Alash Khem

1) What You Talkin' About?
by Paul Pena. (In the style of Bo Diddley.)
Pena: vocals, guitar;
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan jaw harp, Tuvan banjo

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  • Jun 15, 1999 01. Imagine This 03. A Moment So Close 04. Communication 05. Flecktones introductions 06. Stomping Grounds 07. Alash Khem (Alash River Song). 08.

Alash Khem (Alash River Song) MP3 Song by Bala Fleck from the album Live At The Quick. Download Alash Khem (Alash River Song) song on and listen Live At The Quick Alash Khem (Alash River Song) song offline.

On a rainy day back in eighty-six [poetic licence for 1984],
They said someone's comin' from the sticks,
He's gonna sing me a song like I've never heard,
Low as a frog, high as a bird!
'What you talkin about?' Höömei,
'What you talkin about?' Sygyt,
'What you talkin about?' A little kargyraa!
(Höömei, sygyt, and kargyraa are the three basic styles
of Tuvan throat-singing — see Quick Guide, above.)

I was askin' and listenin' and doin' my thing
For five long years and then,
Keep on lookin' for someone to tell me
Just to sing like him — couldn't find 'im!
Repeat Chorus
I've been playing the blues for 30 years
And I still keep doing my thing,
But my friend's got a new way that he sings
Like nobody you ever heard sing, come on!
Repeat Chorus
So I'm gonna keep on goin' people,
And they tell me next year,
I might go to Tuva to play my thing,
So they can hear Cher Shimjer, singin!

2) Tras D'orizao (Beyond the horizon)
Cape Verdian Creole ballad in the morna style.
Pena: vocals, guitar

The Encyclopedia Britannica has called morna Cape Verdian blues. Note the strumming style, influenced by the Portuguese, which will appear later in track 7, Kaldak Hamar.

Tras d'orizao teng terra, teng terra long' teng mar i seu.
Na mar i seu teng Jar Brava,
Jar Brava'nya terra, terra'd'nya cre cheu.
Repeat verse
Beyond the horizon, there is a land, sea, and sky.
In the sea and sky is Jar Brava,
Jar Brava is my land and the land of my sweetheart.
Mos, bo ke nya'mig mand'es cartinya,
O bu ta lebal pa nya cre cheu?
Ora k(i)bu chiga'la bu ta fram'el,
Ki m ta sinti sodadi lonji.
Dor di pashao m teng amor di bai Cabo Verd'.
Repeat bridge
Oh, young man, my friend, take this letter for me,
Please you will take it to my darling?
When you get there tell her for me,
That I feel great home sickness (longing),
And pain, and passion; I long to return to Cabo Verde.
Repeat verse twice, repeat bridge twice.

Alash Khem

3) Terraplane Blues
by Robert Johnson
Pena: vocals, guitar

Paul says the lyrics here might appear to be about a car, but they're really about one's 'main squeeze.' Note the similarity to how Tuvans compare their sweethearts to horses in track 9, Eki A'ttar.

Well I feel so lonesome, do you hear me weep and moan?
Well I feel so lonesome, do you hear me weep and moan?
Who's been driving my Terraplane for you since I've been gone!?
I flash my lights, Mama, lord your horn won't even blow!
I flash my lights, Mama, lord your horn won't even blow!
You got a short in this connection—way down below!
I'm 'a hoist your hood, Mama, I'm about to check your oil!
I'm 'a hoist your hood, Mama, I'm about to check your oil!
Got a woman that I'm lovin, but she's way down in Arkansas.
Now your coils ain't even buzzin,
Your generator won't get the spark,
Your oil's in a bad condition,
You got to let your battery charge!
I'm cryin, 'Please! Please don't do me wrong!'
Who's been drivin my Terraplane for you since I've been gone!?
Mr. Highway man, please don't block the road!
Mr. Highway man, please don't block the road!
'Cause I register a cold one hundred, booked and I got to go!
Well I feel so lonesome, do you hear me weep and moan?
Well I feel so lonesome, do you hear me weep and moan?
Who's been driving my Terraplane for you since I've been gone!?
I'm 'a get down in this connection, keep on tanglin with your wires.
I'm 'a get down in this connection, keep on tanglin with your wires!
And when I mash down on your little starter—
Lord, your sparkplugs'll give me fire!

