28 April 2018


Shashmaqom (in Farsi – «Six maqoms») is a leading musical-cyclic genre of musical heritage of Uzbek and Tajik people, which got formed in the XVIII century on the basis of system of 12 maqoms (or Duvozdakh maqom) and music traditions of Bukhara, which is considered one of the most ancient cultural centers of Central Asia. Shashmaqom is a cycle consisting of six maqoms, namely Buzruk, Rost, Navo, Dugoh, Segoh and Iroq. Each of these consists of two parts respectively, i.e. instrumental one (which is called «Mushkilot») and vocal one (which is called «Nasr»), representing more than 250 cycles of instrumental and vocal compositions in total.

Shashmaqom got formed in urban environment, and its bearers of traditions were well-known musicians and singers. Its vocal part was performed in Uzbek and Tajik languages. The texts were mainly taken from the poems of classics of oriental poetry and were dedicated to love-related, lyrical, philosophical, didactic, religious themes. Folk poetry examples were also used. Most widely used musical instrument was tanbur. Instrumental part of each maqom included instrumental compositions such as «Tasnif’, «Tarje», «Gardun», «Mukhammas» and «Sakil», performed either solo or by instrumental ensemble. Vocal parts are considered the most difficult and complete ones in terms of structure, melos and form and are divided into two cycles (shuba): the first one includes «Sarakhbor», «Talqin», «Nasr» and «Ufar», performed by a leading singer – hofiz; between main parts «Tarona» was sung by vocal ensemble as a connecting one. The second cycle (shuba) includes five-part cycles of «Moghulcha» and «Savt» (except maqom «Iroq»), the creators of which were bastakors (creators of oral musical tradition).

Starting from the XX century Shashmaqom has been recorded (by V. Uspenskiy, Yunus Rajabiy, A. Babakhanov) and published in the form of separate collections, has been scientifically studied and integrated in the new system of music education (music schools, academic lyceums, colleges, the Conservatoire, Institute of Art and Culture). Activities associated with awareness-raising about Shashmaqom are nowadays conducted by professional and amateur maqom ensembles, operating in all regions of the country. Since 1975 competitions of amateur maqom ensembles and since 1983 – international as well as republican competitions of young maqom performers and ensembles have been conducted. Among the bearers of Shashmaqom traditions it is possible to mention Ota Jalol Nosirov, Ota Ghiyoz Abdughani, Levi Babakhanov, Domla Khalim Ibadov, Yunus Rajabiy, Fakhriddin Sodiqov, Berta Davydova, Turghun Alimatov, Munojot Yolchieva, Olmas Rasulov and others. Among ensembles it is possible to mention maqom ensemble named after Y. Rajabiy, maqom ensemble of Bukhara Regional Philharmonic Society. In 2003 «The Music of Shashmaqom» was recognized by UNESCO as the «Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity» and in 2008 was inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO (joint nomination by Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).

Khoresm Maqoms

Khoresm maqoms are one of the local types of maqom, spread in Uzbekistan. The cycle of «Khoresm maqoms» emerged on the basis of Shashmaqom and music traditions of Khoresm at the turn of the ХVIII–XIX centuries and comprises of such maqoms as Rost Buzruk, Navo, Dugoh, Segoh, Iraq and Pandjgoh (in practice they are called «Six and a half maqoms» or «Khoresm Shashmaqom»). Each maqom in its turn is divided into two parts, i.e. instrumental part called «Chertim yoli» (Mansur) and vocal part called «Aytim yoli» (Manzum). The cycle includes about 200 instrumental and vocal compositions. Famous composers of Khoresm, such as Niyozkhon Hoja, Feruz, Komil Khorazmiy, Muhammadrasul Mirzo, Matyoqub Harrat and others created new instrumental compositions and enriched them in terms of form and content. Khoresm maqoms have been performed with application of own local traditions and musical dialects. Instrumental part unites a cycle of instrumental compositions as «Tanimaqom», «Taije», «Gardun», «Peshrav», «Muhammas», «Saqil» and «Ufar», which are performed either solo or by instrumental ensemble. Vocal part comprises of vocal and instrumental compositions as «Tanimaqom», «Talqin», «Nasr» and «Ufaf’ («Tarona» was performed only after «Tanimaqom») as well as typical for Khoresm compositions as «Naqsh», «Suvora», «Faryod» and «Muqaddima», performed solo under accompaniment of instrumental ensemble. Poems of classics of oriental poetry served as the main sources of text in Khoresm maqoms. Main themes were love-related, lyrical, philosophical, didactic ones. Khoresm maqoms reached their peak in development under the rule of Muhammad Rahimkhon Soniy (who was a poet and bastakor under pseudonym of «Feruz»). On his initiative a special musical notation «Tanbur notation» was created, with a help of which Khoresm dutar and tanbur maqoms were written down in last quarter of the XIX century and which was used till 40s of the XX century in musical practice based on «Ustoz-shogird» («Master-apprentice») methodology.

