Today & Tomorrow.Azerbaijan in Focus”.-2008.-¹ 3(10) March.-P.67-70


Notes on development of the Azerbaijani musical culture


A.Taghiyev , Doctor of Philosophy,

K.Gassymova, researcher


Culture is a social-cultural phenomenon and it is linked to thinking. And the musical thinking is its component and, so, belongs to the philosophy of culture. Philosophical problems of culture, as well as of music play an important role in the culture of people. At least we claim that music impacts on people’s cultural-moral level. It is also obvious that possessing deep musical perception demands a high cultural-moral level of a person. Music influences the unseen, national-moral values, and national consciousness. The philosophy of culture is a system of rich values of people’s historically formed, given to it in genetic codes and reached a certain level of mentality. As a high form of sense and mind, the philosophy of culture is determined by the development level of thinking. The person’s real practical activities cause the creation and development of new creativity forms in him. Having become an indicator of people’s moral-political abilities, it shows in itself how it is. As the form of public consciousness music has always played an important role in people’s life. From the ancient world in Azerbaijan there have been different musical parties and in these parties music, and its performers, as well as musical instruments were improved and tested.

 Nietzsche sets forward a concept about the origin of culture from Dionis and Apollo. According to his theory, the beginning of culture in the person’s life is related to its link with Dionis culture with music in its stem. The Gobustan rock carvings on Absheron peninsula of Azerbaijan also prove this. Here a picture of different dances is the first people’s sign, though in primitive form, of informing about their attitude to music. In the Islamic world peripatetic views start with Al Farabi. The distinguished philosopher also invented the note, played ud (the oriental musical instrument), even lulled to sleep the people attending the party at the Damascus ruler Seifatuddovle’s. In Ancient and Middle Ages the Azerbaijani thinkers attached a great importance to music. Some circles not understanding antique music struggled against it, supposed that music led to atheism, godlessness, immorality and named those who were engaged in it mutrub (dancing boy in woman’s dress). For example, the reason for banishing Mesheti Ganjevi from Ganja city was her inclination to music and joyful parties. Or S.A. Shirvani’s inclination to music became a reason for clergymen to raise the clique against him. In Middle Ages and afterwards music was constantly used at poetry parties. Sometimes poems accompanied by music were created.

 In is impossible to find such a person in the world who would not have been influenced by music in this or other degree. It is no accident that the ancient Sparta’s ruler Ageslay addressing his friends said so: “Defend your women from music, it is more dangerous than alcohol”. Ageslay knew very well that the influence degree of music on the person depends on his music perception. And this perception is relatively higher in women, than in men.

 In the ancient Greece singing and dancing girls were called “getera” and they were, naturally, considered the people of the lower layer. Even once Philip sighing at the performance of one famous musician and expressing his wish that he “could play as he”, the musician said in confusion: “what are you talking about, my lord, God forbid that you could play harp as I can”. (That is, it could have lowered the Sovereign’s dignity). Speaking about the influence of Iranian music Saadi Hafiz wrote that three things saved Iran from Turkic influence: the Persian language, the Persian music, and the Persian maid holding wine in her hands: we want to say that in a number of cases even in the elitist societies music succeeded to get its real mark at the necessary level. Having acknowledged it a trade of the low layer, it was looked upon from above.

 Placing the musician‘s band in the low part of the party In a number of parties also shows their closeness to the people and mass. And at the wedding parties where the bridegroom and the bride do not sit together, musicians are, as a rule, placed in the most honorable place – at the upper head.

 If any musician was invited to elitist parties, he was by all means invited either to sing, or to play. Once Tchaikovsky was invited to such a party and having supposing to have been invited as guest, he did not fetch his violin together with him. Seeing this, the host demonstrated his indifferent attitude to him saying: “And where is your violin?” All this shows that when we sometimes speak about music and musicians, we have tried to see only good features in the attitude towards them, and tried to cover its negative features. The fact that many musicians are not in their places either caused the falling of their respect among the people. But when the talk is about a true music and musician, the situation gets a different shape; it becomes obvious that music has got a divine essence.

 Also the turning by a number of show-business amateurs of music into a means of light entertainment is one of blows stricken at music. In fact, the cognition of this music hides the philosophical essence of music. Because music is a means of understanding, it is not at all a means of playing and merry companies, as some think.

 Culture is a system of restrictions as well. Once any innovation of postmodernist amateurs was prevented resolutely. But now they are dominating. This is their principle: “I know everything best of all”. Thus, different TV channels not reconciling with anything regardless of anything let any singer appear on the screen. Here the main role is played more by his sponsor’s kindness than by his talent.

