Music of Uzbekistan

Last updated

The music of Uzbekistan has reflected the diverse influences that have shaped the country. It is very similar to the music of the Middle East and is characterized by complicated rhythms and meters. [1] Because of the long history of music in the country and the large variety of music styles and musical instruments, Uzbekistan is often regarded as one of the most musically diverse countries in Central Asia. [2]


Classical music of Uzbekistan

The music of what is now Uzbekistan has a very long and rich history. [3] Shashmaqam, a Central Asian classical music style, is believed to have arisen in the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand in the late 16th century. The term "shashmaqam" translates as six maqams and refers to the structure of music with six sections in different musical modes, similar to classical Persian traditional music. Interludes of spoken Sufi poetry interrupt the music, typically beginning at a low register and gradually ascending to a climax before calming back down to the beginning tone.

After Turkestan became part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century, first attempts were taken to record national melodies of Turkestan. Russian musicians helped preserve these melodies by introducing musical notation in the region.

In the 1950s, Uzbek folk music became less popular, and the genre was barred from radio stations by the Soviets. They did not completely dispel the music. Although banned, folk musical groups continued to play their music in their own ways and spread it individually. [4] After Uzbekistan gained independence from the USSR in the early 1990s, public interest revived in traditional Uzbek music. Nowadays Uzbek television and radio stations regularly play traditional music.

The people's Artist of Uzbekistan Turgun Alimatov is an Uzbek classical and folklore composer, and tanbur, dutar, and sato player. His compositions include "Segah", "Chorgoh", "Buzruk", "Navo", and "Tanovar". His image is associated with national pride and has been presented as the symbol of Uzbek classical music to the world. [5]

Another well-known Uzbek composer is Muhammadjon Mirzayev. His most famous compositions include "Bahor valsi" ("The Spring Waltz") and "Sarvinoz." "Bahor valsi" is played on Uzbek television and radio channels every spring.

Sherali Joʻrayev is a singer of traditional Uzbek music. However, he has fallen out of favour with the Uzbek government, who have banned his performances on Uzbek TV as well as his public performances since 2002. [6] [7] He still performs at Uzbek wedding parties and in other countries to popular acclaim.

In recent years, singers such as Yulduz Usmonova and Sevara Nazarkhan have brought Uzbek music to global audiences by mixing traditional melodies with modern rhythms and instrumentation. [2] In the late 2000s, Ozodbek Nazarbekov mixed contemporary music with elements of traditional Uzbek music.

Contemporary music of Uzbekistan

Many forms of popular music, including folk music, pop, and rock music, have particularly flourished in Uzbekistan since the early 1990s. Uzbek pop music is well developed, and enjoys mainstream success via pop music media and various radio stations.

Many Uzbek singers such as Sevara Nazarkhan and Sogdiana Fedorinskaya, Rayhon Ganieva have achieved commercial success not only in Uzbekistan but also in other CIS countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.


All Tomorrow's Parties performing live at IlkhomRockFest, June 22, 2013. All Tomorrow's Parties at IlkhomRockFest, June 22, 2013..jpg
All Tomorrow's Parties performing live at IlkhomRockFest, June 22, 2013.

Currently rock music enjoys less popularity than pop music in Uzbekistan.

An Uzbekistani metal band who has some degree of recognition is Night Wind, a folk metal group. Other Uzbekistani metal groups include Iced Warm, Salupa Zindan and Agoniya (Russian: Агония). [8]


Rap music has become popular among Uzbek youth. Rappers such as Shoxrux became very popular among young people in the 2000s. However, the Uzbek government censors rap music. It has set up a special body to censor rap music because it believes this type of music does not fit the Uzbek musical culture. [9]


Artists and bands

Uzbek artists

Lola Yo`ldosheva Lola Yuldasheva (23.03.2012).jpg
Lola Yoʻldosheva
Daler Xonzoda Daler Xonzoda.JPG
Daler Xonzoda
Rayhon G`aniyeva Rayhon G`aniyeva in 2012.jpg
Rayhon Gʻaniyeva

