The music of Azerbaijan, specifically the folk tradition of Mugam music, has a history closely tied to the regions changing borders and influences:
“Mugham belongs to the system of modal music and may have derived from Persian musical tradition. The Uighurs in Xinjian (Sinkiang) call this musical development muqam, the Uzbeks and Tajiks call it maqom (or shasmaqom), while Arabs call it maqam and Persians dastgah. In Azerbaijan the word is mugham from Arabic Maqam.”
There are so many topics I want to cover with Magum: Soviet repression, historical origins, instrumental traditions, Uzeyir Hajibeyov and his Mugam operas, Regions of Nagorno Karabakh traditional recognized as hubs of Mugam music, and Jazz Magum! to name just a few. For now I just want to list a few resources for those interested in Magum:
- This site has Magum streaming 24/7 along with an in-depth history, list of famous instrumentalists and composers, background on the traditional instruments, links to recordings and video. I’ve already spent a few hours and have barely skimmed the surface:
- This is great article that deals more with Stalinist repression of Azerbaijani music:
- This is the youtube channel of Sir Richard Bishop, one of my favorite guitarists. He has put together a collection of all black and white films from all over the Middle East, Asia, and India.
- This Kronos Quartet recording of Franghiz ali Zadeh’s works is another fusion of Mugam/Western Classical Traditions. My favorite tracks is a solo piano improvisation performed by the composer in which she places a beaded necklace across the piano strings to create a buzzing tremolo in the middle range of her melody.
Here is a clip of Vagif Mustafazade, a Azerbaijani musician responsible for a fusion of traditional Mugam scales with jazz forms and instrumentation.