International Council for Traditional Music

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

REPORT - Urumqi Meeting September 24-29, 2006

Groups audience: 

After an interval of five years the Study Group MAQĀM could continue its regular meetings. By invitation of the Ministry of Culture of People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region the 6th Meeting of the Study Group MAQĀM was held from 24th to 29th of September at Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The main topic of the conference has been “Muqām in Xinjiang/China and outside, history and present”. As additional topics the program included “The manifestation of maqām in different countries and regions” and “Preservation and transmission of maqām in the 21st century”. Actually the conception for the 6th meeting aimed at the Centralasian traditions of the maqām phenomenon in order to complete the findings of the 4th meeting at Istanbul dealing with “Maqām Traditions of Turkic Peoples”. Fortunately it could be managed just at the very beginning of the Urumqi meeting after a long delay to edit the proceedings of the 4th meeting and to present it to the Urumqi conference (Maqām Traditions of Turkic Peoples, Proceedings of the Fourth Meeting of the ICTM Study Group MAQĀM, Istanbul, 18 – 24 October 1998, eds. J. Elsner and G. Jähnichen, trafo verlag Berlin 2006, 278 pp., ISBN 3-89626-657-8). 

75 musicologists and scholars of other social sciences took part at the meeting. They represented current research developments of nine countries: Germany, France, Tunisia, Azerbaijan , Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Japan, Taiwan/China and PR China. The Chinese participants were not only from the Uyghur Autonomous Region but came from several parts and centres of the People’s Republic, namely from Beijing, Shanghai, Hainan, Hubei. At the conference 32 papers were read and discussed. All the contributions will be published by the Chinese host in three separate volumes according to the conference languages English, Chinese, and Uyghur .
The most important point of the Urumqi maqām meeting was the voluminous information on local and regional varieties of the muqām and the multifarious studies on it done by Chinese and Uyghur scholars, namely: Chen Mingdao, Han Baoqiang, Imin Ahmet, Adjati Suritan, Guan Yewei, Zhou Jingbao, Du Yaxiong, Nusreti Turdi, Abdukerim Rahman,Yashenq Muhpuli, Abdushuqul Turdi, Sulaiman Yiming, Zhao Tarim, Etiya Mehemet, Li Mei, Wang Wenjing, Zhou Ji, Fan Zuyin, Li Haitao, Wan Tongshu, Li Jilian and Luo Xiongyan. Their contributions treated the different local and regional muqām traditions respectively (Dolan muqām, Kashkar muqām, Hotan muqām, Hami muqām etc.) and some of its musical and historical aspects as well as the given contexts with regard to cultural and aesthetic conditioning, dance and drama. Even some methodical problems of muqām research were dealt with. The contributions of the oversea scholars covered some different items. Two papers were dedicated to treatieses exploiting its relation to Turkic or more specialised to Uyghur music tradition (Wolf Dietrich/Germany – Maqam and Usul in Evliya Celebi’s Seyahatname; Suraya Agayeva/Azerbaijan – On the Musical History of the Uyghurs). Four contributions dealt with problems or principles of music traditions in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Malaysia and Tunisia (Fayzulla Karomatli/Uzbekistan – The Local Aspect in the Shashmaqôm; Shakhym Gulliyev/Turkmenistan – Cycle Formation in Traditional Music Culture of Central Asian Peoples; Gisa Jähnichen/Germany – Renovation versus Formalization in Zapin Music? Some Remarks on the Meaning of Maqām in the Malay World; Mahmoud Guettat/Tunisia – Tab‘ and Modality in Maghrebi Music). The remaining four papers were related to the recent Uyghur muqām practice partly based on crosscultural comparison (Ted Tsung-te Tsai/Taiwan – On Ikki Muqam: A Musical Production of Historical Syncretism of Indian, Persian/Arabian and Chinese Cultures; Jürgen Elsner/Germany – Maqām-principle and Muqām; Jean During/France - The Loss of the Maqāmic Sense, A Critical Approach to the Central Asian Maqāms; Gen’ichi Tsuge/Japan – The Kalun Re-Examined).
A general discussion completed the meeting touching above all methodological problems of maqām research. At the same time it became obvious that the conference at Urumqi was very useful for safeguarding the great Uyghur muqām tradition which has been declared by the UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage.
Not only additionally the program of the Urumqi maqām meeting also included studies in “practice”. Each evening was filled up by concerts with muqām and other music performances of people living in the region, which took part at the “First Xinjiang Festival of Folk Music and Dance”. Furthermore one afternoon a visit was payed to the interesting Exhibition of Preservation of Intangible Heritage at the Xinjiang museum and one whole day was spent for an excursion to the Turpan oasis where a new built Transmitting Center for Chinese Xinjiang Uyghur Muqām of Turpan was inaugurated.
Jürgen Elsner