I undertake a phenomenological analysis of mugham creativity in Azerbaijan today, and venture into uncharted paths towards discussions of musical creativity in broader cross-cultural terms via central topics of imagination and affect.
Mugham is a branch of traditional Azerbaijani music founded upon a matrix of modal structures. Yet mugham goes further: for its native performers and listeners it signifies a philosophy, a spiritual quest in search of truth, experienced as an intensely emotional trance state that is propelled through music.
With its hermeneutical potential, mugham becomes a primary decolonial vehicle in post-Soviet Azerbaijan. Not only does it allow its participants to question Soviet colonial structures and discourses but also to creatively respond via indigenous epistemologies and ontologies.
I approach musical experience with phenomenology (defined simply as the study of consciousness) and affect theory. These frameworks help to consider essential questions about existence, time, self, sense, and imagination.
In my work, I look into how the meanings of ghazal poetry are interpreted and imagined by Azerbaijani mugham performers and listeners today, and how these processes comprise musical creativity and shape post-Soviet subjectivities.
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