Outernational: Songs of Wounding

In extensive research, the singer Mariana Sadovska made field recordings in Ukrainian villages. Songs that have been lost to the collective memory flow into a dialog with the composer Max Andrzejewski. An album that travels around the wound, the pain, the hope and the revolt.

Mariana Sadovska about the album

How does this piece fit into these times?


I have been on stage for a long time and sing laments that are very emotionally charged, or compositions based on poems by Ukrainian writers from recent years that deal with the war. Of course, I also ask myself: How can this be sung? Is it the right thing to do? I work a lot with traditional and ritualized music. When you sing laments, one function is to let out the pain and overcome it. But, as I've read about Greek laments, there's another one: to do the opposite with your voice. By singing something terrible like a spell, an incantation, so that the thing sung about does not happen. There are also lullabies in traditional Ukrainian music that are truly terrible. I learned from ethnomusicologists that they are also sung so that the exact opposite happens. That gives me strength now. When I sing, I believe in the function of such songs. This also applies to the songs in the Outernational program "Songs of Wounding". They include songs that exorcize pain. But at the same time, pain is turned from weakness into strength. They give strength to the singers, but also to those for whom they are sung.

Your preoccupation with folkloristic or ritualized forms has been a feature of your work for far longer than the past eight years. What potential do you see in the exploration of Ukrainian singing traditions?


It has always been important to me that I never just want to sing traditional songs. From the very beginning, it seemed inappropriate to me to sing these songs exactly as they are sung in the respective villages. Because I'm not from there. But I learned on my ethnographic travels that every singer changes these songs and how they become more and more personal as a result. In some cases, the process of change could even be traced transparently. I have made that my motto: I don't have to imitate these songs faithfully, but sing them differently and make them into something personal. This creates new life. I work with musicians from the fields of jazz, contemporary music and free improvisation, and of course these songs change a lot as a result because we give them a new life. I think that's necessary, because it creates incredibly beautiful new forms.


You can read the whole interview here.

The songs

" Nightingale, you little bird - why aren't you chirping? Why don't you sing?
Oh, my voice faded. I have lost my voice. I lost my innocence ."

A song from the Polissia region in the north of Ukraine, where the oldest ritual songs have been handed down. One of them is the harvest song, a harvest ritual: for the harvest, the women dressed up in the most beautiful clothes and sang special songs to bless the harvest and keep the rain clouds away. Each woman sang alone as she worked. In the songs, they talked about their fates, their wishes, their dreams and their pain.

An old, ritual song. " I will plant a rose by the river. I hope that the rain will fall on my rose ."

Recorded live at the Leipziger Jazztage and in Berlin

A project by Outernational. Curated by Elisa Erkelenz

in cooperation with Radialsystem Berlin

Participating artists

More artists

Kurbasy: Maria Oneshchak, Natalia Rybka-Parkhomenko

Composition, Arrangement & Montage: Max Andrzejewski
Recording Philip Ruoff
Mix & Master: Martin Ruch & Max Andrzejewski

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