Image description

Mugham Society of America

The Mugham Society of America is a cultural organization dedicated to the promotion of the traditional art culture of Azerbaijan with a strong emphasis on the form of music known as mugham. MSA is independent of other organizations with similar aims. Our primary audience is anyone who might be sensitive to or have an interest in ancient traditional forms of all eastern culture, but especially the local cultures of the Caucasus, Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, whose art cultures have much in common with one another. Recognizing the effects of westernization, modernization and globalization, MSA strives to call attention to the great heritage of the traditional arts of this part of our world and to assist in the fostering of interest on the part of westerners in this legacy.

Mugham evolved in the part of the world called Azerbaijan, and accordingly, MSA strives to give the people of Azerbaijan the credit for this achievement, and to offer the world the benefits of their artistic creativity. While Azerbaijani mugham shares its roots with numerous other musical traditions of the above mentioned geographical regions, it is unique among them. One of the most important reasons for this unique status is the influence of the ancient musical tradition of Azerbaijan known as Ashikh music on the evolution of mugham. Ashikhs are to this day the 'bards' of the Caucasus, vocalists with a powerful singing style that employs an intense mountain yodel, but quite different from what we westerners normally think of when we use that word. According to some, this powerful musical tradition existed in this region for hundreds if not thousands of years prior to the advent of Islam, a religion that brought to all the above mentioned regions the Islamic call to prayer. The tradition of the Azerbaijani Ashikh, although very distinct from mugham, brought to the general idea of mugham (maqqam in Arabic) an electrifying power that makes Azerbaijani mugham so unique.

Some of the current activities supported by MSA are performances and lectures at colleges, universities, academies, museums and other venues where academics, scholars, students as well as the general public can become acquainted with mugham and its historic past. MSA is also engaged in making documentary films about mugham and Azerbaijan's great artistic cultural heritage.