Zemo Alvani and Pankisi with the Sayat Nova Project

Last Friday wasn’t just my birthday, but also the day I ventured out into the regions of Georgia with the Sayat Nova Project, a Kickstarter-funded initiative to record the minority musical dialects of the South Caucasus. Last year I posted quite a few entries on the project as it documented ethnic Armenian, Azeri, and Avar traditional music.

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Ashiq Qarib and the Sayat Nova Project in The Moscow Times

I was pleased to see that the Sayat Nova Project made into the arts section of the Moscow Times at the end of January and even happier to see that my photograph of the ethnic Azeri bard, Ashiq Qarib, led the piece. As readers of this blog will know, I accompanied the Kickstarter-funded project on some of their field trips in Georgia last year. They also traveled to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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A Fond Farewell to the Sayat Nova Project

It’s been a great few months hanging out with the Sayat Nova Project — a Kickstarter-funded project to document the majority and minority musical traditions of the South Caucasus by two Americans and one Gibraltarian. Sadly, however, their time in the region has come to an end, but just to say it was a pleasure to not only to get to know them, but also to report on some of their travels and experiences.

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Masoumeh Jamalinia, Iranian Setar Player

A chance posting on an email discussion list led me to Masoumeh Jamalinia, a young Iranian journalist working for BBC Monitoring in Tbilisi. Putting her in touch with The Sayat Nova Project, who were recording the minority and majority traditional music of the region, we all met up at a Persian Tea House in the Old Town of the Georgian capital for an impromptu recording and photo session.

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Ashiq Qarib, Ethnic Azeri Musician

Ashiq Qarib is a 75-year-old ethnic Azeri bard from Algeti, a village in a mainly Azeri-populated region of Georgia. According to the Sayat Nova Project, Ashiq Garib has become the main mentor and teacher for a new generation of Ashiqs and Saz players. Ethnic Azeri Ashiqs in Georgia, for example, can be considered more melancholic in their choice of subject matters than their counterparts in Azerbaijan proper.

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