] bor’bu] against any manifestations and influences of foreign ideology [chuzhoy ideologii]” was a task of the Filarmoniya (Central State Archive, f. 2366, o. 2, d. 43, l. 7). 17 As arranging marriages is an activity that predominantly women engage in, it is actually not a rare occurrence in Uzbekistan that men meet their daughters- or sons-in-law only at or after the actual wedding. 18 The educative effect of various kinds of entertainment music was an important topic in the GDR too. See Hofmann (1999: 148), Leitner (1994: 23) and Rauhut (1998: 343) for details and interesting quotes from original documents. 19 In a similar vein, a 1984 Moscow central committee decree urged the Komsomol to take concerted action to make young people fill their free time with reasonable activities: It is important that young men and women do not indulge in superficial amusement in their leisure time. Their leisure time activities rather have to serve their ideological enrichment and physical development, the

Mobilising estrada  281 advancement of high cultural interests and aesthetic tastes as well as contact with the best achievements of our country’s and world culture.  (cited in Kretzschmar 1993: 205f.)

20 21


23 24


“Best achievements of other countries and peoples” is, as was described above, also a staple phrase in national independence ideology. See Kendzior (2007: 320) on the great power ascribed to singers in Uzbekistan – and the great power they actually sometimes have. The belief that music has the power to influence humans, to affect their thoughts and emotions, to alter their behaviour and, ultimately, to contribute to shaping society, is, of course, neither uniquely Uzbek nor extremely new. Even the assumption of some immediate effect, bypassing intellectual reflection, is quite common. Various western approaches to music politics, music education and music therapy also assume music to have an intrinsic power and thus ability to directly affect people. Plato and Aristotle, who dealt with music’s power in the context of politics, are an early example. More recently, campaigns like “an instrument for every child” among primary school children in Germany, hope not only to level out class-based differences in access to music education, but also to further social competencies via collective musicking. See Keller (2007) for a short overview on presumptions about music’s intrinsic powers. The idea that music has therapeutic power is also widespread in Uzbekistan. I also often heard musical talent being described as genetically determined, either individually, when children of musicians embark on musical careers themselves, nationally, when Uzbeks or Tajiks as a whole are credited with a high level of musicality, or regionally, when, for example, Khorezmians are praised for their special musical skills (see Turaeva 2008: 152). Just as often, however, musical talent was said to be a gift of god, bestowed on an individual. I am grateful to Davlat Mullajonov for providing me with a manuscript of his unpublished PhD thesis (2004) and for allowing me to quote from it. For reflections on and summaries of Assafjew’s theory in English, see, for example, Brown (1974), Krader (1990: 8f.), Levin (1984: 85ff.; 2002: 198f.) and Zemtsovsky (1997; 2002). See Lehmann and Lippold (1976) and Redepenning (2008: 32f.) for a short overview of the intellectual context of Boris Assafjew’s theory, his intellectual forerunners and influences; see Assafjew himself for his perspective on Soviet musical culture ([1942] 1967). The main part of Davlat Mullajonov’s thesis is an analysis of various estrada songs with regard to the use of Uzbek intonatsiyas and foreign elements (2004: 65–129). In his study, he follows the objectified understanding of the concept of intonatsiya: An intonatsiya is a short motive. It can consist of three notes, of five or of seven sounds. It is a very small musical fragment which is characteristic of each people; [intonatsiyas are] its codes, this is a genetic code.  (06.2004)

26 A self-professed follower of Boris Assafjew, Izaliy Zemtsovsky, claims the performance of music to have a similar effect as its reception due to the workings of intonatsiyas: “[T]he performance … is a means of ‘feeding’ on culture by drawing refreshment from the cultural well” (Zemtsovsky 1997: 192). 27 Curiously, but in line with the treatment of the Soviet era in national independence ideology, Davlat Mullajonov does not write about intonatsiyas that became part of the Uzbek intonatsiya dictionary in the Soviet era or the fact that estrada itself was originally an import, just like rap and reggae are now. Soviet intona­ tsiyas were, however, still a topic in musicology in the late Uzbek SSR (Yusupov 1990: 12).

282  Mobilising estrada 28 In 1956, at a meeting of the Filarmoniya’s section of soloists in Tashkent, similar concerns were voiced: “The education of taste. Who takes care of the education of tastes? No one. We walk on the lead of a shoddy listener [nizkoprobnogo slushatelya]. We do not have educators” (Central State Archive, f. R 2366, o. 2, d. 140, l. 3). 29 In Soviet era parades, where participants from all other republics were presenting their “national dress”, Russians often did not, but rather incarnated the universal in plain clothes or uniforms, “representing the essence of the Soviet Union itself rather than a specific ethnic group” (Rausing 2004: 132). This was also in line with the “elder brother” image of the Russians already being ahead of the other Soviet national or ethnic groups. 30 With regard to Tajikistan, Federico Spinetti writes that “Both European art music and pop music … have arguably remained steadily perceived as Europe-­ derived and perhaps Europe-oriented traditions” (2005: 187). In Iran, as Laudan Nooshin maintains, it is instead academic music that has stayed immune to being chastised as a western and thus unwanted import, while pop music has a much more problematic position in this respect (2005: 268). 31 In the 1950s, Yugoslavia turned to jazz and popular music in international cultural diplomacy for similar reasons – to present the country as modern and progressive (Vuletic 2008: 871). 32 This bid to master presumably international music forms is rarely endorsed, however, by international audiences who are more eager to hear folk and classical music than proof of Central Asians’ proficiency in academic music and estrada (see Rouland 2007: 214f.). Also members of the diplomatic corps in Tashkent were regularly astonished by the prominence of estrada in Uzbek cultural diplomacy. 33 See Turino (2000) for a detailed study on how the demands of, as he terms it, localism and cosmopolitanism played out in the history of creating a national music in Zimbabwe. 34 Keeping trips abroad secret conflicted, however, with artists’ desire to present themselves as being internationally popular, and as quite a few used stays in foreign countries to shoot video clips (see Video I.8, for example), their travels usually became known. Disguising them as private holidays was one way out of this dilemma. Vice versa, when not expecting problems with O’zbeknavo, holiday tours or invitations to weddings abroad were often blown out of proportion and portrayed as concert engagements in a move to fake fame.

Exiting estrada

Hamburg, 16 February 2017 I cannot believe what I have just read: “‘O’zbeknavo’ Will Be Closed”. A friend from Tashkent has just sent me the link to a short report with that title on an Uzbek news site. O’zbeknavo’s demise was officially announced yesterday, on 15 February, as part of a number of changes which president Shavkat Mirziyoyev introduced in his decree “On the Means of Further ­Perfection of the System of Administration in the Sphere of Culture and Sport” (UP-4956 2017). This story somehow comes as a shock, and for reasons, I cannot really grasp, makes me feel low. It is a weird generic sense of loss – something that just seemed to be there forever is all of a sudden gone. I remember, how, at the beginning of fieldwork, I could not imagine something like O’zbeknavo to exist. But now I cannot really imagine Uzbek estrada to exist without O’zbeknavo any more – at least estrada in its current shape and role. Less than a year ago, in March 2016, there were rumours in Tashkent about O’zbeknavo wanting to elevate its position and increase its power even further by licensing estrada instrumentalists, and now the whole institution will just cease to exist? What has happened at O’zbeknavo? And what will happen to estrada? The report on the news site offers few details, and the original legal document gives no real answers to these questions either. After brief praise and extensive criticism of the current system of administration in the spheres of culture and sport, it decrees that the Ministry of Culture and Sport will be split into a Ministry of Culture and a State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport. Further down, but without any critical comment so far, it mandates that O’zbeknavo be merged with O’zbekraqs, the Association for National Dance, into a state institution called O’zbekkontsert at the Ministry of Culture, and it transforms the Fund for the Development of Estrada Art into the Fund for the Development of Culture and Art. The end of O’zbeknavo is, however, quite obviously not the end of the licence system, as the new Fund is ruled to be financed partially from licence fees for “concert-show activity”. Only a vague reason is given for the fusion

284  Exiting estrada of these two institutions – and only much later, in the commentary to the document: [O’zbekkontsert will] unify nearly 2,500 creative collectives and performers and allow to strengthen the efficiency of the realisation of means for the development of the arts of music, choreography and estrada, [allow] to show all-sided support in the creation of highly artistic high quality works [vysokokhudozhestvennykh kachestvennykh proizvedeniy], which express the high spirituality, the outstanding and unique culture of the people of Uzbekistan. (UP-4956 2017) Efficiency may indeed have been a reason behind the decision to merge the two associations into O’zbekkontsert, but a strong general trend towards centralisation seems to be more important. Other regulations leave no doubt about this: The association O’zbekmuzey and the O’zbekteatr fund are to be liquidated, their functions and properties handed over to the Ministry, the responsibility for all music schools will transfer from the Ministry of Public Education to the Ministry of Culture, as will the two large concert halls in Tashkent, Independence Palace and Turkiston Palace, which up until now had been managed by the Tashkent city administration. This move towards centralisation had already reached O’zbeknavo back in 2014, when it was made part of the Ministry of Culture and Sport and its director tasked with overseeing other sub-institutions, too. This earlier re-structuring measure strengthened O’zbeknavo’s position – and elevated estrada’s status. The steps to be taken now, however, seem to herald a sharp decline. O’zbeknavo personnel might profit in terms of power and reach if chosen to staff the much larger entity O’zbekkontsert. But the dissolution of a separate state institution solely dedicated to estrada and the dilution of a separate fund for its development certainly seem to indicate the end of the genre’s prominence in politics. Overall, however, the decree points to a strong continuity with ideas about culture and its role in society in Karimov-era Uzbekistan. In fact, the new tasks it assigns to the Ministry of Culture widely echo – or even quote verbatim – the culture-specific tasks laid down in similar decrees in 2004 and 2005 for the Ministry of Culture and Sport. As before, the Ministry’s duties c­ entre on “national cultural and spiritual heritage”. The population’s cultural – now also spiritual-moral – level should be raised by means of ­“exposure to the epitomes of national and world culture”; and the opportunities offered by the various institutions in the field of culture should also be used for the “education of spiritually mature [earlier: spiritually rich], intellectually developed and highly cultured personalities”. Just as it was supposed to have already been doing for over a decade by this point, the Ministry is to ensure that cadres are prepared “in the spirit of national and pan-­human values, humanism and high morality” and that citizens’ “aesthetic and cultural

Exiting estrada  285 needs” – now also “intellectual needs” – are fulfilled, among other means, by “mass-cultural events”. Another responsibility, as before, is the “allsided support for creative collectives in the creation of works that express the brightest pages of the nation’s history and its contemporary life, of the free democratic development of the country” (UP-4956 2017). Besides the astonishing overlap with previous legal documents of this kind, there is one novelty that is not just a reformulation, but actually deserves to be labelled as something new. This is a task, which sounds as if it has been taken straight out of one of Islom Karimov’s books: “the strengthening of the immunity against the foreign ideas of radicalism and extremism”. A striking difference from the 2004 and 2005 decrees, however, is provided by the complete absence of the phrase “idea of national independence”, which was a recurring trope in these earlier official documents and had always denoted the conceptual core from which all activities should spring. A similar formulation is used only on one occasion, when the Ministry is ordered to implement “enlightening work for the further deep rooting of the idea of independence in national consciousness” among the population, in particular among young people. At the same time, Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s February 2017 government policy statement act “On the Strategy of Actions for the Further Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan” (UP-4947 2017) points to a major re-evaluation of national independence ideology by demanding the “developments and realisations of fundamentally new ideas and principles for the further steady and advancing development of the country”. Should national independence ideology, as formed by Islom Karimov, indeed vanish or be substantially altered as an overarching ideational framework under president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, this would most certainly affect estrada’s significance for the project of governing. And one might even read this decree to be hinting at the new priority in culture politics under the new president. The second to last passage of its commentary assigns the new “Ministry of Culture together with other interested ministries and institutions” the following task, declared to be of “vital significance for the further development of culture”: “to develop … a medium-term programme of measures for the further development of the national dance of Uzbekistan, which envisages the revival and careful preservation of the rich historical traditions of Uzbek dance …” (UP-4956 2017). The task’s phrasing sounds very familiar: Since the Soviet era, “further development” has been a staple in official rhetoric for announcing coordinated measures of state direction, not just a commentary on expectable future processes without additional government involvement. After all, the resolution that initiated estrada’s rise to prominence on the political agenda in 2001 was called “On the further development of estrada-song art”. It is too early to tell whether national dance will indeed be the new focus in culture politics, as the decree has not been implemented yet. It is also too early to tell what will happen to Uzbek estrada. But it is more than evident

286  Exiting estrada that this point in time is exactly the right one in which to take stock of and assess the outcome of the age of estradisation, the 15 years of concerted estrada politics under president Islom Karimov between 2001 and 2016.

