Traditional / folk music of Azerbaijan
The folk or traditional music of Azerbaijan, refers to the music tradition exists between Azeri people, in the Republic of Azerbaijan and also Azerbaijan of Iran. Northern part of this area, became part of Russia after a series of war between Iran and Russia during 1804-1813 and 1826-1828. So Azeri people separated by borders but they have had scene of brotherhood until today and this can be seen in their culture and folk music, although their folk music encounter different things during 20th century and also during the globalization. In Iran as Azeri people are in minority, their folk music is less popular and also they are under influence of other Persian folk musics, they had less issue or mixture with western musics but in Republic of Azerbaijan, under the rule of Russian Empire and Soviet Union they mixed a lot with western music and also generate new type of folk musics too.
The folk music in Azerbaijan lives for 1000's years. Even today it is strong part of Azeri people and it can be recognized by various number of folk music artists. During the history Azerbaijan had been part of different empires and cultures, so it absorb and adopt things from each of them. The first known written book about the Azeri music is from 8th century Kitabi Dede Gorgud by Nizami. It covers music medieval, music genres and also folk music instruments of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan had been under the rule of many Persian empire through hundreds of years, Mugham music is actually the brother of Dastgah in Iranian traditional music with very similar names, structures and characters. Music of Dastgah or Mugham can be found in many middle eastern countries between Arabs, Persians and aslo Azeri's. They have their own similarity and difference. Mugham music, the same as it's brother in Iran, is in fact the development of folk music in Urban culture of Azerbaijan. It is a vocal-instrumental music which needs a high level of training. The vocal section is consist of classical poetry of Azerbaijan and also Sufi poetry. The name of many songs or sections are the same as form of poems which shows the importance of poetry in this music. Until the 20th century the tradition of singing Mugham was with Persian poetry but later this tradition changed with singing of Azeri language. The music performed by a group of musicians and usually consist of singer which plays a percussion instrument like daf. Another musicians play tar (lute style instrument common in middle east) and kamancheh (string-bow instrument). This is called "trio of mugham". This folk music is consist of composed and structured pieces and also improvisations. Today this type of folk music is one of main elements in Azerbaijan culture and identity.
In contrast with Mugham, this type of folk music (Ashiq) is developed in rural communities. Although ashiq and muqam has borrowed many elements from each other during the years. Ashiq music compared to mugham has simpler language and form and target the wider audience. In fact it is influenced by Turkish music/culture that is presented from China to Balkan region. The word ashuq means love. Ashiq means the devoutness to one's profession and the term developed in 14th centuries. They were a travelling people who played saz or kopuz (types of lute) and their songs was semi improvised based on common melodies. Most of their songs are consist of poems and also many histories.
This type of folk music can be called as rap or hip-hop tradition in Azerbaijan which developed in the beginning of 20th century. Meykhana means pub which originate from the Persian word mey which means wine. This folk music is in fact improvisation of one or more singers based on a specific topic.
Opera in Azerbaijan
As Azerbaijan was under the rule of Russian Empire for about 200 years, they faced the European music through Russia. They accept and adopt this music and put their own folk music into it. Many folk songs or even mugham musics are played and sings in Opera style which today they are part of Azeri's folk music character. The first Opera in Muslim world was composed in Azerbaijan by Uzeyir Hajibeyov named "Layli and Majnun". The story line was taken from a love story poem in Persian by Nizami Ganjavi in 12th century. This opera later defined as "mugham opera" because it combined mugham in it's traditional form with western opera.
Other than the instruments mentioned above, some other instruments which are used in the folk music of Azerbaijan are oud, barbat (lute type instruments), balaban, tutek, zurna (wind instruments), nagara (percussion instrument), garmon (small accordion), ...
If you have some interesting information about folk music of Azerbaijan or you know some folk songs from Azerbaijan please kindly let us know about them, you can contact us through contact us page or simply send a song for us by clicking on "Post a Song" on the top of the page.
Traditional / folk songs for Azerbaijan
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