Music and folk dances

Uzeyir Hajibeyov merged traditional Azerbaijani music with Western styles in early 20th century.

Uzeyir Hajibeyov merged traditional Azerbaijani music with Western styles in early 20th century.

Music of Azerbaijan builds on folk traditions that reach back nearly a thousand years.For centuries Azerbaijani music has evolved under the badge of monody, producing rhythmically diverse melodies. Azerbaijani music has a branchy mode system, where chromatization of major and minor scales is of great importance. Among national musical instruments there are 14 string instruments, eight percussion instruments and six wind instruments. According to The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion the Azeri are musically much closer to Iran than Turkey.”
Mugham, meykhana and ashiq art are one of the many musical traditions of Azerbaijan. Mugham is usually a suite with poetry and instrumental interludes. When performing Mugham, the singers have to transform their emotions into singing and music. In contrast to the mugham traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugham is more free-form and less rigid; it is often compared to the improvised field of jazz.UNESCO proclaimed the Azerbaijani mugham tradition a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. Meykhana is a kind of traditional Azeri distinctive folk unaccompanied song, usually performed by several people improvising on a particular subject.
Ashiq combines poetry, storytelling, dance and vocal and instrumental music into a traditional performance art that stands as a symbol of Azerbaijani culture. It is a mystic troubadour or traveling bard who sings and plays the saz. This tradition has its origin in the Shamanistic beliefs of ancient Turkic peoples. Ashiqs’ songs are semi-improvised around common bases. Azerbaijan’s ashiq art was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO on September 30, 2009.
Since the mid-1960s, Western-influenced pop music, in its various forms, that has been growing in popularity in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani pop and folk music arose with the international popularity of performers like Alim Qasimov, Rashid Behbudov, Vagif Mustafazadeh, Muslim Magomayev, Shovkat Alakbarova and Rubaba Muradova.Azerbaijan made its debut appearance at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. The country’s entry gained the third place in 2009 and fifth the following year. Ell and Nikki won the first place at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 with the song “Running Scared”, entitling Azerbaijan to host the contest in 2012, in Baku.
There are dozens of Azerbaijani folk dances. They are performed at formal celebrations and the dancers wear national clothes like the Chokha, which is well preserved within the national dances. Most dances have a very fast rhythm. The national dance shows the characteristics of the Azerbaijani nation.

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