Mugham is a musical genre that expresses complex ideas, emotional meaning, creative thinking, artistic excitement, and the development of various musical characters. It has been around since ancient times and has evolved over centuries through gradual development and evolution. The history of Mugham dates back thousands of years. Scientists attribute the creation of the mugham, a magnificent artistic artwork of Eastern music, to the past millennium, dating back to the pre-Islamic period. They believe the mugham's roots are in Zoroastrianism. It also expresses that the mugham clears and purifies the human soul by the power of God.
In the past, Mugham was performed primarily on two secular occasions: the toy, a traditional wedding feast, and the majles, a private gathering of connoisseurs. The genre was also cultivated by the Sufi orders, as well as religious dramas known as ta’zie and shabih. It shares artistic characteristics with the Iraqi Maqam, the Persian Radif, and the Turkish Makams. The reputation of accomplished musicians is established through official competitions and informal contests.
Traditionally, Mugham is a vocal-instrumental genre of music, performed in Azerbaijan by khananda (a mugham singer), accompanied by a mugham trio. This vocal-instrumental performance is known as a whole mugham dastgah. It involves a male or female singer, along with traditional instruments like the tar (a longneck lute), kamancha (a four-string spiked fiddle), and daf (a type of large tambour). Mugham cannot be translated in a fixed form. Therefore, many versions are transmitted by masters who train students in the art of interpretation to preserve the variety of expression available through Mugham.
A Mugham composition comprises improvised recitative-style vocal melodies which define the musical-poetic content of the work. These are replaced by more precise rhythmic episodes which are primarily song and dance. Mugham is the music of the soul and can deeply affect people, transporting them far away. The monumental form of the mugham, including even the slightest polishing of minor details, differs from the counterpoints in terms of the melody's expressive capability. Mugham requires a perfect technique of the instruments, an understanding of the uniformity of its structure, as well as the logic of the transitions from one movement to the next.
The Azerbaijani culture is enriched by the mugham musical genre. This unique art form contains music and philosophy, which caresses a person's spirit. This musical genre has spread throughout the country, and the mugham artists have preserved and promoted the creative heritage they carry throughout their country. With the establishment of the International Mugham Centre, this type of Azerbaijani art and music will be promoted, preserved, and popularized throughout the world. Currently, the mugham has lost a number of its aesthetic and expressive characteristics due to the influence of European music, which can most clearly be seen in how contemporary musicians perform and transmit their skills to younger generations.