Folk songs

Source: Global Times [17:11 March 17 2011]

The Uygurs classify folksongs according to their region of origin, and each region has its own distinctive sound. Modally the songs of southern Xinjiang are usually heptatonic while the songs of Ili, Turpan and Qumul are more commonly pentatonic or hexatonic.

Many folksongs have recurrent raised or lowered intervals. Folksongs may take any note of the scale as tonic, and many folksongs feature modulation to a secondary mode. Rhythms are in short cycles, with much variation. The Ili style tends to use duple rhythms while in the south 5/8, 7/8 and 9/8 rhythms also appear.

Primarily accompanied by the dutar and/or a frame drum, one interesting feature of Uygur folksong is that the accented drum beat does not fall at the beginning or end of the melodic phrase. The singing style is highly ornamented and uses a wide range, especially in the songs of Ili whose attractive swoops and leaps in the melodic line have lead the Chinese to term them 'wolf songs' (lang'ge).

The Qumul style is considered softer, while Kashgar style is more vigorous. Songs are usually short, lasting a few minutes, and are commonly strung together into suites (yürüshi), like the street song suite (kocha nakhshisi yürüshi) of Ili. The vast majority of song lyrics dwell on tragic love, others take religious or local historical themes, and others are comical.