Contemporary Russian Folk Music Sample College Essay

Among European folk music traditions, Russian folk music is the one with the most complex and exciting history. Having survived the centuries-long ban on instruments and the authoritarian cultural policy of the Soviet times, it now aims to find its place in modern popular culture while retaining its traditional spirit. The modern Russian folk music stage includes bands and ensembles of various levels of authenticity and popularity based in different regions of Russia, as well as in many countries all over the world. The purpose of this paper is to research international online communities devoted to Russian folk music in order to find out what inspires them and how they maintain and facilitate Russian folk music tradition.

History of Russian Folk Music

Russian folk music has a long and complicated history dating back to the middle of the first millennium AC. Since the formation of the first Russian state of Kyiv Rus, the Slavic tribes have been famous for their love and mastery of music, singing, and dancing. The tribes that made up the country were not homogeneous, and so was the music, which included the elements of Finno-Ugric, Turkic, Siberian, and Eastern singing traditions (Tarushkin, p. 16). Until now, the music of the northern, western, southern, and central regions of Russia has its own distinctive features.

Russian folk music started as vocal music, with songs being an integral part of daily peasants’ life. The songs were sung from morning to night and reflected the significant events in people’s lives, change of seasons, and religious events (Maes, p. 68). The term “Russian folk song” embraces a variety of musical and poetic genres: songs associated with calendar rites, family rituals, lyrical songs, heroic ballads, chastooshkas, and romances.

The use of musical instruments was prohibited by the Russian Orthodox church from 16th up to the 19th century. As a result, instrumental music traditions almost disappeared and had to be restored from scratch when instruments started to be used again in the late 19th century (Tarushkin, p. 87). Traditional Russian folk instruments include gudok, a three-stringed pear-shaped fiddle; gusli, a harp-like wing-shaped instrument; doudka, a simple wind instrument; rozhok, a glute made of one or two wooden pipes. More sophisticated instruments are balalaika, a triangular-shaped string instrument; domra, a rounded string instrument, and accordion (or bayan), a box-shaped instrument with keys.

In Soviet Russia, folk music received significant support from the state, being categorized as democratic and proletarian as opposed to ‘bourgeois’ classical music. However, its authentic nature was severely distorted by the state’s ambition to professionalize performers. State-supported Soviet folkloric ensembles regularly toured abroad in order to promote Russian culture worldwide. Folk music was seen as an answer to Western pop music that was generally criticized (Olsen, p. 131). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the spread of Western culture and ways of life in Russia, Russian folk music has been trying to find its place in the global context while retaining its traditions.

Contemporary Russian Folk Music

Contemporary Russian folk music can be divided into several distinctive categories based on its authenticity, background, audience, popularity, and message. The most authentic folk music is not performed by professionals and tends to reflect local traditions of a particular region. It is performed by small ensembles at local festivals, public events, weddings, and celebrations, with performers not seeking greater popularity. It is also the case with individual performers playing traditional instruments or singing folk songs for a small audience or at themed concerts and events. On the state level, folk music is represented by major ensembles, choirs, and singers who enjoy commercial popularity and receive government support, and independent folkloric bands that mix folk traditions with modern music trends. For the purpose of this research, several major folk music categories can be identified:

  • Major ‘official’ artists and folk ensembles, such as the Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces, or singers Nadezhda Babkina, and Lyudmila Zykina. They receive state support, their concerts are broadcasted on TV, and they are invited to perform at major state events and celebrations, such as the annual Victory Day parade. They tour abroad and are supposed to represent Russian national music on the international stage.
  • Popular folkloric bands that incorporate Russian folk traditions into contemporary musical trends, such as Buranovskie Babushki, Ivan Kupala, Kalinov Most, etc. Some of these bands are popular in Russia, while some enjoy more popularity abroad. They tend to use traditional Russian music instruments and elements of the national costume, and usually play out national stereotypes in their music videos.
  • Local folk ensembles of various backgrounds and levels of authenticity. Almost every Russian city or village has its own folkloric ensemble that performs on city festivals. Some of them are more authentic and aim to preserve local music traditions, while others have a more commercial purpose. Folk Russian ensembles made up of expats or the locals interested in Russian culture can be found in different countries all over the world.
  • Individual performers playing traditional music instruments or singing folk songs. They play on local concerts or have their own YouTube channels with videos of their performances. Their performances are either authentic or based on academic music traditions with folk music elements and playing techniques used an inspiration.

