Kostroma (the title of the second track on Echo) is a straw effigy of a woman, for which Russian peasants organised funeral ceremonies on the verge of Summer. Special songs and dances were performed. Finally, accompanied by mourners, the effigy was either drowned or torn to pieces over the fields. It seems that Kostroma represented the life cycle of flax, and the ritual aimed to restore fertility of the earth for the next year. I play kanjira, frame drum and clay whistle on this track.
The song is traditional Russian and the rhythm comes from the Middle East.
I have released a mini-album entitled Echo, on which I had been working with my husband Duncan for some time.
I have dedicated this album to the late Layne Redmond, from whom I learnt frame drumming and women’s spirituality.
Echo reflects the voices from the past. Sounds from the Slavic and Middle Eastern lands interweave.
This mini-album contains a traditional Russian song, a traditional Ukrainian song, a fantasy based on an Medieval Old Slavic epic poem, a take on a classical piece, and vocalising to a frame drum.
On the album, I play frame drum and domra, and sing. Other than that, the album is largely electronic, apart from Duncan’s playing guitar for the bonus track. I learnt domra in a Soviet music school, from a wonderful teacher Tamara Aleksandrovna Petrova. Two of her pupils became professional musicians – and that’s just from my year and one above.
On the cover photo, I wear a traditional Ukrainian shirt, which was hand-embroidered by my late Grandmother, Efrosinya Matveevna. She lived in a village in the Vinnitsa Region of Ukraine, where she brought up six sons.
For the cover image, I used my watercolour that I call “Mediterranean Peace”.
I thank Duncan for composing additional music and electronic effects in addition to recording and producing the album. I thank Miranda Rondeau, a prominent frame drum musician and teacher, for giving me permission to record her composition. Furthermore, my thanks go to Andrew for taking the cover photo.
We turn this composition into a little quiz game with our audiences. We ask the name of it and where they have heard it before. See if you can tell.
Oxana, of course, had known Miserlou only as an opening titles tune for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Oxana is a huge Tarantino fan and played Honey Bunny in a skit for Initiation Day in her University.
Andrew and Steve, being better musically educated, knew that Miserlou had been recorded many times before Tarantino had an insight to use the song for his seminal piece of cinematography.
In fact, Spotify has hundreds of versions. But it was Dick Dale’s American surf rock version of Miserlou that took flight to fame thanks to Pulp Fiction. Steve does a bit of riffs on his mandola in honour of that version for us.
I Shall Find You is a song by Tori Morrill&Al Newman. Inanna Sisters in Rhythm, who has originally played it, kindly gave us permission to perform the song and even shared their score notes! Inanna Sisters in Rhythm also count the late Layne Redmond as one of their teachers.
Sandi and Oxana made a couple minor changes in frame drums’ patterns, but overall it’s what our sisters across the ocean play. Andrew with his clarinet and Steve with his mandola make the magic complete.
Andrew also play a set of ankle jingles – something that Oxana and Sandi found impossible to do while playing frame drums at the same time – so kudos to Inanna Sisters in Rhythm for performing that feat! We all try to do our share in singing, and intend to use our voices more and more in the future.
Oxana and Sandi of Incidentals were excited to introduce adults and children to frame drumming at Heptonstall Family Day 2016. We were warmly welcomed by the organiser Beth Hardman, who subsequently said: “It was really good having you as part of the day.”
We had families with children young and younger join us informally and check out the instruments.
We played a couple of songs and instrumentals and led an introductory session of frame drumming.
Oxana and Sandi by the stained glass windows
Children had their first try of frame drums along with shakers and other percussion in the beautiful interior of Heptonstall Church.
The wonderful Lady Mayor & Mayoress of the wonderful Todmorden invited women to Todmorden Town Hall, dressed in Suffragettes’ green, purple and white (I still remember vividly the touching and expressive opera “Emily” by Todmorden’s own Tim Benjamin).
Crowds flocked to browse the stalls of various women’s organisations and buy crafts and treats made by women of Todmorden and beyond. Emma Decent gave us all the gift of Open Mic, to which she contributed her memorable poems about her dog, having sex with the sky, and of course the epic comment poem about a man who shouted “Lezbo!” at the very first Magic Words – the incident which I witnessed. It is not often that one finds oneself in a spot where history is made.
I started with frame drumming and singing a spring ritual song from the Slavic culture, “Kostroma”. Lovely women around the stage area greatly helped me by shaking multicoloured egg shakers – perfect symbols of spring.
I was happy to share my poems too, in particular “Spring Equinox 2013” to welcome the approaching holiday.
In the Soviet Union Internationals Women’s Day was a public holiday, and so it remains in post-Soviet Russia. It is a celebration of Women, of Spring, and there are tulips everywhere. I shared a short topical poem remember from childhood with the women of Calderdale:
Мы скажем маме: с Женским Днем!
Весь год мы помнили о нем.
(We will say: Happy Women’s Day to our Mom!
We have remembered it throughout the year.)
Oh – and thanks go to Jude for acting as a photo reporter!