ACHAI - Selection from Liner Notes

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In Tuva, we have many songs about mothers but not many about fathers. Now that we have become fathers with children who are learning to sing and play music, we dedicate this album to all fathers, especially to our great teacher Kongar-ool Ondar. He was a musical father to an entire generation of Tuvan musicians, and his untimely passing last year was a great loss to us all.

In this album we thank our ancestors for the musical gifts they have left to us, and we pass along to the next generation this new music which we hope demonstrates our respect for our roots as well as our own contribution to the great Tuvan musical tradition.

About Our Special Guest:

Shodekeh is a professional beatboxer, vocal percussionist and hip hop xöömei artist based in Baltimore, MD, whose deep interest in experimenting & collaborating with varying musical cultures & genres take him the world over. From classical, jazz, modern dance, to reinterpretations of "The Star Spangled Banner", Sho's ability to simultaneously act as a preservationist & change catalyst serves his many creative rhythmic travels as an individual musician & as founding director & lead curator of Embody, A Festival of the Vocal Arts.

Song Translations

1.  For My Son

What the father never saw, the son will see.
Don't think those are just pretty words, my son.
Starting right now, remember well
My words of blessing and advice.

The wisdom of our ancestors
Will open like a flower when the time is right.
For now, I'm going to play a blessing melody
Through these metal strings.

Xöömei, the lullaby song of Fathers,
Don't think it's just a simple melody.
Remember that my prayer and hopes for you
Flow through your father's kargyraa.

2.  Let's Fatten the Livestock

Our livestock are so many,
They are like a wavy lake
Where the skoter birds land and visit.
Let's take them to the pure grasses of the taiga
And fatten them up.

The beauty of our life way
Is in our various kinds of livestock.
Let's herd them to the taiga
Up into the high grass.

The grassy meadows of our dear native land
Are waiting for us.
Let's get together and take them to the taiga,
With joy and celebration.

3.  Don't Let Me Freeze

My aal is far away, my home is far away.
Will I spend the night in a lonely place?
My lambskin coat is short.
Am I going to freeze in a lonely place?

My land is far away, my home is far away.
Am I going to sleep rough tonight?
My sleeves are short, my coat is short.
Am I going to freeze on the ground tonight?

4.  Flute Box:  A duet featuring Shodekeh's beatbox mastery and Ayan Shirizhik's murgu magic. No lyrics.

5.  Karachal

O the poor karachal,
He doesn't have any wheat or barley.
The ones who've got the grains
Are those xörengeti düzhümets!

If only I were like the feathered eagle,
I could wheel about in the sky.
If I could just get close enough
Even just to shake hands with this guy!

I found ten fat kopecks
And thought it was a treasure.
Then among the Russians,
Boy, did I curse up a storm!

A bird that flies needs wings–
It's important for flying.
A girl friend needs advice–
It's important for living.

6.  Mezhegei

Looking over Adyr Tei
In the gentle breeze of dawn,
Lower Mezhegei, Saryg Bulung,
How they change in the light of day.

Under the rays of the rising sun,
Looking out from Üsh-dyt,
Upper Mezhegei, Kuzhur Bulung,
How they change in the light of day.

7.  Chügle Sen Sen

There's lots of girls out there
With pure hearts and talent,
But there's one who is more dear to me than any.
It's you and only you, my love.

There's lots of pretty faces
In this bright world,
But there's one who is more dear to me than any.
It's you and only you, my love.

From the depths of my vibrant soul
Let me say it to you with pride:
You, and only you, are truly
The never-fading rose of love.

8.  Kosh-oi and Torgalyg

Like two girls walking hand in hand,
Look how lovely are Kosh-oi and Torgalyg,

Two rivers like sisters in beautiful clothes,
Grains and pastures as their ornaments.

Blessings to the devoted people
Whose toil beautifies our native land.

9.  The Black Bird

Like a winged black bird
Pounding across the cloud-tops,
A black pacer catching up to
Even the wildest of beasts.

My black horse doesn't shy
From the peaks of Kalga, Altai and Dörbet,
The black horse, the roper
Who rounds up all the horses.

In fine tackle with its white forelock,
Heavenly built like a rainbow.
When we dig in on the rope,
My horse will go down in history.

10.  Igil / Xöömei Solo

I grew up in the yurt
Smelling ödek, tasting bozha,
Hearing horses' hooves,
Listening to my ancestors' xöömei song.

Is it the strength of the wind
That drives apart the black clouds?
Is my kargyraa so strong
As I sing it with a smile?

11.  My Throat, the Cuckoo

The black crane's early cry covers the cuckoo's call.
My throat, like the ediski, warms my friends' hearts.

My horse-head igil shakes its head and whinnies.
I am the bearer of my ancestors' song, xöömei.

My bull-headed byzaanchy snorts and stamps
The ancient song of my ancestors
That I feel deep in my bursting chest.

12.  Achai

I grew up hearing your lullabies in our yurt,
Listening to your steppe Kargyraa
Like the sweet sound of a Xomus.

You spent your life with the sheep and horses,
Raising all the animals alike.
Dear father, I've rolled up my sleeves
And live my life singing.

I grew up in the beautiful cradle
You carved with your own hands.
Father, listen to the song of your son
Who follows in your footsteps.

13.  Relax:  An improvization based on traditional themes.