Alash khemAlash

4) Alash Khem (The Alash River)
Ondar: vocals

The tributaries of the Alash River remind me of the braids of my sweetheart's shiny hair. An example of the sygyt style of throat-singing, in which a lyrical line finishes by splitting into a drone and melody. Paul observes that Ondar's notes are so long that he would make a great pearl diver: 'Ondar could make it to the bottom of the Mariannas Trench and back!'

Üzhen-dörten kadyrgyzy
Ülstüp batkan Alazhymny
Ülsh-le karysh chavagazyn
Sula salgan charazhymny
A, ho!
The thirty, forty tributaries
Of the Alash River, flowing down
Remind me of my beauty
With sparkling beads in her hair.
A, ho!
Aldan-bezhen kadyrgyzy
Agyp batkan Alazhymny
A, ho!
The sixty, fifty, tributaries
of the Alash River, flowing down.
A, ho!

5) Ondarnyng Aÿany (Medley in the style of Ondar)
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan banjo

Played on the doshpuluur (Tuvan banjo) and sung in the sygyt, khöömei, and kargyraa (low, subharmonic) styles of throat-singing, augmented by techniques such as borbangnadyr (trills), and ezengileer (the pulsing 'saddle' style), this is Ondar's show-off piece, which he played for Boris Yeltsin on the first visit by a Russian leader to Tuva (1994), causing Yeltsin to surrender Russia to Tuva on the spot. (Ondar was also awarded the title 'National Artist of Russia' in addition to 'People's Throat-Singer of Tuva.'

Oÿ, oÿ, dynggyldaÿlaar, dembildeÿleer
Sygydymny chüge kaar men
Chylgychlaar, kadarchylaar
Sydymymny chüge kaar men
Uvaÿ dembil . . .
O, yo, singing 'dyngyldais' and 'dembildeis,'
[shoo-be-doos and lah-dee-dahs]
Where shall I put my sygyt?
Herding horses, herding sheep,
Where shall I put my sygyt?
Uvai dembil . . .
Oÿ, oÿ, kaÿyyndan beer kelgen chonnu
Kaÿgadyptar, khögledipter
Kargyraamny, sygydymny
Kattyshtyryp yrlap bereÿn
Oÿ a !
Oh, oh, people who come from far away
I will surprise and make them glad
My kargyraa, my sygyt
Joining together I will sing!
Oh, yeah! (Kargyraa, sygyt)
Oÿ, Tyva kadaÿ töreen bolgash
Dynggyldaÿga ynaam konchug
Khörek-chüreem kuÿumnalyp
Khöööömeÿ yrym kutulup keer
Oÿ, oÿ, etc,
Oh, as a Tuvan woman gave birth to me
I love the sound of 'dynggyldai' very much.
And my heart rejoices
When my khöömei song flows
Oh, oh, etc. (Kargyraa, khöömei, sygyt)
Koshkarlygdan Argarlygdan
Khostug-la batkan Chadaanamny
Köshkün Tyvam Urankhaÿdan
Khögzhyp-le ün|gen kargyraa khöömeÿ
Oÿ a !
From Mt. Koshkarlyg (Male Mtn Goat) and Mt. Argarlyg (Female Mtn Goat) flows freely the beautiful Chadaana River
Kargyraa and höömei come from
The nomadic Urianghai people
Oh, ah !
Oÿ, syryn udur chara chütküp chelip orar
Saralamnyng chaÿatyn|gan choruu-la-dyr.
Syrynnaldyr aÿan tudup yrlap choruur
Samdar kadaÿ törüp-le kaan oglu dur men!
A, ho, uvaÿ dembil . . . Shu-de!
Oh, against the wind my orange-white horse
flows with a strong, unbroken stride;
From my poor mother I was born
To sing from the bottom of my heart.
Ah, ho, shooby-dooby. . .
Ah, ho, uvai dembil (khöööömei, sygyt, kargyraa, sygyt)
Ha, ho, uvai dembil (khöööömei, ezenggileer, sygyt, khöömei, kargyraa, sygyt) Giddyap! (We're outta here!)

