There are very few print or digital journals dedicated to Caucasus music. Even those who do are infrequent or brief. For the few that do publish, the primary organizing principle appears to be that of genre; e.g. folk, jazz, or pop. Unfortunately this approach enforces a distinct divide not only between music style but also music artists and fans. Additionally, this closed framework tends to favor the music of ethnic majorities, reinforcing the view that their work is the only valid art form to represent national culture.
Also, the sporadic coverage of Caucasus music does little to accurately represent the diverse and versatile ways in which people throughout the region engage with music in their everyday lives. What is urgently needed at this juncture is a journal that approaches conversations about music from an anthropological perspective, one which serves to highlight the experiences, opinions, and feelings of individuals and communities through a direct focus on their relationship with music.
Support from the Orbeliani Foundation would assist in the publication of the first issue of “Caucasus All Frequency,” a not for profit journal promoting holistic and inclusive approaches to music in the Caucasus.
The layout and content of the publication have been intentionally organized in a manner that challenges dichotomies of the “urban/rural,” the “modern/traditional,” and the “ethnic/national” and highlights the complex and intersectional nature of music in the contemporary Caucasus. Featured topics pinpoint and directly challenge hegemonic and exclusionary narratives while emphasizing people’s lived interactions with music.
Contributors include both local and international musicians, writers, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists. Articles in the first issue address a variety of topics, among them tape production and advertising strategies among Azeri wedding musicians in the Georgian region of Marneuli, conversations with female grunge musicians from Tbilisi on cities, scene, and nostalgia, and an overview of contemporary Circassian music from a local ethnographer and co-founder of an independent record label based in Nalchik, Kabardino Balkaria.
To ensure accessibility, the journal will be published online and print copies will be distributed simultaneously in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. The first issue, along with every subsequent edition, will be free of charge. Moreover, each article will be published in the native language of the author and translated into Georgian and/or English, with the intention of expanding translations of further editions into Armenian and Azerbaijani. Careful attention will also be paid to the tone of each article to make certain that while complex concepts and situations can and should be discussed, the language is intentionally crafted to suit both academic and non-academic readership.
The overall goal of the journal is to create a sustainable platform for ongoing discussions of music in the Caucasus. The first issue lays the foundation for this process in multiple ways:
1. It offers a concrete model of the journal’s mission, aesthetic, and potential and can serve as an example to individuals and organizations that are interested in partially funding ongoing issues.
2. It necessitates the construction of a simple but effective website where articles and relevant information can be published, thereby laying the groundwork for subsequent issues and related projects.
3. Its promotion and distribution serve as a call for new contributors, widening the pool of distinctive voices and further broadening the variety of perspectives the journal will represent.
In addition to hosting the articles and translations of each issue of the journal, the online platform will feature interactive audio components, related video and photography, and unique illustrations by local artists. The website will also serve as a platform for frequent updates, previews for upcoming issues, and the promotion of related and relevant concerts, workshops, and screenings about music in the Caucasus.
The future of the journal will also benefit from its affiliation with the Mountains of Tongues Project (formerly Sayat Nova Project), an organization dedicated to promoting the music of the Caucasus. During the project’s four year span, members have produced multiple releases, on LP, tape, and digital mediums and through a combination of personal connections and social media have developed an extensive network of musicians, academics, and music enthusiasts in the region. The support of the project ensures that the journal remains well publicized and that it continues to evolve and attract new writers and readers.
Equal gender opportunity:
Maintaining equal opportunities for people of all genders is critical to the success of the journal, a lack of which would contradict the primary principles of the publication. Issues related to gender and music are also one of the many themes contributors will explore, further encouraging a diverse writing staff. Contributors to the first issue include a balanced group of both male and female illustrators, designers, translators, and writers. This was a conscious decision made with the intention of setting the absolute standard for the future of the journal.
* A few notes about the project organizer: Ben Wheeler is a musician and ethnomusicologist. He is the co-founder of the Mountains of Tongues Project and is also active within the experimental music scene in Tbilisi. Ben is a graduate of the folklore program at Tbilisi State Conservatory and is currently studying anthropology and Georgian language at Tbilisi State University.
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