2.4. The modern Nenets songs

By "modern" Nenets songs I mean here composed, arranged music, transformed by synchronisation with European musical forms.

To date, the first and the only Nenets composer - with a recognised status - of Nenets songs is Semën Nikolaevich Nyaruy. His songs have become quite popular among the Nenets (especially those living sedentarily in the regional multiethnic centers). For example, the 18-20 years old generation of Nenets students of the Herzen University in St. Petersburg know most likely only Nyaruy's songs, if anything. But then the majority of those students have come from multiethnic environment, in some cases with rapidly deteriorating command of Nenets language.

The Yamal-born Nyaruy ranks today with the elite of Nenets national and cultural characters together with Nenets writers, poets and singers (e.g., Tiko Wilko, Ivan Yuganpelik, Leonid Lapsui, Prokopiy Yawtisiy, Anna Nerkagi, Elena Susoy and Gennadiy Puyko). He has a background of institutional training (St. Petersburg State Conservatory).

Some of the fundamentals and conventions of the Nenets song structures converge in Nyaruy's songs, above all the anhemitonic scales. He arranges and composes them in order to accommodate the diatonic tonality. He himself has no hesitation in judging the borderline between Nenets and non-Nenets melodic elements (Nyaruy 1991).

The last example represents Nyaruy's music: harmonized melodies with anhemitonic elements. These transcriptions include some introductory passages for the accompanying piano. They reflect the energetic playing style of Nyaruy: an inclination to forte, clanging, resounding melodic fills and syncopation. (see also Niemi 1997a.):

Example 11. (604Kb, 55 sec.) "Wi' syo - The Song of the Tundra" by Semën Nyaruy.
Performed by Semyon Nyaruy (vocal & piano), Salekhard.
Recorded by Yamal Nenets Autonomous District Radio (archive nr. Ya-60). (A recording probably from 1980's.)
Transcription of the text its translation into Russian by Maria Barmich.
Further transcription, translation into English and transcription of the music by J. Niemi.

(2. stanza)

Seweynanow yadeyey                             Look
ngarka wi' yawow",                              at our vast land;
haryoy nganamda                                 if the aeroplanes
yilaryibeynandow"                                are climbing to the skies
tyirtyàyey sarmyeyketseyey                         the warble of the birds
muniyey telabyirngow",                            overcomes them,
(o-)horyekodaryewey                               the reyndeer calves
tyelewekoraha.                                      are echoing them.

(Refrain)
         He-yey-hey-hey                                         Hè-yey-hey-hey
         wi' yana" hoyow                                       we are living
         yilebtsyiyeyngawow",                                  on our tundra,
         wi' yana" syonzya                                      it is good to live
         sawa yilyeyey latrohow,                                 on our tundra,
         wi' yana" syoyo(-)                                      we are spreading around
         teylabtambowngawow",                                 the songs of our tundra,
         wi' yana" numgi"                                       the stars of our tundra
         yesabartarahow".                                     are twinkling everywhere.