6) Dürgen Chugaa (Fast Talk)
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan jaw harp

These words defy translation. They are strung together in a nonsensical way to trip up the speaker. The object is to recite as many words as possible in a single breath. Ondar adds to the difficulty by playing the Tuvan jaw harp (khomus) and singing the words in several höömei styles as he recites the tongue-twister.

Bildim, bildim,
Biche shynaa, Shynaalaza–Shyktyg alaak, Alaaktaza–
Arbyn syryg, Syrygleze–Süttüg inek, Inekteze–
Itpek, khoÿtpak, Khoÿtpaktaza–Dooza todar, Todarlaza–
(with Tuvan jaw harp)
Bildim, bildim–Biche-khaya, Khayalaza–
Kanzang maas, Maastaza–Barba chüve Chüveleze–
Chichik buga, Bugalaza–Mugur-doos, Doostaza–
Doshkun-belek Belekteze–Bee-shaa, Shaalaza–
Charyk-kurzuk, Kurzuktaza–Kuu tuman, Tumannaza–
Dugan-khüree, Khüreeleze–Khüree dagyl, Dagyldaza–
Dagyl-la shoom.
Bildim, bildim–Biche shana, Shanalaza–
Shaptyk khaya, Khayalaza–Kangzan maas, Maastaza–
Bulung doos, Doostaza–Toÿtu belen, Belenneze–
Bel dalgan, Dalganaza–Daa tögüs, Tögüsteze–
Törbeng kaas, Kaastaza–Kara cherim, Cherimneze–
Chedi kulash, Kulashtaza–Kuu tuman, Tumanaza–
Dükdüg-ary, Arylaza–Arbyn kurzuk, Kurzuktaza–
Kuu hag.
Bildim, bildim, Biche shynaa, Shynaalaza–
Shyrgaÿ arga, Argalaza–Araÿ kadyr, Kadyrlaza–
Kaskak ozan, Ozangnaza–Oruk kokpa, Kokpalaza–
Khorum köshke, Köshkeleze–Kök tuman, Tumannaza–
Tudush manggi, Menggileze–Bedik chalym, Chalymnaza–
Cha's damdy, Damdylaza–Daash-shimeen, Shimeenneze–
Shig-shag, Shaalaza–Charyk khoorgal, Khoorgaldaza–
Konchuu deget, Degetteze–Dedir bat, Batsa, batsa–
Baalyk oorga, Oorgalaza–Ozang shyrgaÿ, Shyrgaÿlaza–
Shyryp khadyng, Khadyngnaza–Kadyr iÿ, Iÿledirge–
Irek adyg, Adyglaza–Ala karak, Karaktaza–
Kharaaldyg boo, Boolaza–Bordak chürek, Chürekteze–
Chükteshki, Chükteshkide–Chüü-dep?
Chüldü, uzha; Tösh!
Pish daldyrt!
(Kargyraa with khomus:)
Kharagannyg kara khovaa; Karangnadyr cheler doryg
Kapla karam saÿla chazhyn; Saglangnadyr cheler dorug
Chirgilchinnig chingge khovaa; Chide düzhüp cheler dorug
Chingge karam saÿla chazhyn; Saglangnadyr cheler dorug

7) Kaldak-Hamar (The Other Side of the Mountain)
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan banjo;
Pena: vocals, guitars

This Tuvan song is of longing, like 'Tras d'orizao' (track 2). Paul plays the Cape Verdian morna style of strumming on the guitar as Kongar-ol plays the doshpuluur (Tuvan banjo). The third and fourth lines of each verse are repeated, and rhyming is achieved by the syllables 'shuu,' 'oÿ,' and 'eÿ.'