Homeland times two If the grand superior goal of estrada politics in Uzbekistan’s age of estradisation was to suffuse the country’s population with independence ideology, to fill their hearts and minds with love for, belief in and commitment to Uzbekistan, the comparably grand and superior question would be, whether this attempt at sonic patriotisation has been successful. This, however, is impossible to answer without resorting to gross speculation. Even if one were able to determine the general level of patriotism among Uzbekistan’s population, it would still remain unclear how much of it could be attributed to the workings of estrada. After all, there are many other channels – maybe not as pleasurable, but all the more explicit – through which the Uzbekistani citizenry was and is exposed to national independence ideology and called to patriotism: [t]hrough music, the Uzbek population – and particularly its youth – learned to dance to a geopolitical script that could be found in learned academic tomes, the news media, the universities, and in the discos and living rooms across the state … (Megoran 2005: 567) Leaving hearts and minds out of the picture and turning our attention to a different part of the body, however, brings us back to less speculative terrain. Karimov-era estrada politics certainly managed to fill many people’s ears with sonified patriotism – particularly through what I earlier termed the supreme discipline of milliy estrada: vatan songs, songs about the homeland. For outside observers, vatan songs are certainly the most conspicuous part of the total repertoire of Uzbek estrada. For me, they were part of the initial fascination for my research topic and they have also caught the attention of other scholars, who have pointed to their important position in the overall Uzbek soundscape. Dick Martin, for example, writes that “[n]one of these songs are oddities occurring on the fringe of the Uzbek musical scene” (2001), while Tanya Merchant claims that they “occupy a significant portion of radio and television broadcasts” (2006: 216), and Nick Megoran states that “[s]tructurally, the government has fashioned an environment that ensures maximum exposure of suitable music” (2005: 564), particularly through its radio and TV policies. On the one hand, these observations seem correct. As I have detailed in previous chapters, the Uzbek government under president Islom Karimov expended considerable effort to ensure that vatan songs were produced in significant numbers and showed a great interest in disseminating them, even if they did not always succeed in this.

Exiting estrada  287 These songs are part of Independence Day and Navro’z celebrations as well as minor concerts, and competitions spilled out thousands of them every year. Every solo concert I watched included at least one vatan song in the programme, and they were a regular feature on radio and TV, particularly around Independence Day – not to mention the repeated broadcasts of the holiday spectacles themselves. Moreover, the likelihood that one would, while walking through the Conservatory, hear someone practising a vatan song in one of the estrada rooms was rather high. After all, vatan songs are a set component of the curriculum for students in the vocal department and part of government exams for the BA and MA level. While there can be no doubt about the unmistakable presence of vatan songs in the public soundscape, I would not agree that they “occupy a significant portion of radio and television broadcasts” and have thus reached a degree of saturation that would justify to speaking of “maximum exposure”. In fact, whenever I paid special attention to radio and TV play during my field stays in Tashkent, I was always astonished anew to hear and see how comparably little airtime they received – not counting the weeks around Navro’z or Independence Day, which featured a heavier rotation of vatan songs. There is no official broadcast quota for them and, as described earlier, O’zbeknavo never managed to find a way to actually control playlists. There are instead, as one radio journalist told me, “expectations” and sometimes calls “from above”, but the stations deal with these expectations very differently. When I talked to one journalist in 2005, she related that there were discussions about increasing the number of vatan songs in the programme at the FM station where she worked, as various members of staff themselves considered them necessary and useful. But my interlocutor had some doubts about their effect: “I do not think that this will ideologically pay off so much. Not 100 per cent. But if this were at least 50 per cent, it would already be good” (11.2005). Another radio journalist took the reverse approach: Someone told me, I cannot remember who, that for vatan songs singers don’t have to pay for promo [for being played on the radio]. X: No, that is not true. KK: This means they have to pay? X: If it is a vatan song, I do not play it at all … I may play it, if it is good, but if it is just a hymn, like a hymn, and bad, [I will not] … Because I know that people will not listen. (10.2005) KK:

Despite interventions like this to limit the number of vatan songs – or at least unappealing vatan songs – on air, it is virtually impossible in Uzbekistan to avoid them completely. But people do find ways to reduce their exposure. Tanya Merchant, for example, witnessed instances where acquaintances just turned off the radio or switched stations when a vatan song was on air

288  Exiting estrada (2006: 216). Those people I met who did not like vatan songs at all usually did not like Uzbek estrada in general and tended to listen to completely different music – on Russian language stations, internet radio and TV, to downloaded music or pirated foreign CDs. Most of my interlocutors, acquaintances and friends, however, were not absolute in their rejection, as this composer assumed: I do not write any vatan songs any more, now, with the situation in the country like this. If I earned 500 dollars for one, I would do it again. Or if there were a war. They spit on these songs. (08.2004) Rather, they differentiated quite clearly within the category of vatan songs. Their opinions often resembled what this recording engineer describes: Yes, they want, they want [to propagate ideology via vatan songs]. But they do not understand that by this, on the contrary, they make it worse. Because people are already fed up [lyudyam uzhe nadoyela] with all this ideology, to be honest. People see one thing, and they hear another. They tell them that here everything is good, we already developed so [much], everybody is free. But they see something else. And people are tired. And when they sing to them about this, they, on the contrary, will feel stressed and get very angry [nervnichayut i zlyatsya]. And those, who sit there [above] either do not see this or do not understand this. But by this, they make everything worse, I think. It must not be like this … “my head of state [yurtboshim]”, “thanks to our head of state [yurtboshimizga rahmat]” – this is very frequent and has a very bad influence on the mood of the people … Where there is no mention of our leadership, there are such songs, yes, [they are better]. But now [after the Andijon events in May 2005], they are also listened to a bit differently. Now, [at] any mention of “homeland”, there are these ambiguous attitudes [neodnoznachnyye otnosheniya]. (09.2005) Direct accolades for the president did, indeed, not go down well with anyone I met; reactions to songs about nation or country, the other core topics of the category of vatan songs, on the other hand, varied considerably. If these songs caused displeasure, the reason usually had less to do with their topic and more to do with the perception that their composition was primitive, the content banal and the performance listless. And due to the abundance of this type of displeasing songs, some people I talked to considered them a kind of aural insult. A female friend who accompanied me to the gala concert of Vatanim Manim in 2004, was quite shocked, when confronted with, what to her was an almost endless sequence of uninspired and unappealing vatan songs:

Exiting estrada  289 You should sing about your people, about your homeland. This is right and normal. But not like this … You have to make an effort, you have to do it well. Like this, it is a shame – for your country, for your people and for yourself. (08.2004) For her, these – and many other songs – certainly lacked the potential for “genuine popularity as prior to policy, giving politics the passion without which it falls upon deaf ears” (MacFadyen 2002b: 129), and this was a view widely shared by others. Equally widely shared, however, was the opinion that there are vatan songs which positively move people. And some people I spoke with did indeed talk about how they were moved by them. Interestingly, those songs most frequently mentioned as being moving all stem from around the year 2000, when the image of Uzbekistan as a country engulfed by dangers was shaped. Whenever someone described how particular vatan songs had affected her or him, there was never talk of a purely celebratory mood, a kind of rah-rah patriotism, but instead, they almost always recounted feeling a mixture of pleasure and pain [dard / bol’]. And never did I meet anyone who felt embarrassed about her or his ­sentiments  – or about a kind of sentimentality, which Martin Stokes explored in his study of cultural intimacy in Turkish popular music (Stokes 2010; see Herzfeld 2016). Feeling a mixture of pleasure and pain was most often – and most clearly – articulated with reference to the most popular vatan song throughout the period of my research and across generations. This was Sevara Nazarkhan’s “You Are My Grand One, My Homeland” [Ulug’imsan Vatanim], based on a poem by Muhammad Yusuf. First performed on Independence Day 2001, it was still very much cherished in 2016 and regularly moved people to tears (Video C.1). A well-known male singer probably best described the song’s impact, recounting how he himself was affected by it, before moving on to talk about vatan songs in general: I myself hear this song and cry to that song. In me emerges love for the homeland, you know, after these songs. I myself listen to these songs with pleasure, no one forces me. Occasionally I think, I could sing about the homeland, too. Occasionally, if you come forth and sing about the homeland, there are songs, which the people love … There are these songs, that really [come] from the soul and [enter] the soul. (09.2005) I talked to this singer only a few weeks after I had found myself so deeply – and completely unexpectedly – moved by Feruza Djumaniyozova’s song O'zbegim (see Chapter 7). I still remember this interview well as the first time in my research that I could really relate to the pleasure in propaganda, to the affective power that people accorded to vatan songs, and see their

290  Exiting estrada potential ability to “give politics the passion without which it falls upon deaf ears” (MacFadyen 2002b: 129). But even with the passion of estrada, Uzbek politics may sometimes still fall upon deaf – or rather distorting – ears. On several occasions, I encountered clear misunderstandings in the reception of vatan songs. In 2005, when I was watching the Independence Day spectacle with some students on TV, for example, several wondered, why one of the estrada artists, at a celebration for a modern nation state, sang about a sultan who cares about his people. They were not so sure that Islom Karimov would be pleased to hear that. They had missed completely that this was meant as a metaphor for Islom Karimov’s current rule of the state – and, compared to some of the other lyrics featured on Independence Day and Navro’z, this particular metaphor was one of a rather simple kind. When talking a few days later with a cultural manager about the Independence Day concert, she was still in shock about Gulsanam Mamazoitova’s final song Uzbekistan: How could she dare to do that! Stand in front of the president and sing “Do not teach me how I should live”. I mean, no one can do that. But as a young woman. That’s worse. She must be crazy. She will get into real trouble. (09.2005) Gulsanam Mamazoitova did not get into trouble. On the contrary, as mentioned in Chapter 3, she was awarded the title Distinguished Artist the following year. After all, she was not addressing Islom Karimov as herself; she was personifying Uzbekistan talking to Europe in the context of deteriorating relations with the European Union during the months directly following the Andijon events, which had been met with dismay in the west and harmed diplomatic relations at least for a short time. This performance, of course, was to the liking of president Islom Karimov. I always enjoyed these misinterpretations, as they often offered glimpses into alternative forms of hearing and doing the state, but I found other conversations even more interesting, such as this one, which I once had with a friend of mine from the estrada scene. We were driving through Tashkent at night and a vatan song came on the car radio: KK: What do you think about when you hear vatan songs? X: I think about my homeland. KK: Really? X: Yes! I think about the Soviet Union. Because this is my

homeland. (11.2005)

When choosing estrada to be the sound of the nation and making it an integral part of its patriotisation policies and thus state-crafting, the Uzbek

Exiting estrada  291 government, I would suggest, succeeded quite well in claiming the genre to be a universal and neutral art form, free from any Soviet birthmark and thus the stain of being a “survival of the past”, one that just needed to be thoroughly nationalised into milliy estrada to function as the sonic representative of independence. It might not have devised cogent criteria for excluding Uzbek SSR estrada and its proponents from a generally very anti-Soviet historiography, but this indeterminacy at least left enough room for a positive evaluation of estrada’s socialist history, which is widely cherished among the population. At the same time, the parallels between national independence ideology and its socialist predecessor, M ­ arxism-Leninism, in terms of their ideas about unilineal evolution, artistic commitment and aesthetic paradigm certainly facilitated the adaptation of estrada and estrada artists to this new framework of socio-political development and made estrada policies and administration seem normal to many people involved. In addition, estrada’s potential to signify rootedness as well as modernity, which it had already proven in the Soviet era, was ready to be exploited, even though both concepts required some modifications in their meaning. But what the Uzbek government seems to have failed to take into account when it started its concerted estrada politics in 2001 is the history of the word vatan itself. At least since 1954, which is the earliest documented use I have been able to find, songs about the homeland have been a fixed item on the lists of musical works that were regularly commissioned from composers in the Uzbek SSR. Consequently, titles like “Grand Homeland” [Ulug’ Vatan], “Homeland” [Vatan], “My Country” [Yurtim], “My Homeland My Dear Mother” [Vatanim Jonim Onam] were, if not nearly as frequent as they are today, still a staple of musical life. The crucial difference was, that all these songs did not reference the Uzbek SSR, but the Soviet Union. In line with this, in 1976, Dadakhon Hasanov, as a representative of the genre lirika, caused an uproar at a concert in Tashkent, when he sang a song entitled “My Homeland“ [Vatanim], but with the following lyrics: “Turkistan is my original homeland, Temur is my ancestor, world-­ conqueror and sultan … My homeland conquered the world, my homeland spread over the earth, let it sacrifice to you my body and soul” (cited in Kendzior 2007: 323). The concert was halted, the audience was in turmoil and Dadakhon  ­Hasanov was sent to jail for 15 days for causing public disorder (ibid.). What had then been a source of trouble, would have been a perfect vatan song in the age of estradisation – apart from some worries, perhaps, that Turkiston could be read as a problematic appeal to pan-Turkism. For older generations in Uzbekistan, starting with those who have spent only their childhood in the Uzbek SSR, vatan is at the very least a highly ambiguous term, and for some, it is still fully charged with a very different meaning of homeland than the one promoted by the government of independent Uzbekistan. I would claim that those many continuities in

292  Exiting estrada estrada’s conceptualisation that allowed it to be installed as state sound also contributed to this blurring of meaning – to say nothing of the continuities in estrada’s personnel as such. To promote nostalgia for the Soviet Union among the Uzbek citizenry was certainly not the intent behind the choice of estrada as the sonic insignia of Uzbek independence under president Islom Karimov. But it was one of its effects, and whether this should count as a failure or a success, is in the eye – or maybe rather the ear – of the beholder.


