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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term bard (Russian: "бард" bard) came to be used in the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, and continues to be used in Russia today, to refer to singer-songwriters who wrote songs outside the Soviet establishment, similarly to beatnik folk singers of the United States. Because in bard music songwriters perform their own songs, the genre is also commonly referred to as author song ("авторская песня" avtorskaya pesnya). Bard poetry differs from other poetry mainly in the fact that it is sung with simple guitar accompaniment as opposed to being spoken. Another difference is that this form of poetry focuses less on style and more on meaning. This means that fewer stylistic devices are used, and the poetry is often in the form of a narrative. What separates bard poetry from other songs is the fact that the music is far less important than the lyrics; chord progressions are often very simple and tend to repeat from one bard song to another. A far more obvious difference was the commerce-free nature of the genre; songs were written to be sung and not to be sold.

Stylistically, the precursor to bard songs were Russian "city romances," also known as urban romances, which touched upon common life and were popular throughout all layers of Russian society in the late 19th - early 20th centuries. These romances were traditionally written in a minor key and performed with a guitar accompaniment.

Bard poetry may be roughly classified into two main genres: tourist song and political song, although some other subgenres are also recognized, such as outlaw song (blatnaya pesnya) and pirate song.

Initially the term "bard" was used by fans of the tourist song genre, and outside these circles, the term was often perceived as slightly derisive. However there was a need for a term to distinguish this style of song from the traditional mainstream pop song, and the term eventually stuck.

Many bards performed their songs for small groups of people using a Russian guitar, and rarely, if ever, would they be accompanied by other musicians or singers. Those who became popular were eventually able to hold modest concerts. Bards were rarely permitted to record their music, given the political nature of many of their songs. As a result, bard tunes usually made their way around via the copying of amateur recordings (known as magnitizdat) made at concerts, particularly those songs that were of a political nature.

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Political song

Songs of this kind expressed protest against the Soviet way of life. The genre varied from acutely political, "anti-Soviet" songs to witty satire in the best traditions of Aesop. Some of Bulat Okudzhava's songs touch on these themes.

Vladimir Vysotsky was perceived as a political song writer, but later he gradually made his way into the more mainstream culture. It was not so with Alexander Galich, who was eventually forced to emigrate; owning a tape with his songs could mean a prison term in the USSR. Before emigration, he suffered from KGB persecution, as did another bard, Yuliy Kim. Others, like Evgeny Kliachkin and Aleksander Dolsky, maintained a balance between outright "anti-Soviet" and plain romantic material.

Paradoxically, "songs" from pro-Communist plays by Bertolt Brecht, supposedly criticizing fascism and capitalist society (and thus applauded by the Soviets), could be seen as protest songs, and hence were popular among bards. These were often called zongs (the German pronunciation of the word 'Song'). Below is a quotation from a 'zong', translated from the Russian:

Rams are marching in rows.
Drums are rattling.
The skins for these drums
Are the rams' own.
Famous bards of the Soviet era

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Old News ;-)

[Feb 02, 2015] Bards

See Bard (Soviet Union) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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[Feb 05, 2011] Dolskiy

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Last modified: December 17, 2019