Tes-le-Khemning kozhuununche (shuu)
Deski chaagaÿ oruk bolza (shuu)
Devip turar Bora mun|gash (shuu)
Tenek eshke chetken bolza (shuu)
If only they could make the road to Tes-Khem province better
I would take my gray horse that flies like a falcon
And visit my crazy (cool) girlfriend.
Repeat verse
Kaldak-Hamar artyn sönön (oÿ)
Kazyp alza ashtap alza (eÿ)
Khartyga deg Bora mungash (oÿ)
Karam eshke chetken bolza (shuu)
I wish there were a good road
Over the Kaldak-Hamar Pass.
Then I could see
My beloved friend!
Tes-le-Khemning kozhuununche (shuu)
Deski chaagaÿ oruk bolza (shuu)
Demir chychaan munup algash (shuu)
Tendish diveÿin tutsup orza (shuu)
I wish there was a good, flat road
To the province of Tes-Khem.
Then I could ride there
In an iron carriage (automobile)!

8) Konggureÿ (Where has my homeland gone?)
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan banjo;
Pena: vocals, guitar

A man returns to his homeland after years in exile, and feels like a stranger in his own country. During Soviet rule the Communists reorganized the traditional six regions of Tuva into a dozen administrative units controlled by the Party; they confiscated herds and pasture lands and turned them into inefficient collective farms. The man asks forgiveness from his ancestors for going astray; he asks the spirits for salvation of his own soul.

Aldan chetken chylgymnyng
Alazy kaÿdal, Konggureÿ?
Aldy kozhuun chonumnyng
Aaly kaÿdal, Konggureÿ? Konggureÿ?
Where are the sixty horses in my herd?
Where is the hitching post for my horse, Konggurei?
Where are the six regions of my homeland?
Where is the village of my tribe, Kongurei?
Cheden chetken chylgymnyng
Chelezi kaÿdal, Konggureÿ?
Chedi kozhuun chonumnung
Cheri kaÿdal, Konggureÿ?
Where are the seventy horses in my herd?
Where is the tether for my horse, Konggureÿ?
Where are the seven provinces of my homeland?
Where is my people, Kongurey?
Repeat first verse
Aldyn-ydyk Tangdymny
Aramaÿlap, dagydym.
Aldy kozhuun chonumnu
Algap ÿöreep, maktadym, maktadym, maktadym.
The Aldyn-ydyk Tangdy mountains
Are the greatest of them all
Where are the six regions of my country?
I praise, praise, praise the people of them.
Burun shagdan adam-ögben Tyva churttum
Aldy kozhuun chonum kaÿdal:
Baryyn Khemchik, Chöööön Khemchik, Ulug-Khemim;
Tozhu kozhuun, Kaa-Khem kozhuun, Tes-Khemim,
Aldy kozhuun meeng chonum
Ara-albaty Tyva chonum
Azyp chor men, tenip chor men
Meeng chonum, kaÿda siler?
The oldest, rural times of our Tuvan people
Where are the six regions of my homeland?
Baryyn Khemchik, Chöööön Khemchik, my Ulug-Khem;
Tozhu region, Kaa-Khem region, my Tes-Khem.
The six regions of my homeland.
The shepherds of my Tuvan homeland.
I am becoming lost, disconnected, cut off.
My homeland, where have you gone?
Paul's kargyraa
Repeat first verse

9) Eki A´ttar (Good Horses)
Ondar: vocals, Tuvan banjo;
Pena: vocals, guitar

How esoteric do you want to be? How about a Tuvan song with a verse in Cape Verdian Creole! In Tuva, life revolves around the horse; in America, life seems to revolve around the car. For Tuvan cowboys comparing a woman to a horse (the highest compliment) — as well as for American bluesmen singing about a car (see track 3, Terraplane Blues) — it's about the ride, as well...

