Based on materials collected in 2003 and 2004, this book by prolific Uzbek ethnomusicologist R. Abdullaev focuses on the musical folklore prevailing in the Boysun district of the Surkhan Darya province of Uzbekistan. The publication is divided into two chapters, the first one dealing with the place and the role of music in everyday life, with a section devoted to the importance of the Boysun Ensemble in revitalising the musical traditions of the region. Here, the author gives a panorama of some major musicians classified in four local zones: Boysun, Qurghoncha, Machay and Sayrob. Chapter two deals with music itself: First, R. Abdullaev provides a classification of the musical repertories referenced in Boysun and the surrounding areas. Secondly, he gives a classification of the musical instruments involved in traditional music, as well as a short analysis of their socio-cultural dimension. There is a final section specifically focused on ritual music, with brief descriptions of typical rituals such as kushnos (for healing childhood diseases), jahr (based on shamanistic and Sufi components), and mushkulkushod (‘unburdening one’s soul’).
The inclusion of many musical transcriptions in this book, so rare today in ethno-musicological publications, as well as photographs, maps and charts, are attempts by R. Abdullaev to synthesise the variety of musical repertories, instruments and musicians involved in the music-making of the district of Boysun, and are a valuable addition. These recently collected materials are proof that the musical traditions described have been relatively preserved and passed on to our days. However, the focus on this district should not lead us to conclude that the musical situation of Boysun is unique. After reading this publication, we are inclined to believe that the situation is relatively rich in the thirteen other districts of the Surkhan Darya province of Uzbekistan as well. This work should therefore open doors for more research in this area.