Some of folk music bands, ensembles, and performers aim to preserve and maintain local musical traditions, carefully following them, collecting songs, and using handmade musical instruments. The others take authentic material, arrange it, and perform it in a manner that is only thought to be traditional by a general audience. Most folkloric bands perform in stylized costumes designed as traditional Russian outerwear but modified for stage use. Artistic interpretations of folk music are generally a mix of academic traditions with folk music elements.

Russian Folk Music Online

In terms of social presence, there is no homogenous community encompassing all Russian folk music threads. It is spread across many countries all over the world and incorporates many small communities interested in particular bands, music genres, or local music traditions. For the purpose of this paper, I researched two online communities: a Facebook group dedicated to Russian folk music, and the website and Facebook page of Ottava Yo folk band. The purpose of the research was to analyze how the members of the communities communicate with each other, what values they share, and what they do to preserve and facilitate Russian folk music traditions.

Lovers of Russian Folk Songs and Russian Classic Music

The Facebook group called Lovers of Russian Folk Songs and Russian Classic Music was formed in 2010 and has 1,800 participants and subscribers. Group description states that it is a community of people who enjoy Russian classical music, old Russian romances, and Russian folk music, and everyone who shares the love for this type of music is welcome to join. It is updated almost every day with posts published not only by the group administrators but also by its active participants. The posts feature mainly YouTube videos of various folk and classical music performances by Russian and foreign artists and receive from 1 to 10 comments on average.

For the past two months (from March 2020 to May 2020) the posts featured several types of videos. Most of them are performances of folk songs by well-known Russian singers and ensembles, such as Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Lyudmila Zykina, Arthur Eizen, Sergey Lemeshev, Pyatnitsky Choir, and the Alexandrov Ensemble, as well as local folk ensembles, such as Omsk Choir. The second type is videos of less-known performers playing traditional instruments or signing folk songs, for example, performances by London-based accordionist Igor Outkine. There are also videos posted by the musicians themselves, clips from Soviet films, and recordings of local folk performances.

The comments are written in different languages, including Russian, German, English, and Italian, with commenters mainly expressing their emotions or discussing the videos. Group members sometimes communicate with each other by means of the Facebook automatic translation tool, with one author writing in their native language, and the other answering in another language. The members of the community often discuss the songs’ origins, background, lyrics, and meaning.

The members of the community are united by their love for Russian folk music, not necessarily implying the profound knowledge of the language. In video descriptions and group discussions, native Russian speakers and people familiar with Russian culture usually provide necessary explanations, translations, and background information about the songs. The group administration particularly states that the page is devoted to traditional Russian folk and classical music only and does not feature videos by modern popular folk bands focusing on the authentic traditional musical culture.

Otava Yo

Otava Yo is a contemporary Russian folk band formed in Saint Petersburg in 2003. Initially, they played instrumental Celtic music, and then turned to Russian folk songs, with the album Do You Love released in 2018. The band uses traditional Russian music instruments, such as fiddle, bagpipe, violin, and darbuka, as well as more common instruments such as guitars and drums. They incorporate the elements of Russian traditional village music in their work and use songs found in ethnographic records. In their music videos, they use traditional Russian motives and costumes.

The band’s philosophy is based on the idea of preserving and maintaining Russian folk music traditions. The band leader Alexey Belkin says, ‘communists did everything they could to steal folklore from Russian people and replace it with fake academic ‘Kalinka-Malinka’-style music” (Peleckis). The group aims to show that Russian folk music is totally different from what everyone thinks it is. Alexey says that “traditional music inspires us, we respect it and try not to spoil the roots, but to refresh it with our music ideas” (Peleckis). They appeal both to the Russian and international audiences trying to arrange their performances in such a way so that anyone could understand them and feel involved without even understanding the lyrics.