Chuguruktung bazhyn oÿda
Chügen sugluu shynggyr-shynggyr
Chüüden artyk saryym saktyp
Chüldü-chüreem chimir-chimir.
When my good, fast horse shakes its head
The bit of its bridle go 'shyngyr-shyngyr.'
But most of all I miss my sweetheart.
My heart flutters with the sound of 'chimmir chimmir.'
Eki doruum bazhyn oÿda
Ezer chügen shynggyr- shynggyr
Erge karam chazhyn oÿda
Chavagazy chaÿyr-chaÿyr.
When my horse shakes its head
The bridle and saddle go 'shyngyr-shyngyr.'
When my sweetheart turns her head,
The beads in her hair swing 'chaiyr, chaiyr.'
Cape Verdian verse:
Es e mi amigo 'li,
M ka pode papia ku el,
M ka pode monta caballo,
Ma m cre pa canta ku el.
This is my friend here,
I cannot talk to him.
I cannot ride a horse,
But I wish to sing with him.
Karbap-karbap chelip orar
Karalamnyng choruu-la yndyg
Kattyrangnap changnap orar
Karam ezhim chang|y-la yndyg.
Running so fast, the pace of
My black and white horse is so.
Smiling at me and flirting,
The manner of my girlfriend is so.
Repeat Cape Verdian verse
Oglaa doÿnyng bazhyn-oÿda
Sugluk deerbek shynggyr-shynggyr
Ortun karam chazhyn oÿda
Chavagazy chaÿyr chaÿyr.
Um boÿ oÿ oÿ um boÿ oÿ, etc.
Horse shakes head
Bridle goes 'shyngyr-shyngyr.'
Sweetheart turns head,
Beads swing 'chaiyr, chaiyr.'
Um boy oy oy um boy oy, etc.
(Sygyt, kargyraa)

10) Sünezin Yry (Soul's Song)
Lyrics by Alexander Chavynchak
Ondar: vocals;
Pena: guitar

This contemporary song is sung by the soul of a man as he is dying.

Chidig bizhek khöreem öttü
Chindingneen khan chingneÿ berdi
öödezhoktung khaÿy-bile
ölürtüp aar salymymny
öödezhoktung khaÿy-bile
ölürtüp aar salymymny, ergim chonum.
A sharp knife pierces my chest;
Blood pours through my clothes to the ground.
Oh, the cowards!
That such a coward could unfairly ambush me is so sad!
Karaktarym shozu dongdu
Kanchap bardyng bilbezim er
Aldyn amym sadyyzyn|ga
Aryn-nüürüng ornaplattar
Aldyn amym sadyyzyn|ga
Aryn-nüürüng ornaplattar, chögenchiingni!
I want to look,
But my eyes close anyway.
My life is taken
So meaninglessly.
Woe is me!
öglen|genden ür-daa bolbaan
öörüshküm boor kadaÿym kys
ösküs artar tölüm bar dep
ölürgen er kaÿyyn bilir.
ösküs artar tölüm bar dep
ölürgen er kaÿyyn bilir, ergim chonum.
He doesn't even know
That my dear, newlywed wife
And my son will be left alone.
My people, my friends, how sad!
Ögde akym, ezhim-öööörüm
Özheen sürbeÿn azhaap kang|ar
Kerning|erni bodap chorung|ar
Tyvam kyzy bolbas iÿikpe
Kerning|erni bodap chorung|ar
Tyvam kyzy bolbas iÿikpe, ergim chonum!
Dear friends, brothers,
Don't avenge this wrongdoing;
Just look after my wife and son for me.
My in-laws, please look after them.
Ava Tyvam, oglu-kyzy
Adaannashpaÿn demin kadyp
Ep-chöp-bile choraan bolza
Elekke chop ölür dep men,
Ep-chöp-bile choraan bolza
Elekke chop ölür dep men, ergim chonum!
My motherland, Tuva,
If the sons and daughters lived in peace
I wouldn't have been killed so young,
So meaninglessly, so sad!
Aÿyyl chizhin kharap körgen
Aÿnyng chyryy büldesh didi
Kanchap bilir dirig boor deesh
Kharzhygashtar shuglap turdu,
Kanchap bilir dirig boor deesh
Kharzhygashtar shuglap turdu, ergim chonum!
Aÿÿ, aÿ, aÿ, aÿ, aÿ, aÿ!
Only the moon was there to see this horror;
Even the snow was sad.
They hoped maybe I was still alive;
The snow covered me like clothes
To protect me from the cold.
I lay there alone, only thinking of the dear wife and son
I was leaving behind.
There, alone, with my song of sadness, I died.

