Igor Noskov

A song should work

Born in Perm. He graduated from the conductor-choral department of the Perm Music College. The legendary figure of the underground culture of 1980-90's Perm, amateur folklorist and self-taught researcher of Znamenny chant.


  • People get hooked on easy success. However, the ease and availability are deceptive, it doesn't allow to do something serious.
  • You need to be able to say «no» to yourself.
  • I bow down before the beauty of nature and manmade beauty that still remains in some places.
  • I am inspired by talented people: those having the courage to work to the hilt and not to forgive anyone their disinterest and lack of professionalism.
  • People slowly learn to talk and hear each other. Something is changing around, I feel a big community making its way inchmeal.
  • I began to scent the songs. I felt like as if I had discovered Troy, an unknown civilization — but it was my native civilization. And I'm all thumbs in it. Until now, we have little understanding of why we are like that way, no other one.
  • The sound is the most mesmerizing element, it has its own laws of being. The monks of Ancient Russia understood this; therefore they were able to transform the Znamenny chant nationally.

My story

My father was from Perm, and my grandfather was from the Perm region, but from the Siva village. My father has a very musical family, they all sang in the temple, played musical instruments. Mom sang beautifully, studied at the ballet school in Moscow. The war cut off all this, and my mother's family was evacuated to the Urals.

Everything was decided without me: as the parents told me, I reacted very strongly to the music, this I cried, that I celebrated, depending on what I heard. I think my fate was affected by one occasion: we had a unique kindergarten, № 148 at the Kalinin plant. Two amazing women worked there: one organized a children's opera house (unfortunately, I don't remember her name), and the other — a ballet on ice (this was Olga Aleksandrovna Cheremnykh). This synthesis determined a lot: the connection of music, singing and movement, so, theater — it all always thrilled me.

I remember when I was a younger schoolchild I went from a figure skating training, and I heard someone playing the violin. It was summer all around, I climbed up on the windowsill and began to listen. And some mister says from the classroom: «Lad, what are you?» I answer: «I want it too!» He: «Go around, come in from the entrance, I will listen to you.» It was music school № 3 (and the mister was Georgy Kirillovich Rzhannikov, violin teacher), which I immediately enrolled in and ended up in violin class. The musical life was active: while studying in the 7th grade of the music school already at Nina Sergeevna Fisher's class, I played in the school orchestra and the Violin City Unison; at the institute, I played and sang in the Accent VIA under Lev Shirman, played in the symphony pops orchestra under Ilya Anatolyevich Rozanov.

After nine classes of the school, I entered the music college at the conductor-choral department of Alexander Pavlovna Rogova, an amazing musician and person. At the same time, I studied at the theater studio under Konstantin Alekseevich Berezovsky at the Palace of Pioneers. After graduating from college, I went to Petrozavodsk to the conservatory, but I failed on dictation. I decided that the music for me is now over and entered the Pedagogical Institute in my mother's footsteps as a primary school teacher.

After graduating from the institute, I was assigned to work in the village of Rozhdestvenskoe. But before that, with friends from Sverdlovsk, I went on tour as a photographer (I was always fascinated by photography), and what they were doing, and most importantly, how they made it, amazed me. Their repertoire was of political songs, and the ensemble initially called «Solidarity,» and then «Change,» was of such a level that every time I had my skin crawl (the same, apparently, happened later with my band).

At Rozhdestvensky village, the «Iskorki» («The Sparkles» — ed.) ensemble appeared from local children in the image and likeness of what I saw in Sverdlovsk. (Starting with this, all the bands then turned out to be of different ages. This circumstance was an important internal need.) A year later, the school principal A. S. Utochkin was redirected to the village of Ust'-Kachka, and he called me with him. So the ensemble «Semeyka» («The Little Family» — ed.) appeared. The director freed me from the teacher's work and gave me the opportunity to be concerned only about the ensemble, helping me in everything! After 4 years, I realized that I want to create a professional band, that I need to grow as a musician. I returned back to Perm, enrolling in the chamber choir of Vladislav Adamovich Novik.

