Masguda I. Shamsutdinova's site



Gulnaz N. Akbarova1 Elena A. Dyganova1 Elena N. Khadeeva2

1Kazan Federal University 2Kazan State Conservatoire named after N. Zhiganov


The development of Tatar professional music in the late XX and early XXI centuries is on the way to the revival of traditional Tatar-Muslim art. The “musical restoration” of religious and artistic traditions of the Tatar-Muslim culture, including traditions perceived from Sufism, becomes the artistic and meaningful task of the Tatar composers. A vivid example of this is the work of Masguda Shamsutdinova (1955). The national factor and historical context have a strong influence on the composer's mentality, on his thinking, which is organically reflected in his music. An analysis of art history and composer creativity allowed the article authors to reveal that M. Shamsutdinova embodies his conceptual ideas by combining the traditions of ethnic music with the constructive laws of Western European art. The scientific article presents the results of a musical-theoretical analysis of the oratorio by M. Shamsutdinova “The Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth” on the text of the author’s myth of the same name by the Tatar poet and playwright Hadi Taktash (1901-1931), created in the tradition of the genre of ancient tragedy. The authors of the article consistently presented the musical characteristics of 15 parts of the oratorio. The embodiment of the deep philosophical meaning of a literary text in a musical composition using traditional and modern means of the musical language allows us to rank this composition as one of the most significant in the composer's work.

Keywords: Masgud Shamutdinova, Hadi Taktash, “The Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth”, oratorio, Tatar composer music.


Masguda Shamsutdinova is one of the leading modern Tatar composers, who most consistently embody the religious and artistic traditions of the Tatar-Muslim culture in their work. Masguda Islamovna - a man of deep intelligence, philosophical mindset. His area of interest concerns the history and culture of the Tatar people, spiritual, religious subjects, as well as world images of folklore. The composer joined the national sources in folklore expeditions, having visited different regions of the compact residence of the Tatars of Russia. The study of Tatar traditional rites, poems, songs in the
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atmosphere of their natural existence served as one of the foundations for the embodiment of composer's ideas. Shamsutdinova diversifies in her work the traditional images, techniques, genres of art of the East Muslim type, and always considering their ethno-regional (Tatar proper) features. According to art critics, it is precisely in Tatar music that it develops this direction most consistently [1, 2, 3]. The composer is a candidate of philosophical sciences, which allows Shamsutdinova in her work to rely on a scientific base and with great accuracy “reconstruct” the tradition in her musical works. At the same time, reconstructed forms in Shamsutdinova’s works do not claim authenticity, but are examples of symbolic reading of different traditions in modern conditions. In her musical creative laboratory, the composer “restores” Tatar-Muslim, pre-Islamic rituals and holidays, embodying traditional legendary historical plots in musical compositions: rock-folk suite “Magdi” (1989), Bait “Syuyumbike” (1991), “Korban bayram” (1992), “Children of Adam” (1993), “Crow's Porridge” (1998), “Ramadan” (1998), “Mating Dances of Geese” (1999), “Dastan” (1999), “Night of Predestination” (2000), “Ibn Fadlan Symphony” (2001) and others. In her work M. Shamsutdinova covered almost all genres: symphony, ballet, concert, cantata, oratorio, operetta, chamber and instrumental compositions, vocal cycles, mysteries. The individual musical style of Masguda Shamsutdinova is determined by the combination of “West” and “East” [4]. It “balances” between the two types of composer's thinking, which is manifested in the choice of European genres, the application of the classical laws of composition, forms, warehouses, harmonic techniques (modern chord, modality, polyplasticity) and the intonational dictionary of Tatar musical art (pentatonic, monody, timbre, etc.). But she embodies her conceptual ideas in modern composer language. An example of the synthesis of different cultures and deep philosophical meaning is one of her last works of the oratorio “Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth”, which is based on the tragedy of the Tatar poet Hadi Taktash, created in 1921. In the creative heritage of the author, it is one of the most significant works. Inspired by Byron’s dramatic poem “Cain” the tragedy of Taktash dates to the Old Testament, the Qur'an, and Muslim myths [5]. The content of the literary poem contains many meanings that are not easy to convey through verbal means. M. Shamsutdinova carries out her artistic interpretation of a poetic text, revealing by means of music the deepest meanings of a literary composition. Here's what she says: “A true work could be called “Based on the Taktash tragedy”. I considered it in the tradition of Sufism, like the Tatars - sabyr tebe, altyn, yazmyshtan uzmysh yuk... (translated from the Tatar language: “Patience has a bottom of gold, you won’t leave fate, everything is predetermined”). They still argue about Cain. For me, this work is about the futility of all questions for God” (from a personal conversation between the authors of the article and the composer; Kazan, April 2012). In the work on this work, in addition to the tragedy of H. Tactash, the composer turned to Milton's poems “Lost Paradise”, Byron's “Cain”, and religious texts. To embody the philosophical text of H. Taktash, the composer chose the oratorio genre, which consists of 15 parts (parables), 12 of which are choral. Composition of performers: mixed choir, homogeneous female choir, homogeneous male choir, children's choir, soloists, orchestra and reciter.

