The achievements of Azerbaijani musical culture are the result of centuries-old historical process of formation and development of original, deeply realistic raditions. Azerbaijani musical culture of verbal traditionis represented by two huge layers: folklore music, which includes songs, dances, and professional music to hich the art of mugam and musical poetry of ashigs are also related. The creators of the mugam and ashig art were highly qualified professionals, while songs and dances were created and "polished" by people. Azerbaijani musical folklore is organically connected with folk ashig poetry. Songs, dances and music were indispensable attributes of every celebration. The art of ashigs is expressed not only in poetical gift, but also in singing talent, in the skill to play music and dance. Ashigs sang dastans (epic songs), as well as songs and improvisations ccompanied by string, wind and percussion instruments. The vocal and instrumental art of ashigs is based on classical melodies (over 80), each of which has many variants of improvisation. Repertoires of ashigs also had folk songs and "deyishme" (musical-poetical com- petitions). The most famous ashigs were - Gurbani, Abbas Tufarganli (XVI c), Shikeste Shirin (XVIII c), Alesker (XIX c). The songs of ashig Alesker are full of leg- ends and they arepopular in all regions of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani dancing melodies, which are divided into the smooth (suzma), lively (terekeme, yalli) and quick (jangi etc.), are distinguishedwith the original national features. The peak of musical-theoretical thought in the near and Middle East is connected with the names of a prominent musical theorist - Safiaddin Urmavi of Urumieh (Iran, W. Azarbaijan Province) who created the musical notation in XIII century, and his follower – Abdulgadir Maragi. The polymathic musician Maragi created works that had great influence on the development of musical-theoretical thought. In the Firman (decree) of Tamerlane (1397), Maragi was called "padishah of the music connoisseurs". Literature sources (folk epos "Kitabi Dede Gorgud", works of coryphées of Azerbaijani classical poetry Nizami, Mehseti, Nasimi, Fuzuli.Vagif etc.) are evidence of the richness of Azerbaijani musical culture. The Azerbaijani folk music has seven musical manners: rast, shur, segakh, shushter, bayati-shi- raz, chaargakh,humayun, each of which is remarkable for particular emotional character. There exist national instruments, which these manners are performed with – stringed bow instruments (kamancha), stringed musical instruments played by plucking (tar, saz, ud), wind instruments (tutek, balaban, zurna) and percussion instruments (def, nagara, gosha-nagara). The folk's singing art is very diverse depending on genre (ritual, domestic, lyrical, historical and other songs).The labour songs of agricultural type - arable, harvest, rice weeding etc. (khollo-var, sayachi) - have taken firm positions in musical practice. Season and holiday songs (ovsun, songs of Novruz- bayram) are also widespread. The musical culture of Azerbaijan is inseparably connected with the notion of "mugam". Generations were raised with the traditions of this kind of music; mugam is connected with all the major events and holidays. Mugam -is a part of life of the Azerbaijani people, it is a part of their spirit. Mugam is traditionally performed by singers -khanende, usually accompanied by musical trio - stringed tar, kamancha and def (tam- bourine). Shusha School of mugamat was formed in XVIII - at the beginning of the XIX century and consisted of several isolated creative schools, headed by prominent mugamatists-performers. This school was famous not only in the Caucasus, but in the whole Middle East. Mugamatists who studied all the rules of mugam performance, having absorbed the best traditions of their predecessors, carefully retained these traditions, developed and enriched them, transmitted to the next generation. Thus, they created their style of singing and their traditions. At that time mugams were performed, basically, at wedding ceremonies and feasts. Beginning with the second half of XIX century in Shusha it became a tradition to organize poetic and musical mejlises - musical meetings of poets and musicians. Similar mejlises were organized by the Azerbaijani poetess