Alim Qasimov Ens
Alim Qasimov Ens
It’s the classical music of the Caucasus and of the Turkish-speaking peoples in Central Asia. The notion of Mugham also applies to the performers: the singer, and the ensemble. Within the latter you’ll always find three instruments; tar (lute), the standing kamanche (violin) and the daf (percussion). French paper "Le Monde" described Alim Qasimov as a blessed man with a "Magic Voice", and if one would take time and listen to his music and sounds, one can only agree. "Folk Roots Magazine" called Alim Qasimov "one of the 20th century's greatest singers". Alim is attracting many new fans to Mugham. Russian-educated Azerbaijanis and young people in general don't usually care much for the Mugham genre.
Many prefer listening to Western pop music. But surprisingly, they have been going to Alim's concerts and buying his CD's. In 1999, Alim Qasimov won the prestigious UNESCO Music Prize, one of the highest international accolades that a musician can hope for. Previous laureates have included Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Mugham Main article: Mugham To Azerbaijani singer Alim Gasimov, this traditional music of Azerbaijan is as he stated; "food for the spirit. Mugham is something sent from God.
It was created together with humanity. You can't create it anew." More specifically, Mugham consists of Azeri, Persian or Arabic poems - mostly love songs - set to improvised music. The lyrics are written down, but not the music. Depending on the specific mode of Mugham being played, the improvisation traverses a designated number of tetrachord sequences, for example, three tetrachords consisting of 2 half-steps and one full-step, or vice versa.
The improvisation for one Mugham may continue for 30 minutes to a few hours. Some people suggest that the word "Mugham" derives from the Arabic word "Maqam", which refers to an official meeting place where medieval caliphs and other Arabian dignitaries gathered to hear tales and rhyming prose, and later music as well. In the early 20th century, Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov identified seven main Mughams (rast, shur-shahnaz, seygah, bayati-shiraz, humayun, heyrati and chahargah) plus five secondary Mughams. Each Mugham is said to be connected with a certain feeling or emotion; for example, "seygah" represents grief and "shur-shahnaz" stands for tenderness. According to Alim, Mugham is not as simple as that, he stated: "You can't attach strict theory to Mugham. For example, some say that 'chahargah' reveals the spirit of fighting and war.
But I say that it reveals the feeling of spiritual elevation instead." Alim maintains that he doesn't have a favorite mugham modal form as he said: "I feel the nature, the character, the smell and the color of each one. For me, each of them is like a human being with its own personality. You have to understand them from within. If you have the capability to see them, you can follow them even to the stars.
Maybe this is what enables the spirit to transcend the body. I believe in the spiritual world. I believe it never dies. "I want to see mugham as a world of spirits. The spirit is incomprehensible, God is incomprehensible.
It's not like mathematics, where you have a formula like two plus two is four. That would make it finite. I want to see mugham as something inexhaustible. From this point of view, I don't want to say that 'seygah' expresses grief, or 'shur' expresses tender feelings, and that's it.
Mughams express a myriad of complex feelings." Ancient Poetry Alim frequently chooses ghazals (poems with an Eastern meter) by classical poets such as Khagani, Fuzuli, Shirvani and [Sabir] as his lyrics for Mugham. As Alim stated: "I used to choose the words that earlier mugham singers performed, but I don't do that anymore. I select the poetry myself now." However Alim has one condition for selecting a poem - it has to touch him emotionally: "I read the poem and if it makes my heart tremble, I choose it. Some poems are not accessible for me.
I don't get meaning from them." The interpretation of these poems depends largely upon the listener. For Alim, the poetry is about philosophical notions rather than lyrical love: "You can say they deal with love," he says, "but everybody interprets them in his own way. This is very important in mugham; since the music is independent of a strict framework, the poetry should be so, too. At a young age, you might interpret the poems as talking about love for a beautiful woman. The older you grow, the more philosophy you see in them. An older person, for instance, might interpret these poems from a Sufism point of view." Some of the poems are in Arabic or Persian, which means that Alim doesn't know the meaning of every single word.
According to Alime he can't always identify the exact meaning of the words, but he feels and understand by intuition what they imply, Alim stated; Maybe it's even better that I interpret the poetry myself. The word touches my heart and then 'lights a torch' there." Concert in Tabriz From March 3 - March 15, 2001, Alim also had a very successful series of performances in Tabriz, Iran. It was his first visit to this city, which boasts the largest Azerbaijani population in Iranian Azerbaijan. Tabriz is Iran's third largest city, with a population of more than 2 million.
For years, people in Tabriz had been begging Alim to come and give a concert. The only other performance that the Mugham master had ever made in Iran was at a festival in Tehran in 1993. Originally Alim had intended to give five concerts in Tabriz, but interest ran so high that ten concerts were scheduled, two a day. The auditorium was packed each day. Although the auditorium seats 700 people, more than 1,000 people attended each performance.
It became nearly impossible to get tickets for these sell-out performances. Concerts were scheduled to last only one hour each, but they usually lasted 1,5 to 2 hours and the final performance was 2,5 hours long. Reportedly, during Alim's rendition of the Azerbaijani folk song "Sari Galin" (Yellow Bride), the concert organizers had to pass out tissues because so many men and women in the audience were emotionally touched and started crying. Since the 1960s, Azerbaijani music performances were discouraged. Only recently has the government begun to allow Azerbaijanis to begin performing publicly.
Alim's daughter, Fargana, who usually performs with him, did not do so in Iran. Women are not allowed to perform on stage as featured soloists when there are men in the audience. When Alim was leaving the concert, fans surrounded the car. One girl pushed her hand through the window, begging for Alim to write his autograph on her hand. He didn't oblige, as it is against Iranian rules for a man to sign a woman's hand. Early Humiliation Alim Gasimov's career as a Mugham singer nearly ended at age 14.
He faced a huge humiliation when he felt while competing in a local music contest; when he started singing what he figured was Mugham, the audience started laughing at him. Alim stepped down from the stage with tears in his eyes. Fortunately, he didn't give up on Mugham. Read more on Last.fm.
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