The groups’ online presence includes an official website, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook group. The band’s Facebook page has 22,000 followers and is updated regularly, and their most popular YouTube videos have several million views. The band has performed in 30 countries and is currently on a world tour that was postponed due to the pandemic outbreak, with concerts planned in Berlin, Krakow, and Warsaw. It won numerous international awards, including California Music Video Award for the best foreign language music video for their song Once Upon a Time on a High Hill.

The comments to the band’s YouTube videos and Facebook posts mainly praise their music and acknowledge the viewers’ appreciation of it. They include comments in different languages from people living in different countries and parts of the world. They feature concert reviews and invitations to visit a particular country, or comments expressing one’s excitement about the band coming to their city. It cannot be said that commenters exchange messages with each other or engage in lengthy discussions, they are basically united by their admiration towards the band and Russian folk music in general.

Conclusion

Contemporary Russian folk music is centered around finding the balance between preserving national traditions and incorporating them into the modern music culture. It includes bands and ensembles of various backgrounds, popularity, and levels of authenticity based not only in Russia but in different countries all over the world. The online communities are also eclectic, some of them focused on the careful preservation of traditions, others just being fan pages of particular bands. By exchanging messages and expressing their admiration for this particular style of music, people do what they can to keep Russian folk music alive and contemporary.

Works Cited

Maes, Francis. A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar. University of California Press, 2001.

Olsen, Laura. Performing Russia: Folk Revival and Russian Identity. Routledge, 2004.

Peleckis, Mindaugas. Otava Yo: True Russian Folk Music, Not Just Another Balalaika Orchestra. Radikaliai, 2019.

Tarushkin, Richard. On Russian Music. University of California Press, 2010.

Sales And Business Development

Creating adequate conditions for promoting innovative goods and services depends on numerous factors, including the geographic location of the region for sales, the indicators of consumer demand, brand value and other significant criteria. Today, even start-up companies can offer relevant propositions if the direction of activity is chosen correctly and corresponds with market interests. As the topic of this work, producing a strategy for promoting and developing a business marketing course for electric charging stations for vehicles under the Charge-Your-Car (CYC) brand will be considered.

This project is unique and, despite the dominance of other corporations in this field, for instance, Tesla, CYC offers potential customers convenient services. Among the features that this business has, remote control from a personal gadget and the choice of cost and duration of charging are useful options. The assessment of opportunities for developing this business will be considered in the context of the Russian market as an environment open to innovations. The analysis of strategic partnerships, the evaluation of possible competitive threats and other stages of advancement can allow drawing objective conclusions regarding this project’s success in a specific environment and setting objective priorities.

Value of Strategic Partnerships

Since the Russian market is not rich in innovations due to the country’s focus on its own products and restrictions in the form of sanctions, implementing the considered project in this region may take place in the conditions of establishing partnerships with representatives of large transport holdings. CYC offers convenient and understandable services, and as a marketing promotion strategy, the business representatives can demonstrate the capabilities of this project to Russian corporations by using test models of electric cars.

Cheong, Song and Hu (2016) cite an example of Tesla, the world-renowned company specialising in the sale of high-tech vehicles, and mention the practice of cooperation. According to the authors, Tesla representatives entered into partnerships with other major members of the automotive market, which allowed them to coordinate fixed costs successfully and avoid being crushed by competitors (Cheong, Song & Hu, 2016). Therefore, this method of project promotion can be successful and in-demand.

Another reason why strategic partnerships can be implemented as a method of expanding the CYC business is a chance to introduce an acquisition strategy. For such a small project, the Russian market may become a valuable niche due to the lack of analogues of the offered goods and services, which, in turn, can contribute to monopolising this industry and increasing influence in the region. In addition, as Cheong, Song and Hu (2016) state, strategic partnerships do not have to entail strict obligations and may give companies an opportunity to promote their business freely by coordinating production capacities on their own. As a result, such a practice can become a valuable method for CYC to expand its sphere of influence and attract a wide range of potential consumers.

Business Purchasers

One of the main obstacles that CYC representatives may face when promoting their business in Russia is the lack of local companies’ readiness for products of this format due to insufficient demand for electric vehicles in the region. Therefore, when choosing business purchasers, it is essential to pay attention to those companies that are ready to acquire innovative goods and services and develop the industry of the alternative sources of fuel.

