A music performance project

“If thee, beholder, have perceived the essence through the music,

Then disclose its modus, reveal the rhythm of its movement”


(Bu musiqidən, ey same’, sana gər nəsnə kəşf oldu,

Məqamatın bəyan eylə, üsulun göstər ədvarın).


Imadeddin Nasimi (1370-1417)


This precious statement about music as a medium in perceiving the most universal mechanisms of human existence has been borrowed from a ‘Bahariyya’ poem by great spiritual poet Nasimi. The title “Bahariyya” refers to a favourite poetic trope – the advent of the Spring in the medieval poetry written in Azerbaijanian, as well as in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other Eastern languages. The metaphor of awakening and renewal in nature is hiddenly related to spiritual awakening, moreover referring to the extrarational state of mind required for achieving a new level of awareness. This mood is so much help in understanding the complex poetic content of mugam, the centuries-long music tradition carefully cultivated and transmitted in Azerbaijan by generations of singers and musicians.


The idea of the show is to present a concert programme of mugam, where the realm of traditional music passes here through seven dynamic encounters with recorded and electronic sounds. The kinds of situation vary – from clash to symbiosis – to interaction – to confluence, and overcoming of the stages somehow point to the Sufi concept of gradual ascending towards the Divine Truth, which is concealed in the structure of mugam.


The music references applied in this performance include a theme from Azerbaijan Capriccio by Fikret Amirov, many bits and beats of recordings from contemporary jazz, hip-hop, R&B, a dialogue of live solo tar with recordings by four other tar players – Haji Mammadov, Bahram Mansurov, Akram Mammadov and Agasalim Abdullayev, allusion to “I’m sitting in a room” by Alvin Lucier and the rendering of Imaginary Landscape No5 by John Cage with 42 fragments of Azerbaijanian music – from Uzeyir Hajibeyli to Uzeyir Mehdizade. The performance starts and ends with documentary soundscapes – one is the collection of Baku ambient sounds captured by sound artist Peter Cusack, another one is Saturn vibrations captured by NASA Voyager.



Teyyub ASLANOV, khanende voice

Aliaga SADIYEV, tar

Elnur MIKAYILOV, kamancha

Shirzad FATALIYEV, zurna, balaban

Kamran KARIMOV, nagara

Farhad FARZALI, sound design, live electronics


Jahangir SELIMKHANOV, concept and music curation

Vilayat GAHRAMANZADE, sound engineering

In co-operation with Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Nasimi Festival