11) Kargyraa Moan
by Paul Pena
Pena: vocals, guitar

This song describes the painful beginning of Paul's journey, and the healing power of Tuvan throat-singing, especially kargyraa. At the end is a recording of the crowd's reaction in Kyzyl, Tuva, where Paul sang this song to win the kargyraa division of UNESCO's Second International Throat-Singing Festival in 1995.

Alash Khem New

My wife died, went on that long black train,
Three years since then have come and gone again.
Had to find some way to sooth my soul,
That's when I found that Kargyraa Moan. And it goes
First Chorus (No lyrics. Sounds from o to a in kargyraa style.)
Walked on in to a little record store,
He had something from Tuva, said 'I want it,' don't you know,
By the time I met Chadaana's Kongar-ol,
Knew how to do that Kargyraa Moan.
Now I'm going on my way of life,
Sometimes we get in trouble, some times we have some strife.
Sometimes it seems so bad, people, feels like you're all alone,
That's when you want to moan that Kargyraa Moan.
Repeat chorus (in kargyraa and chylandyk)

12) Tuva Farewell
by Paul Pena
Pena: vocals, guitar, dijeridu;
Ondar : vocals, Tuvan banjo

Written upon Paul's return to America from Tuva in 1995.

Here I am on my way now, on my way back home,
On this winged horse I've mounted, on my way alone.
I've been listening to the music of nature
I've been tuned to the wonder of the earth,
I've been listening and I've been relating
Now I feel the reason for our birth.
Everything here sings like a bird on the wing!
Now I get back home and find out they think it's all for show;
Now I get back home and find out they don't know!
Here I am in Tuva, listening to the sound,
Here I sit at the center of Asia, with my ear to the ground.
Lord, its been a long time, since I've felt so free!
Through the hardships and heartaches,
Through the tiredness of body and mind I see
That every heart needs to sing like a bird on the wing!
There's so many things you've got to know how to do
To get along; All I know to do is sing.
My friends they sing with me in some way,
That's the way it seems!
Yrlar sen, Kongar-ol! (Sing it, Kongar-ol!)
Got me a brother in prison, I know nothing about.
All I know is when he sings it's beauty;
His heart and soul come out.
They can't tell me nothing about him,
Don't know [if he's] dead or alive,
But I will sing to my Ezhim (friend) Oidupaa
If I can help him to survive, I don't know.
If I don't, Lord, his memory will remain!
Me and my friends we've heard his voice,
And now we know his name;
Me and my friends, we're gonna play his music to the world
And listen with no shame!
[So] here I am on my way now, on my way back home,
On this winged horse I've mounted, riding on alone.
I will listen to the music of nature
I will listen to the wonder of the earth.
I will listen and keep relating
You would do well to do some work on that, my friend;
If we don't, I know nothing will remain! What a shame!
Me and my friends we will remember all the love we've known.
We will tell everybody: In Tuva we've found another home!
Here I am at the center of Asia.
Tunap bodap borarymga-yo,
Tuva chonum bergenein-e.
Every time I think of my people;
I am honored by the Tuvan people.
Eshterim tyvanyng chonum-nu
Eshterim tyvanyng ynak men!
My friends, the Tuvan people,
My Tuvan friends, I love you!

Alash Khem Singh

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