The Music of Central Asia

The Music of Central Asia

Edited by Theodore Levin, Saida Daukeyeva, and Elmira Köchümkulova
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/8/2016
Format: cloth 703 pages, 456 color illus.
8 x 10
ISBN: 978-0-253-01751-2
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This beautiful and informative book offers a detailed introduction to the musical heritage of Central Asia for readers and listeners worldwide. Music of Central Asia balances “insider” and “outsider” perspectives with contributions by 27 authors from 14 countries. A companion website ( provides access to some 189 audio and video examples, listening guides and study questions, and transliterations and translations of the performed texts. This generously illustrated book is supplemented with boxes and sidebars, musician profiles, and an illustrated glossary of musical instruments, making it an indispensable resource for both general readers and specialists. In addition, the enhanced ebook edition, which is so comprehensive it had to be split into two ebooks, contains 180 audio and video examples of Central Asian music and culture. A follow-along feature highlights the song lyrics in the text, as the audio samples play.

Author Bio

Theodore Levin is Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music at Dartmouth College and Senior Project Consultant to the Aga Khan Music Initiative. He is the author of Where Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond (IUP, 2006) and The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York) (IUP, 1996).

Saida Daukeyeva is a Georg Forster Research Fellow (HERMES) at Humboldt University in Berlin. She is author of
Philosophy of Music by Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi.

Elmira Köchümkulova is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Central Asia in Bishkek. She is author of
Respect Graces the Living, Lamentation Graces the Dead: Kyrgyz Funeral Lamentations (in Kyrgyz), and Kyrgyz Herders of Soviet Uzbekistan: Historical and Ethnographic Narratives (in Kyrgyz and English).


"The Music of Central Asia is like its subject: vast, variegated, resonant, and rich in musical traditions that have remained all too closed to outsiders for centuries. The book is both authoritative and innovative, ringing with regional voices and dozens of well-chosen examples of cultural riches to be sampled and savored by both specialists and students." —Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Wesleyan University

"This magnificent book has been many years in gestation, but it has been worth the wait. . . . No prior knowledge is required to enjoy it. And enjoy is the word. The chapters are short, vivid, and packed with human interest." —BBC Music Magazine

"The Music of Central Asia is an encyclopedic page turner! This is essential reading for all performers, composers, ethnomusicologists, students, scholars and culturally engaged people everywhere. There has never before been one book that so expertly, vividly, and deeply unites the past, present, and potential future of an entire swath of the world's musical landscape." —David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

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Table of Contents

Accessing Music Examples Online
A Note on Music Terminology
Guide to Transliteration
Timeline of Central Asian History

Part I: Music and Culture in Central Asia
1. Music in Central Asia: An Overview / Theodore Levin
2. Musical Instruments in Central Asia / Theodore Levin
Part II: The Nomadic World
Prologue: Who Are the Nomads of Central Asia? / Theodore Levin
3. Introduction to Oral Epic / Elmira Köchümkulova
4. The Epic Manas / Elmira Köchümkulova
5. Oral Epic in Kazakhstan:
Körughly and a Dynasty of Great Jyraus / Uljan Baibosynova
6. Music of the Karakalpaks
Part I: The Epic World of the Karakalpaks:
Jyrau and Baqsy / Frédéric Léotar
Part II:
Qyssakhan: Performer of Written and Oral Literature / Kalmurza Kurbanov and Saida Daukeyeva
7. The Art of the Turkmen
Bagshy / Jamilya Gurbanova
8. The Turkmen
Dutar / David Fossum
9. Kyrgyz Wisdom Songs:
Terme Yrlary / Elmira Köchümkulova
Aqyns and Improvised-Poetry Competitions among the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz / Elmira Köchümkulova and Jangül Qojakhmetova
11. Singing Traditions of the Kazakhs / Alma Kunanbeava
12. Kyrgyz Funeral Laments / Elmira Köchümkulova
13. Kyrgyz Wedding Songs / Elmira Köchümkulova
14. Narrative Instrumental Music: Kazakh
Küi and Kyrgyz Küü / Sayra Raymbergenova and Nurlanbek Nyshanov
Profile: Abdulhait Raiymbergenov / Theodore Levin
Profile: Nurak Abdyrakhmanov / Elmira Köchümkulova
15. Kyrgyz Jaw Harps / Nurlanbek Nyshanov
16. The Kazakh
Qobyz: Between Tradition and Modernity / Saida Daukeyeva
Dombyra Performance, Migration, and Memory among Mongolian Kazakhs / Saida Daukeyeva
Part III: The World of Sedentary-Dwellers
Prologue: Patterns of Culture: Sedentary-Dwellers / Theodore Levin
Maqom Traditions of the Tajiks and Uzbeks / William Sumits and Theodore Levin
Profile: The Academy of Maqom / Abduvali Abdurashidov
Profile: Turgun Alimatov / Theodore Levin
19. The Uyghur
MuqaZ / Rachel Harris
20. New Images of Azerbaijani
Mugham in the Twentieth Century / Aida Huseynova
Profile: Alim and Fargana Qasimov / Theodore Levin
21. Popular Classics: Traditional Singer-Songwriters in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan / Theodore Levin
22. Religious Music and Chant in the Culture of Sedentary-Dwellers / Aleksandr Djumaev
23. Sufism and the Ceremony of
Zikr in Ghulja / Mukaddas Mijit
Dastan Performance among the Uyghurs / Rahile Dawut and Elise Anderson
25. Female Musicians in Uzbekistan:
Otin-oy, Dutarchi, and Maqomchi / Razia Sultanova
26. Music in the City of Bukhara / Theodore Levin and Aleksandr Djumaev
Profile: Ari Babakhanov / Aleksandr Djumaev
27. Music and Culture in Badakhshan / Theodore Levin
28. The
Maddoh Tradition of Badakhshan / Benjamin Koen
Music Example:
Maddoh / Theodore Levin
Qasoid-khonī in the Wakhan Valley of Badakhshan / Chorshanbe Goibnazarov
30. Falak: Spiritual Songs of the Mountains Tajiks / Faroghat Azizi
Part IV: Central Asian Music in the Age of Globalization
31. Revitalizing Musical Traditions: The Aga Khan Music Initiative / Theodore Levin
Nurturing Local Talent, Creating Global Connections / Fairouz Nishanova
The Genesis of
Rainbow / Theodore Levin
32. Cultural Renewal in Kyrgyzstan: Neotraditionalism and the New Era in Kyrgyz Music / Raziya Syrdybaeva

Musical Instrument Glossary
Glossary of Terms
Inventory of Audio and Video Examples
List of Contributors

33. Popular Music in Uzbekistan / Kerstin Klenke
34. Innovation in Tradition: Some Examples from Music and Theater in Uzbekistan / Aleksandr Djumaev
35. Tradition-Based Popular Music in Contemporary Tajikistan / Federico Spinetti
Musical Instrument Glossary
Glossary of Terms
Audio and Video Examples
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