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The Ways of the Mass Song Genre Modification in the Conditions of a Totalitarian System

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The authors of the publication:
Kuzyk Valentyna
Bibliographic description:
Kuzyk, V. (2022) The Ways of the Mass Song Genre Modification in the Conditions of a Totalitarian System. Folk Art and Ethnology, 1 (393), 18–29.


Kuzyk Valentyna

a Ph.D. in Art Studies, a senior research fellow at the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology of the NAS of Ukraine’s Maksym Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies, Folkloristics and Ethnology, a member of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine, the M. Lysenko Prize winner


The Ways of the Mass Song Genre Modification in the Conditions of a Totalitarian System



The song-writing has taken a special place in the system of musical genres of the Ukrainian culture (it is about the 1920s – 1930s). It has been directed to the call of the period, namely to popularize revolutionary ideas, to glorify the struggle for new values of the commune life. Mobility, democratization of content, conciseness and specificity of expression, a clear rhythmic basis, proximity to folklore sources have become the main prerequisites.

Such dynamics of the genre development is quite natural as the song is one of the most widespread art forms in the vocal music of all nations of the world. Its advantages include a small form (the so-called miniature), a synthesis of two artistic principles – poetic (verbal / the lyrics) and musical (the melody first of all). The song has sustained various genre changes both in folklore and in the professional field over its centuries-long history. A new ideologically marked genre, known as mass song, with its age gradations (Pioneer, Komsomol, etc.) is presented in the former USSR in the middle of the 1920s. Its first examples appear as fundamental continuation of the songs of Ukrainian, Russian and world revolutionary proletariats.

The concept of mass (mass genres, mass songs, etc.), introduced in the 1922 yet, has become a manifestation of cultural ideologies of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of the USSR, who understand the conception mass as a quantitative indicator of the people concentration (although it is well-known that this term belongs to physical science, the concept biomass is more correct for the society). Thus, the symbols of spiritual origin in the works are rejected (almost for a century). The new themes for the development of mass songs have appeared in the 1930s. The militaristic content is intensified in them on the one hand and the style of the panegyric with the glorification of the cult of the leader personality on the other.

The evolution of song-writing in the pre-war Ukraine could has been richer in creative discoveries if it had taken place naturally through the spiritual succession of artistic generations. However, Stalin’s repressions have caused great damage to culture, as well as to all spheres of life. Well-known Ukrainian composers and poets have fallen a prey to them.



musical culture of Ukraine, song, song genres, mass song, totalitarian ideology, panegyric song, cult of personality in art.



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