Turkmenistan choir sets Guinness World Record singing in the round

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A yurt (traditional dwelling of nomadic Turkmen people) in the city of Mary, TurkmenistanImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The song was performed inside a giant yurt - a traditional nomadic tent

Singing a song reportedly composed by the country's president, a Turkmenistan choir has broken a world record for the most people singing in the round.

More than 4,000 people gathered inside a giant tent for the performance of Forward, Only Forward.

The event featured a big-screen video of President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov playing a synthesiser and singing along.

It is the latest choreographed show of support for the head of state.

"I was witness to a huge surge of patriotism as Turkmen citizens performed in a single breath the song of the head of state," Seyda Subasi, an adjudicator of Guinness World Records, told Turkmen state television after last week's performance.

Singing in the round is when people sing the same melody, but begin at different times so that the music overlaps.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Berdymukhamedov has reduced signs of his predecessor's cult of personality, creating space for his own

Turkmenistan's leader is often portrayed in state media as having an array of talents.

In August the country published Mr Berdymukhamedov's Forward, Only Forward poem, which has now been converted into a hymn.

In 2011, he gave a televised performance - guitar in hand - of a love song called For You, My White Flowers, which state TV said was written by him.

There are also regular state reports highlighting his sporting accomplishments, including repeated victories in car and horse races.

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Mr Berdymukhamedov is reported to be a keen horse rider

Mr Berdymukhamedov secured a second five-year term in February 2012, winning more than 97% of the vote in elections widely dismissed by international monitors as undemocratic.

He became acting president of Turkmenistan after authoritarian leader Saparmyrat Niyazov died in December 2006.

He has dismantled aspects of his predecessor's personality cult, but in part only to introduce one of his own.

A massive statue of him on horseback covered in gold leaf was unveiled earlier this year in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan, a Muslim-majority country of 5.5 million people, is ranked among the world's most repressive states.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The statue of Mr Berdymukhamedov was unveiled in April 2015