Spiridon Schischigin Biography

The Khomus in my life

I, Spiridon Spiridonovich Shishigin, was born on the first august, 1950 in the village of Tabaga in the Megino-Kangalassky District of the Sacha Republic ( Yakutia ). The renowned smith S. I. Gogolev lived in Tabaga, and almost every family had a khomus. When i was ten years old, my older brother Alexei gave me a khomus. As often as I could, I watched and listened to how the babushki played it; right away I learned how to produce the different sounds.

Then I began to take part in concerts that were held in the school, which helped with acquiring the elementary skills of playing the khomus. I happened to hear on the radio a performance by Ivan Alexeyev, an I began to devote myself more diligently, trying to play interestingly, as well as with variety. Later, I acquired records of it, and learned a new method from listening to the playing of present-day masters of playing the khomus.

In 1968 I entered the Physics-Mathematics Department of the Yakutsk State University. In my student years I took part in and became a laureate of the festivals of amateurs in the arts “ Friendship Days”, in which students gathered from the whole Soviet Union. Taking part in these festivals started my creative concerns in playing the khomus; I spent much time in playing the khomus, in inventing many new techniques, in extracting from this marvelous instrument all sorts of new sounds.
It was just in those years that I became a prize-winner of the 5th All-Union Festival of Young People and Students; just in those years i met Ivan Alexeyev. Listening to his advice, I stopped being carried away by outwardly attractive sounds, began to play more attention to the substance of my playing, trying to convey through the medium of the khomus one’s emotional state to the listener.

I grew as a performer and stood on the next step of development while playing as a member of the ensemble “ Algys” under the direction of Ivan Alexeyev, since to play in an ensemble in much more difficult than to play alone, as it is necessary to have a feeling for the emotional state of all the members of the ensemble involved with everybody and to create a joint improvisation, and in the ensemble the very best khomusists of that time played. In the membership of the ensemble all of us became winners of the certificate of the 12th World Festival of Young People and Students in Moscow; three times we represented the art of playing the khomus as members of the delegation of the republic in Moscow, in Bashkiria, and Ul’yanovsk and Irkutsk Districts, and became laureates of the First, Second, and Third All-Union Festivals of Folk Creative Work.

After graduating from the University, I became a teacher of mathematics in the Khangalassky District, where I became acquainted with the director of the amateur ensemble of folk dance “ Youth of Erkeeni”, V.E. Romanova. And I began, in my spare time, to go with this ensemble as a guest in the District, Republic, and Union. I appeared in concerts in the Buryat and Irkutsk Districts, and in the city of Magadan, which helped me to decorated with the medal of the All-Union Central Soviet of Professional soviets “ For Achievement in Amateur Artistic Performance”.
In 1987, as a member of the folklore and traditional culture group, I took part in the informational-promotional events of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR in countries of Western Europe(Switzerland, France, West Berlin, the federal Republic of Germany, Italy). At the time of these tours I came to understand that playing the khomus had a great significance in the preservation of the culture of my people. One of the organizers of the tour, Dr. Touma, said, “ The greatness of a people is measured, not by the number of its representatives, but by how that people preserves and hands down from generation to generation its language and its culture”. After this trip I ceased to be simply a performer on the khomus, and became a deliberate promoter of the art of playing the khomus. I wrote more than 100 articles in various newspapers; I have three books on the khomus and on khomus music. I took an active part in the organization and carrying out of various events( competitions, demonstrations) to promote this amazing instrument.

In 1988 I organized the first District Festival of Khomusiste, in which more than ten ensembles took part; many of them have continued to work at it, even to this day. In the all-Union scientific andapplied conference “ The Trump: Problems and Perspectives”, our district took part as the largest group. At the present time in the district, circles for khomusists are active in all the schools; there are always more and more khomusists starting out in the district; always new smiths are appearing. In 1991 I was one of the organizers of the Second International Congress “ The Trump: Tradition and the Present”. I took part in the First International Festival of Trumpists, and was one of nine laureates “ Virtuosos of the World”.
I participated in tour International Symposiums on Folklore and Folk Music: in the city of Kyzyl in 1989 and 1992, in Alma-Ata in 1994, and Yakutsk in 1991. In 1995, I took part in the festival “ Banlieues Bleues” in Paris. I appeared in concerts in France four times, in Austria twice, in Japan, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland. In 1995 I made a recording of music on the khomus in the French-Russian film “Shaman”. Compact discs have come out in Paris, Tokyo, Austria, Germany, and Holland.

In the following time I have been studying traditional culture and folklore; I occupy myself with khomus therapy; I study the medical properties of khomus music, participating in the work of the self-regulation club under the direction of the folk heater K. I. Maximova, working in the center of traditional medicine of the Khangalassky District jointly with the physicianbioenergotherapist G. I. Trofimova.
My wife Gera Afanas’evna Shishigina is a teacher of physics and psychology. My son Afanasii is a police officer; my dauphter Mariya is a third-year student in the Departament of Foreign Languages at the Yakutsk State University. In 1973 I worked as a teacher of mathematics; from 1985 as a teacher of information science; since 1991 I have worked as Director of the Pokrovsk Middle School 1 in Pokrovsk, Khangalassky District, Sakha Republic.
I serve as an adjunct member of the Board of the International Center for the Study of Khomus Music in Jakutsk.

( Translated by Frederick Crane) VIM -7 1998





13.06.2002 4:28 AM