Introducing Azerbaijani Folk Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

Azerbaijani folk music is a rich and vibrant tradition that has been passed down through the generations. From the lively rhythms of the ashug music to the haunting melodies of the mugham, this music is a vital part of Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular Azerbaijani folk music styles and give you a taste of what this rich musical tradition has to offer.

What is Azerbaijani folk music?

Azerbaijani folk music is a musical tradition of the Azerbaijani people, a Turkic ethnic group living in Azerbaijan and the northern parts of Iran. Its folk music has been influenced by the music of nearby Turkic peoples such as the Turkmen, as well as by Persian and Arabic music.

Azerbaijani folk music is traditionally performed by soloists or small ensembles, often with simple instruments such as the kamancheh (a string instrument), tar (a string instrument), qanun (a plucked zither), balaban (a double-reed wind instrument) or naghara (a percussion instrument). The music often revolves around themes of love, loss and nostalgia, and is often sorrowful in tone.

Azerbaijani folk music has been extensively collected and studied by ethnographers and scholars from the 19th century onwards. Many Azerbaijani composers have used folk melodies in their works, and some Azerbaijani folk songs have become international hits, such as “Tutak Tutak Tutiya” and “Ali Baba”.

The history of Azerbaijani folk music

Azerbaijani folk music is a unique blend of cultural influences from the Muslim East and Christian West. For centuries, the music of Azerbaijan has been passed down from generation to generation, evolving and changing over time.

Today, Azerbaijani folk music is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is often performed at weddings and other special occasions, and its catchy melodies and lively rhythms are sure to get everyone up and dancing!

The influence of Azerbaijani folk music

Azerbaijani folk music is a collection of traditional musical styles originating in what is now Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani folk music covers a wide range of styles, sometimes also referred to as mugam. It is closely related to Azerbaijani mugham, which is a highly revered form of classical music.

Azerbaijani folk music has been influenced by many different cultures, including Persian, Caucasian and Turkic. One of the most famous examples of Azerbaijani folk music is the art of ashiq, which is a form of poetry that accompanies music.

As with much of Azerbaijan’s culture and history, the country’s folk music has been subject to outside influence, particularly from Russia and Iran. However, despite this, Azerbaijani folk music has managed to maintain its own unique character and style.

The instruments of Azerbaijani folk music

The saz is a family of long-necked, fretted lutes. They have been traditionally used in folk music of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The saz come in many sizes and shapes, with the most common being the bağlama ( Turkish: [baːɫaˈma]), a treble instrument with three double courses of strings. Other varieties include the cümbüş ([dʒymbyʃ]), cura ([dʒyɾa]), divan sazı ([diˈvæn sæˈziː]), Gabusi ( Qəbuzi ), Garmon ( Qarmon ), the historical Kemence and Kemenche-i Saz from Medieval Anatolia, Tambura ( Tambur ), Tarhu ([tæɾˈhuː]) and Ud.[1] The terms bağlama and saz are synonyms in Turkey. The term saz is also applied generically to any stringed instrument played in Turkic music.[2]

The structure of Azerbaijani folk music

Azerbaijani folk music is the musical tradition of the Azeri people, from Azerbaijan and Iranian Azerbaijan. It builds on folk traditions that reach back nearly a thousand years. For centuries, Azeri music has evolved under the influence of neighboring cultures, most notably Persian music. Azerbaijani music is characteristic in its use of mugham scales and musical performance styles such as ashigha chooka (a type of religious chanting) and bathing ceremony music.

During the Soviet period Muslim spiritual music in Azerbaijan was Atmospheric and emotive, with mournful melodies played on the saxophone and oud accompanied by droning tabla rhythms. Instrumentation was particularly influenced by jazz and rock music, while song structures remained largely unchanged from theirtraditional forms. In contrast to the general atmosphere of religious mourning, some musicians created more lighthearted compositions; humor was often used as a tool to spread anti-government messages or promote pan-Turkish unity.

The performance of Azerbaijani folk music

The performance of Azerbaijani folk music usually involves a wide variety of instruments, including the tar (a traditional Azerbaijani string instrument), the kamancheh (a spiked fiddle), the balaban (an end-blown flute), and the garmon (a type of accordion). Folk songs often make use of improvisation and call-and-response singing, and are often accompanied by dance.

Azerbaijani folk music has been exported to many parts of the world, particularly to neighboring countries such as Iran and Turkey. In recent years, it has also become popular in Western countries, thanks in part to the popularity of Azerbaijani singers such as Alim Qasimov andqaynar xalq mahnisi what is considered to be one of the most significant representatives of mugham music.

The reception of Azerbaijani folk music

Azerbaijani folk music was well received by the international community. For example, in 2008, UNESCO proclaimed the art of mugham “a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity.” In 2010, mugham was added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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