Abdurakhimov, Bahodir, Jasur Rasultoev & Yo’ldosh Norbo’taev. 2006. Uzbek Estrada Singing Art: Imitation and Interpretation [O’zbek estrada qo’shiqchiligi: taqlid va talkin]. Tashkent: NN. Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1990. “The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power through Bedouin Women”. American Ethnologist 17: 41–55. Adams, Laura. 1998. “What Is Culture? Schemas and Spectacles in Uzbekistan”. Anthropology of East Europe Review 16 (2): 65–71. Adams, Laura. 1999. “Invention, Institutionalization and Renewal in Uzbekistan’s National Culture”. European Journal of Cultural Studies 2 (3): 355–373. Adams, Laura. 2005. “Modernity, Postcolonialism, and Theatrical Form in ­Uzbekistan”. Slavic Review 64 (2): 333–354. Adams, Laura. 2008. “Globalization, Universalism, and Cultural Form”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 50: 614–640. Adams, Laura. 2010. The Spectacular State: Culture and National Identity in ­Uzbekistan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Adams, Laura, & Assel Rustemova. 2009. “Mass Spectacle and Styles of Governmentality in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan”. Europe-Asia Studies 61 (7): 1249–1276. Agawu, V. Kofi. 2003. Representing African Music: Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions. New York: Routledge. Akabirov, S. F., et al. 1981. Explanatory Dictionary of the Uzbek Language (in two Volumes) [O’zbek tilining izohli lug’ati (ikki tomli)], Z. M. Magrufov (ed.). Moscow: Rus tili. Akbarov, I. A. 1987. Music Dictionary [Muzika [sic] lug’ati]. Tashkent: G’afur G’ulom. Akbarov, Ikram. 1995. “Thinking about the Future of Our Musical Culture [V dumakh o budushchem nashey muzykal’noy kul’tury]”. Muzykal’naya Akademiya 2: 28. Aleshina, Marina. 2013. “Uzbek Singers Punished for ‘Meaninglessness’ of Lyrics [Uzbekskikh pevzov nakazali za ‘bessmyslennost’ tekstov]”. Rossiyskaya Gazeta (20 June), available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). Anastas’yev, A. N. 1976. “Estrada Art and Its Specificity [Estradnoye iskusstvo i ego spetsifika]”. In Russian Soviet Estrada 1917–1929: Sketches of History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1917–1929. Ocherki istorii], Yelizaveta D. Uvarova (ed.), 6–28. Moscow: Iskusstvo.

294 References Anderson, John P. 1993. “Out of the Kitchen, Out of the Temple: Religion, Atheism and Women in the Soviet Union”. In Religious Policy in the Soviet Union, Sabrina Petra Ramet (ed.), 206–228. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Andrew. 2006. “Uzbek Folk Singer Receives Suspended Sentence for Song about Andijan Crackdown”, available at: uzbek_folk_sing_1/ (accessed 30 October 2018). Assafjew, Boris. 1967 [1942]. “Sowjetische Musik und Musikkultur. Versuch über ihre Grundprinzipien”. Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 9: 197–207. Assafjew, Boris. 1976. Die musikalische Form als Prozeß. Berlin: Neue Musik. Askew, Kelly M. 2002. Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Austin, John. 1999. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Baily, John. 1988. Music of Afghanistan: Professional Musicians in the City of Herat. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Baily, John. 2009. “Music and Censorship in Afghanistan, 1973–2003”. In Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, Laudan Nooshin (ed.), 143–163. Farnham: Ashgate. Barber-Kersovan, Alenka. 1993. “Was ist ‘slowenisch’ an der slowenischen Rockmusik? Auf der Suche nach der kulturellen Identität”. Kultursoziologie: Ambienten, Aspekte, Analysen 2 (4): 61–67. Barber-Kersovan, Alenka. 2006. “Rock den Balkan! Die musikalische Rekonstruktion des Balkans als emotionales Territorium”. In Cut and Paste: Schnittmuster populärer Musik der Gegenwart, Thomas Phleps & Dietrich Helms (eds), 75–96. Bielefeld: Transcript. Beaster-Jones, Jayson. 2014. “Beyond Musical Exceptionalism. Music, Value, and Ethnomusicology”. Ethnomusicology 58 (2): 334–340. Bekov, Olim A. 1994. “The Contemporary Uzbek Estrada Song in the Context of the Musical Culture of Uzbekistan [Sovremennaya uzbekskaya estradnaya pesnya v kontekste muzykal’noy kul’tury Uzbekistana]”. Unpublished PhD thesis, Tashkent. Bekov, Olim A., & Davlat M. Mullajonov. 2001. “National Estrada Music [Milliy estrada musiqasi]”. In Uzbek Art (1991–2001) [O’zbekiston san’ati (1991–2001 yillar)], H. Karamatov et al. (eds), 135–140. Berdahl, Daphne, Matti Bunzl & Martha Lampland (eds). 2000. Altering States: Ethnographies of Transition in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Beyer, Judith. 2016. The Force of Custom: Law and the Ordering of Everyday Life in Kyrgyzstan. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Bohlman, Philip V. 2008. “Other Ethnomusicologies, Another Musicology: The Serious Play of Disciplinary Alterity”. In The New (Ethno)Musicologies, Henry Stobart (ed.), 95–114. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. Botstein, Leon. 2007. “Art and the State: The Case of Music”. The Musical Quarterly 88 (4): 487–495. Brandtstädter, Susanne. 2007. “Transitional Spaces: Postsocialism as a Cultural Process. Introduction”. Critique of Anthropology 27 (2): 131–145. Briggs, Jonathyne. 2014. “East of (Teenaged) Eden, or Is Eastern Youth Culture So Different from the West?” In Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cultures, Music, and the State in Russia and Eastern Europe, William J. Risch (ed.), 267–284. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

References  295 Bright, Terry. 1985. “Soviet Crusade against Pop”. Popular Music 5: 123–148. Bright, Terry. 1986. “Pop Music in the USSR”. Media, Culture & Society 8 (3): 357–369. Brown, Malcolm H. 1974. “The Soviet Russian Concepts of ‘Intonazia’ and ‘Musical Imagery’”. Musical Quarterly 60 (4): 557–567. Buchanan, Donna. 1995. “Metaphors of Power, Metaphors of Truth: The Politics of Music Professionalism in Bulgarian Folk Orchestras”. Ethnomusicology 39 (3): 381–416. Buchanan, Donna. 1996. “Wedding Musicians, Political Transition, and National Consciousness in Bulgaria”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 200–230. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Buchanan, Donna. 1999. “Democracy or ‘Crazyocracy’? Pirin Folk Music and Sociocultural Change in Bulgaria”. In Musik im Umbruch: Kulturelle Identität und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in Südosteuropa / New Countries, Old Sounds? Cultural Identity and Social Change in Southeastern Europe, Bruno B. Reuer (ed.), 164–177. München: Südostdeutsches Kulturwerk. Buchanan, Donna. 2006. Performing Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bunce, Valerie. 1995. “Should Transitologists Be Grounded?” Slavic Review 54 (1): 111–127. Burawoy, Michael, & Katherine Verdery. 1999a. “Introduction”. In Uncertain Transition: Ethnographies of Change in the Postsocialist World, Michael Burawoy & Katherine Verdery (eds), 1–18. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Burawoy, Michael, & Katherine Verdery (eds). 1999b. Uncertain Transition: Ethnographies of Change in the Postsocialist World. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Buyandelgeriyn, Manduhai. 2008. “Post-Post-Transition Theories: Walking on Multiple Paths”. Annual Review of Anthropology 37: 235–250. Carothers, Thomas. 2002. “The End of the Transition Paradigm”. Journal of Democracy 13 (1): 5–21. Cloonan, Martin, & Reebee Garofalo. 2003. “Introduction”. In Policing Pop, Martin Cloonan & Reebee Garofalo (eds), 1–9. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Cohen, Stephen F. 1999. “Russian Studies Without Russia”. Post-Soviet Affairs 15 (1): 37–55. Cushman, Thomas. 1995. Notes from Underground: Rock Music Counterculture in Russia. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. de Kloet, Jeroen. 2003. “Confusing Confucius: Rock in Contemporary China”. In Policing Pop, Martin Cloonan & Reebee Garofalo (eds), 166–185. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. de Kloet, Jeroen. 2010. China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. DeWeese, Devin. 2011. “Survival Strategies: Reflections on the Notion of Religious ‘Survivals’ in Soviet Ethnographic Studies of Muslim Religious Life in Central Asia”. In Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Florian Mühlfried & Sergey Sokolovskiy (eds), 35–58. Münster: LIT. Djumaev, Alexander. 1993. “Power Structures, Culture Policy, and Traditional Music in Soviet Central Asia”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 25: 43–49.

296 References Djumaev, Alexander. [Djumaev, Aleksander]. 2001. “Nation-Building, Culture, and Problems of Ethnocultural Identity in Central Asia: The Case of Uzbekistan”. In Can Liberal Pluralism be Exported? Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe, Will Kymlicka & Magda Opalski (eds), 320–344. Oxford: ­Oxford University Press. Djumaev, Alexander. [Dzhumayev, Aleksandr]. 2003. “Cultural Politics in Uzbekistan: Sources and Contemporary Tendencies [Kul’turnaya politika v Uzbekistane: istoki i sovremennye tendentsii]”. Fonus 6: 20–38. Djumaev, Alexander. 2005. “Musical Heritage and National Identity in Uzbekistan”. Ethnomusicology Forum 14 (2): 165–184. Dubuisson, Eva-Marie. 2014. “Dialogic Authority: Kazakh Aitys Poets and Their Patrons”. In Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics, Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds), 55–77. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. During, Jean. 1993. “Musique, nation et territoire en Asie intérieure”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 25: 28–42. Elder, Miriam. 2013. “Uzbekistan Bans Five Uzbek Pop Acts for Failing to Praise the Motherland”. The Guardian, available at: 2013/jun/21/uzbekistan-bans-five-pop-acts-motherland (accessed 30  ­October 2018). Everett-Heath, Tom. 2003. “Instability and Identity in a Post-Soviet World: Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan”. In Central Asia: Aspects of Transition, Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), 181–204. London: RoutledgeCurzon. Feáux de la Croix, Jeanne. 2016. Iconic Places in Central Asia: The Moral Geography of Dams, Pastures and Holy Sites. Bielefeld: Transcript. Fierman, William. 2009. “Identity, Symbolism, and the Politics of Language in Central Asia”. Europe-Asia Studies 61 (7): 1207–1228. Finke, Peter. 2014. Variations on Uzbek Identity: Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes. Oxford: Berghahn. Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1: An Introduction. New York. Random House. Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977; ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Foucault, Michel. 1993 [1972]. “Two Lectures. Lecture Two”. In Culture/Power/­ History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory, Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley & Sherry B. Ortner (eds), 210–221. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Fox, Cindy J. 1977. “The Politics of Culture in the U.S.S.R.: Art and the Soviet Government”. Fletcher Forum 1: 204–225. Frigyesi, Judith. 1996. “The Hungarian Revival Movement”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 54–75. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Frolov, V. V. 1976. “Estrada in the Civil War Years [Estrada v gody grazhdanskoy voyny]”. In Russian Soviet Estrada 1917–1929: Sketches of History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1917–1929. Ocherki istorii], Yelizaveta D. Uvarova (ed.), 39–63. Moscow: Iskusstvo. Frolova-Walker, Marina. 1998. “‘National in Form, Socialist in Content’: Musical Nation-Building in the Soviet Republics”. Journal of the American Musicological Society 51 (2): 331–371. Fumagalli, Matteo. 2007. “Ethnicity, State Formation and Foreign Policy: Uzbekistan and ‘Uzbeks Abroad’”. Central Asian Survey 26 (1): 105–122.