Khurshud Banu atavan and the outstanding scientist, poet, artist and musicologist - Mir Mohsun Navvab. Mejlises differed greatly from wedding ceremonies. These meetings were good opportunities to talk about literature, paint- ing, to discuss aesthetic problems of poetry, music, and mugam performance. Young singers participated and performed at those meetings. This was some kind of a test for them; the one who passed it and was appreciated greatly -started his/her own creative way. The singers of Garabag attached great importance to the poetic text of mugam. They paid special attention to the interrelation of music and word. As a rule, in mugams they used gazels of classical oriental poets, such as Hafiz, Saadi, Fuzuli, Vagif, Natavan. Sometimes they used texts compiled by themselves. In 1897, for the first time in Shusha, under the direction of the prominent writer Abdurrahim-bey Haghverdiyev, a musical scene "Mejnun and Leyli" was staged. This was fancy-dress performance of mugams according to the texts of the final part of "Leyli and Mejnun" poem created by the great Azerbaijani poet Fuzuli. The famous singer Jabbar aryagdioglu played the role of Mejnun. This musical performance was met with delight. It was a very important event in the musical life not only of Azerbaijan, but also of the whole Caucasus, and created good grounds for the establishment of a musical theatre in Azerbaijan. In 1908 Uzeyir Hajibeyli, on the basis of this performance seen by him in his childhood, composed the first Azerbaijani mugam opera "Leyli and Mejnun". This opera is considered to be the first opera in the East. "Oriental concerts" in Shusha and Baku had enormous success. These performances played a significant role in pushing mugam art onto concert stages, as well as in the development of a high aesthetic taste of listeners. Among the mugam performers of XIX- XX centuries are singers such as Jabbar Garyagdi, Haji Gusi, Meshali Jamil Amirov, Zulf i Adigezalov, Khan Shushinsky, Hajibaba Huseynov; Sadikh Asadoglu (Sadigjan), Bahram Mansurov, Ahmed Bakikhanov and Gurban Primov. Thus, mugam being an expression of theoutlook, mentality of the people, developed in works of professional performers. Mugam is the foundation of national musical culture of Azerbaijan. It lives, develops, is performed on the greatest scenes of the world and is carefully trans- mitted to the next generation. Having passed through many centuries, taking various shapes and forms, mugam is one of thedeepest revelations of musical heritage of Eastern people. Mugam, notwithstanding its belonging to the whole Eastern world, only in Azerbaijan had aspecific development, sharpness to the slightest details. Only here, one can find such genres as "zarb mugam" and "jazz- mugam" which exist only in Azerbaijan and are recognized in the whole world as original ones. On November, 7, 2003, UNESCO declared the Azerbaijani mugam as one of the masterpieces of oral and non- material heritage of humanity, emphasizing its particular artistic value, its positive role as a source of creative inspiration and intercultural dialogue. Since the end of the XIX century European, mainly Russian, music penetrates into the musical life of Azerbaijan.
In Baku, sym- phonic orchestras and a private opera troupe were created. Uzeyir Hajibeyli laid the bases of the contemporary Azerbaijan musical culture. He elaborated the theory of Azerbaijani musical manners, created the first national operas and musical comedies. The symphonic genre that appeared in Azerbaijan in 20-30s during the XX century (M.Magomayev, A.Zeynalli) reached its peak in 40-60s.Gara Garayev, whose works brought together national characteristic features and stylistic peculiarities of contemporary music, pushed Azerbaijani music into the world musical art, headed the composers' school. Fikret Amirov created the genre of sym- phonic mugam ("Shur" and "Kurd Ovshari", "Gulustan Bayati- Shiraz"). The first examples of national romance belong toA.Zeynalli (20s of XX century). Uzeyir Hacibeyov created a new genre – romance gazel based on forms of oriental poetry. Creativity of famous composers and performers - Bulbul, Rashid Behbudov, Niyazi, Suleyman Aleskerov, Vagif Mustafazadeh, Muslim Magomayev, Arif Melikov, Alim Gasimov and many others provided a deserved place to Azerbaijani music in the world art.