Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2003 (11.3)
Page 62

Traditional Instruments
Majnun Karimov Brings Medieval Music to Life

Related Articles:
Piecing Together History, String By String:
The Reconstruction of Azerbaijan's Medieval Instruments
by Jean Patterson

He's a man driven by passion-passion to understand what the music of the past sounded like and to share it with future generations. Majnun Karimov (1945- ) has just published: "The Azerbaijan Musical Instruments" which features 28 medieval instruments and describes their history, characteristic features and even how to construct some of them.

Ten of these instruments were reconstructed by Majnun himself, after researching them in literature and miniature paintings. An accompanying CD ROM provides video clips of the instruments being played by members of the State Ensemble of Ancient Traditional Music Instruments, a group which Majnun founded.

Majnun is the Director of the Scientific Laboratory of the Reconstruction and Development of Ancient Musical Instruments of Baku's prestigious Music Academy.

When people ask why he spent so much time trying to revive these old forgotten instruments, he admits curiosity was the driving force. "I simply wanted to see and hear what these instruments sounded like. They're part of our own heritage," he says.

"For me, creating one of these instruments is like scaling a mountain. When you finally reach the peak, you're ecstatic. When I attach those last strings and pluck them for the first time, I'm ready to fly. After that, I feel a deep void until I can get started working on a new instrument."

For more details about Majnun's work, see "Piecing Together History, String by String: Reconstruction of Azerbaijan's Medieval Instruments" in Azerbaijan International, AI 5.4 (Winter 1997).

Majnun Karimov's new book features 28 medieval instruments, 10 of which he reconstructed himself. Above left: Majnun (dark suit) with the Ensemble that he organized to perform these instruments with authentic music from early periods.

This project was sponsored jointly by Statoil and Unocal Khazar. "Azerbaijan Music Instruments" (Azeri, English and Russian) by Majnun Karimov. Yeni Nasil Publishing House: Baku (printed by Mega in Turkey) 2003. Hard bound with CD ROM. ISBN 9952-24-024-4, full color, 184 pages. Contact: Majnun Karimov in Baku:

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