References  297 Gans-Morse, Jordan. 2004. “Searching for Transitologists: Contemporary Theories of Post-Communist Transitions and the Myth of a Dominant Paradigm”. Post-Soviet Affairs 20 (4): 320–349. Gorodinskiy, Viktor. 1933. “On the Question of Socialist Realism in Music [K voprosu o sotsialisticheskoy realizme v muzyke]”. Sovetskaya Muzyka 1: 6–18. Graham, Seth. 2003. “The Wages of Syncretism: Folkloric New Russians and Post-Soviet Popular Culture”. Russian Review 62 (1): 37–53. Guilbault, Jocelyne. 2002. “The Politics of Calypso in a World of Music Industries”. In Popular Music Studies, David Hesmondhalgh & Keith Negus (eds), 191–204. London: Arnold. Hakobian, Levon. 1998. Music of the Soviet Age, 1917–1987. Stockholm: Kantat. Hakobian, Levon. 2012. “The Reception of Soviet Music in the West: A History of Sympathy and Misunderstandings”. Muzikologija 13: 125–137. Hamm, Charles. 2004. “Review: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Volume 3: The United States and Canada”. Journal of the American Musicological Society 57 (1): 193–201. Hann, Chris M. 2002a. “Introduction: Postsocialism as a Topic of Anthropological Investigation” (Chris Hann, Caroline Humphrey & Katherine Verdery). In Postsocialism: Ideals, Ideologies and Practices in Eurasia, Chris M. Hann (ed.), 1–11. London: Routledge. Hann, Chris M. (ed.). 2002b. Postsocialism: Ideals, Ideologies and Practices in Eurasia. London: Routledge. Hann, Chris M. 2006. ‘Not the Horse We Wanted!’: Postsocialism, Neoliberalism, and Eurasia. Münster: LIT. Haraszti, Miklós. 1989. The Velvet Prison: Artists under State Socialism. London: Penguin Books. Harewood, Susan. 2008. “Policy and Performance in the Caribbean”. Popular Music 27 (2): 209–224. Harris, Rachel. 2005. “Reggae on the Silk Road: The Globalization of Uyghur Pop”. The China Quarterly 183 (1): 627–643. Haydarov, Azamat. 2011. “A Sacred Feeling [Muqaddas tuyg’u]”. In Collection of Normative Documents Related to the Activity of the ‘O’zbeknavo’ Estrada Assocation [‘O’zbeknavo’ estrada birlashmasi faoliyatiga doir me’yoriy hujjatlar to’plami], 3–6, available at: (accessed 6 December 2016). Heathershaw, John. 2014. “The Global Performance State: A Reconsideration of the Central Asian ‘Weak State”’. In Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia. Performing Politics, Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds), 29–54. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Herzfeld, Michael. 2005. “Political Optics and the Occlusion of Intimate Knowledge”. American Anthropologist 107 (3): 369–376. Herzfeld, Michael. 2016. Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics and the Real Life of States, Societies, and Institutions, 3rd edn. London: Routledge. Hilgers, Irene. 2006. “The Regulation and Control of Religious Pluralism in Uzbekistan”. In The Postsocialist Religious Question: Faith and Power in Central Asia and East-Central Europe, Chris M. Hann & Civil Religion Group (eds), 75–98. Berlin: LIT. Hilgers, Irene. 2007. “Defining the ‘Uzbek Christian’: Conversion to Christianity in the Ferghana Valley”. In Patterns of Transformation in and around Uzbekistan, Paolo Sartori & Tommaso Trevisani (eds), 121–138. Reggio Emilia: Ed. Diabasis.

298 References Hilgers, Irene. 2009. Why Do Uzbeks Have to Be Muslims? Exploring Religiosity in the Ferghana Valley. Berlin: LIT. Hofmann, Hans-Georg. 1999. “‘Die Tanzmusik muss neue Wege gehen’. Bemerkungen zur kulturtheoretischen Diskussion der Tanz- und Unterhaltungsmusik in der DDR in den 1950er und 60er Jahren und zu ihrem Einfluss auf die Musikpraxis”. In Geschichte und Medien der “gehobenen Unterhaltungsmusik”, Mathias Spohr (ed.), 147–163. Zürich: Chronos. Howard, Keith. 2005. “Dancing for the Eternal President”. In Music, Power, and Politics, Annie J. Randall (ed.), 113–132. New York: Routledge. HRW. 2006. “An Orwellian Aftermath to Slaughter: Observations on Andijan”, ­available at: ­(accessed 30 October 2018). Humphrey, Caroline. 1989. “‘Janus-Faced Signs’ – the Political Language of a Soviet Minority Before Glasnost”. In Social Anthropology and the Politics of Language, Ralph Grillo (ed.), 145–175. New York: Routledge. Huntington, Samuel. 1991. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. Ilkhamov, Alisher. 2006a. “Archeology of Uzbek Identity”. Anthropology & Archaeology of Eurasia 44 (4): 10–36. Ilkhamov, Alisher. 2006b. “The National and the Ethnic as Constructs and/or Phenomena of Civil Society”. Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia 44 (4): 92–102. Ilkhamov, Alisher. 2007. “Neopatrimonialism, Interest Groups and Patronage Networks: The Impasses of the Governance System in Uzbekistan”. Central Asian Survey 26 (1): 65–84. Ismailbekova, Aksana. 2017. Blood Ties and the Native Son: Poetics of Patronage in Kyrgyzstan. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Jabborov, Anvar, & Abdunabi Boyqo’ziev. 2000. ‘O’zbeknavo’: Masters, Stars, ­Apprentices [‘O’zbeknavo’: Ustozlar, Yulduzlar, Shogirdlar]. Tashkent: Cho’lpon. James, C. Vaughan. 1973. Soviet Socialist Realism: Origins and Theory. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Kale-Lostuvalı, Elif. 2007. “Varieties of Musical Nationalism in Soviet Uzbekistan”. Central Asian Survey 26 (4): 539–558. Karabel, Jerome. 1996. “Towards a Theory of Intellectuals and Politics”. Theory and Society 25 (2): 205–233. Karimov, Islom. 1992. Uzbekistan – Its Own Path of Renewal and Progress [Uzbekistan – svoy put’ obnovleniya i progressa]. Tashkent: Uzbekistan. Karimov, Islom [Islam]. 1998. Ideology – the Uniting Principle of Nation, Society and State. Answers to the Questions of Editor-in-Chief of the Tafakkur Magazine. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Karimov, Islom. 2000a. “National Independence Ideology – the Creed of the ­People and the Belief in a Great Future [Ideologiya natsional’noy n­ ezavisimosti – ­u bezhdeniye naroda i vera v velikoye budushchee]”. In Our Highest Goal  – ­ Independence and Prosperity of the Homeland, Freedom and Happiness of the People [Nasha vysshaya tsel’ – nezavisimost’ i protsvetaniye rodiny, svoboda i blagopoluchiye naroda], by Islom Karimov, 476–495. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Karimov, Islom. 2000b. “National Ideology – for Us a Source of Spiritual-Moral Power in the Building of State and Society [Natsional’naya ideologiya – dlya nas istochnik dukhovno-nravstvennoy sily v stroitel’stve gosudarstva i obshchestva]”. In Our Highest Goal - Independence and Prosperity of the Homeland, Freedom

References  299 and Happiness of the People [Nasha vysshaya tsel’ – nezavisimost’ i protsvetaniye rodiny, svoboda i blagopoluchiye naroda], by Islom Karimov, 449–461. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Karimov, Islom. 2001. “Preface to the Work ‘The Idea of National Independence: Basic Concepts and Principles’ [Predisloviye k rabote ‘ideya natsional’noy nezavisimosti: osnovnyye ponyatiya i printsipy’]”. In For the Prosperity of the Homeland Every One of Us Is Responsible [Za protsvetaniye narody – kazhdyy iz nas v otvete], by Islom Karimov, 201–205. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Karimov, Islom. 2002. “A Unique Sanctuary of Music [Nepovtorimyy khram mu­ zyki]”. In For Security and Peace One Has to Fight [Za bezopaznost’ i mir nado borot’sya], by Islom Karimov, 289–295. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Karimov, Islom. 2008. High Spirituality – an Invincible Force [Yuksak Ma’naviyat – Yengilmas Kuch]. Tashkent: Ma’naviyat. Karimov, Islom. 2016. The People that Has Deeply Breathed the Air of Freedom Will Never Sway from Its Path [Ozodlik Havosidan To’yib Nafas Olgan Xalq O’z Yo’lidan Hech Qachon Qaytmaydi]. Tashkent: O’zbekiston. Keller, Marcello Sorce. 2007. “Why is Music So Ideological, and Why Do Totalitarian States Take It So Seriously? A Personal View from History and the Social Sciences”. Journal of Musicological Research 26 (2–3): 91–122. Kendzior, Sarah. 2007. “Poetry of Witness: Uzbek Identity and the Response to Andijon”. Central Asian Survey 26 (3): 317–334. Kendzior, Sarah. 2009. “Review: Ozodlik ohanglari (Recital of Liberty): Poems by Uzbek Dissident Authors”. Central Asian Survey 28 (1): 89–90. Kendzior, Sarah. 2014. “Reclaiming Ma’naviyat: Morality, Criminality, and Dissident Politics in Uzbekistan”. In Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia. Performing Politics, Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds), 223–242. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Klenke, Kerstin. 2015a. “On the Politics of Music. Estrada in Uzbekistan”. Unpublished PhD thesis. Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. Klenke, Kerstin. 2015b. “Singing for Asian Autocrats”. In Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World, Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter & Hannes Liechti (eds), 76–77. Bern: Norient Books. Krader, Barbara. 1990. “Recent Achievements in Soviet Ethnomusicology with Remarks on Russian Terminology”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 22: 1–16. Kretzschmar, Dirk. 1993. Die sowjetische Kulturpolitik 1970–1985. Von der verwalteten zur selbstverwalteten Kultur. Analyse und Dokumentation. Bochum: Brockmeyer. Kürti, László. 1994. “‘How Can I Be a Human Being?’ Culture, Youth, and Musical Opposition in Hungary”. In Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia, Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), 73–102. Boulder, CO: Westview. Kuznetsova, Ol’ga A. 1977. “Estrada in the Period of the Great Patriotic War [Estrada v period velikoy otechestvennoy voyny]”. In Russian Soviet Estrada 1930–1945. Sketches of History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1930–45. Ocherki istorii], Yelizaveta D. Uvarova (ed.), 371–397. Moscow: Iskusstvo. Laing, Dave. 1978. The Marxist Theory of Art. New Jersey: Humanities Press. Lange, Barbara Rose. 1996. “Lakodalmas Rock and the Rejection of Popular Culture in Post-Socialist Hungary”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 76–91. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

