Popular Music Foundation

An exploration of popular music history

Popular Russian Music

There’s an old saying “Scratch the surface of a Russian and music comes out”. Actually, it’s the Russian soul from whence music comes. Russia is renown for its musical genius and musical artists. Some of the most beautiful classical music comes from Russian composers like Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff or Shostakovich. Yet in Russia it’s music of peasantry that fills the air. No matter where one travels in Russia there’s music. Each place you go, the music is deliberately distinct. Young people in Russia love modern music. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility to hear jazz in Russian nightclubs. There’s a huge love of rock n’ roll and contemporary music genres enjoyed by Russian youth at concerts found nearly anywhere in the country. For example, Russia’s chart stoppers include Goda and Dorozhka, the Russian Hit Parade.

Tourists tend toward Russian folk music given the numerous opportunities by region to enjoy the sounds of local singers and musicians. Festivals in Russia are the major venues where pop, rock and folk music can be heard. Throughout the 1970′s and 1980′s, popular Russian music took a very different turn toward contemporary Russian vocalists like Pugacheva, Leontiev and Antonov in the pop style. Russians didn’t miss Beatlemania either which is how rock became a popular Russian music. Today, Aria, a heavy metal band, rounds out the music scene in Russia. In 2008, Dima Bilan, Alsou and Philip Kirkorov won awards at Eurovision.

Power music genres have grown in popularity for rock music. This includes bands with a punk rock, grunge and ska element to their music. Even hip-hop, rapcore, folk rock and reggae are among those music formats presently at play in Russia. If music soothes the soul, Russian youth have helped restore vitality to the kind of music they want to hear most. One interesting form of popular Russian music is the chanson. This style of music incorporates bard, romance and criminal songs and reveals the inner sanctums of criminal life as well as the romanticized Russian lifestyle. Russia even has a music underground. This is the music that is an independent style that blends heavy metal and punk with free-form lyrics. Some of the artists who perform this are Rosenbaum, Shufutinsky and Krug.

It’s important to remember that of 300 ethnic roots in Russia, the opportunity for enormous variations in popular music styles is far greater than anywhere else in the world.

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