Uzbek bands

Composers in the western classical tradition


Soviet postage stamp depicting musical instruments of Uzbekistan 1989 CPA 6116.jpg
Soviet postage stamp depicting musical instruments of Uzbekistan

Many musical instruments are played in Uzbekistan. Traditional instruments include: [10]




Related Research Articles

Dombra musical string instrument

The dombra, also known as dombyra is a long-necked Kazakh and Bashkir lute and a musical string instrument. The dombyra shares certain characteristics with the komuz and dutar, such as its long, thin neck and oblong body shape. It is a popular instrument among Turkic communities in Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia.

Bağlama Stringed musical instrument

The bağlama is a stringed musical instrument.

Music of Kazakhstan refers to a wide range of musical styles and genres deriving from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is home to the Kazakh State Kurmangazy Orchestra of Folk Instruments, the Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kazakh National Opera and the Kazakh State Chamber Orchestra. The folk instrument orchestra was named after Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly, a well-known composer and dombra player from the 19th century.

Sevara Nazarkhan Uzbek singer-songwriter

Sevara Nazarkhan is an Uzbek singer, songwriter, and musician. Her musical style incorporates Uzbek folk and contemporary music. Nazarkhan has achieved worldwide fame and has collaborated with high-profile international artists. In 2004, Nazarkhan received the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in the category "Best Asian Artist".

Cümbüş Turkish musical instrument (strings)

The cümbüş is a Turkish stringed instrument of relatively modern origin. It was developed in 1930 by Zeynel Abidin Cümbüş (1881–1947) as an oud-like instrument that could be heard as part of a larger ensemble.

The music of Central Asia is as vast and unique as the many cultures and peoples who inhabit the region. Principal instrument types are two- or three-stringed lutes, the necks either fretted or fretless; fiddles made of horsehair; flutes, mostly open at both ends and either end-blown or side-blown; and jew harps, mostly metal. Percussion instruments include frame drums, tambourines, and kettledrums. Instrumental polyphony is achieved primarily by lutes and fiddles.

Sherali Joʻrayev is an Uzbek singer, songwriter, poet, and actor. He has been an influential figure in Uzbek cultural life for almost four decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1980s and 1990s.

Đàn nguyệt

The đàn nguyệt also called nguyệt cầm, đàn kìm, is a two-stringed Vietnamese traditional musical instrument. It is used in both folk and classical music, and remains popular throughout Vietnam.


The pandura or pandore, an ancient string instrument, belonged in the broad class of the lute and guitar instruments. Akkadians played similar instruments from the 3rd millennium BC. Ancient Greek artwork depicts such lutes from the 3rd or 4th century BC onward.

Buzuq long necked fretted lute

The buzuq is a long-necked fretted lute related to the Greek bouzouki and Turkish saz. It is an essential instrument in the Rahbani repertoire, but it is not classified among the classical instruments of Arab or Turkish music. However, this instrument may be looked upon as a larger and deeper-toned relative of the saz, to which it could be compared in the same way as the viola to the violin in Western music. Before the Rahbanis popularized the use of this instrument, the buzuq had been associated with the music of Lebanon and Syria.

The Central Asian musician Ari Babakhanov of Uzbekistan masters the long-necked lutes tanbur, qashqari rubab and dutar. In 1934 he was born in Bukhara into a Jewish family which can look back on an outstanding dynasty of traditional musicians. It was founded by his grandfather Levi Babakhan (1873–1926), the legendary court vocalist of Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara. Levi Babakhan's son Moshe Babakhanov (1910–1983) was also a famous vocalist who accompanied himself on tanbur and doira.

The Sato is a bowed tanbur, or long-necked lute, played by performers of Central Asian classical and folk music, mainly in Uzbekistan. It has five strings. When plucked, the top string is pressed to the neck to produce a melody; the other four strings are drone strings. Frets on the neck are made of tied string. The soundboard has holes drilled in it for sound holes. It is made from mulberry wood.