300 References Larkey, Edward. 2005. “Fighting for the Right (to) Party? Discursive Negotiations of Power in Preunification East German Popular Music”. In Music, Power, and Politics, Annie J. Randall (ed.), 195–209. New York: Routledge. Laruelle, Marlene (ed.). 2017. Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-­ Soviet Years. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Lehmann, Dieter, & Eberhard Lippold. 1976. “Vorwort”. In Die musikalische Form als Prozeß, by Boris Assafjew, Dieter Lehmann & Eberhard Lippold (eds), 5–20. Berlin: Neue Musik. Leitner, Olaf. 1994. “Rock Music in the GDR: An Epitaph”. In Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia, Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), 17–40. Boulder, CO: Westview. Leppert, Richard, & Bruce Lincoln. 1989. “Introduction”. Cultural Critique 12: 5–23. Levin, Theodore. 1980. “Music in Modern Uzbekistan. The Convergence of Marxist Aesthetics and Central Asian Tradition”. Asian Music 12 (1): 149–158. Levin, Theodore. 1984. “The Music and Tradition of the Bukharan Shashmaqām in Soviet Uzbekistan” (Volumes I and II). PhD thesis. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. UMI No. 8428335. Levin, Theodore. 1993. “The Reterritorialization of Culture in the New Central Asian States: A Report from Uzbekistan”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 25: 51–59. Levin, Theodore. 1996a. The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Levin, Theodore. 1996b. “Dmitri Pokrovsky and the Russian Folk Music Revival Movement”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 14–36. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Levin, Theodore. 2002. “Making Marxist-Leninist Music in Uzbekistan”. In Music and Marx: Ideas, Practices, Politics, Regula Burckhardt Qureshi (ed.), 190–203. New York: Routledge. Levy, Claire. 1992. “The Influence of British Rock in Bulgaria”. Popular Music 11 (2): 209–212. Lisack, Lucille. 2009. “Musique(s) Classique(s) à Tachkent”. Unpublished MA thesis. Lisack, Lucille. 2015. “Une Musique Contemporaine Ouzbèke? Recomposition de l’École Nationale et Références à l’Ouzbékistan en Occident”. Unpublished PhD thesis, Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris)/Humboldt-­ Universität (Berlin). Liu, Morgan. 2014. “Massacre through a Kaleidoscope: Fragmented Moral Imaginaries of the State in Central Asia”. In Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics, Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds), 261–284. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Liu, Morgan. 2017. “Uzbek Political Thinking in the Third Decade of Independence”. In Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-Soviet Years, Marlene Laruelle (ed.), 69–83. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Maas, Georg, & Hartmut Reszel. 1998. “Whatever Happened to…: The Decline and Renaissance of Rock in the Former GDR”. Popular Music 17 (3): 267–277. MacFadyen, David. 2001. Red Stars: Personality and the Soviet Popular Song, 1955–1991. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. MacFadyen, David. 2002a. Estrada?! Grand Narratives and the Philosophy of the Russian Popular Song since Perestroika. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

References  301 MacFadyen, David. 2002b. Songs for Fat People: Affect, Emotion and Celebrity in the Russian Popular Song 1900–1955. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Macrae, Craig. 2004. “The Role of Contemporary Uzbek To’y Music in Reinforcing Traditional Central Asian Muslim Values.” In Central Asia on Display. Proceedings of the VII. Conference of the European Society for Central Asian Studies, Gabriele Rasuly-Paleczek & Julia Katschnig (eds), 171–181. Vienna: LIT. Mahkamov, Anvar. 2006. “Dissonant Songs”. In Transitions Online, available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). March, Andrew F. 2002. “The Use and Abuse of History: ‘National Ideology’ as Transcendental Object in Islam Karimov’s ‘Ideology of National Independence’”. Central Asian Survey 21 (4): 371–384. March, Andrew F. 2003. “State Ideology and the Legitimation of Authoritarianism: The Case of Post-Soviet Uzbekistan”. Journal of Political Ideologies 8 (2): 209–232. Markov, V.S. n.d. “Vestiges of the Past”. In The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd edn. (1970–1979), available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). Martin, Dick. 2001. “Religious Aspects of Uzbek Nationalism”. Harvard Asia Quarterly 5 (2): 1–8. McGlinchey, Eric. 2011. Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia. Pittsburgh. PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. McMichael, Polly. 2005. “‘After All, You’re a Rock and Roll Star (At Least, That’s What They Say)’: Roksi and the Creation of the Soviet Rock Musician”. The Slavonic and East European Review 83 (4): 664–684. McMichael, Polly. 2009. “Prehistories and Afterlives: The Packaging and Re-­ Packaging of Soviet Rock”. Popular Music and Society 32 (3): 331–350. Megoran, Nick. 2000. “Remembering Batken: Militarism and Pop Concerts”., available at: shtml (accessed 6 October 2015). Megoran, Nick. 2005. “The Critical Geopolitics of Danger in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan”. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 (4): 555–580. Megoran, Nick. 2008a. “From Presidential Podium to Pop Music: Everyday Discourses of Geopolitical Danger in Uzbekistan”. In Fear: Critical Geopolitics and Everyday Life, Rachel Pain & Susan Smith (eds), 25–35. Aldershot: Ashgate. Megoran, Nick. 2008b. “Framing Andijon, Narrating the Nation: Islam Karimov’s Account of the Events of 13 May 2005”. Central Asian Survey 27 (1): 15–31. Megoran, Nick. 2017a. “The Magic of Territory: Remaking of Border Landscapes as a Spatial Manifestation of Nationalist Ideology”. In Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-Soviet Years, Marlene Laruelle (ed.), 21–44. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Megoran, Nick. 2017b. Nationalism in Central Asia: A Biography of the ­Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Boundary. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Merchant, Tanya. 2005a. “Identity and Exoticism in Sevara Nazarkhan’s Yol Bolsin”. Image & Narrative 11, available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). Merchant, Tanya. 2005b. “Tradition et construction identitaire dans la musique de mariage des femmes ouzbèkes”. Cahiers de musiques traditionnelles 18: 39–50. Merchant, Tanya. 2006. “Constructing Musical Tradition in Uzbek Institutions”. PhD thesis. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. UMI No. 3249427.

302 References Merchant, Tanya. 2009. “Popping Tradition: Performing Maqom and Uzbek ‘National’ Estrada in the 21st Century”. Popular Music and Society 32 (3): 371–386. Merchant, Tanya. 2015. Women Musicians of Uzbekistan: From Courtyard to Conservatory. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Merriam, Alan P. 1963. “The Purposes of Ethnomusicology, an Anthropological View”. Ethnomusicology 7 (3): 206–213. Mesamed, Vladimir. 2004. “Linguistic Policy and the Process of Democratization in Uzbekistan”. In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia, Yacoov Ro’i (ed.), 233–244. London: Frank Cass. Mijatovic, Brana. 2008. “‘Throwing Stones at the System’: Rock Music in Serbia during the 1990s”. Music & Politics 2 (2): 1–20. Mitchell, Tony. 1992. “Mixing Pop and Politics: Rock Music in Czechoslovakia before and after the Velvet Revolution”. Popular Music 11 (2): 187–203. Mittler, Barbara. 2010. “‘Eight Stage Works for 800 Million People’: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in Music – A View from Revolutionary Opera”. Opera Quarterly 26 (2–3): 377–401. Mullajonov, Davlat. 2003a. “The Problem of National intonatsiya in Estrada Music [Estrada musiqasida milliy ohang masalasi]”. Teatr 5: 24–25. Mullajonov, Davlat. [Mulladzhanov, Davlat]. 2003b. “Uzbek Musical Estrada of the Independence Period [Uzbekskaya muzykal’naya estrada perioda nezavisimosta]”. In Anthropological Studies on the Structural Transitions of Ethnic and/or Regional Communities in Post-Socialist States, Shiro Sasaki (ed.), 127–138. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. Mullajonov, Davlat. 2004. “The Problem of intonatsiya in Uzbek Musical Estrada of the 1990s [1990-yillar o’zbek musiqiy estradasida ohang muammosi]”. Unpublished PhD thesis, Tashkent. Naby, Eden. 1974. “Tajik and Uzbek Nationality Identity: The Non-Literary Arts”. In The Nationality Question in Soviet Central Asia, Edward Allworth (ed.), 110– 120. New York: Praeger. Nettl, Bruno. 1983. The Study of Ethnomusicology: Twenty-nine Issues and Concepts. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. NN. 2014. “Ozoda Saidzoda: I Will Take Prime Minister Mirziyoyev to Court! [Ozoda Saidzoda: Bosh vazir Mirziyoyevni sudga beraman!]” (01.05.2014), available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). Nooshin, Laudan. 2005. “Subversion and Countersubversion: Power, Control, and Meaning in the New Iranian Pop Music”. In Music, Power, and Politics, Annie J. Randall (ed.), 231–272. New York: Routledge. Nooshin, Laudan. 2009. “Prelude: Power and the Play of Music”. In Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, Laudan Nooshin (ed.), 1–31. Farnham: Ashgate. Olwage, Grant. 2005. “Discipline and Choralism: The Birth of Musical Colonialism”. In Music, Power, and Politics, Annie J. Randall (ed.), 25–46. New York: Routledge. O’zbeknavo. 2000. 9 Month Work Activity Report of ‘O’zbeknavo’ Tour-Concert Association [‘O’zbeknavo’ GKB ish faoliyatining 9 oylik hisoboti]. Tashkent: O’zbeknavo. O’zbeknavo. 2001–2003. Information about the Activity of ‘O’zbeknavo’ Estrada Association in the Years 2001–2003 [O’zbeknavo’ estrada birlashmasining 2001–2003 yillardagi faoliyati to’g’risida ma’lumotnoma]. Tashkent: O’zbeknavo.

References  303 O’zbeknavo. 2006. On the Results of the Activities of ‘O’zbeknavo’ Estrada Association of 9 Months in 2006 [‘O’zbeknavo’ estrada birlashmasining 2006 yil 9 oylik faoliyati yakunlari bo’yicha]. Tashkent: O’zbeknavo. O’zbeknavo. 2007. REPORT about the Results of the Activity of ‘O’zbeknavo’ Estrada Association in 2007 [‘O’zbeknavo’ estrada birlashmasining 2007 yil faoliyati yakunlari bo’yicha HISOBOTI]. Tashkent: O’zbeknavo. Pannier, Bruce. 2011. “Rock’n’Roll ist Dead (Wrong) in Uzbekistan”. ­R adioFreeEurope / RadioLiberty, 7 March, available at: (accessed 30 October 2018). Parvo, David. 2003. “Strelnikoff: Censorship in Contemporary Slovenia”. In Policing Pop, Martin Cloonan & Reebee Garofalo (eds), 140–150. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Pekacz, Jolanta. 1994. “Did Rock Smash the Wall? The Role of Rock in Political Transition”. Popular Music 13 (1): 41–49. Pine, Frances, & Sue Bridger (eds). 1998. Surviving Post-Socialism: Local Strategies and Regional Responses in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. London: Routledge. Pogačar, Martin. 2008. “Yu-Rock in the 1980s: Between Urban and Rural”. Nationalities Papers: 36 (5): 815–832. Potter, Pamela M. 1998. Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler’s Reich. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Potter, Pamela M. 2006. “What Is ‘Nazi Music’?” The Musical Quarterly 88 (3): 428–455. Qarshiboev, M. 2008. On the Path of Spiritual Development [Ma’naviy Yuksalish Yo’lida]. Tashkent: Ma’naviyat. Ramet, Sabrina P. (ed.). 1994. Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia. Boulder, CO: Westview. Ramet, Sabrina, Sergei Zamascikov & Robert Bird. 1994. “The Soviet Rock Scene”. In Rocking the State. Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia, Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), 181–218. Boulder, CO: Westview. Rasanayagam, Johan, Judith Beyer & Madeleine Reeves. 2014. “Introduction: Performances, Possibilities, and Practices of the Political in Central Asia”. In Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics, Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds), 1–26. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Rasmussen, Ljerka Vidić. 1995. “From Source to Commodity: Newly-Composed Folk Music of Yugoslavia”. Popular Music 14 (2): 241–256. Rasmussen, Ljerka Vidić. 2002. Newly Composed Folk Music of Yugoslavia. New York: Routledge. Rauhut, Michael. 1998. “Looking East: The Socialist Rock Alternative in the 1970s”. In Popular Music: Intercultural Interpretations, Toru Mitsui (ed.), 343–348. Kanazawa: Kanazawa University. Rausing, Sigrid. 2004. History, Memory, and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia: The End of a Collective Farm. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Redepenning, Dorothea. 2008. Geschichte der russischen und der sowjetischen Musik. Band 2: Das 20. Jahrhundert. Laaber: Laaber. Reeves, Madeleine. 2011. “Introduction. Contested Trajectories and a Dynamic Approach to Place”. Central Asian Survey 30 (3–4): 307–330.

