Brand spanking new video of Thomas Riffmatch rapping Svetlana Deryabina’s artful Russian translation of “Lovely Jubilee”, featuring the delectable vocal talents of HOROS, the music of Nikita Nikitin and the raw film-making talent of Ivan Usoltsev! Recorded and produced by Andrey Bokovikov.
Structured auditory forms such as verse, oratory speech and song may be seen as forming a continuum with natural spoken utterances and written language. Spoken, recited and sung text performances can be distinguished in terms of memorability and spontaneity. Previously conducted research into “singability” as a criterion for verse translation adequacy has been extended to include the concept of “rappability”. A theoretical overview and a review of developments in English and Russian poetry over the last two centuries culminates in a concise assessment of the works of three contemporary rap artists. The isochrony hypothesis predicting that utterances will be temporally organised into segments perceived as of equal or equivalent duration is evaluated for English and Russian on the example of a project to translate a poem by Lermontov into English and perform both versions against the same composed background track. A synthetic approach to investigating isochrony in language evaluates the flow of a text performed against a constant tempo background track. A discussion is presented of the issues involved in translations which attempt to preserve the original rhythm and phrasing. The process of performing “rapped” recitals of the Russian and English texts is described. The comparison of rhythmic features of Russian and English can inform future research and the preparation of texts for various functions, helping to predict their memorisability and effectiveness in eliciting the attention of audiences or interlocutors. (PDF, 766 Kb)
Keywords: synthetic isochrony, verse translation, naturalness of flow, phraseology, singability, rappability, exigency
Lermontov’s “When a harp rings out boldly” read by Thomas “Riffmatch” Beavitt and interpreted by Valeria Kudrina. Music by Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin. Original sand animation by Ekaterina Sheffer. Stage show directed by Evgeny Zaev. Video montage – Ivan Usoltsev.
‘This Particular Entanglement’ read by Thomas “Riffmatch” Beavitt and interpreted by Valeria Kudrina & Anatoly Raskin at the Kamerniy Teatr, Ekaterinburg, on the 26th January, 2022. Stage show directed by Evgeniy Zaev. Music by Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin. Video montage by Ivan Usoltsev.
‘Lovely Jubilee 2020’ read by Thomas “Riffmatch” Beavitt and interpreted by young actors from the Verkh-Isetsky Centre of Culture and Arts Theatre Workshop at the Kamerniy Teatr, Ekaterinburg, on the 26th January, 2022. Stage show directed by Evgeniy Zaev. Music by Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin. Video montage by Ivan Usoltsev.
‘The Law of Noncontradiction’ read by Thomas “Riffmatch” Beavitt and interpreted by Anastasia Fayzulaeva at the Kamerniy Teatr, Ekaterinburg, on the 26th January, 2022. Stage show directed by Evgeniy Zaev. Music by Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin. Video montage by Ivan Usoltsev.
‘Vitruvian Woman’ read by Thomas “Riffmatch” Beavitt and interpreted by Darya Eltsova at the Kamerniy Teatr, Ekaterinburg, on the 26th January, 2022. Stage show directed by Evgeniy Zaev. Music by Andrey Bokovikov and Nikita Nikitin. Video montage by Ivan Usoltsev.
Global Village Bard, in association with the Institute of International Relations in Ekaterinburg, Russia, is proud to hold the first ever competition to translate “rappable” verses from English into Russian.
- The competition will be launched at a special event held at the Kamerniy Teatr, Yekaterinburg, on 26th January, 2022
- The judging panel will be composed of:
- Mikhail Feygin (President)
- Thomas Beavitt
- Julia Komissarova
- Svetlana Remizova
- Mikhail Brodsky
- All entries should be sent as attachments (.doc, .rtf or equivalent) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st March, 2022
- Entrance is free and unlimited (one translator may submit a maximum of five entries). No distinction is made between students, professional translators and amateur enthusiasts.
- The source material to be translated consists of five songs (“raps”), written and performed by Thomas Riffmatch, and presented as part of the new album ‘Heraclitus Flow’.
- The source material is made available in the form of lyric texts, audio with rapped English vocals and backing tracks without vocals (“minusovkas”). The English versions are presented in a playlist on the album webpage. The texts and separate audio files (English vocal and backing track versions) are presented on separate pages:
- The material should be translated into metrical, rhymed Russian, aiming to capture the rhythm of the source in such a way that it can be confidently “rapped” to the same backing track.