Yaylı tambur Long-neck lute from Turkey

The yaylı tambur is a bowed long-neck lute from Turkey. Derived from the older plucked tambur, it has a long, fretted neck and a round metal or wooden soundbox which is often covered on the front with a skin or acrylic head similar to that of a banjo.

Shashmaqam is a Central Asian musical genre which may have developed in the city of Bukhara. Shashmaqam means the six Maqams (modes) in the Persian language, dastgah being the name for Persian modes, and maqams being the name for modes more generally.

Kurdish tanbur or tanbour, a fretted string instrument, is an initial and main form of the tanbūr instrument family, original of and unique to the Kurdish people. It is highly associated with the Yarsan religion in Kurdish areas and in the Lorestān provinces of Iran. It is one of the few musical instruments used in Ahl-e Haqq rituals, and practitioners venerate the tembûr as a sacred object. Another popular percussion instrument used together with the tembur is the Kurdish daf, but that's not sacred in Yarsan spirituality and Jam praying ceremony.

<i>Tanbur</i> Various long-necked, string instrument originating in the Southern or Central Asia

The term Tanbur can refer to various long-necked, string instruments originating in Mesopotamia, Southern or Central Asia. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "terminology presents a complicated situation. Nowadays the term tanbur is applied to a variety of distinct and related long-necked lutes used in art and folk traditions. Similar or identical instruments are also known by other terms." These instruments are used in the traditional music of Iran, India, Kurdistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

Turkish tambur fretted string instrument of Turkey and the former lands of the Ottoman Empire

The tanbur is a fretted string instrument of Turkey and the former lands of the Ottoman Empire. Like the ney, the armudi kemençe and the kudüm, it constitutes one of the four instruments of the basic quartet of Turkish classical music a.k.a. Türk Sanat Müziği. Of the two variants, one is played with a plectrum and the other with a bow. The player is called a tanburî.

Turgun Alimatov was one of the leading Uzbek classic music and shashmaqam player and composer of 20th century folk and classic music. He was a master performer of tanbur, dutar, and sato.

Dutar traditional long-necked two-stringed lute found in Iran and Central Asia

The dutar is a traditional long-necked two-stringed lute found in Iran and Central Asia. Its name comes from the Persian word for "two strings", دوتار do tār, although the Herati dutar of Afghanistan has fourteen strings. When played, the strings are usually plucked by the Uyghurs of Western China and strummed and plucked by the Tajiks, Turkmen, Uzbeks. Related instruments include the Kazakh dombra. The Dutar is also an important instrument among the Kurds of Khorasan amongst whom Haj Ghorban Soleimani of Quchan was a noted virtuoso. In Kurdish one who plays the dutar is known as a bakci (bakhshi), while in Azeri the term is ashiq. Khorasan bakhshi music is recognized on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

History of lute-family instruments

Lutes are stringed musical instruments that include a body and "a neck which serves both has a handle and as a means of stretching the strings beyond the body".


  1. Fierman, William. "Uzbekistan." Microsoft Student 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008
  2. 1 2 Levin, Theodore. "Uzbekistan". National Geographic . Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  3. Broughton, Simon; Razia Sultanova (2000). "Bards of the Golden Road". In Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; James McConnachie; Orla Duane (eds.). World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific. Penguin Books. pp. 24–31. ISBN   1-85828-636-0.
  4. Levin, Theodore (1997). The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York . Indiana University Press. ISBN   978-0253332066.
  5. Matyakubov, O. "A Traditional Musician in Modern Society: A Case Study of Turgun Alimatov's Art". Yearbook for Traditional Music 25 (1993), pp. 60-66.
  6. "The Art of Propaganda". EurasiaNet. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  7. "Uzbekistan: National Singer Sherali Joʻrayev is Sixty. His Concerts - Banned by Authorities". Ferghana News (in Russian). 26 April 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  8. "Bands by Country: Uzbekistan". Metal Archives. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  9. Fitzpatrick, Catherine (21 April 2011). "Uzbek Government Censors Rap Music". Euriasianet. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  10. "Uzbek musical instruments". Sairam. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2012.