304 References Reeves, Madeleine. 2014. Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Reeves, Madeleine, Johan Rasanayagam & Judith Beyer (eds). 2014. Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Regev, Motti, & Edwin Seroussi. 2004. Popular Music and National Culture in Israel. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Rice, Timothy. 1994. May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rice, Timothy. 1996. “The Dialectic of Economics and Aesthetics in Bulgarian Music”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 176–199. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Ro’zinazarov, Sh. N. 2001. State Awards of the Republic Uzbekistan (Legal Documents) [O’zbekiston respublikasining davlat mukofotlari (Qonun hujjatlari)]. Tashkent: Adolat. Rouland, Michael. 2007. “Music across the Kazakh Steppe”. In Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present, Jeff Sahadeo & Russell G. Zanca (eds), 213–227. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Ryback, Timothy W. 1990. Rock Around the Bloc: A History of Rock Music in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. New York: Oxford University Press. Sahadeo, Jeff, & Russell G. Zanca (eds). 2007. Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Saifnazarov, I., B. Kasymov & V. A. Toktaev. 2011. The Idea of National Independence [Ideya natsional’noy nezavisimosti], available at: Files/Download.aspx?pageid=77&mid=57&fileid=198&usg=AFQjCNHEaynY 9d4Q8fbir339aBf5cz0I4g (accessed 15 September 2015). Sakata, Hiromi Lorraine. 1983. Music in the Mind: The Concepts of Music and Musician in Afghanistan. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. Schachter, Aaron. 2006. “Dadakhon Khasanov”, available at: (accessed 7 February 2018). Silverman, Carol. 1996. “Music and Marginality: Roma (Gypsies) of Bulgaria and Macedonia”. In Retuning Culture:. Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 231–253. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Silverman, Carol. 2004. “‘Move over Madonna’. Gender, Representation, and the ‘Mystery’ of Bulgarian Voices”. In Over the Wall / After the Fall. Post-communist Cultures through an East-West Gaze, Sibelan Forrester, Magdalena J. Zaborowska & Elena Gapova (eds), 212–237. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Silverman, Carol. 2007. “Bulgarian Wedding Music between Folk and Chalga: Politics, Markets, and Current Directions”. Muzikologija 7: 69–97. Slobin, Mark. 1971. “Conversations in Tashkent”. Asian Music 2 (2): 7–13. Slobin, Mark. 1996. “Introduction”. In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Mark Slobin (ed.), 1–13. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Slobin, Mark. 2000 [1993]. Subcultural Sounds: Micromusics of the West. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press. Sodiq, Pahlavon (ed.). 2007. Ozodlik ohanglari (Recital of Liberty). Poems by Uzbek Dissident Authors, trans. Adulhamid Ismailiy & Richard McKane. London: Open Society Institute/Soros Foundation.

References  305 Spinetti, Federico. 2005. “Open Borders. Tradition and Tajik Popular Music: Questions of Aesthetics, Identity and Political Economy”. Ethnomusicology Forum 14 (2): 185–211. Spinetti, Federico. 2007. “Sonic Practices and Concepts in Tajik Popular Music”. In Congrés Musiques dans le monde de l’islam, 2007 / Conference on Music in the World of Islam, 2007. Paris: Maison des Cultures du Monde. Ssorin-Chaikov, Nikolai (2006) “On Heterochrony: Birthday Gifts to Stalin, 1949”. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12: 355–7. Steinberger, Petra. 2003. “‘Fundamentalism’ in Central Asia: Reasons, Reality and Prospects”. In Central Asia: Aspects of Transition, Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), 219–243. London: RoutledgeCurzon. Steinholt, Yngvar. 2001. “Making Cats Bark: Countercultural Readings of Late Soviet Society”, available at: (accessed 6 October 2015). Steinholt, Yngvar. 2003. “You Can’t Rid a Song of Its Words. Notes on the Hegemony of Lyrics in Russian Rock Songs”. Popular Music 22 (1): 89–108. Steinholt, Yngvar. 2004. Rock in the Reservation: Songs from the Leningrad Rock Club 1981–1986. New York: The Mass Media Music Scholars Press. Stites, Richard. 1995. “Frontline Entertainment”. In Culture and Entertainment in Wartime Russia, Richard Stites (ed.), 126–140. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Stokes, Martin. 1992a. “Islam, the Turkish State and Arabesk”. Popular Music 11 (2): 213–227. Stokes, Martin. 1992b. The Arabesk Debate: Music and Musicians in Modern Turkey. Oxford: Clarendon Press Stokes, Martin. 2002. “Marx, Money, and Musicians”. In Music and Marx: Ideas, Practices, Politics, Regula Burckhardt Qureshi (ed.), 139–163. New York: Routledge. Stokes, Martin. 2004. “Music and the Global Order”. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 47–72. Stokes, Martin. 2007. “On Musical Cosmopolitanism”. The Macalester International Roundtable 2007. Paper 3, available at: http://digitalcommons.macalester. edu/intlrdtable/3 (accessed 15 April 2017). Sultanova, Roza (Razia). 1993. “Politics and Music after the Great Revolution: The Situation in the 1930s”. ACASIA Newsletter of the Association for Central Asian Studies 7 (1): 4–7. Sultanova, Razia. 2009. “Master-Apprentice (Usto-Shogird) Training System in Ferghana Musical Tradition”. In Sacred Knowledge: Schools or Revelation? Master-Apprentice System of Oral Transmission in the Music of the Turkic Speaking World, Razia Sultanova (ed.), 36–52. Cologne: Lambert. Sultanova, Razia, & Simon Broughton. 2000. “Central Asian Republics”. In World Music: The Rough Guide. Vol. 2, Simon Broughton & Mark Ellingham (eds), 24–32. London: Rough Guides. Survilla, Maria Paula. 2002. Of Mermaids and Rock Singers: Placing the Self and Constructing the Nation through Belarusan Contemporary Music. New York: Routledge. Szemere, Anna. 1985. “On Avantgarde Rock in Hungary”. Popular Music Perspectives 2: 183–186. Szemere, Anna. 2001. Up from the Underground: The Culture of Rock Music in Postsocialist Hungary. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

306 References Szurek, Jaroslaw. 2008. “Subversive Sounds: Music and Censorship in Communist Poland”. Music Reference Services Quarterly 11 (2): 143–151. Taylor, Timothy Dean. 1997. Global Pop: World Music, World Markets. New York: Routledge. Teodor, Mihaela. 2009. “‘Plastic People of the Universe’. Rock and Roll, Human Rights, and the Velvet Revolution”. Valahian Journal of Historical Studies 12: 29–39. Tochka, Nicholas. 2016. Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Albania. New York: Oxford University Press. Tökés, Rudolf L. 2000. “‘Transitology’: Global Dreams and Post-Communist Realities”. Central Europe Review 2 (10), available at: html (accessed 30 October 2018). Tomoff, Kiril. 2004. “Uzbek Music’s Separate Path: Interpreting ‘Anticosmopolitanism’ in Stalinist Central Asia, 1949–52”. Russian Review 63 (2): 212–240. Trevisani, Tommaso. 2011. Land and Power in Khorezm: Farmers, Communities and the State in Uzbekistan’s Decollectivisation. Berlin: LIT. Troitsky, Artemy. 1987. Back in the USSR: The True Story of Rock in Russia. London: Faber & Faber. Turaeva, Rano. 2008. “The Cultural Baggage of Khorezmian Identity. Traditional Forms of Singing and Dancing in Khorezm and in Tashkent”. Central Asian Survey 27 (2): 143–153. Turino, Thomas. 2000. Nationalists, Cosmopolitans, and Popular Music in Zimbabwe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Turino, Thomas. 2008. Music as Social Life. The Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tyson, David. 1994. “The Role of Unofficial Audio Media in Contemporary Uzbekistan”. Central Asian Survey 13 (2): 283–293. Uvarova, Yelizaveta D. (ed.). 1976. Russian Soviet Estrada 1917–1929. Sketches of ­History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1917–29. Ocherki istorii]. Moscow: Iskusstvo. Uvarova, Yelizaveta D. (ed.). 1977. Russian Soviet Estrada 1930–1945. Sketches of ­History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1930–45. Ocherki istorii]. Moscow: Iskusstvo. Uvarova, Yelizaveta D. (ed.). 1981. Russian Soviet Estrada 1946–1977. Sketches of ­History [Russkaya sovetskaya estrada 1946–77. Ocherki istorii.]. Moscow: Iskusstvo. Vakhidov, Sadyr. 1976. Uzbek Soviet Song [Uzbekskaya sovetskaya pesnya]. Tashkent: Gafur Gulyam. Verdery, Katherine 1991. “Theorizing Socialism: A Prologue to the ‘Transition’”. American Ethnologist 18 (3): 419–439. Vuletic, Dean. 2008. “Generation Number One: Politics and Popular Music in Yugoslavia in the 1950s”. Nationalities Papers 36 (5): 861–879. Vyzgo, T. S., I. N. Karelova & F. M. Karomaotov. 1972. The History of Uzbek Soviet Music. 1917–1945 [Istoriya uzbekskoy sovetskoy muzyki. 1917–1945]. Tashkent: Gafur Gulyam. Vyzgo, T. S., I. N. Karelova & F. M. Karomaotov. 1973. The History of Uzbek Soviet Music, 1945–1967 [Istoriya uzbekskoy sovetskoy muzyki. 1945–1967]. Tashkent: Gafur Gulyam. Vyzgo, T. S., F. M. Karomatov & Ch. R. Nasyrova. 1991. The History of Uzbek Soviet Music, 1968–84 [Istoriya uzbekskoy sovetskoy muzyki. 1968–84]. Tashkent: Gafur Gulyam. Weil, Mark, & Alexander Djumaev. 1998. “Shadow Play”. Index on Censorship 27 (2): 158–162.

References  307 Wicke, Peter. 1985. “Sentimentality and High Pathos: Popular Music in Fascist Germany”. In Popular Music: Continuity and Change, Richard Middleton & David Horn (eds), 149–158. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wicke, Peter. 1992. “The Times They Are A-Changin’. Rock Music and Political Change in East Germany”. In Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements, Reebee Garofalo (ed.), 81–92. Boston: South End Press. Wickström, David-Emil, & Yngvar Steinholt. 2009. “Visions of the (Holy) Motherland in Contemporary Russian Popular Music. Nostalgia, Patriotism, Religion and Russkii Rok”. Popular Music and Society 32 (3): 313–330. Xanazarov, K. X. 2007. Independent Uzbekistan – a Scientific-Popular Dictionary [Nezavisimyy Uzbekistan – nauchno-populyarnyy slovar’]. Tashkent: Sharq. XarxaAsia. 2006. “Musical Thought-Crime in Uzbekistan”, available at: https:// (accessed 30 October 2018). Yoffe, Mark. 2000. “Back [Into the] Underground: Russian Rock’n’Roll Community in Search of New Adversaries and Identities”. East European Meetings in Ethnomusicology 7: 105–112. Youssefzadeh, Ameneh. 2000. “The Situation of Music in Iran since the Revolution: The Role of Official Organizations”. British Journal of Ethnomusicology 9 (2): 35–61. Yurchak, Alexei. 1997. “The Cynical Reason of Late Socialism: Power, Pretense, and the Anekdot”. Public Culture 9 (2): 161–188. Yurchak, Alexei. 2003. “Soviet Hegemony of Form: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45 (3): 480–510. Yurchak, Alexei. 2006. Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Yusupov, Leonid. 1990. The Basic Stages of the Formation and Development of Uzbek Musical Estrada. Dissertation Abstract [Osnovnyye etapy stanovleniya i razvitiya uzbekskoy muzykal’noy estrady. Avtoreferat]. Moscow: All-Union Scientific-­ Research Institute of Art Studies. Ministry of Culture of the USSR. Yusupov, Leonid. 2004. The History of Uzbek Musical Estrada [Istoriya uzbekskoy muzykal’noy estrady]. Yelets: Ivan A. Bunin State University Yelets. Zemtsovsky, Izaly. 1997. “An Attempt at a Synthetic Paradigm”. Ethnomusicology 41 (2): 185–205. Zemtsovsky, Izaly. 2002. “Musicological Memoirs on Marxism”. In Music and Marx: Ideas, Practices, Politics, Regula Burckhardt Qureshi (ed.), 167–189. New York: Routledge. Zhdanov, Andrey. [1934] 1950. “Speech at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, 1934”. In On Literature, Music and Philosophy, Andrey Zhdanov (ed.), 9–18. London: Lawrence & Wishart. Legal texts MinKult 2008. REGULATIONS on the Republican contest for best songs and musical works on the topic ‘The Homeland is singular, the Homeland is unique’ [‘Vatan yagonadir, Vatan bittadir’ mavzusidagi eng yaxshi qo’shiq va musiqiy asarlar Respublika tanlovi NIZOMI]. Ministry of Culture and Sport. xx.04.2008; Tashkent. Min-Kult-203 2013. On the establishment of regulations about the procedure of granting a one-off tour-concert certificate [Bir martalik gastrol-kontsert

