about_mugam

Mugam History

History of mugam and stages of development

WEvery art has its own history of creation, formation and development consisting of definite stages that are interconnected. This can also be attributed to mugam. The history of mugam covers various wide issues. The history of mugam is among the most modern and urgent problems of the contemporary music science. One of the most important aspects in the history of mugam is related to its geographical coverage. The art of mugam that is considered to be Eastern music and eastern culture has its national forms and genres as well as names peculiar of all eastern people. The history of Azerbaijani mugam dates to the ancient periods. As a genre the creation and formation of mugam coincides with the establishment of ancient states and cities. All historical areas of formation of the Azerbaijani people and their living can be considered the geographical area of mugam. All Caucasus people listened and assimilated the art of mugam only as Azerbaijani mugam which was the founder, the main carrier and distributor of the art of mugam in Caucasus region.

The Azerbaijani people had a very rich musical culture in periods before Islam (before the 7th century).
The art of mugam also went through the stages of its creation, formation and a part of the development stages in the pre-Islam period. The art of Mugam mostly formed in the historical period before the 1-4th centuries, in the historical period of Shumer and Midian’s. The main historical feature of that period is that it is the last stage of the pre-Islam history of mugam. As for the history of mugam in the 1-4th centuries, we should take into account that there were two states in the territory of Azerbaijan of that period – Atropatena and Albania.

The culture of these states that has been an integral part of the Azerbaijani culture throughout the history is also interesting in terms of the history of music. The music history of Atropatena and Albania (the name of an ancient republic) is very interesting and these states can be considered the father of the contemporary culture of music. Atropatena located in South Azerbaijan on the southern bank of Araz and Zoroastrianism was its official religion. The followers of this religion were called Mag (mug, mugh-the english definition of word is Magus, wizard). Mugam is believed to originate from this name. Thus, mags (magus, wizards) fulfilled different religious actions accompanying them with a specific music. The analysis of some samples of the music taken from these actions of mags showed that they are very close to the contemporary Azerbaijani music for their melodic and rhythm peculiarities. The people living in Albania located in Azerbaijan’s north practiced Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The religious canons in the Alban churches were accompanied with solo and chorus. This singing has different elements of poly tonality. The Albanian religious songs had much in common with the mugam songs and these songs influenced the further development of Azerbaijani modes (lads).

WBeginning from the 7th century the art of mugam moved to a new stage of its historical development. This stage is mostly connected with Islam. Thus, beginning from the mid 7th century, Islam starts to cover all areas of Atropatena and Albania. Before the 7th century, Arabian art including its music art was not so developed as Azerbaijani. Therefore, Arabs did not hold a destructive approach to the rich professional music of the countries where they spread Islam, including Azerbaijan.

They tried to learn this culture and spread it among themselves. Despite spreading Islam in Azerbaijan in the 7th century, the professional music continued developing in palaces. Though Islam had a definite influence on the art of music especially on mugam it even enriched in the period of Islam. To sing Koran was the main provision and requirement of Islam religion. A strong voice is considered a priority in Koran singing. Koran was sung with the rhythm, intonation and the structure of the Arab language. But those Azerbaijanis who followed Islam sung Koran with the mugam intonation. Thus, Koran singing was much influenced by Azerbaijani mugam. This influence was also observed in Islam traditions and ceremonies, for example, singing azan. Thus, religious songs were performed on the basis of Azerbaijani mugam melodies. In the 7-9th centuries a new genre starts to form in the literature of Azerbaijan.

The formation of the genre of qezel’s strongly influenced the development of Azerbaijan’s art of mugam. Thus, the genre of qezel gradually transformed into a poetic base of Azerbaijani mugam. qezel’s influenced the rhythm features of mugam and turned into a rhythmic basis of mugam. Moreover, qezel’s also had a positive influence on the literary content and emotionality of mugam. qezel’s written in the lyrical, lyric-philosophical and religious terms required the corresponding music performance, performance features and musical characters and this caused a new content and form of the musical language of mugam.

Some scientists believe that Arabian makam and Azerbaijani art of mugam originated from the notion of “magam” of Sufis. Sufi’s had specific ceremonies. Their ceremonies were accompanied by music from the beginning to the end. They called themselves semavis, saying the sense of their living was love for God, and calling their music heavenly. The Sufis music in Azerbaijan was closely connected with the art of mugam. The modes, rhythms and information of mugam, as well as the culmination of characters influenced the Sufi music. The medieval scientists played a great role in the development of Azerbaijan’s mugam science and art of mugam in the 13-14th centuries.

These scientists studied the issues of musical theory and practice in their works. These also included the art of mugam. Safiaddin Urmavi was among the prominent music scientists, composers and singers. He was the first to single out 12 mugams and 6 avazs known in Azerbaijan and specify their mode structure. He showed how modes form through tetra-chords and pent-chords: 12 Mugams are Ushshag, Neva, Busalik, Rast, Esag, Isfahan, Zirafkend, Buzurk, Zangule, Rehavi, Huseyni, Hijazi, Avaz, Gavesht, Gardaniyye, Salmak, Novruz, Maye, Shahnaz. The Azerbaijani modes Urmevi firstly showed in his works were diatonic and octave-structured.

The prominent music scientist, composer, poet Abdulgadir Maraghai who lived in the 14-15th centuries was considered the greatest personality of the medieval music science of the world. He was the first to use the notions of makam and sections. In his works he wrote that there are 12 mugams, 6 avazs and 24 sections and analyzed their mode structures and voice compositions. He widely described every mugam and sections in his works. Developing the mode and rhythm theories of other music scientists, he informed about the rhythmic forms and rules of their performance.

WIn the 16-17th centuries the art of mugam was passing through the development process as a folklore professional music of the palace conditions. In this period a dastgah form starts to develop in the structure and forms of mugam. New colors and shades as well as tesnifs developed in mugam performance. The masters of mugam of Azerbaijan sang gazals written in aruz genre by Nizami, Fizuli, Habibi and Khatai.

The music events were held in most regions of Azerbaijan in the 19th century and mugam was performed at these events. In the 19th century famous French scientist Alexander Duma who attended the ceremony in Shamakhy, wrote in his works about his trip saying he was greatly impressed by mugam that sounded there. Such events held in Azerbaijan were attended by khanendes from Karabakh, Baki and Tebriz which in turn caused the blending of singing traditions of different regions. The prominent composer of the 20th century Uzeyir Hajibeyov brought mugam into opera creating the mugam opera and thus played a great role in making the art of mugam famous in the world. Famous Azeri composer Gara Garayev also made a great contribution to the development of the art of mugam through creating the mugam symphony.