Azerbaijani Music

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The Music of Azerbaijan builds on folk traditions that reach back nearly 1,000 years.[1] For centuries Azerbaijani music has evolved under the badge of monody, producing rhythmically diverse melodies.[2] Azerbaijani music has a branchy mode system, where chromatisation of major and minor scales is of great importance.[2]


[[:File:|"Traditional Azerbaijan and Turkish music which played national musical instruments balaban (Azerbaijan) and ney (Turkey)"]]

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The classical music of Azerbaijan is called mugam (more accurately spelled muğam), and draws on the music of the Iranian-Arab-Turkish maqam.[3] It is usually a suite with poetry and instrumental interludes. The sung poetry sometimes includes tahrir segments, which use a form of singing similar to yodelling. The poetry is typically about divine love and is most often linked to Sufi Islam.Mugam created in ancient Iran territory and developed in Azerbaijan republic and Iran Azerbaijan provinces since Safavid(The most branch of mugam which called by bayat(like bayat-e-kurd,bayate-shiraz, bayat-e-turk...)created by an Azerbaijani tradition(Bayat which have music talents)in different provinces of Iran like Shiraz, Isfahan, and Kurdistan. The most of royal musicians in palaces of ancient Iran kings in provinces were Bayat and there is no relation between Persian and mugam because of different morality and life philosophy between Persians and ancient Iran traditions.

Azerbaijan has a wide range of music and music styles but the most popular is pop music. This is shown in the Eurovision Song Contest, as Azerbaijan is one of the most successful countries to ever participate with high rankings. Achieving 8th in 2008, 3rd in 2009 and 5th in 2010, Azerbaijan won the 2011 edition with the duo Ell and Nikki and "Running Scared", therefore earning the right to host the contest in 2012, which they chose to host in Baku. They have since placed 2nd in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "Hold Me" Westernised Azerbaijani pop includes Emin Agalarov, the son in law of president Ilham Aliyev. In contrast to the mugam traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugam is more free-form and less rigid; it is often compared to the improvised field of pop.[4] [5]

UNESCO proclaimed the Azerbaijani mugam tradition a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2003.

Musical instruments[edit]

Soviet postage stamp depicting musical instruments of Azerbaijan

Instruments used in traditional Azeri music include the stringed instruments tar (skin faced lute), the kamancha (skin faced spike fiddle), the oud, originally barbat, and the saz (long necked lute); the double-reed wind instrument balaban, the frame drum ghaval, the cylindrical double faced drum nagara (davul), and the goshe nagara (naqareh) (pair of small kettle drums). Other instruments include the garmon (small accordion), tutek (whistle flute), and daf (frame drum).


Ashiqs are traveling bards who sing and play the saz, a form of lute. Their songs are semi-improvised around a common base.

Opera in Azerbaijan[edit]

Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885-1948)

Zulfugar Hajibeyov (1884-1950)

Muslim Magomayev (1885-1937)

  • Shah Ismayil, mugham opera 1919, revised 1924, revised 1930.
  • Nargiz, 1935.
  • Xoruz-bey, opera

Afrasiyab Badalbeyli (1907-1976)

  • People's punishment
  • Golden Key
  • Bahadur and Sona
  • Aydın
  • Nizami, composed 1939, staged 1948.

Fikret Amirov (1922-1984)

  • Star
  • Sevil

Vasif Adigozalov (1935-2006)

  • Natavan, mugham opera, 2003

Shafiga Akhundova (1924-2013)

  • Galin gayasi ("Bride’s rock"). The first opera written by an Azerbaijani woman composer, 1972.

Other composers

Ballet in Azerbaijan[edit]

Scene from Ballet of "The Maiden Tower" by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli
Scene from Ballet of "Leyli and Majnun" by Gara Garayev
Scene from Ballet of "Love and Death" by Polad Bulbuloglu

Azeri Musicians[edit]

External video
Azeri classical music
Genre Meyxana
Azeri jazz: Vaqif Mustafa-Zadeh
Azerbaijan opera Koroglu by Uzeir Hacibeyov
Azeri symphonic rock Mugam
Concert of Iranian Azeris
Azerbaijani music 1990: Firangiz Rahimbekova
Azeri pop group Karvan, early 1990s.

The most famous contemporary Azeri musicians are perhaps jazz singer Aziza Mustafa Zadeh and her father, Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, who are quite popular internationally in jazz circles.

Mugam singers:

Popular music singers

Classic music singers

All time classics


International Azerbaijani musicians and bands

Kamancheh players

Tar players

Balaban players

Oboe players

Saz players


  • Broughton, Simon and Sultanova, Razia. "Bards of the Golden Road". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 24–31. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-85828-636-5
  • Almaty or Bust


  1. ^ David C. King. Azerbaijan, Marshall Cavendish, 2006, p. 94
  2. ^ a b Энциклопедический музыкальный словарь, 2-е изд., Москва, 1966 (Encyclopedical Music Dictionary (1966), 2nd ed., Moscow)
  3. ^ during, J. (2001). "Azerbaijan". The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. ISBN 978-0-333-60800-5. 
  4. ^ EurasiaNet Civil Society - The Baku Rap Festival: Reviving a Tradition in Azerbaijan
  5. ^ The Baku rap Festival: Reviving a Tradition in Azerbaijan |

External links[edit]

See also[edit]