308 References guvohnomasini berish tartibi to’g’risidagi nizomni tasdiqlash haqida]. No. 203; 04.03.2013; Tashkent. NN-I 2010. The system of granting a one-off tour-concert certificate for organising concerts and show events on the territory of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasi hududida kontsertlar va tomosha tadbirlarini tashkil etish uchun bir marotabalik gastrol-kontsert guvohnomasi berish]. Document signed by the minister of culture and sport and the chairman of the Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art; 05.02.2010; Tashkent. NN-II 2010. Untitled Document, signed by the deputy minister of finances, the deputy chairman of the State Tax Committee and the general director of O’zbeknavo; 05.05.2010; Tashkent. PKM-102 1997. On the strengthening of the material-technical basis of the tour-­ concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’ [‘O’zbeknavo’ gastrol-kontsert birlashmasining moddiy-texnika bazasini mustahkamlash to’g’risida]; Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 102; 21.02.1997; Tashkent. PKM-116 2014. About modifications and additions to some resolutions of the Government of the Republic Uzbekistan … [O’zbekiston Respublikasi Hukumatining ayrim qarorlariga o’zgartirish va qo’shimchalar kiritish to’g’risida …]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 116; 06.05.2014; Tashkent. PKM-163 1996. On the organisation of the activity of the tour-concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’ [‘O’zbeknavo’ gastrol-kontsert birlashmasi faoliyatini tashkil etish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 163; 26.04.1996; Tashkent. PKM-169 2006. On the introduction of alterations into the resolution of the ­Cabinet of Ministers from 25 August 2000 No. 334 ‘On the establishment of the ‘Nihol’ award for young talents’ and from 14 March 2006 No. 44 ‘On the adoption of the decree about the ‘Nihol’ award for young talents by the President of the Republic Uzbekistan’. [Vazirlar Mahkamasining ‘Yosh iste’dodlar uchun ‘Nihol’ mukofotini ta’sis etish to’g’risida’ 2000 yil 25 avgustdagi 334-son va ‘O’zbekiston Respublikasi Prezidentining yosh iste’dodlar uchun ‘Nihol’ mukofoti to’g’risidagi nizomni tasdiklash haqida’ 2006 yil 14 martdagi 44-son qarorlariga o’zgartirishlar kiritish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 169; 09.08.2006; Tashkent. PKM-196 2014. About modifications and additions to and also about annulling some resolutions of the Government of the Republic Uzbekistan … [O’zbekiston Respublikasi Hukumatining ayrim qarorlariga o’zgartirish va qo’shimchalar kiritish, shuningdek ba’zilarini o’z kuchini yo’qotgan deb hisoblash to’g’risida …]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 196; 17.07.2014; Tashkent. PKM-216 1999. On the further perfection of the activity of the tour-concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’ [‘O’zbeknavo’ gastrol-kontsert birlashmasi faoliyatini yanada takomillashtirish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 216; 04.05.1999; Tashkent. PKM-272 2001. On the further development of estrada-song art [Estrada qo’shiqchilik san’atini yanada rivojlantirish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 272; 26.06.2001; Tashkent. PKM-272 2004. On the questions of the organisation of the activity of the ministry of cultural matters of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston respublikasi madaniyat ishlari vazirligi faoliyatini tashkil etish masalalari to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 272; 09.06.2004; Tashkent.

References  309 PKM-285 2001. About measures for the perfection of taxation in the sphere of tour-concert activity and distribution of audio-videocarriers [Gastrol-kontsert faoliyati sohasida soliq solishni va audio-video kassetalari tarqatishni takomillash­ tirish chora-tadbirlari to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 285; 29.06.2001; Tashkent. PKM-295 2011. On the improvement of the organisational tasks of the competition for the award ‘Nihol’ for talented youth by the President of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasi Prezidentining yosh iste’dodlar uchun ‘Nihol’ mu­ kofoti tanlovini tashkillashtirish ishlarini takomillashtirish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 295; 03.11.2011; Tashkent. PKM-334 2000. On the establishment of the ‘Nihol’ award for young talents [Yosh iste’dodlar uchun ‘Nihol’ mukofotini ta’sis etish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 334; 25.08.2000; Tashkent. PKM-403 1996. On Uzbekistan’s song holiday [O’zbekiston qo’shiq bayrami to’g’ri­ sida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 403; 18.11.1996; Tashkent. PKM-451 1995. On the organisation of a song competition on the topic ­‘Uzbekistan – My Homeland’, devoted to the 5th anniversary of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasi mustaqilligining besh yilligiga bag’ishlangan ­‘O’zbekiston – Vatanim manim’ mavzuida qo’shiqlar ko’rik-tanlovini o’tkazish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 451; 05.12.1995; Tashkent. PKM-498 2003. On the adoption of the regulations for licensing tour-concert activity in the Republic Uzbekistan and beyond its borders, concert services to weddings, anniversaries and other festivities, activity for the planning, production, recording, copying and sale of vinyl records, audio tapes and laser discs [O’zbekiston Respublikasida va uning tashqarisida gastrol-kontsert faoliyatini, shuningdek to’y, yubiley, va boshqa tantanalarda kontsert xizmati ko’rsatishni, gramplastinkalar, audiokassetalar va lazerli disklarni ishlab chiqish, ishlab chiqarish, yozish, ko’paytirish va sotish faoliyatini litsensiyalash to’g’risida nizomlarni tasdiqlash haqida]. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. No. 498; 11.11.2003; Tashkent. PP-644 2007. On the preparation and implementation of the celebration of the 16th anniversary of state independence of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasi davlat mustaqilligining o’n olti yillik bayramiga tayyorgarlik ko’rish va uni o’tkazish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. PP-644; 30.05.2007; Tashkent. PP-653 2007. About modifications to some resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasi Vazirlar Mahkamasining ayrim qarorlariga o’zgartirishlar kiritish to’g’risida]. Resolution of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. PP-653; 13.06.2007; Tashkent. PVS-516-XII 1992. On the list of forms of activity, which enterprises (organisations) have the right to engage in only on the basis of a special permit (licence) [Korxonalar (tashkilotlar) faqat maxus ruxsatnomalar (litsensiyalar) asosidagina shug’ullanishga haqli bo’lgan faoliyat turlarining ro’yxati haqida]. Resolution of the Supreme Council of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 516-XII; 14.01.1992; Tashkent. UP-360 1992. On the measures of the further perfection of the organisational structure and the improvement of the activity of the ministry of culture of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston respublikasi madaniyat vazirligining tashkiliy tuzilma­ sini yanada takomillashtirish va uning faoliyatini yaxshilash tadbirlari to’g’risida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. UP-360; 09.03.1996; Tashkent.

310 References UP-1419 1996. On the establishment of the tour-concert association ‘O’zbeknavo’ [‘O’zbeknavo’ gastrol-kontsert birlashmasini tashkil etish to’g’risida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. UP-1419; 05.04.1996; Tashkent. UP-1550 1996. On the song holiday ‘Uzbekistan – My Homeland’ [‘O’zbekiston – Vatanim manim’ qo’shiq bayrami haqida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. UP-1550; 27.08.1996; Tashkent. UP-1695 1997. On the development of dance and the art of choreography in Uzbekistan [O’zbekistonda milliy raqs va xoreografiya san’atini rivojlantirish to’g’risida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. UP-1695; 08.01.1997; Tashkent. UP-4947 2017. On the strategy of actions for the further development of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasini yanada rivojlantirish bo’yicha harakatlar strategiyasi to’g’risida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. UP-4947; 07.02.2017; Tashkent. UP-4956 2017. On the means of further perfection of the system of administration in the sphere of culture and sport [Madaniyat va sport sohasida boshqaruv tizimini yanada takomillashtirish chora-tadbirlari to’g’risida]. Decree of the President of the Republic Uzbekistan. UP-4956; 15.02.2017; Tashkent. Vatan Yagonadir 2007. DECLARATION of the meeting of the organisational group for conducting the Republican competition for the best song and musical works on the topic ‘The Homeland is singular, the Homeland is unique’. [‘Vatan yagonadir, Vatan bittadir’ mavzudagi eng yaxshi qo’shiq va musiqiy asarlar Respublika tanlovini o’tkazish bo’yicha Tashkiliy guruh yig’ilishi BAYONI]. 27.06.2007; Tashkent. ZRU-281-I 1996. About modifications and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasining ayrim qonun hujjatlariga o’zgartishlar va qo’shimchalar kiritish to’g’risida]. Law of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 281-I; 30.08.1996; Tashkent. ZRU-357-I 1996. About modifications and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic Uzbekistan [O’zbekiston Respublikasining ayrim qonun hujjatlariga o’zgartishlar va qo’shimchalar kiritish to’g’risida]. Law of the Republic Uzbekistan. No. 357-I; 27.12.1996; Tashkent.


Note: Bold page numbers refer to tables; italic page numbers refer to figures and page numbers followed by “n” denote endnotes. Abdullaeva, Nasiba 23, 88, 189 academic music 16, 25–27, 29n7, 118–19, 170, 272–73 Ajdodlar Ruhi (song) 159 Amanullaeva, Dilorom 129 alternative music 25–26, 78; see also electronic music; rap; rock music Al-Vakil 23 amateurism 19–21, 52n4, 126, 131, 168–72, 210 Andijon, events of 2005 67–68, 72n10; and music 68, 72n11, 98, 263, 288, 290 Andijonda qatli om bo’ldi (song) 72n11 art music see academic music artisthood: importance of reciprocity for 109–12; meaning of duty and service for 104–9, 160; regional historic models for 108; romanticist concept of 107–8; status in society 187–91 Asal Choy (song) 258 Asrasin (song) 2–3, 159 Assafyew, Boris 266–67; see also intonatsiya auditions: artists at 73–76, 85, 88–91; procedures 73–76, 83–90; selection committee at 73–76, 84–88; in Soviet era 200 authoritarianism 7–9, 250; and arts 9–10; normal life in 66–68; see also national independence ideology authors’ rights 110, 228 Azizkhodjaev, Alisher 74–75, 85, 113n11 bard song 25–26, 54, 78, 169 bastakor 172–73 binary models, critique of 60–63, 83–84, 87–88

birrov 89, 93, 95, 126, 207, 227; see also weddings Bolalar 23 censorship 67, 139, 207, 210–13 classical music 29n7, 44; in post-Soviet era 75, 118–19, 161–64, 172, 192n6, 272–73; in Soviet era 16, 25–26 Cold War 8–9, 63, 71n9, 72n12 College for Estrada-Circus Art 21–22, 36, 261 competitions: contestants 125–28; effects of 131–35; importance of 128–31; juries 129, 153n2; organisation of 129–30; rationale behind 134–36; variety and abundance of 117, 124–25, 131; see also Diyor Ohanglari; Nihol; O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim; Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir; Yagonasan, Muqaddas Vatan! composers: commissioned works 83, 110, 128, 291; in estrada administration 41, 84–86, 129; professionalism 167–72; in Soviet era 16, 20, 210, 231, 275; state awards 51; see also bastakor; Union of Composers concerts by foreign artists 27–28 concerts on state demand: artist involvement and resentment 101–4, 215–16; categories and frequency 97–101; see also licences; state spectacles Conservatory 38, 117, 125, 174, 254, 259; degrees and professionalism 172–74, 204; entrance exams 279n5; estrada curriculum 232, 240n32, 287; estrada department/faculty 36; estrada