In the city, I tried to work with adults, but I realized that without children, the level would not be serious. I gathered children, having come to the Palace of Pioneers, where I worked then for more than 30 years. So there appeared «The Working Song.» Why «working»? Because in our opinion, the song was supposed to work. Like the previous bands, «Working Song» was primarily engaged not in music, but in the search for meanings. The band was shaping up spontaneously: once my cousin brought his entire class, then young Zhenya Chicherin (the legendary Perm musician, leader of the Hmeli-Suneli band — ed.) with his mother, Tatyana Evgenievna, heard us in the picture gallery. His mom brought him and friend Lesha Savitsky, then came wonderful Natasha Belousova (the future bard and writer), and the group began to grow incrementally... It was a crew of like-minded people, they saddled themselves with work, wanted to get better and sometimes held two rehearsals a day. We could sing everything we wanted, and at the beginning, it was all the same political song, but over time, the primary interest of both the ensemble and me became folklore, and the unique and endless northern one. A creative team formed around our singing group: they took sociological and psychological sections, journalistic polls, photo reports, scripts, light and slide scores, etc. Hence, apparently, сфьу the resonance of performances (and not only among listeners and viewers). The spiritual and moral anchorage for us at that time were Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev and Yury Mikhailovich Lotman.

The first time I got in a folklore expedition with the Leningrad Conservatory in 1981 with Anatoly Mikhailovich Mekhnetsov. When I first heard the local dialect at the train station in Kotlas, it seemed to me that these people told me fairy tales, but did not speak. Then it was difficult for me to hold the field records of those elderly people while traveling around the unique Pinega and Dvina, I just was sleeping off all the time: these melodies seemed monotonous, annoying to me. But then something fell asleep, died in me, and I was already afraid to miss the word. Literally, the earth began to move under the feet of this immense beauty. In 1991, we already became «Glava Vtoraya» («The Chapter Second» — ed.): the ensemble's cast has changed, and so the name. We completed an intensive training course in Pontedera (Italy) in the center of Jerzy Grotowski. Further and to this day our path was determined by this page of our biography.

The ensemble's name turned to «Tishina» («The Silence» — ed.) since 1997 or earlier: although some people stayed, I tried to give new names for the ensembles — so that they help to focus on the main and that the cast honestly deserve their authority without using the achievements of the previous one. The name emerged from the childish sensation that the most intimate can occur only in a state of inner silence. (Then once somebody told me that Silence is one of the names of God.) But it was too late. We hitched our wagon to a star, and, frankly, we are out of depth with this name.

Now we are engaged in Znamenny chant, to which we came quite logically — from northern Russian folk singing. But, probably, the main thing we do is a naive search for ourselves...

I have been studying Znamenny chant for almost three decades, but I still have the feeling as if I had just begun. Right off we understood that these chants are not as simple as they seem. We started to sing from kryuki: first, we took them like ancient notes, the Perm Old Believers helped with books and textbooks. But even then we felt that we just skimmed over the surface, and the depth and beauty of these chants elude us. Because we still did not understand: the Znamya is not the music.

Then we learned that Znamenny chant is not a secular discipline, but the art and method of prayer. Therefore, it should not be fixed by notes: they, notes, fix only physical quantities, height and duration, and you are left to yourself during singing. And in prayer, before you open your mouth, you have to become different, you have to switch. And the kryuki, their symbolism, help you with this: when you sing from them, you have the feeling that someone takes you by the hand and takes you through prayer, says what you must understand in this piece. The kryuki are not a system for recording exact quantities, but rather clues on the way of singing that which you already know for a long time. Both folklore and Znamya are oral systems that are passed on by word of mouth. And at least partially restore this oral transmission system, this way of thinking is a hard and challenging task.

The musical structure of the Znamya is different. The great Johann Sebastian Bach helped with his work the equal temperament get on its feet, where the smallest interval is a semitone. However, the ears of people are much more subtle, and in the Znamya and in the northern song both we hear a quarter and an eighth of a tone. When it seems to us that the elders mistune — they are singing in another system that was common to us.

I do not engage in spiritual education in the ensemble — there are people of an atheistic stance, and of other confessions. But the fact is that Znamenny chant and Russian spiritual culture are the vital layers of our being, and it is embarrassing not to know these fundamentals if you speak Russian and live in Russia. It happens that we perform in a variety of conditions. For example, we sang once in the Higher School of Economics, spoke about what we sing... And then these people — professors, academics — come up and say: «Hey people, we considered ourselves cultural people, but it turns out that we have much more to know!.. „