In our third article following our armchair travels across the world, we find ourselves still in Asia but we have moved from the Far East to South and Central Asia to begin our musical explorations in this region.
Geographically this area encompasses a vast array of mountains, deserts and grassy steppes. Culturally it was the crossroads of the Silk Road trade routes between Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.
South Asia is considered to be the countries of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives.
Afghanistan is considered to be a ‘bridge’ between south and central Asia.
Central Asia consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkestan and Uzbekistan. The area is also often referred to as "the stans" as these countries all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of".
There is some debate about Mongolia being included in central Asia, because while it is geographically situated more in central Asia, it identifies more with east Asia in terms of culture, food and language. We will then not include Mongolia in this article.
As usual, we will shine our light on the music of the past and examine the music of the present. We will focus in particular on three pianists who were born in this area of the world who are all attempting to incorporate their heritage and their musicality in a modern world.