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A Music Video Album of Modern Reflections of Tibetan Folk Music. Shooting in Nepal, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan!
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101 backers pledged $4,305 to help bring this project to life.

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Completion Update and Stretch Goals!  

We've reached our $3000 goal, which means that the project is officially going to happen! The music video DVD album of "Memories of the Vast Plateau" will start shooting in one month!  But we have more time, so let's push this over and make it even better than it is!  

The initial album would have only 9 songs on it, if we can reach higher goals, there will be more videos and these additional videos will be available for free distribution to anyone who wants to enjoy Tibetan music, so let's look at the stretch goals:

$3500: GOAL ACHIEVED! Modern acoustic remake of the traditional Khampa song "Akhu Champa", featuring both modern and traditional instruments, performed not only by myself but by some of the top Tibetan and Nepali musicians in Nepal!

$4100: GOAL ACHIEVED! Modern remake, with music arranged by Tibetan artists in Tibet, of the classical Central Tibetan song "Dren Lu"

Special Reward For Donors! If we reach $4100, every donor will receive an mp3 download of Every song on the album plus the stretch goal extras! That means, 9 songs from "Memories of the Vast Plateau" and any extra music videos we finish. You can put them on your ipod, play them in the car, whatever you like! I really want to be able to make these extra videos, so this is my special thank you to all of you if we can make it there!

Every $600 increment after $4100: New videos featuring new music arranged by Tibetan artists in Tibet and featuring musical instrument performance by musicians in Nepal. Videos will be shot in Kathmandu and Mustang.

$5000: Major equipment upgrade and major quality upgrade. I will even try to rent a crane.

$7500: A full second album worth of music videos available for digital download at high quality for donors and lower quality for the general public.

$10000: A full digital download for all donors and a DVD mailed to donors of $35 and up of the primary album, the full second album, behind the scenes footage, concert footage and some surprises!

Let's see how far we can go!

Who Am I:  My name is Amalia Rubin and I am a singer, songwriter and composer of modern Tibetan music, as well as a performer of traditional Tibetan music and instruments. I have three published solo albums of traditional and modern Tibetan music, as well as being featured on more than a dozen collaborative works and composing for artists in Tibet.  In 2007, I was awarded the Tibetan Music Award for 'Best International Artist' for my first album, 'Mountains and Deserts'. Music is my passion, and Tibetan music is my special love.  Despite the numerous difficulties in this industry, such as a very scattered and limited demographic, geographic obstacles and music piracy, I work hard to keep making music for myself and others.

Below: Namkha Tso in Tibet singing one of my compositions

What's the Story: Last summer, I finished the music and recording for an album of modern interpretations of Tibetan folk songs: "Memories of the Vast Plateau." This summer, I have the unbelievable opportunity to travel to Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Nepal, specifically Mustang, three of the most stunningly beautiful and unique locations on earth. The great Central Asian Steppe, the Gobi Desert, The Tibetan Himalayas, all in one summer. I spoke to a major Tibetan music video studio in Nepal and they agreed: we can make this happen. We can make this music video album this summer and we can make an album like none you've ever seen.

The final product will be a high quality DVD featuring 9 or more Tibetan folk songs from four different regions of Tibet accompanied by beautiful modern music made by artists in Tibet, and possibly Nepal if we decide to add more songs. The videos will showcase both the natural beauty of our shooting locations as well as the stunning cultures of Central and Inner Asia. Among our locations is Mustang, one of the last Tibetan Kingdoms in the world: A treasure nearly entirely closed off to foreign travelers.

Below: Traditional Tibetan song "White Crane"

Why This Album: This video will be the first of it's kind.  I've been working with Tibetan artists in Tibet, thus creating what may be the first collaborative Tibetan CD between artists inside of Tibet and artists halfway around the world.  It will be the first album showcasing the variety of inner asian nomadic cultures and landscapes, all of which are on the verge of immense change, and possibly even extinction. I hope that this will create interest in these cultures and bring a greater appreciation world wide.

Below: Early collaboration with Yeshe Senge in Tibet

Tibetan music is at a delicate point in its history.  Preserving traditional music, while precious, cannot stand to support the continuation of Tibetan music on its own, just as a museum exhibit can't.  At the same time, many fans of Tibetan music fear that the new popular music is too widely influenced by other cultures and that slowly, Tibetan music will die.  Parents and educators find themselves caught in the struggle to teach their children to appreciate traditional Tibetan arts when their children find the classical music boring and would rather listen to pop or hip hop.  It was with all of these concerns in mind that I decided to create this album.    I wanted to create an album that could fuse both traditional Tibetan music with modern emotion.  In order to achieve this, I turned to Tibetan artists in Tibet, the safeguards of Tibetan culture, gave them traditional Tibetan songs and no instructions other than "make modern music that inspires you."  That is just what they did.  The result is thoroughly traditional and thoroughly Tibetan music, that is simultaneously new, modern and fresh.