 There was time when musicians and musical instruments like music itself were turned into victims of the repression. For example, saying “tar (the oriental musical instrument), don’t sing for the proletarian does not like you”, apologists and ultra Bolsheviks hurried to bury the tar, the kamancha (the oriental instrument)., the saz (the oriental musical instrument). However, these instruments having since long been flattering the people’s spirit, were not merely buried, in contrary, new symphonies and operas were sounded in their language. Another problem is a mutual influence of national cultures and music as well as mutual enrichment. In this sense in the Soviet period the impact of one culture on the other was a good case. It’s true the Soviets pursued the policy of separating Islamic-Turkic peoples from each other. They were being rooted on the basis of the Russian language and culture, did not create connections with each other. Contacts with our believers and compatriots living in the neighboring countries were restricted. In separate cases culture and music figures went abroad under the supervision and in a certain framework.

In the Soviet period music was considered in terms of ideology. Especially when a program was prepared at official ceremonies and parties, themes on the party and the Soviets, internationalism and the friendship of peoples used to occupy the basic place. The national spirit was destroyed by every means, hatred to nationalism was created.

And one of problems of the Azerbaijani music became its appropriation and falsification by neighboring peoples, especially by Armenians. Given that different peoples have during many years been settling in the Caucasus, this region, distinguished by its inherent originality has been the region of willingly or not willingly now joining of these peoples’ cultures, then splitting, now falling into symbiosis situation. Here West and East meet, unite, separate and intersect. All this finds its reflection in cultures and, so, in music. Therefore the peoples often consider music, a song, or a musical instrument not belonging to them as their own. For example, Armenians having falsely counted “Sari gelin” and the kamancha their own, carry out a serious struggle for them. Therefore this demands from music figures hard work and agitation actions. Besides Armenians, there are other neighbors wishing to declare composers - U. Hajibeyov, M. Magomayev and our other famous names in art their own. That is why we must be always ready to struggle against such kind of cases.

So, the attitude to music has not always been simple at all, there have always been people struggling against it and they have also tried to estrange this fascinating force being “provisions” of the spirit from the human life, in a certain way to launch “cleansing” of the person’s moral world. Such reactionary forces have made efforts to fill in the morality cleaned from music with mystics, to kill in people the champion mood. As our world, in the person’s life music has called him to be optimistic, to struggle constantly. Before fighting and during fighting battle motives have always been a means calling people for struggling. Y. Chamanzamanli, H. Zardabi, U. Hajibayov, J. Garyaqdy, Khan Shushinski, Bul-bul and other educators emphasized the necessity to form our national music on the basis of popular music. For example, Y. Chamanzamanli noted in his letters written from Kiev that we must by all means develop our music reflecting our national spirit, create our national hymn. It was he and H. Zardabi who gave U. Hajibayov the idea to compose an opera. Due to this reason the educators thought it necessary to develop in people an inclination to music.

Both the khananda (folk singer), and the singer (the meaning of the two is similar – a performer, the first is in Persian, the second in Arabic) live a sort of their second life at the performance, according to Z. Freud’s concept, they are in trance. Suddenly, you can see, having pressed the tar or the kamancha to his breast, with half-closed eyes, the performer forgets himself, swing his head in gentle harmony depending on music rhythm.

All this shows that music is a very important component of the human life, his origin, evolution, and historical development stages. A human being was born with music, grew up with it, and also today is living under its influence. In his time the deceased Azerbaijani philosopher Asef Afandiyev estimated mougam (the Azerbaijani folk music) as a transition from sadness to revolt. That was a genius mark given to mougam. We would add that the transition from mougam to tasnif is similar to shift from winter to spring. As a total of sadness and grief, when passing to tasnif, the mougam already turns into a wedding-party-holiday. Mougam is the old East’s groan, sadness, grief, a revolt it rises against itself. It is such a revolt that results not in revolution, blood, ailment, but in the spiritual tranquility. The person is relieved, calms down and returns to himself.

It is a very good case that the attention to this musical genre has during recent years improved greatly in the republic. With the Republic’s first lady Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva’s direct patronage and assistance mougam festivals are conducted and talents are found out.

Though we are not musicians, as citizens we can’t stay indifferent to the future destiny of music in the republic. We are concerned about some distortions taking place in the sphere of our national music and its drift from the original sources. We do believe the time to make serious considerations on this has come.