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What Type of Music Is Now Illegal in Chechnya?

Margaret Lipman
Published May 19, 2024
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Most of us, even many music lovers, probably don’t spend much time thinking about the precise tempo of the songs we enjoy listening to. Everyone knows that dance music tends to be fast, but you’d probably be hard-pressed to identify the tempo of your favorite tracks.

For people living in the Russian republic of Chechnya, tempo has suddenly become an important topic. In an attempt to limit the influence of foreign dance music genres, Chechen authorities announced last month that “all musical, vocal, and choreographic works should correspond to a tempo of 80–116 beats per minute,” in accordance with the “Chechen mentality and sense of rhythm.” Essentially, music outside of that range, whether too fast or too slow, is no longer allowed to be performed or listened to in the region. The government set a fast-approaching deadline of June 1st for artists to rewrite non-conforming music.

In a rather extreme attempt to protect the cultural heritage of the conservative, majority-Muslim republic, the culture minister, Musa Dadayev, said he considers the “entire spectrum of moral and ethical standards” to be at stake here, explaining that “borrowing musical culture from other peoples is inadmissible.”

While many pop, house, and techno tracks are too fast, quite a few rap and hip-hop songs would appear to be acceptable, despite bearing little resemblance to the traditional Chechen music that often accompanies folk dancing, horse racing, and ceremonial processions. Interestingly, the Russian national anthem is typically performed at 76 beats per minute, technically making it too slow under the new rule.

Silencing the music, and more:

  • *Chechnya’s traditional music includes heroic-epic songs known as yish, often accompanied by a three-stringed instrument known as the dechig-pondar. Other traditional formats include ritual songs and laments known as belkhamash and vocal improvisation known as uzamash.

  • *Chechnya, located in the North Caucasus region of southwestern Russia, is led by the authoritarian, pro-Putin regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, appointed by the Kremlin in 2007.

  • *Kadyrov’s regime has cracked down on any type of dissent, as well as the longstanding Chechen separatist movement. Kadyrov, who has publicly (and sometimes violently) targeted Chechnya’s LGBT population and restricted women's rights, was sanctioned by the U.S. State Department in 2020 for human rights violations.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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