312 Index teachers and students 85, 96, 118, 127–29, 177–78, 189, 194n16, 279n5; in Soviet era 15 corruption see unofficial payments Council for Spirituality and Enlightenment 38–39, 50, 121, 130 Council for the Development and Coordination of National Estrada Art 38–42, 41, 197, 258, 276 court music see classical music dance: at concerts 77–78, 92, 184, 186–87, 222; in culture politics 285; at Nihol 116, 118–19, 153n4; in postSoviet era 23, 36–37, 45, 153n1, 176, 180–81, 285; in Soviet era 13–14, 16–17; see also O’zbekraqs dezhurka 89, 176–77, 202; see also weddings Diyor Ohanglari (competition) 131, 134 Djumaniyozova, Feruza 23, 242–43 dress and styling 180, 183–86, 184, 191, 232 Dubai (song) 257–58 economy of prestige 51, 85–86, 91–94, 110, 125–26; see also reyting electronic music 25–26, 229 Ergashev, Davron 23, 213, 258 estrada economy see economy of prestige; shou biznes; weddings estrada education 21–22; see also College for Estrada-Circus Art; Conservatory; ustoz-shogird system estrada history: before Second World War 13–16; during Second World War 16; 1950s–1970s 17–19, 229–35; 1970s and 1980s 19–22, 229–35; 1990s 22–23 estrada instrumentalists see instrumental estrada estrada orchestras 16–19; see also Estrada Symphony Orchestra; State Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan Estrada San’ati – Milliy Ma’naviyat Ko’zgusi (conference) 145–46 estrada singers: status in society 187–91 Estrada Symphony Orchestra 17, 19, 22, 164, 193n14 estradisation 4–5, 50, 78, 94, 291 ethnomusicology: expectation of affirmation 61–62; expectation of opposition 54–61; implicit values 53–62; music policies as research topic 54, 61; subversion bias 54–55

fieldwork 5, 29n11, 57–62, 69–70 Filarmoniya 15–16, 28n4, 52n4, 280n16, 282n28 folk music: in the post-Soviet era 25–26, 75, 161–64, 174–75, 242, 272; in Soviet era 16, 19–20 Fund for the Development of Estrada Art 40–42, 41, 283 Fund Forum Uz (FFUz) 148–51 G’anieva, Rayhon see Rayhon Golubyye Kupola Samarkanda (song) 230 government involvement in music: control vs. attention 136–41; critique of 141–45, 147–48, 201, 204, 276; importance of 136–41, 203; real vs. ideal 141–45, 147–51; Soviet models of 147 Group of Representatives of Creative Support 40–41, 41, 43, 175, 199–204, 207, 215–16 Hamroqulov, Samandar see Samandar Hamza see Niyoziy, Hamza Hakimzoda Hasanov, Dadakhon 72n11, 291 Hech Kimga Bermaymiz Seni, O’zbekiston! (festival) 98 Hech Kimga Bermaymiz Seni, O’zbekiston! (song) 122, 158 historical musicology: subversion bias 56 Holiqov, Rashid see Shahzod honorary titles see state awards Hoy ishchilar! (song) 14 ideology see Marxism-Leninism; national independence ideology Ilkhom Theatre 25 Independence Day see state spectacles Independence Palace see Palace of the Friendship of Peoples Inter (VIA) 21 Institute for Art Studies 156, 161, 254 instrumental estrada 25, 52n9; performers 22, 52n9, 174, 193n14, 283 internet 24–26, 190–91, 216–18, 258 intonatsiya 231, 266–70 Ioshpe, Alla 18 Islam 67, 185, 192n4, 249, 251; and classical music 16; and concept of spirituality 159, 247, 279n8; and estrada 98, 159, 161, 185, 258–60, 262–63; sufism 108, 159–60

Index  313 jazz 16–18, 25–26, 26, 29n13, 78, 229, 240n32 Jo’raev, Sherali 239n19 Kamolot Youth Movement 39, 50, 99–100, 115, 122, 130 Kandov, Eson 18 Karimov, Islom: and estrada 141, 212; publications 244; on music 141–42, 254, 259; see also authoritarianism; national independence ideology Karimova, Gulnora 27, 148–51, 195, 209, 236n1, 236–37n3 Kari-Yakubov, Muxitdin 14 Kazakhstan: as market for estrada 181, 183, 190, 239n24 Khorezmian estrada 163, 242–43, 281n22 khudsovet see radio and TV Kibergi 19 Les Filles de Mon Pays (song) 230 licences 36–37, 40–43; categories 43–46; contractual rights and duties 46–48, 82–83; critique of 109–12, 200–4, 219–22; fees for 43–46; issuance 43–44, 199–204; meaning for radio and TV 207; monitoring and inspections 205–13; numbers of 237n10; suspension and withdrawal 46–47, 213–22 lirika 25–26, 72n11, 78, 161, 239n19, 291 Lola 23, 183 lyrics: content 158–61, 213, 199, 257–58, 287–92; language 156–58, 213; misinterpretation of 80–81, 290–91; production 169–73 Mamazoitova, Gulsanam 23, 93–94, 290 Mario (song) 213 Marxism-Leninism 244–45, 250, 253, 291 Melodies of My Dear Motherland (audition/competition) 73–75, 124 milliy estrada (national estrada) 155–56, 192; and ethnicity/nationality 177–83; impact on people 263–71; importance abroad 271–77; importance within Uzbekistan 253–61; musical properties 161–67, 266–70; power of singers 261–63; status of 202, 226–29, 232–35; see also dress and style; intonatsiya; lyrics; musical instruments; professionalism; vatan songs; video clips

Ministry of Culture 34–36, 42–43, 50–51, 138–45, 251–52, 283–85; competitions 121–25, 131, 134; state spectacles 80, 83 Mirziyoyev, Shavkat 43, 218, 280n11, 283–85 Moskalyova, Larisa 179–81 Mullajonov, Davlat 162, 266–70 Musaev, Bahodir 190 Musaeva, Zilola see Shahzoda music as state emblem 3–5, 235, 271–75 musical instruments: accordion 16, 164, 242; doira 162, 164; dutar 164, 263; g’ijjak 164, 263; karnay and surnay 26, 193n7; keyboards and synthesisers 22, 110, 164, 176, 230; nay 164; piano, guitar, bass and drums 16–18, 164, 167, 230; sato 164; saxophone 16–17; tanbur 162, 164; trombone 17; trumpet 17; see also milliy estrada Muzykal’naya Chaykhana (song) 230 national independence ideology 244–50; and culture 250–53 National TV and Radio 26–27, 38–39, 50, 130, 208, 238n14 nationalist realism 253–59, 270, 278, 280n16 Navo (VIA) 18–19, 21 Navoiy, Alisher 157 Navro’z see state spectacles Nazarbekov, Ozodbek 23, 83, 92, 262–63 Nazarkhan, Sevara 23, 208, 289; in world music scene 229, 233, 239n26, 274–75 Nebo Molchit (song) 195, 236n1 Nechitaylo, Oksana see Sogdiana (singer) Nihol (competitive award) 115–20, 117, 125–26, 131, 137–39, 181 Niyoziy, Hamza Hakimzoda 14 nola (vocal ornamentation technique) 34, 52n1, 163, 182 normality 108–12, 147, 222, 225–26; as approach in research 7–9, 61–62, 65, 67–69 Novaya Volna (competition) 92, 113–14n14 Nursaidova, Ozoda 2–3, 23, 95, 159, 217–19 Omnibus Ensemble 25 one-off tour-concert certificates 42, 49–50, 204–6

314 Index Oriat Dono (radio station) 155, 213 orientalism/pan-orientalism in estrada 167, 182, 184, 193n9, 229–32 O’zbegim (song) 243 O’zbek O’g’lon (song) 205 o’zbekchilik 158, 177, 192n1 O’zbekiston – Vatanim Manim (competition): 120–25, 128, 130, 132–34, 137, 251 O’zbekkontsert 283–84 O’zbekmuzey 284 O’zbeknavo 32–33; closure of 283–86; critique of 142–48; founding as estrada association 37–43; founding as tour-concert association 34–38; involvement in organising concerts 84–88, 97–104; monitoring and inspections by 205–13; tasks 40–44, 46–47, 49; treatment of artists 102–3, 111 O’zbekraqs 37, 42, 283 O’zbekteatr 284 Palace of the Friendship of Peoples 93, 100, 115–16 patriotic songs see vatan songs patriotism 195, 198, 203–5, 211, 227–28; in competitions 119–20, 122–24, 133–37, 151–52; at concerts 83, 87, 90, 98; importance for state awards 51, 242; patriotisation 242–43; 251–52, 260, 277–78, 286–92 Petrosyan, Tamara see Tamara Khanum playback performance 74, 78, 89–90, 175–77, 179, 200 popular music studies: subversion bias 55–56 power: models of 69–70, 71n8 producers and sponsors 108, 204, 210, 213–14, 223–25; see also shou biznes professionalism 19–20, 52n4, 126–27, 142–43, 154n9, 167–77 Qirg’izlarga (song) 219 Qodirov, Botir 24 radio and TV 24, 26–27, 42, 93, 133; khudsovet 210–13; and licences 207– 13; see also National TV and Radio; Oriat Dono; State TV and Radio Radius 21 257 Rahimhon, Sardor 23 rap 23, 25–26, 202–3, 229, 257 Rayhon 23, 205

recording studios 89, 96, 179, 210 restaurant singers 176–77, 176, 202, 206, 239n24 reyting 91–97, 102, 125–26, 173, 189, 212–14, 275 rock music: in the post-Soviet era 25–26, 54–57, 162, 202–3, 229, 238n11; in Soviet era 19–20, 54–57 Sado (VIA) 18–19, 21 Saidzoda, Ozoda see Nursaidova, Ozoda Samandar 23 Samarkand (VIA) 21 Sanaev, Anvar 23 Sen Borsan (song) 159 Sen Bo’lmasang, Boshqasi (song) 218 Setanho see Setora Setora 23, 159, 224–25 sexual harassment and exploitation 220–25 Shahzod 23 Shahzoda 23, 190–91, 191 Shamaeva, Muhabbat 18 Sharipova, Rano 18 shashmaqom see classical music shou biznes 92–94, 108–12, 138, 222–26, 235 Shoxrux 203 Sintez (VIA) 21 social media see internet socialist realism 16, 253–57, 266, 280n16 Sodiqov, Tohir see Bolalar Sogdiana (singer) 182–83 spirituality 67, 99, 119, 145, 159, 191, 247, 252–56; see also Council for Spirituality and Enlightenment; Islam sponsors see producers and sponsors state awards 39, 50–51, 85–86, 93–94, 110, 125–26, 181 State Conservatory of Uzbekistan see Conservatory State Estrada Orchestra of Uzbekistan 16–18, 18, 230; see also Tashkent Music Hall state spectacles: advantages and disadvantages of participation in 88–91, 94–97; preparations for 76–77; reception of 79–82; structure and staging of 77–79; see also auditions; O’zbeknavo; reyting State TV and Radio (Uzbek SSR) 17, 19, 22 Studio for Estrada-Circus Art see College for Estrada Circus Art

Index  315 Tamara Khanum 14, 15 Tarona Rekords 39, 116–17, 223–25 Tashkent Music Hall 18–19, 230, 240n29 taxation: O’zbeknavo 34, 42; performers’ exemption from 43, 90, 104–105, 108–11, 202, 204 The Teahouse Forever (concert) 20, 230 Terra Group (media company) 222–23; see also Karimova, Gulnora totalitarianisation 8, 22, 63, 68, 72n12, 107, 198, 237n8 to’yxona see weddings transition 5–7, 138, 152, 203, 209, 225–26; in independence ideology 246, 250 The Travels of Sindbad the Sailor – or Oriental Fairy Tale (concert) 18, 230 Tungi Kapalak (song) 257 Turaev, Yunus 18 Turkiston Palace 31–33, 35, 73–75, 100, 146 TV see radio and TV Uchquduq (song) 20–21 Ulug’imsan Vatanim (song) 289 Union of Composers 15, 38, 121, 125, 130, 146 Union of Writers 38, 121, 125, 130, 146 unofficial payments 143, 279n5; at competitions 116; in the context of concerts 85–87, 94–96; 102; in the context of licensing 200–201, 222 Usmanova, Yulduz 23, 96–97, 155, 158; and government 219, 276–77; in world music scene 229, 239n26, 274 ustoz-shogird (master-apprentice) system 174, 194n17 Uzbekistan – Our Shared House (festival) 156, 157, 177, 181–82

vatan songs 158–59, 227–28, 240n32, 242–43, 260, 286–92 Vatan Yagonadir, Vatan Bittadir (competition) 123, 129 Vatanim (song by Dadakhon Hasanov) 291 Vatanim (song by Shoxrux) 203 VIA 19–21 video clips 24–25, 27, 45–46, 159, 164, 170, 187, 190–91; and licensing 200–201, 207–9, 214, 216, 257–59 vocal-instrumental ensembles see VIA We are Children of a Great Country (youth festival, 2016) 99–100, 104, 190 weddings 22–23, 25–26, 58, 153n1; artists performing for free at 114n16, 220; artists working at 89, 93, 95, 100, 228–29, 235, 276; inspections by O’zbeknavo 206–207; structure of estrada performances at 89, 207, 226–27; to’yxona (wedding house) 207 World Festival of Youth and Students 17 world music 229, 233, 239n26, 267, 274–76 Yagonasan, Muqaddas Vatan! (competition) 123 Yalla (VIA) 20–21, 21, 36, 229–31 You Are Dear and Sacred, Woman (concert) 1–3, 183 Yo’ldosheva, Lola see Lola Yurchak, Alexei 63–66 Zakirov, Botyr 17, 155, 229–31, 239n26 Zakirov, Farrukh 216; see also Yalla Zakirova, Luiza 17, 230–31 Zerafshon Concert Hall 117

Taylor & Francis eBooks A single destination for eBooks from Taylor & Francis with increased functionality and an improved user experience to meet the needs of our customers. 90,000+ eBooks of award-winning academic content in Humanities, Social Science, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medical written by a global network of editors and authors.

TA YLOR & FRANCIS EBOOKS OFFERS: A streamlined experience for our library customers

A single point of discovery for all of our eBook content

Improved search and discovery of content at both book and chapter level

REQUEST A FREE TRIAL [email protected]