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The Maqomat: The Classic Music of Central Asia in times of political and cultural changes

  • Alexander Djumaev
Tuesday 27 March 2018
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
First Shashmaqom publication in 1924

The maqomat is a regional Central Asian classic and canonical art.

The term covers several kinds of maqom art in contemporary Uzbekistan and Tajikistan: Bukharian Shashmaqom, Khorezmian maqoms, Fergana-Tashkent maqom melodies, Uzbek Shashmaqom, Tajik Shashmaqom. Each kind has its own peculiarities reflecting local music styles and traditions.

The Bukharian Shashmaqom, which will be discussed in this lecture, was the primary source for all other kinds of maqomat. It appeared in Bukhara in the 18th century. Among various practices for Shashmaqom, the main ones were the court performances at the palaces of the Bukharian rulers (amirs). Court tastes and aesthetics influenced the Shashmaqom artistic and theoretical canons.

The October and Bukharian Revolutions (in 1917 and 1920) resulted in creating a new cultural policy with respect to the Shashmaqom and old musical heritage. The main idea of the Soviet cultural policy was to create the state national Shashmaqom according to the new aesthetic principles and norms: democratization of maqom performing practices; introducing new concert forms in theatres; creating new state maqom ensembles; desacralization and secularization of Shashmaqom music; creating of universal and stable (invariable) music texts of the Shashmaqom. These practices were introduced both in Soviet Uzbekistan and Tajikistan approximately at the same time between the 1930s and the 1970s. In both republics, the Bukharian Shashmaqom was used as a basic model for the new state national Shashmaqom. As a result of this policy, the Bukharian Shashmaqom lost its status as an original kind of maqomat in Central Asia.

New tendencies started after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the new independent Central Asian states, the following aspects emerged: renewal of the social artistic role and values of the Bukharian Shashmaqom; revival of the Bukharian Shashmaqom as a cycle of vocal and instrumental pieces (maqom repertory) and their performing canons; searching for new artistic aesthetics of Shashmaqom with a key role of the maqom (bastakori, bastakorlik); reviving traditional methods of teaching and knowledge transmission (ustodshogird).

All these changes will be illustrated by the activities of two well-known contemporary musicians of Shashmaqom in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – Ari Babakhanov (b. 1934) and Abduvali Abdurashidov (b. 1957).

First Shashmaqom publication

Alexander Djumaev

Dr. Alexander Djumaev (b. in 1953 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan) received his PhD in musicology in 1981. He is the former head of the Department of Music History at the Khamza Institute of Art in Tashkent. He is currently a freelance scholar and the chairman of the Study Group on Maqam of the International Council for Traditional Music. Djumaev's main research interests include the music culture of Central Asia, Maqamat, and medieval sources on music. His most recent book discusses the life and artistic legacy of the 15th century poet Nadjm al-Din Kawkabi Bukhari (Tashkent, 2016).

E-mail: adjumaev@yahoo.com


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