“I prefer music to diamonds.”
Bukharian Jewish ensemble Shashmaqam is the best known for their classical vocal and instrumental repertoire from the great cities of Central Asia – Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Khiva and Qoqand. Shashmaqam uses various indigenous plucked-string instruments such as the dotâr; rabâb; ud; tanbur and tar, the blown reed nay, the dâyera (frame tambourine), the chang (psaltery), and the ghichak (spike fiddle like the Iranian kamancheh).
Their collection of ancient folksongs, ghazals (allegorical love poems), wedding songs, instrumentals, and other repertoire reflect the mix of Hassidic vocals, Indian and Islamic instrumentals and Sufi-inspired texts and lyrical melodies.
Currently based in New York, Shashmaqam’s musical roots are historically and culturally linked to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Central Asian (Bukharian) Jews. As the last musical group to express these roots, Sashmaqam preserves the profound beauty and refinement of this musical tradition that spans traditional social life – from prayer to dance.
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