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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 14:58 GMT
Ukraine cherishes orange sounds
By Kateryna Khinkulova
BBC News, Kiev

Singer Oleg Mykhailuta
Singer Oleg Mykhailuta: "Things had to change"
When sub-zero temperatures tested the endurance of the Orange Revolution crowds in Kiev a year ago the country's rock bands came to the rescue, performing almost non-stop.

The revolution not only surprised the West - it was also quite a shock for Ukrainians, who could not believe they had the power to mass on the streets and fight for what they thought was right.

A stage was erected on Independence Square - known as Maidan in Ukrainian - in the centre of Kiev and a tent city mushroomed around it.

The crowds demanded a re-run of the widely criticised presidential election, which had denied liberal candidate Viktor Yushchenko victory.

Vopli Vidopliasova, Okean Elzy and TNMK were just a few of the top Ukrainian bands who roused the crowds with their music.

Orange glow

TNMK - which stands for Tanok Na Maidani Kongo (Dance in the Square of Congo) - have been bringing an alternative style of music to the Ukrainian mainstream since 1997. They rapped in Independence Square about pomaranchi (oranges), using a sample of Viktor Yushchenko's voice.

TNMK on stage in Kiev a year ago
TNMK wowed the crowds in Kiev a year ago
The word "Ukrainians!" punctuated the song:

"This is non-human, non-freedom, non-pleasure / This is non-love, not something-to-treasure. / Ribbons of orange, the colour we chose / Keep it up, people, victory's close!"

Mr Yushchenko's campaign slogan Tak! (Yes) became the motto of the uprising.

Amid widespread disillusionment in Ukraine now, a year after the Orange Revolution, TNMK singer Oleg Mykhailuta says the "those who won the elections underestimate the role of the musicians - they don't really understand how much musicians contributed to their victory."

TNMK's DJ, Tonique, says the Maidan's great achievement was to make ordinary people believe they could influence political processes in Ukraine.

"People now perceive the future in a completely different way. A year ago this process started and, probably, to change people completely will take a long time, but it means that Ukraine will keep getting better."

Business woes

The revolution's impact on the Ukrainian music industry and pop scene not been dramatic, but still significant.

Liberal leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko
The revolution's dream team has split acrimoniously
A music producer, Vitaly Bardetsky, manager of the Prom-Ocean agency, says the amount of Ukrainian music broadcast has increased, compared with the much more common Russian pop.

"We hear more Ukrainian music on TV and radio, which is very important. It should help our musicians to make more money from record sales and from gigs."

Many new bands appeared in Ukraine in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But in the past eight years things have slowed down, partly because of the general economic malaise, with record companies reluctant to invest in new musicians.

There is also a problem with piracy, complains Dmytro Prykordonny of Ukraine's largest record company, Ukrainian Records.

"What makes the Ukrainian music industry different is the fact that here we have 80% piracy and in Europe it's 20%. Another thing is that in Europe a music CD costs on average 12-13 dollars, while here it's four. So it's easy to see how hard it is to do business here."

Ukrainian musicians are hardly known in the West, but TNMK is among those trying to change that.

Last year they recorded their hit "Voseny" (In Autumn) in French and now plan to record some of the songs from their new album in English.

TNMK's Oleg Mykhailuta has no regrets about the Orange Revolution.

"We were fighting for hope. Did we make history or not? Hard for me to say: time will tell."

Hear a clip of a Vopli Vidopliasova song

Hear a clip of a song by TNMK

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