- However, this does not necessarily imply a strict syllable-to-syllable correspondence; rather, translators are encouraged to make full use of the phraseological and rhythmic resources of the Russian language and not stick rigidly to English versification conventions.
- While a successful translation will preserve the central meaning of the original text, as well as capture some of the key images, translators are encouraged to adapt the original metaphors to ones that will be closer to the target (Russian) audience’s experiences. Marks will be added for imaginative transformations!
- While modern rap has some features not present in traditional verse, most of the principles of translation are the same as those set out in Korney Chukovsky’s ‘A High Art’ («Высокое искусство») and other classic works by Marshak, Gumilev, etc.
- Prizes will be awarded for the “most rappable”, “best literary composition” and runner-up categories. The prize for “most rappable” will be a professional studio production session recording the winner’s voice rapping his or her own translation to the composed backing track (or his or her nominee). Other prizes will be announced later.
- Summing up and announcement of the results of the competition will take place on 15th April, 2022.
- All copyrights, including source texts, translations, as well as musical compositions and arrangements, remain the property of their respective creators. However, the creators grant each other permission to make non-commercial use of the materials so long as full acknowledgement is provided (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC). In the event of any commercial exploitation, permissions from the corresponding copyright holders will first be negotiated.
On the 26th of January 2022 at 19:00, a special event “When a harp rings out boldly…” will take place at the Kamerniy teatr in Ekaterinburg (18 Proletarskaya street).
Along with songs from the new album “Heraclitus Flow”, the concert performance will feature a recital of the poem “When a harp rings out boldly in eternal halls of fame” (Lermontov, in the original Russian) by Thomas Riffmatch (Beavitt) to original music specially composed by Nikita Nikitin and produced by Andrey Bokovikov.
Commissioned to translate Lermontov’s youthful poem for a film project, Beavitt noticed a flowing style that seemed to suggest a rap performance. Although the piece was originally performed in the English translation, accompanied by the composed backing track and a sand animation by Ekaterina Sheffer, this will be the first time that the piece will be performed in the original language. In this performance, directed by Evgeny Zaev, the soul of the 17-year-old young poet will be represented visually by the dancer Valeria Kudrina.
The second part of the concert will feature a presentation of songs in English from the album “Heraclitus Flow”. The concept underlying the album was inspired by the thought of the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus – “No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and it’s not the same man.” Thus, the idea of flow informs both the performance approach and its content.
Admission by tickets and invitations. Buy a ticket
A live broadcast will also be available via the link: https://youtu.be/uqTckYZVAO8
Rapper Thomas Riffmatch’s latest single takes the form of a love song from one entangled particle to another. His advice? Keep on moving into the light, don’t fall into a black hole and store some salt on dry shelves. Everything will be ok… at least, until the inevitable wave-function collapse. Orgasms are simulations… or not!
Backing track (minusovka)
Since, at birth, we were not strangled And by chance became entangled, All that matters is our energy To realise possibility. In general, everything falls: States have borders, cells have walls; Confusion reigns, disorder increases – All must dance to fate’s caprices… But this is a particular case For our limited human race; And, although this quality is rare, I can be certain that you care Whether I’m up or down, left or right. Keep on journeying into the light – For you have too lovely a soul To let it fall into a black hole. You and I defy such gravity And don’t think it depravity To store some salt on dry shelves. Then, should we find ourselves At opposite ends of the universe, It’s a blessing, not a curse, To have limited interactions With irreconcilable factions, Being entangled in this world Into which we’ve both been hurled. And, although there may be others – Fathers, sons, brothers, Mothers, sisters, daughters – I can feel you in my waters… Though never stepping twice, The feeling's quite precise And absolutely real, This sensation that I feel… From your equal and opposite spin, I know exactly the state you’re in. This particular entanglement Can convert our angular Momentum into linear, Our paths becoming skinnier; With you, I’m eternally at home Somewhere in the glome. And this spooky action at a distance Can combine with the insistence That you’re mine and I’m yours; That, together, in what nature abhors, We’ll pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps Until the inevitable wave-function collapse.
©Lyrics written and performed by Thomas Riffmatch to a backing track composed by Nikita Nikitin, recorded and produced in Ekaterinburg by Andrey Bokovikov.