Up to 200 Unique Musical Instruments on Display at the Heydar Aliyev Center


The Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s several year-long endeavors to collect unique musical instruments from a variety of sources resulted in the Musical Instruments: Unity and Diversity exhibition.


The exposition boasts of up to 200 musical instruments dating back to the 18-20th centuries. The exhibits represent 31 nations, such as Azerbaijan, Albania, Bulgaria, China, Russian Federation (Daghestan), Afghanistan. Algeria, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Hungary, Macedonia, Morocco, Egypt, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Yemen and Greece.


Among the unique exhibits of the show, one may find kemancha (traditional Azerbaijani string and bow instrument) inlaid with images from Nizami Ganjavi’s Khamse (The Five Poems) made in gold, diamonds and mother-of-pearl, as well as dwarf-size naghara (drum) crafted in Sheki in the 18th century.


The display also features musical instruments played by the renowned artists like gavals (tambourines) of the People’s Artists of Azerbaijan Khan Shushinski, Rubaba Muradova, Abulfat Aliyev, Aghakhan Abdullayev, tars of Habib Bayramov, Mohlat Muslumov, Ramiz Guliyev, and Jeyran Hashimova, accordion of Aftandil Israfilov, saz of the Renowned Figure in Art ashyq Adalat Nasibov, balaban of the famous wind instrument player Nizan Fataliyev and kamancha of the Honored Artist Adalat Vezirov.


The exhibition includes the percussion instrument crafted by the People’s Artist Natiq Shirinov on the basis of the primeval earthenware drum of the 5th century B.C. discovered in Azerbaijan, the naghara modeled after the drum of the late 4th century B.C. (manufactured in 2010), and the first stereophonic string instrument (stereo buta) invented in Azerbaijan in 2015.


Along with the possibility to view each instrument exhibited, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to listen to its sound and, above all, to get familiar with the specificities of playing it. This is accomplished through monitors with audio and video records and other aids.


The exhibition presents the piece of Azerbaijani music included among the 27 tunes of the Globe launched by NASA to the space on board of the Viyager-1 shuttle back in 1977.


The Mugham Hall showcases videorecords of famous Azerbaijani mugham singers (khanende), whereas the monitors present musical pieces of mugham and  the ashuq art, tar and kemancha performances. Both musical genres and instruments are inscribed on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.


The exhibition creates an excellent opportunity to promote the cultural heritage of various nations along with the musical history of Azerbaijan by demonstrating the power of music conveyed through individualty and similarities of musical instruments from different  countries.

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