Solving mysteries – Ajam Taronalari

“Central Asia: The Masters of Dotar” was definitely the album that introduced me to the fascinating world of dotars, and the 2 opening tracks happened to be pieces from the Uzbek dutar repertoire, played by Abdurahim Hamidov. As I get to know more Uzbek pieces, I got somewhat confused about the first track of this album. Titled “Girya”, it never the less doesn’t seem to correspond to other version of the piece that I know, which are characterised by its limping rhythm (4+5/8).  Try for yourself:

Abdurahim Hamidov: Girya / Asie – Centrale: Les Maitres du dotar

Abdurahim Hamidov/Shuhrat Razzaqov : Girya / Ouzbekistan – Instrumental Art Music

However, since many pieces of the same melody gets performed rather differently by different performers, I always thought that it is perhaps just me who haven’t worked out the mysteriously subtle resemblances.

Yesterday, however, I came across a virtuosic performance on Youtube by the group “Shukrona”, which features two renowned dutar players, Ilyas Arabov and Bekzod Safarov, as well as Farangiz Ziyayeva, the daughter of Malika Ziyayeva, the teacher of the two gentlemen and revered dutarist in Uzbekistan:

I suppose I can count this as “mystery solved”? That first track is most likely not “Girya” but “Ajam Taronalari”*. It also dawned on me that, during one of my lessons with Alisher Alimatov, I hummed him to opening to see if he could shed me any lights, and he said it sounded like Ajam. But since I wasn’t sure if I was humming it correctly (I didn’t have a recording on me), I didn’t follow up on the lead. Alas.

To make the occasion even happier, I managed to locate online a transcription of the piece for tanbur, which can be used just as well for the dutar. The transcription is part of a collection called “Instrumental solos” (Cholg’u Ijrochiligi) compiled by Rahmatilla Nosirov and published by the “Abdulla Qodiri” Tashkent State Institute of Culture, which can be downloaded here.  I have extracted the transcription for Ajam Taronalari, which can be downloaded here.

Happy learning!

*The mystery is only partly solved, as there are other pieces also called “Ajam taronalari” but they don’t sound like this piece. Will treat them separately in another post…hopefully.



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