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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] As is the case also with Arabic and Turkish and even more evidently, much of the musical terminology of Azerbaijani cultures is of Persian origin.[3]



The classical music of Azerbaijan is called mugam (more accurately spelled muğam), and draws on the music of the Iranian-Arab-Turkish maqam[4]. 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.

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 jazz.[5] [6]

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

Musical instruments

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 naghara (davul), and the goshe nagara (naqareh) (pair of small kettle drums). Other instruments include the garmon (small accordion), tutek (whistle flute), daf (frame drum) and nagara (drum) (barrel drum).


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

Azeri Musicians

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

  • Habil Aliyev
  • Fakhraddin Dadashov
  • Shafiga Eyvazova
  • Arif Asadullayev
  • Ismayil Hamidov
  • Imamyar Hasanov
  • Munis Sharifov
  • Mirnazim Asadullayev
  • Elshan Mansurov
  • Gilman Salakhov
  • Talat Bakikhanov
  • Elman Badalov

Tar players

  • Mirjavad Safarov
  • Ramiz Guliyev
  • Firuz Aliyev
  • Mahmud Aliyev
  • Bahram Mansurov
  • Malik Mansurov
  • Muhlid Muslumov
  • Ahsan Dadashov
  • Haji Mammadov
  • Aga salim abdullayev

Balaban players

Oboe players

Saz players

  • Adalat Nasibov


  • 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 1-85828-636-0
  • 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. ^ Nettl, Bruno (2006). "Iran xi. PERSIAN MUSIC". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. 13.   Excerpt: An important aspect of Persian music history is the influence of Persian music in South and West Asia. Much of the musical terminology of Arabic, Turkish, and (most of all) Azerbaijani cultures is of Persian origin.
  4. ^ during, J. (2001). Azerbaijan. ISBN 0-333-60800-3.  
  5. ^ EurasiaNet Civil Society - The Baku Jazz Festival: Reviving a Tradition in Azerbaijan
  6. ^ [1]

External links

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