Since the XX century Khoresm maqoms have been recorded, scientifically studied, and mastered through the new system of music education. The bearers of maqom traditions in Khoresm were Khudoybergan Muhrkan, Matpano Khudoyberganov, Matyoqub and Matyusuf Kharrot, Madrakhim Sheroziy, Khojikhon Boltaev, R. Jumaniyozov, I. Ibragimov, K. Otanoyozov, O. Khudoyshukurov, R. Qurbonov. F. Davlatov, R. Boltaev and others. At present Khoresm maqoms are promoted by professional and folk maqom ensembles of Urgench, Khiva and Khanqa. It became a good tradition to organize traditional performance competitions named after Kh. Boltaev, K. Otaniyozov (Khoresm), O. Khudoyshukurov (RepubUc of Karakalpakstan), which demonstrate traditions of Khoresm maqoms.

Ferghana-Tashkent Maqoms

Ferghana-Tashkent maqoms represent a phenomenon which is unique and original in the system of maqomat (maqom art) of Uzbekistan existence of which is associated with musical culture of the cities of the Ferghana Valley and Tashkent region in the form of separate instrumental and vocal samples and small cycles (from three to seven parts). Ferghana-Tashkent maqoms got formed at the turn of the XVIII-XIX century on the basis of shuba of Shashmaqom (sarakhbor, tarona, savt, qashqarcha, soqiynoma, ufar) and musical traditions of the Ferghana Valley. Instrumental maqom cycles include: «Mushkiloti dugoh I-III», «Ajam taronalari I-III», «Chorgoh I-V», «Miskin I-VII», which are performed solo (by playing on tanbur, dutar, nay, gidjak) or by instrumental ensemble. Vocal maqom cycles include:
«Nasrullo I-III», «Chorgoh I-V», «Bayot I-V», «Bayot Sheroziy I-V», «Shakhnoz-Gulyor I-V», «Dugoh-Husayniy I-VII». Singing style is solo, i.e. a singer is accompanied by an instrumental ensemble.

Development of musical language of maqoms is closely connected with the impact made on them by peculiarities of traditional music of the Ferghana Valley, in particular: by such genres as ashula (Toshkent Iroqi, Kocha boghi), katta ashula (Yovvoyi Ushshoq, Yovvoyi Chorgoh) and instrumental melodies (Choli Iroq); or on the basis of shuba Ushshoq – «Khojand Ushshogi» or «Ushshoq Sodirkhon hofiz», «Samarqand Ushshogi» or «Ushshoq Khodja Abdulaziz», «Toshkent Ushshogi» or «Ushshoq Mulla Toychi», which bear the names of their creators or certain locality; instrumental maqom compositions and cycles for surnay such as «Navo», «Surnay Dugohi», «Surnay Iroqi», etc. They were performed in urban environment, in the court of rulers and in many folk events such as weddings, folk promenades (sayils) and holidays, during tightrope walking (dorbozlik) shows.

At present maqoms and relevant composition are mostly mastered verbally based on «ustoz-shogird» («master- apprentice») methodology, while relevant information and knowledge are being integrated into the new system of music education (i.e. in colleges of music and art, Conservatoires, music schools). Considerable contribution to the development and promotion of the Ferghana-Tashkent maqoms was made by famous musicians, singers and bastakors of Uzbekistan, including A, Abdurasulov, T. Toshmuhammedov, S. Babasharifov, Yunus Rajabiy, A. Ismoilov, A. Umrzoqov, J. Sultonov, M. Uzoqov, R. Mamadaliev, Shoumarov brothers, Shojalilov brothers, O. Khotamov, O. Alimakhsumov, O. Imomkhojaev, Kh. Nosirova, S. Qobulova, T. Qodirov, K. Rakhimov, O. Otakhonov, T. Alimatov, M. Yochieva and others. It is thanks to these people that Ferghana-Tashkent maqoms were safeguarded, preserved and got enriched. And it is thanks to these people that new generation of young musicians and singers were brought up. Nowadays, Ferghana-Tashkent maqoms are included in the programmes of international and republican competitions organized among young performers of maqom and maqom ensembles.