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The research methodology is based on the provisions developed in the works on the analysis of special problems of the Tatar musical culture: Z.N. Saidasheva [6], V.R. Dulat-Aleeva [7], G.R. Sayfullina [8], R.A. Iskhakova-Wamba [9], N.V. Shirieva [4], L.Z. Borodovsky [1, 2, 3], E.V. Kovrikova [10], N.Kh. Nurgayanova [11, 12, 13] and others. When analyzing the source base, theoretical and empirical research methods were used. The study of the oratorio “Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth” was based on a musical theoretical analysis [14, 15] of the incarnation of the poetic text by H. Taktash in the language of the modern Tatar composer M. Shamsutdinova.


The tragic basis of the work is distinguished by the presence in it of a subjectsemantic complex of motives of the “act of creation and fall”, “sacrifice and crime”. The hero’s criminal choice becomes the seed of tragedy. The epic scale of the tragedy situation is achieved by introducing a choir into the plot action, which acts as a reduced crowded character, very active in his value orientations [5]. No. 1 “Prelude - In the beginning was music” is an orchestral intro of an exalted character, where instruments (maracas, bells and high tom-tom) transmit the “ringing of the Universe”. Against this background, the reader says a prayer (munajat - translated from Arabic as “conversation with God”; this text of spiritual content is traditionally performed in chant [16]) for the remission of sins and the petition for “a place under the shadow of the Garden” (in Paradise). No. 2 "Night" personifies the “dream of the universe”. To convey the image, the composer chooses a certain composition of performers: a mixed choir and orchestra. The leading compositional technique is sound imaging. At the same time, rich textural capabilities are used (elements of sub-vocal polyphony, choral pedals, diatonic splitting into a cluster, foresells), flexible dynamics. No. 3 “The First Seduction” is an exposition of one of the main characters of the oratorio. Gazazil - an angel who opposed himself to Allah, in the form of a snake-tempter. The part of Gazazil (tenor) is built on a flexible melodic with a lot of chromatisms. She is accompanied by the sound of a female choir, with a brightly written melodic line along the ascending and descending chromatic scale. The part of the second main character Kabila (baritone) is built on arpeggiated melody, it sounds accompanied by a male choir. No. 4 “Creation of the Whispers of the Emerald Deer Dancing on the Roof of the World” - personifies the idea of creating the world by God. To realize his plan, the composer chooses a choir and several instruments and creates a musical canvas, using the change of several textured techniques: heterophony, accordion, polyphony. At the same time, musical sonority is organized by serial techniques, expressed in a combination of various melodic and rhythmic figures, and a change in metric. Saturation of the texture, fast pace, choral polyphony, fullness of sonoristic sound-noises allow the composer to convey the Creation process. No. 5 “Temptation” (“He is in anger”) is the temptation of the soul of Kabil. The dialogue between Gazazil and Kabila takes place against the background of the sound of a mixed choir. Here the role of the choir is to reveal the inner world of the main characters. So, at the moment of singing Gazazil tetrachords with chromatic intonations and ostinate rhythmic figures sound in the choir (the personification of the snake
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tempter). The part of Kabila is accompanied in the choir of intonation lamento. The reader’s subsequent words continue to reveal the meaning of this party: “I was born a stranger to this World, tears have not dried out of my eyes.” No. 6 duet of Kabila and Aklima “I will extinguish the flames of Hell with tears” - a gentle duet about love and fidelity, about self-sacrifice for the beloved. The composer is based on the classical traditions of vocal duets, which is expressed in a consonant combination of two cantilent melodies, accompanied by the sound of an organ and orchestra. The next part anticipates the appeal of the reader, who again in the munajata genre talks about the mother’s sufferings, personifying her with a tree from which the leaves fall, as if tears, clipped branches symbolize children. Thus, the composer “announces” the appearance of Eve, the mother of Kabil, and sets the tragedy character of subsequent parts. Number 7, “Burning Hell". An ostrodramatic picture is created by superimposing a multitude of character lines: on behalf of God, the choir proclaims: “I lit all the cauldrons of Hell from tonight. I’m sleeping Kabila in their eternal flame ”; the second choir represents the children of Adam asking for mercy on Kabil; The monk (tenor) addresses with the prayer "Kyrie eleison"; Eve's vocalization conveys her emotional experiences. The general psychological stress is transmitted by the richness of the musical texture, a wide sound range, a loud manifestation of dynamics, poly-temporality, and the sound of an organ. All this gives the music a mystical and awesome character and has a strong psychological effect. The softening passage is the reader’s speech: “The Doomsday Angel will blow the Beloved of God, Rise, cross the Bridge of Death. No, he will say, our prophet, I will not rise unless my followers rise. No, he will say, our prophet, I will not pass the Bridge of Death until my followers pass”. No. 8 “Creation of Love”. Angels turn to God with the question “Why did you create Love and cast Man into it like fire into a fire?”. The sound of the children's choir symbolizes the voices of angels, and the sound of the flute allows you to create the image of the sky. No. 9 “Allahu Akbar”. The appeal of Adam (bass) and Eve (soprano) to God Tura with a request to have mercy on their son sounds against the background of a choir that sings in Arabic and Latin (“Allahu Akbar”, “Alleluia”). Here, the “East” and “West” come out brightly in composer refraction, which is expressed in contrasting alternation musical fragments of two traditional prayers. No. 10 “Do not come, Dawn”. This is one of the most restrained rooms in the tragedy. The composer singles out a solo part from the heavenly choir (soprano), which is called the “voice of an unborn child”, thereby aggravating the fear of earthly existence: “The Universe has lost its meaning forever, it’s very scary on this Earth.” The musical embodiment of this issue allows you to compare it with the munajata genre, interpreted in modern language. The melodic lines of the choir and soloist are built based on dissonance intervals organized in a syncopated rhythm. No. 11 “The Oath of the Angel of Death” is the most awesome in terms of the nature of the music and the literary text. Here, an 8-voice choir on behalf of the Angel of Death (Gazrail) recites, proclaiming: “From tonight on my knees I swore to God that I would take souls by shedding blood.” An innovative compositional solution is the complex textured organization of musical sonority, which creates theatricality of perception based on tonal-phonic contrasts, which convincingly allows us to convey the climax in the oratorio. The reader’s appeal “fixes” this effect: “Doomsday Angel blows -
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the Earth will shudder; no living thing will remain on the Earth. Stars will fall to Earth, mountains will fly to Heaven, seven heavens will split, angels will descend to Earth. ” No. 12 “Sanctus” is performed by a mixed choir a cappella. Here, the composer uses the recognizable intonations of the Gregorian chorus in the tenor part, the Latin text “Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth”, linear voice, which refers us to traditional Western examples of cult music. No. 13 “Lamento” - the weeping of Aklima. Aklima’s sad vocalization is accompanied by an organ, which makes it possible to enhance its significance in the semantic context of the oratorio. No. 14 “Asma ul Husna”. Praise the Lord - a laudatory choral prayer is performed in Arabic, where all 99 names of Allah are pronounced. The choir, personifying the children of Adam, prays to God for a place in Paradise for Kabil. Here, the composer relies on the eastern musical language: dance rhythms, asymmetrical dimensions, fast pace, the mode-intonation language of the “East”, the traditional timbre. Finishes oratorio No. 15 “Lullaby of the Daughters of the Earth” - a space song that sounds in three languages (Tatar, Russian, Arabic). Women's voices perform a simple diatonic melody, telling about the cycle of all things: women give birth to new Sons of the Earth, and everything starts anew.