According to Nosi, Pucci, Silvestri and Aquilani (2017), the functionality of cars that use electricity as the main resource for work may be too complex for individual markets, and the high cost of such equipment can repel potential investors and make it difficult to promote this category of goods. In order to address these challenges, the authors offer to pay attention to those companies that are involved in green activities and set themselves the goal of saving energy consumption as one of the main criteria of successful entrepreneurship (Nosi, Pucci, Silvestri & Aquilani, 2017). In this case, the search for investors can be simplified, and there may be more investors to purchase the business in question.

As an additional strategy of finding purchasers for the start-up project, a temporary test mode may be offered. This business cannot exist without the promotion of electric vehicles in the target region. Therefore, as a potentially successful sales programme, cooperation with local companies may involve the developers’ participating in the supply of respective cars. This type of mediation tactics can strengthen partnerships and, in turn, enable business buyers to test the convenience of the sold technology.

Consumer Purchasers

When entering the Russian market, one of the main advantages for CYC is a low competitive barrier, which may allow the project developers to monopolise this industry and create consumer interest due to the uniqueness of their proposals. Zhgulev, Bozhuk, Evdokimov and Pletneva (2017) consider the example of the aforementioned Tesla corporation and note that due to the rapid gain of market recognition, the company has managed to build a positive reputation, which, in turn, creates challenges for new market participants and requires them to overcome the threshold of customer loyalty.

Provided that the electric transport industry is not developed significantly in the region under consideration, engaging the target audience through profitable offers and bonus programmes can help build a stable customer base. This prospect is real if competent marketing steps are applied, for instance, discount offers, sponsorship awards and other features of customer loyalty projects.

Many potential customers may not be ready to purchase CYC products due to the fact that this brand is unknown in Russia. In order for establishing a stable sales network, it is crucial to offer consumers an opportunity to find out all the necessary data about both the project and the products proposed. As Tuan, Karpukhin, Terenchenko and Kolbasov (2018) argue, many automobile concerns have been operating for a long time in the Russian market and have a wide client base, for instance, Toyota.

As a strategy for involving customers, CYC representatives should create a support service with qualified specialists who can answer buyers all their questions and help with purchases. Moreover, this mode of operation may be utilised as a method of collecting valuable data on target consumers. According to Zhgulev et al. (2017), young purchasers tend to buy these products more willingly. Therefore, this information should be used with benefit, and a public attraction programme may be developed through effective marketing solutions.

Key Sales Propositions

As key value propositions, it is proposed to promote the convenience and functionality of CYC in the Russian market. The cost of these products cannot be extremely low due to the unique capabilities and innovative nature of the goods in question. In order to push potential buyers to purchase such developments, Bohnsack and Pinkse (2017) suggest applying “several tactics to decrease the negative perception of the high price, such as warranties, initial price reduction, and payment constructions” (p. 86).

Nevertheless, these incentives may not be enough to engage a large number of consumers. Therefore, in addition to a competent pricing policy, the promotion of CYC should be based on the practical importance of the product in a modern digital environment due to the demand for such functionality in the world market. Competent advertising involving the distribution of the goods to a wide range of consumers is an essential part of the sales programme.

Another significant nuance that may be utilised as an element of a value proposition is coupling tactics. Bohnsack and Pinkse (2017) analyse this principle of promoting electric vehicles and give examples of Tesla, BMW and some other concerns that have used this strategy. This approach is similar to that of corporate social responsibility when business companies are involved in important activities that can benefit people and the world in general. For instance, the image of a project with an environmental focus implemented through cooperation with green companies may allow CYC to interest people who are concerned about the depletion of natural resources and the detrimental effect of traditional machines on the ecology. This type of value proposition can also be seen in the context of a potentially successful promotion strategy.

Competitive Threats

The key aspect regarding possible competition that CYC representatives should take into account when promoting their project in the Russian market is the audience’s unwillingness to change old cars with internal combustion engines to modern electric models. As Safari (2018) states, the confrontation between these two types of vehicles is long and stubborn, and despite natural progress in the transport industry, the abandonment of non-traditional cars is characteristic of many world regions.