Dutar Maqom Cycles

Dutar (in Farsi – «two strings») is a stringed musical instrument, which is widely-spread in the culture of peoples of Central Asia (Uzbeks, Uigurs, Tajiks, Turkmens and Karakalpaks). Uzbek dutar differs from other musical instruments with its soft, beautiful and expressive sound. It bears mentioning that this musical instrument occupies a leading place in traditional performance (especially among women). In the XIX–XX centuries several schools of performance existed in Uzbekistan (i.e. in Andijan, Tashkent, Ferghana, Samarkand and Khoresm). Though, each of them differed from the rest with its specific character, style as well as bearers of traditions.
In the XIX–XX centuries dutar maqom cycles became widespread in Khoresm. And by using so called «Khoresm tanbur notation» six dutar maqoms (i.e. Zikhi Nazzora-Urganji, Miskin, Rakhoviy, Iroqi, Ohyor, Choki Giribon) together with their cyclic parts (each consisting of 2–7 parts) were created. Each maqom cycle has its own distinctive melody, form, methods of performance and poetic texts. Famous bearers of dutar performance traditions are T. Alimatov, F. Sodiqov, N. Boltaev, K. Madraimov, M. Sherozi, A. Khamidov, M. Ziyoyeva, and others. Nowadays, dutar is a widespread musical instrument among the youth. In this regard various competitions are organized regularly on the national level. In addition, the techniques of playing on dutar as well as the knowledge associated with dutar maqom cycles are studied at various secondary special and higher educational institutions.

Surnay Maqom Cycles

Surnay is a wind instrument, which is existent and observable in the culture of the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia (it was also known under such names as «surnay», «syrney», «zurna», etc.). In Uzbekistan local variations of surnay, i.e. metar and bolaman, became widespread as well. Its sound is distinct, somewhat shrill and high so that it is always played in the open (for this reason it is sometimes called as «a street instrument»). In Uzbekistan two styles of performance on surnay are widespread, i.e. Ferghana- Tashkent style (in which mensuration is broader, the sound is beautiful and somewhat ornamental) and Khoresm style (in which mensuration is less thick while the sound is soft and resonant). Along with karnay, doira and naghora it is usually used by traditional festive ensembles. As a rule it is used to notify about important events in someone’s life (about wedding ceremony, for example), in the life of a community (about folk festivities, sayils, holidays such as Navruz, etc.); or about spectacular performances (shows of puppeteers, ropewalkers, etc.).

Maqom pieces and cycles for surnay (independent pieces, such as «Surnay navosi» or «Surnay dugohi» as well as cycles as «Buzruk – Buzmk savti», «Navo – Navo savti – Navo charhi 1–2» etc.), are popular in Ferghana Valley. Their melodies, usuls and structures are almost identical with those of Shashmaqom, though they differ in terms of performance traditions and styles, which are peculiar for Ferghana Valley. Popularizers of surnay and surnay maqom pieces were famous musicians like Rustam mehtar, Ashurali mehtar, Khamroqul bolaman, A. Umurzoqov, Khudoybergan Qurbon oghli, A. Azimov, Q. Bobojonov, A. Yusupov. At present these are Y. Tojiev, A. Khojiboev, M. Matyaqubov and others.

Nowadays the traditions of playing on surnay are mastered through «ustoz-shogird» (master-apprentice) methodology and through the official system of music education at music and art colleges, conservatoires, etc. (Notably, a performer of surnay, while studying at these educational institutions, simultaneously masters the skill of playing on bolaman and qoshnay). In addition to the aforementioned, competitions of traditional performance on surnay are organized on a regular basis.


