of Azerbaijan situated in Transcaucasus, to the
west shores of the Caspian Sea, is a polyethnic
state of the Middle East. Beside the Azerbaijanis,
which constitute more than 90% of the country’s
population, here are living also Russians, Talyshes,
Lezgis, Georgians, Avarians, Tsakhurs, Jews, Tatars,
as well as other national and ethnical minorities,
which during the continuous historical period had
successfully preserved their own cultural and folk
traditions. The colorful folk music of the national
minorities represents the organic part of the spiritual
culture of Azerbaijan.
This quite difficult and still unexplored area of
ethnomusicology constitutes the significant part
of the huge projects “Atlas of the Traditional Music
of Azerbaijan” which is carrying out by the international
scientific-publicist journal “Musigi Dunyasi” under
the scholarly leadership of the professor, doctor
of art sciences Tariyel Mammadov. The given project
includes also exploring the various local styles
of the Azerbaijan folk music.
The authors of the new project based on the rich
historical experience of their predecessors such
as Scientific Research Cabinet of Music (1930s.),
Baku Music Academy and Institute of Architecture
and Arts of the National Academy of Sciences of
Azerbaijan Republic (1960 - 1990) puts aim to collect
and study folk music of the republic in all variety
of the ethnic cultures and historical layers (archaic,
The general overview of the Azerbaijan folk music
should be started from the geographical localizations
of the separate peoples and ethnic groups.
In the so-called Land of Fires live over 30 peoples
and ethnicities, which worship such different religions
as Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Beside Azerbaijanis
the Turkic-speaking peoples are presented by Oguzs-
Turks of Akhyska and Crimean Tatars as well as Kazan
Tatars of the Kipchak origin. They had arrived in
Azerbaijan in the first part of the XXth century.
Tatars are living predominantly in Baku and Apsheron
peninsula, whereas Turks had been settled also in
the various rural localities of the country.
Caucasian peoples – Lezgis, Avarians, Tsakhurs,
Rutuls apart from Dagestan AR inhabits also some
of the north and north-west districts of Azerbaijan.
Nearby (in the Qabala and Oguz districts) can be
seen “Udis”, one of the ethnicities of the historical
Caucasian Albania. The Georgians–christians and
Georgian-speaking Moslems Ingiloys live in some
border-line localities of the Gakh and Balaken districts.
Azerbaijan is inhabited also by Iranian-speaking
peoples – Talyshes, Tats, Moslem Kurds, as well
as Judaist Mountain Jews. Christian peoples of various
origin (Russians, Assyrians, Armenians) as well
as Jews (Ashkenazis) belong to the different linguistic
groups. If Russians and Jews had appeared in the
ethnic map of Azerbaijan since the beginning of
the XIXth century, Assyrians had arrived from the
East Turkey a century later.
Now let us look at the issue of the generic typology
in the folk music of the peoples and ethnic minorities
of Azerbaijan. Ritual, calendar and work songs,
laments and lullaby, lyrical songs and instrumental
dance tunes of each culture are remarkable for their
distinguish forms. The role of the certain genres
in the different folklors is not identical, of course.
For instance, the instrumental dance tunes, performed
by the zurna (double-reed wind instrument) and naghara
drums take a predominant place among Lezgis, Avarians,
Tsakhurs and Rutuls. These ethnicities shared the
similar music style, typical melodic formulas and
the same music instruments, such as zurna, balaban,
naghara, tutek, sipsi, tanbur and others. At the
same time in the folk music of the Caucasian peoples
of Azerbaijan one can feel subtle characteristic
details, which can became a subject for the special
Russians and Tatars, differs in language and religion,
however have much in common, such as solo and choir
singing without accompaniment, lyrical songs of
the cantilena style, which undoubtedly, had been
formed as a result of close cultural contacts at
their homeland. At the same time we should point
out the more prevailing role of the pentatonic in
Tatar folk music.
Rich generic and performing traditions are peculiar
for the folk music of Talyshes, inhabiting in the
South-East part of the republic. Old traditions
of their wedding, calendar and work songs, as well
as “halay” – dance songs, performed by women ensemble,
had been sufficiently preserved up to our days.
As a poetical basis for many examples they use texts
both in Talysh and Azerbaijan languages, which is
evidence of the close relationship.
Such relationship and interactions between the different
national and ethnic communities of Azerbaijan depend
to the high extent on the historical and geographical
factors. Folk music of the peoples, living in Azerbaijan
for many centuries, had been submitted to the remarkable
degree of inter-influences calling to life in some
cases bi-culturalism in terms of both music and
text. In this connection let us mention folk music
of Talyshes and Tats, partly also those of Tsakhurs
and Mountain Jews. On the contrary, people which
arrived in Azerbaijan during the last two centuries,
such as Russians, Tatars, Turks, Ukrainians could
preserve their folk traditions in more pure forms.
The rich music heritage of the all people and ethnicities
of Azerbaijan offers a valuable material for the
development of ethnomusicology and consolidation
of all society of our republic.
At last, we would like to draw attention to the
words by the Abdulla Shaig – one of the outstanding
representatives of Azerbaijan literature of new
period: “We are all the particles of the same Sun”.