In order to overcome this barrier, CYC should expand the knowledge of potential investors and consumers about the merits of such models and the equipment offered, thereby ensuring higher sales. Otherwise, the predominant number of car owners will not be ready to give way to a modern car with convenient functionality and a more progressive system of movement.

In addition to the fear of innovations, the threat of competition suggests the danger of Tesla’s active work as the largest and well-known supplier of electric vehicles and their components. Safari (2018) notes that this corporation conducts successful marketing programmes and offers customers a wide range of services. Also, as the author remarks, the company manages to promote its products successfully even despite higher prices compared with those of competitors, and this advantage is achieved due to high brand value and customer loyalty (Safari, 2018).

Therefore, the rivalry with Tesla may become one of the main threats for CYC at the stage of introducing products into the Russian market. In order to avoid problems and the loss of profit, the developers of the start-up project should expand the range of services and take into account the limited possibilities American corporations’ activities in the region under consideration. In case of successful tactics, CYC products may become a leader in this market due to more loyal sales conditions.

Required Product Innovations

Despite the unique options that CYC offers, some additions can be made to this system to expand its functional potential and increase sales. For instance, Jensen, Cherchi, Mabit and Ortúzar (2017) note that there are a large number of stations offering fast recharge services for electric batteries. As an effective innovation, the localisation of these points in the application could allow customers to navigate faster and give preference to the stations of the brand in question. It is essential to not only add specific points to the map but also indicate the available options. This will provide an opportunity to increase sales through comprehensive information about the services provided.

Another valuable innovation is the option of delivering charging equipment to the place of order. Despite a potentially wide range of coverage, in the Russian market, electric car stations are represented in small numbers. Therefore, in order to help customers to simplify the mode of the operation of modern vehicles, CYC can offer the service of delivering a station to a specified address. This option may be temporary because, in case of successful sales, many new stations will appear in the country. However, at the initial stage, clients will see that the developers of the product are interested in sales and will appreciate the customer-oriented service of CYC.

Priorities for CYC

To start, CYC representatives should find partners who can help implement the start-up programme successfully and enable this innovation to enter the Russian market. In this context, one of the goals is to establish cooperation with the Skolkovo Innovation Center, the research complex that, as Kılkış (2016) argues, is the country’s leading provider of modern technologies. Since this community is funded by the government, an official presentation of the project is necessary in order to attract the attention of interested parties, thereby increasing brand awareness. All these procedures are aimed at creating a sustainable background for the introduction of CYC in the Russian market.

Another priority area of ​​activity is the elimination of potential competitors. Despite the fact that Tesla is a world-renowned trademark providing services for the supply and maintenance of electric vehicles, its representation in Russia is not as large as in many other countries. In case the trust of business officials for CYC is obtained, this will be a significant driver of success. According to Kılkış (2016), the Russian authorities are ready to provide grants to potentially successful projects, and in the conditions of relative market freedom, the effective implementation of initial introduction plans can help eliminate the main competitor. The two priorities considered are key at the initial stage of work.

Conclusion

The considered conditions for introducing the CYC project into the Russian market with an assessment of threats and potential growth opportunities make it possible to draw up an objective development plan for this start-up and compile a potentially successful implementation strategy. Partnerships and the elimination of competitors are the most significant tasks that need to be promoted in the business environment of Russia, which is not ready for total innovations.

Both price and social value propositions can be relevant, and cooperation with green companies is one of the methods to attract attention to the brand. Some product innovations may be required, but in case of improvements in the programme’s functionality, consumers will be able to appreciate the customer-oriented approach of CYC developers and will be more willing to purchase this product.

References

Bohnsack, R., & Pinkse, J. (2017). Value propositions for disruptive technologies: Reconfiguration tactics in the case of electric vehicles. California Management Review, 59(4), 79-96.

Cheong, T., Song, S. H., & Hu, C. (2016). Strategic alliance with competitors in the electric vehicle market: Tesla motor’s case. Mathematical Problems in Engineering, 2016, 1-10.