Below: Amalia performing a modern Tibetan song, originally by Tsewang, in Tibet

I hope to be part of the movement to keep Tibetan music fresh and exciting, whether traditional or new compositions, and I believe this album will be a part of that!

How will $3000 make a full album:

My travels were planned before this album.  A combination of work and school will be bringing me to Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Mustang, regardless of whether or not this album happens. As a result, travel funding is not an issue.  In addition, all of the music has already been arranged, recorded and mixed, taking out the large portion of costs.  The cover has already been designed and will only require minor changes to accomodate the DVD.

For the actual shooting, I will shoot some footage independently during my travels in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. The rest will be shot professionally in the Kathmandu valley, Lower and Upper Mustang in Nepal. All of the Nepal shooting, editing and mixing will be done by Alfa Studios, a renowned Nepali studio with a great deal of experience with Tibetan artists.

The shooting, editing, and mastering itself will cost between $1500 and $1750 dollars, depending on if I need to redo any sound when I'm in Nepal. Another $125 dollars will go towards transportation and housing costs to bring the camera crew to Mustang (yes, it costs nothing, that's part of why I'm doing it in Nepal.)  I'll be bringing my own costumes, and actors will largely be providing their own, but I've budgeted in another $500 for actor costs, including paying the actors at the higher end of the local expected salary, costumes, makeup, and refreshments for the set. I want to emphasize that these costs, including salary, are at the high end for Nepal, where the annual salary is roughly $1600. I will not be underpaying any of my actors or crew. 

The remaining costs, roughly $700 or so dollars depending on fluctuations in other costs, will go towards the actual printing and distribution costs for Asia and shipping a box of DVDs back to the USA.

If we reach our goal, all of this will be a reality. If we go over the goal, it's even better: that means more songs, more music videos! And all of these extras will be available for free!

What do you get for your donations? Even a one dollar donation will give you access to exclusive, donors-only content with photos and descriptions of the shoot. Other prizes include beautiful, fair trade (as best I can guarantee!) Tibetan crafts, copies of my CD, exclusive music videos and mp3 downloads that are not and will never be available on commercial CDs, private Tibetan music skype-lessons, and of course, the finished DVD itself.

I'm excited about this chance to make a truly unforgettable album of Tibetan folk music in the 21st century, and I hope you will join me in making this dream a reality!

Risks and challenges

Biggest challenges we face are:

1) Instability in Nepal- Nepal is not at the most comfortable point in its history and relationships with Tibetans are very tense. Fortunately, I'll be working with a team of video editors, cinematographers and directors with many years and dozens (if not hundreds) of albums worth of Tibetan and Nepali music and videos under their belts. They know the ropes and they've done this in far worse times than now. They say they can manage it and I trust them.

2) Time- I will only be in Nepal, the location of the editing studio for 3 weeks. Of that time, about 10 days will be in Mustang, out of communication of the studio. This will mean I need to rush thing and keep a good schedule. Fortunately I have a lot of experience with working under strict time limits. In addition, I've worked remotely with this studio before to make music and I have friends who work for and in the studio. That means that if we run out of time, as long as the footage is shot, we can go forward with the editing. What if the footage isn't finished? I hear you cry. No worries! I'll continue shooting in India and send them the footage. In short: unless I get crushed in an avalanche, things will move forward.

3) Language- I speak fluent Tibetan (so I'll be fine in Mustang) but no Nepali. Fortunately, the people at the studio speak good English and most of my actors are either Tibetan or speak English. Plus, in all locations, I have friends fluent in the local language and English. And this can't be any harder than the time I had to shoot 5 music videos in Tibet, in the dead of winter, while wearing a summer chuba outdoors with singers and camera men who only spoke Amdo-ke. I did that. I can manage this!

4)"Isn't Kyrgyzstan where the Tsarnaev brothers were from?"- No. No it isn't.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    My thanks and access to donor-exclusive content, including photos and blogs from the video shoot

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    A hand-written Thank You card from Nepal or India and an mp3 download, song not featured on any CD Plus the $1 reward

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    Khata (Tibetan silk offering scarf) and 3 more mp3 downloads not featured on the CDs. Plus above rewards

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    Tibetan block-print prayer flags and exclusive video of studio recording sessions. Plus above rewards

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    My 2007 CD plus blooper reel from the music video shoots! (there are goats! Maybe monkeys! Probably yaks!) Plus above rewards

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    The finished Music Video DVD! Plus all above rewards

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    Handcrafted Tibetan Bag. Plus all above rewards

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    Tibetan/Nepali necklace or Hat Plus all above rewards

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    Traditional Tibetan wall hanging Plus all above rewards

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    2 Tibetan song lessons over skype (Or in person depending on timing and location) Plus all rewards above

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    Beautiful photo album from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Nepal and the music video shoot Plus all rewards above

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    10 Tibetan music OR language lessons over skype: Mix and Match (Or in person depending on timing and location) Plus all rewards above

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    Personally tailored Tibetan handicraft item (Dress, shirt or jacket) OR high quality, large print Thangka from Tibet. Plus all rewards above

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Funding period

- (33 days)