Saturday, May 28, 2005

More about the Jajouka later. Here is one of the oldest and wisest of them all. He has been living in the mountains, playing his own tunes since the beginning of time, and was the first to discover the metal whistle. Native to the "low" peaks of Alaska his name is Alex A, and he is a force to be reckoned with. Do not attempt to make idle conversation, he will play Foggy Dew in your inner ear. Do not let him lock you in a stare, as I have let my camera do here, your heart will jump like a frog, and your hair will stick out in fanning crown like an electric shock wave of syncopation.

To explain a little more about the Jajouka, seriously, the music is at least 500 years old. Many songs have a story behind them--no words, but a context that is inseparable from the tune once you know it. That is why the music is known as Folklore Jajouka. The songs are often played at weddings. One song is played loudly between the bride's house and the grooms to let the groom know when the bride is getting ready and at what stage she is. Another song accompany's the groom from his house when he comes to pay his respects to the family. Another accompanies the bride on horseback. When she arrives, the tune noticeably lightens and becomes celebratory. Yet, the ceremony is not finished. A sad song helps the bride cry (obligatory) for the loss of her family and childhood home, and vow that she will return and never forget her time there.


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