In the rich tradition of Azerbaijani folk music that is the heritage of musical art for all mankind there is an element – Azerbaijani mugham.
The musical phrase is very primitive and is based on pentatonic (five notes) in most folk trends. The musical phrase of classical romance is based on seven notes. And a musical phrase in jazz or organ classics like the music of J. S. Bach is based on twelve-note, that is, on a full octave, considering semitones. Mugham music is also based on twelve notes.
The history of this musical direction is very old. One thousand three hundred years ago, Arabs came to Azerbaijan. They brought with them the religion of Allah and His Prophet, and a form of government called the Arab Caliphate. And they also brought their traditions, one manifestation of which was the ancient music of the Bedouins “magam”. Meditative improvisations, against which philosophical and love poems were performed, sounded on our lands.
Nature has always been the main inspirational factor of magam performers, and the nature of Azerbaijan is much more diverse than the Arabian desert. This factor became the basis of the main difference from the Arabic root: the “romanticism of the mountains” was introduced into the “meditativeness of desert”. In addition, for centuries in Azerbaijan, Magam has been influenced by Persian and Turkish folk, and by the Middle Ages of the last millennium it was formed as an independent musical movement – Azerbaijani Mugham.
Subsequently, Mugham evolved to be divided into seven types: Shur, Rast, Seygah, Humayun, Bayaty-Shiraz, Shushter and Chargah. The difference is in emotions. Mugham is psychedelic music that affects the consciousness and changes the emotions of the listener. Shur creates fun, Rast raises morale, Segah awakens love, Bayats-sHiraz – music of separation and hope, Chargah opens the doors of passion, Shushter brings sadness, Humayun – brings a sense of hopelessness and grief.
The performance is both instrumental and with vocals. And Azerbaijani “Khanendes” have long been recognized as the best vocalists among all the peoples performing mugham.
Azerbaijani Mugham has played a role in both modern music and opera. Composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov created his first mugham opera “Leyli and Majnun” in 1907. Soviet Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov invented the Symphonic Mugham genre in 1948. And the jazz pianist Vagif Mustafazadeh in 1960 was the first who combined mugham and jazz music together.
The INTERNATIONAL MUGHAM FESTIVAL is held annually in our country, where performers of this ancient style come from all over the East. This event is held at the Mugham Center, which is located in Baku, as well as at other concert venues in the country.
Guests of the capital have chance to see the Mugham Center in Baku Night tour, which is conducted by Azerbaijan Travel International