Music of the Itelmens

The music of the Itelmens is characterized by several musical "dialects". There is information about three of them: Kovranian (presumably the Lignurin tribe in the 17th century), Tigil (in the 17th century - the Kules tribe), Kamchadal (in the 17th century - the Burin tribe). In musical style, instrumentation and genre, there are interconnections with the folklore traditions of Russian old-timers, Koryaks, Kuril Ainu and Evens.

The music of the Itelmens includes 4 basic musical and folklore traditions: song, dance, instrumental and narrative.

Song tradition

In the song tradition, the central genre is khayutelya (among the Kamchadals), it walked (among the Kovranians), the hodilakht (among the Tigil people) is a "song melody" to which an improvised text is sung, sometimes synsemantic syllables. Most often, this melody characterizes the specificity of musical dialects. Well distinguished feature of lyrical tunes is a wide range and multi-song structure. Songs with a stable lyrical text are called chaka'les (from chak'al - throat, mouth) among the Kovranians, and repnun among the Tigilians (from repkuyo - hum, voice). Lullabies, although they stand out terminologically (among the Kovranians - the corvelle, among the Tigilians - the carvelle), do not have their own melodies, but are sung to various typical melodies.

Dance tradition

Itelmen dances have 3 types of musical accompaniment: song, instrumental and onomatopoeic. The latter is based on throat rattling on inhalation and exhalation and is called khekhmykels among the Kovrans, and hemkhekuzen among the Tigilians. The instrumental tunes that accompanied the dances were called k'ema'lskhch or enunsizen. In the accompaniment to dance, song and onomatopoeic types of intonation often alternate (in addition to playing a musical instrument).

Musical instruments

The Itelmens know 16 musical and sound-producing instruments under the general name mal'yanon (playing object). The same name applies to stringed bows: 5-strings with a xiphoid body, 4-strings with a hollowed-out pear-shaped body, as well as a 2-string plucked string with a triangular body. The Itelmens also had a wooden lamellar jew's harp (varyga). The Itelmen tambourine (yayar) is related to the Koryak one. A flute made of angelica with an external whistle slot without holes for fingers is called a kov among the Kovrans, and a koun among the Tigilians, a similar flute with holes, respectively engmu and systul. The willow whistle, used as a decoy for hunting, is called fifsel, vivsel among the kovrans, and chikrurechkh or yepsenon among the tigilians. A single-lingual squeak from the stalk of cereals without play holes was found only in the kovrans - sisal malkas (literally playing grass). Whistles and squeaks are sometimes combined in 3-4 stems for playing tunes. A ribbon aerophone made from a leaf of grass or a film of bark among the Tigilians is called yepsenon, for kovrans - fyepsanon, piks from a feather - sesen fyepsakas (yepsekas) or chel'kh-chel'kh fyesakas (yepsekas). The wooden vortex aerophone-propeller, which was practiced at the autumn festival of "cleansing of sins", was called by the Kamchadals kyzhiam, among the Kovranians - kehem, among the Tigilians - talital. A similar aerophone-toy made of deer bone is called ten-k'el by the Kovranians, and gyr-ger by the Tigil people. A rotating aerophone (a plate on a rope) is designated by the term khezvez (buzzing device) among the Kovranians, and k'el-k'el (turntable) among the Tigilians; the latter is close to a rotatable (wheeled) ratchet, it, like a cord rattle made of wooden plates, replaced a tambourine. The rattle and cabaza are called khergerechkh, among the Tigilians - khyrkherechkh. A pipe with a vibrating film (pipe-myrliton), into which they blew while singing, was usually made of angelica; among the Kovrans it was defined by the term kov, among the Tigilians - kalkham.

Narrative tradition

The narrative musical and folklore tradition of the Itelmens is either represented by recitative (direct speech in some fairy tales), or it is sung by the "eagle". The texts of the spells (found only among the kovrans) were sung to the ritual melodies of kmali chinekh.


На видеоː Ительменская народная песня. Исполняет Вера Правдошина – руководитель ительменского коллектива “Наты Айван” (Поющая душа)

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