Feruz (literally – «stone of happiness») is a widespread and well-known vocal genre in Khoresm. It represents a five-part cycle called «Feruz I-V». It evolved based on shuba of maqoms of «Navo» and «Segoh», representing the cycle of «Khoresm maqoms». Feruz is an original vocal cycle, which has its own local features. It embodies Khoresm singing style, and is observable in the repertoires of famous singers of Uzbekistan. As a distinct vocal genre under common name of «Feruz» it became widespread at the beginning of the XIX century, more exactly, during the rule of Muhammad Rakhimkhon I (1807-1826), and emerged as a result of creative collaboration of famous bastakors (creators of oral music; composers) and singers. In particular, Feruz 1 and Feruz 2 were once very popular among connoisseurs of music and no event or feast was organized without performance of these vocal pieces. They were so popular that among the people even the saying emerged, «if the first one is ’a golden ring’, then the second one is its ’pearl’«. In accordance with written sources, the author of poems and melodies was considered Feruz, a famous poet and bastakor (Muhammad Rakhimkhon II). In the past vocal pieces under the title of «Eski Feruz» («Old Feruz») were performed based on the poems of Feruz. However, on his initiative Feruz 1 began to be performed based on the poem of Ogakhiy called «Mushkin qoshingni hayati, ul chashmi jallod ustina». Feruz 2 is also based on the poems of Ogakhiy named «Vah, ne balodir bilmadim, ey dilrabo, qoshu kozing». It is constructed based on intonations of instrumental interlude of epic melody called «Nolish». Subsequent pieces in the cycle of Feruz (Feruz 3-5) are predominantly in the form as well as usuls of savt and ufar; and in terms of their melody-tonal and rhythmic nature they are sophisticated and perfect. These pieces are passionate, cheerful and enchanting; have intensive doira rhythms. One of those, who are able to perform the whole cycle of Feruz 1-5, is Khojikhon Boltaev, a famous singer of Khoresm.


Ushshoq (in Arabic – «lovers») is the name of one of the maqoms in maqomat system consisting of twelve maqoms (i.e. duvozdakh maqom) and popular shuba (piece) of Shashmaqom cycle, which was widespread in the Middle Ages. In general a pieces of lyrical and love-related theme, performed by the voices of lovers, is called «Ushshoq». Ushshoqs in the form of instrumental and vocal pieces are widely existent in musical practice of Uzbek and Tajik peoples at present. Parts of maqom Rost – Muhammasi Ushshoq (instrumental piece), Talqini Ushshoq, Nasri Ushshoq and Ufari Ushshoq (1st shuba group of vocal section), Savti Ushshoq (2nd shuba group of vocal section) – are considered to be popular shubas in Shashmaqom cycle. Notably, melodic structure, form and doira usuls in Muhammasi Ushshoq are complex ones, though its intonations and melodic variations are to be found in Muhammases of other maqoms. In vocal pieces of maqoms of Buzruk and Rost popular are namuds under the title of «Ushshoq». It is also possible to see shubas of Ushshoq and Namudi Ushshoq in the cycle of Khoresm maqoms.

Among people some variations of vocal pieces of Ushshoq became widespread. These were created by Uzbek bastakors (A. Abdurasulov, Y. Rajabiy, F. Mamadaliev) and famous singers (T Toshmuhammedov, S. Babasharifov). These usually bear the names of regions or creators. From among them it is possible to mention Ushshoq of Samarkand or Ushshoq of Khodja Abdulaziz (based on the poem of Zebuniso called «Biyoki zulfi kaju chashmi surmaso injost»), Ushshoq of Tashkent or Ushshoq of Mulla Toychi (based on the poem of Navoi called «Qaro kozum, kelu-mardumlig emdi fan qilghil»), Ushshoq of Khodjent or Ushshoq of Sodirkhon (based on the poem of Jomiy called «Ba yak qarashma Zulaykho vashi dili того»), and Ushshoq of Kokand, Ushshoqi Rasulqori, Ushshoqi Orifkhon, Ushshoqi Fattokhkhon, Qadimiy Ushshoq, Daromadli Ushshoq, Savti Ushshoq, Zikru Ushshoq, Umrzoq Polvon Ushshoq, etc. In Ferghana Valley, on the basis of Ushshoq, songs of katta ashula (Yovvoyi Ushshoq) and instrumental pieces for surnay (Surnay Ushshoqi) became widespread.
In the XX century a famous bastakor and singer, Fattakhkhon Mamadaliev, created vocal cycle of Ushshoq. In addition, on the basis of Ushshoq, Rasulqori Mamadaliev, a singer from Ferghana Valley, created instrumental and vocal pieces as well as funeral-related songs (marsiya – dedication). In contemporary times composers of Uzbekistan use Ushshoq in operas and music dramas, in instrumental, choral, chamber and vocal genres.

Sevara Makhmudova
Freelance researcher