In the 20th century, Tatar composers rely on the national and spiritual traditions of Muslim Tatars [6, 7, 9, 10, 11]. Despite the innovative search for composers of the 20th and 21st centuries who seek in their music to abandon established musical means (such as harmony, melody, tonality, etc.), M. Shamsutdinova preserves musical traditions, synthesizing them with a modern musical language. Today, in the musical art, a common desire for the synthesis of various cultural traditions is noticeable. The ideas of the unity of all people, the appeal to the Almighty, the remorse of a person for his sins and the humanization of society are all relevant topics for composers. An example is the spiritual music of K. Jenkins, A. Schnittke, S. Gubaidulina, D. Ligeti, Takemitsu Toru. The work of M. Shamsutdinova “The Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth” to the text of H. Taktash can be reckoned among the works of this direction.


Appeal to national (Tatar) and pan-European musical traditions, the search for new compositional solutions, united by an in-depth artistic idea - these are the conditions under which a unique musical work is created. The composer language of Masguda Shamsutdinova can be characterized as “universal”, with the help of which she addresses a wide circle of listeners. At the same time, the composer incorporates his national culture into the space of world civilization. The premiere of M. Shamsutdinova’s oratorio “Tragedy of the Sons of the Earth” took place on April 19, 2012 in the Great Concert Hall of Kazan (Russia, Tatarstan).


The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.
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