Jensen, A. F., Cherchi, E., Mabit, S. L., & Ortúzar, J. D. D. (2017). Predicting the potential market for electric vehicles. Transportation Science, 51(2), 427-440.

Kılkış, Ş. (2016). Sustainability-oriented innovation system analyses of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Turkey and Singapore. Journal of Cleaner Production, 130, 235-247.

Nosi, C., Pucci, T., Silvestri, C., & Aquilani, B. (2017). Does value co-creation really matter? An investigation of Italian millennials intention to buy electric cars. Sustainability, 9(12), 2159.

Safari, M. (2018). Battery electric vehicles: Looking behind to move forward. Energy Policy, 115, 54-65.

Tuan, N. K., Karpukhin, K. E., Terenchenko, A. S., & Kolbasov, A. F. (2018). World trends in the development of vehicles with alternative energy sources. ARPN Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 13(7), 2535-2542.

Zhgulev, E., Bozhuk, S., Evdokimov, K., & Pletneva, N. (2018). Analysis of barriers to promotion of electric cars on Russian market. Engineering for Rural Development, Elgava (Latvia), 17, 2110-2117.

“Acculturation And Attitudes Towards Disability For Arab Americans” By Zidan And Chan

Exploring and promoting diversity is one of the foundational tasks that lie ahead of the contemporary global community. Moreover, one needs to ensure that people from vulnerable groups and people representing minorities are provided with sufficient voice and a proper platform for contributing to the sociocultural dialogue. In their article “Acculturation and Attitudes towards Disability for Arab Americans,” Zidan and Chan focus on managing the needs of Arab citizens in the American context, pointing at the issues linked to the acculturation process.

The authors of the article state that the needs of the Arab community in the U.S. have been heavily under-researched, which has led to a drop in the quality of Arab immigrants’ lives. Moreover, the vulnerabilities of the target population, namely, the ones associated with religious prejudices toward the Arab population and the issues faced by Arab immigrants with disabilities, have been vastly ignored. As a result, a significant portion of the Arab American population, especially those with disabilities, have been struggling to survive in American society.

The article features an array of markers that help to identify the target culture and understand its plight. For example, the presence of cultural biases toward Arab Americans, namely, the perception of the Arab population as an imminent threat to the peaceful life and well-being of the rest of Americans, was an evident reminder of how Arab American people are treated by a range of people in the specified context. In addition, the authors mentioned several neutral characteristics that have helped to isolate the target demographic and identify it as Arab. For instance, Zidan and Chan bring up the respective cultural and religious beliefs, thus framing the research as the one centered on the Arab culture (Zidan and Chan 107). Moreover, the authors delve into the culture of Arab immigrants in the U.S., adding to the opportunities for identifying the culture in question more accurately. Remarkably, the authors do not resort to cultural stereotyping when painting the portrait of an Arab American, which is worth appreciating.

The described stance is related directly to the work of an educator as the person who is likely to communicate with Arab students quite often given the multicultural context of the target environment. Namely, the article provides subtle guidance and instructions to teachers for encouraging Arab learners with disabilities to become more vocal in their studying, as well as introduces teachers to the methods of meeting disabled Arab American learners’ needs. For example, the article could be used to help to outline the possible language barrier and the means of overcoming it.

In addition, doing research on the specified issue has helped me to discover my personal biases and prejudices. Namely, I used to believe that the cultural history and legacy of immigrants in the U.S. does not have a tangible impact on the selection of teaching strategies that an educator may consider when approaching students from specific backgrounds. After considering the article closer, I realized that the knowledge of the cultural background allows a teacher to approach a student in a way that will help to motivate them and encourage them to perceive particular difficulties that they may have while studying as fully manageable.

My reaction toward the article is close to that one of curiosity and enthusiasm. The article has inspired me to learn more about the cultures with which I come into contact as a teacher and the strategies that I can use as an educator to encourage students in their academic life. With the focus on diversity and the understanding of the role that the cross-cultural dialogue has on the teaching and learning processes, one can spur the academic development of learners.

Work Cited

Zidan, Tarek, and Keith Chan. “Acculturation and Attitudes towards Disability for Arab Americans.” Journal of Mental Health and Social Behavior, vol. 1, 2019, pp. 104-110.

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