Monday, December 28, 2009


27 December 2009

When life comes to mind, music comes to mind. Music is the glue that holds our sanity together, I’d say. My buddy Charlie talks about how putting the old i-Pod in his ears every now and then really calms him down. In fact, without it, he admits he goes a little crazy. I can see that. In this day and age, our lives take on an almost cinematic tone, with background music going along with our moods. When your girlfriend breaks up with you, what do you do? You throw on some Postal Service and sit there with your forehead against your desk, sadly contemplating where you went wrong. If you’re the type that walks around with headphones in his ears, what do you do on a sunny afternoon as you’re carelessly meandering about? You play that Chicago song about walking in the park on Saturday repeatedly, grinning from ear to ear as the music blissfully amplifies the situation. We move with music like a roller coaster, our hearts jumping out of our chests with excitement and heartbeats slowing down considerably as the ride eases up, giving us a warm, secure feeling. And then there’s all that space in between. No matter what the situation, there’s a song.

So it’s no wonder one of the striking features of a new culture is the music people listen to. Wherever it may be, people love their tunes, and Azerbaijan’s no exception. You can hear their traditional monster ballads blaring from a wedding palace on any given day, the typical ensemble consisting on the zurna (a long horn that makes a bagpipe-esque noise), sas (a sweet, light sounding guitar type thing), and some big ass drums. These instruments, combined with a high pitched male or female voice, come together swimmingly for your listening and wavy-arm-dancing delight, and in the wedding palace, it’s so loud that you sooner or later find yourself yelling to the person next to you, “Please pass me a napkin!” But, thankfully, you’ve had so much vodka by that point that you could care less if the napkin makes it to you or not.

I’ve gotten to the point, personally, where I dig the Azerbaijani music. If in the right context (A.K.A. not coming from a nineteen year old dude’s cell phone in a bus from Qəbələ to Şəki), it’s pretty enjoyable for me. Upon emerging from the bedroom after a good night’s sleep, if some traditional Azerbaijani music is going on the tube, I’m cool with it. It’s a good way to wake up and get in the I’m-in-Azerbaijan spirit, and I gotta say it’s great to regard the local arts that way. I mean, if I hated the music, that wouldn’t be cool because I, well, live here, and whether I like it or not, the music exists and it will enter my ears, even if I have earplugs made of titanium.

You might as well embrace these little things that make your experience complete.

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