Musical Art of the Tajiks
Musical art is fundamental to the inner wealth oft he Tajiks. The formation of its main directions, genres, types, comes from ancient times and is based on the creative work of the ancestors of the Tajik people - ancient eastern Iranians Baktrians, Sogds, Horezmians, Parfians, as well as other people that inhabited territory of the Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Eastern Turkestan. Artistic creations of Iranian people of the steppe regions (Scythians, Savromato-Sarmats, Sako-Massagets) settled in the territories of steppe, forest-steppe and mountainous landscapes of Eurasia from northern borders of China to Hungary. They also played an important role in the coming into being of cultural traditions of the Tajiks. The main subjects and topics were based on the mythological system developed and consolidated in the ancient epoch and early medieval period; heroic epos, as well as various codifications of principles in religious and epic ideas in the perception of the world that had arisen and acquired typical indications among the ancestors of the Tajik people.
The most important parameters of the historical establishment and development of the Tajik music were identified by religious-ritual practice (priestly traditions) and secular and urban life, its most important features: palace-ceremonial, military, chivalrous and activities of the order of musicians in the structure of trade corporations. The conception of the musical professional art was related to the artistic life of cities and dates back to the late 2nd and early 1st thousand years BC. Development of different professions was conducive to the creation of special and professionally educated people, servicing festivities, ritual and palace-ceremonial practice.
First shoots of professional activities emerged in the priestly estate environment. The priesthood used music to design their ideology. Zoroastrianizm was the basic religion of our Tajik ancestors. Its canons absorbed ancient ritual norms, as well as traditions of musical design of the cult practice. Avesta - the holy book of the Zoroastrians formed in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC is both a collection of hymns and appeals to god and various knowledge in social structure of the society. Lyrical, heroic, epic songs and some forms of dramatic actions are the sources of hymns and prayers of the Avesta. The most ancient part of the Avesta - Ghata is directly connected with the art of Zarathustra.
The training of the priests took place in special schools (Herbedistan), it was oral and started at the age of seven. Training comprised studying of ceremonies and rules of the religion, mastery in improvisation art in poetry to appeal and eulogize to the god, as well as learning mantras written by wise men etc. In the high schools (Farhangistan) they also learned Jasna and Hadoht, Jashty and Videvdat of Avesta. While making sacrifices the priests sang holy songs devoted to the Avestian gods: Ahura-Mazda, Vokhu-Man, Asha-Vakhishte, Khshatra Varia, Spenta-Armaity, Kharvatat, Ameretat, Mitre, Sraoshe, Rashnu, Fravashi, Vertragna, Raman, Vaiu, Daena, Asha, Arshtat, Asman, Zam, Mantra Spenta, Eternity Light etc. It should also be noted that the Goddess of water, love and plants Anahit personified the great Central Asian river Amu-Daria.
Excavations of the ancient Bactrian city Takhti-Sangin (literally "Stone Throne", 3rd -1st centuries BC), in particular the Oksa Church, indicate a close connection between the cult of water with musical art. Altar with the sculpture of Silena-Marsia with a double-barreled musical instrument avlos, on the pedestal of which there is a Greek inscription "On a Promise to Atrosok Oksu" evidences wide use of music in the cults devoted to the Vakhsh-Oks river. While excavating of the church they discovered other musical instruments, including wind instruments -flutes, with multiple compound ivory tubes, kifara and others.
In the antiquity epoch shamans, acting as forerunners of poets story-tellers played an important role in the development of musical-religious practice. Even Heroditus said that Massagets - steppe regions Iranians would gather in a place to make fire, sit around it and throw fruits in it. They became intoxicated from the smell of burned fruits and start dancing and singing songs.
Petroglyphs of the natural boundary Saimaly-Tash (Ferghana range) evidence ancient ritual dances using striking musical instrument tambourine. There is a legend on invention of a musical instrument the Daf. A rounded and hollowed out stone covered with donkey skin was the base of the instrument. According to legends headaches of the mythic Tsar of ancient Iranians, Zahhak, stopped after playing the Daf and stone castanets (Kairak). This legend has close relation with the sacrificing ritual, and the hollowed out stone covered with skin of a sacrificial animal is a cult accessory with magic force and stimulating fertility.
With dissemination of Buddhism on the territory of the Central Asia music becomes a compound of its ritual practice. Airtam frieze (II century BC) discovered in the Airtam settlement near Termez, its sculptural paintings of musicians mainly reflect the Bhuddist theme, still with prevailing Iranian Baktrian elements in their treatment.
Musical norms of the early medieval epoch were significantly influenced by Manichean confession. Manichean hymns and psalms .mention different musical instruments. Manichean manuscripts in Central Persian, Parfian and Sogd languages discovered in the Turfang oasis (Eastern Turkestan) contain various hymns and prayers. The latter include information that the texts were sang with Sogdian melodies. Melodies with refrains like "jon-jon mani" were of a special interest among the songs closely connected with manikheism. It should be noted that songs and melodies with "jon-jon" still remain the most favorite refrain in Tajik national songs. This refrain is widely used as a collective approving exclamation of audience during performance of songs.
The process of democratization of the musical life had close connection with the activities of the musicians' guild. Musicians singers and instrumentalists, as well as dancers, mourners, actors and other artistic representatives would join definite sections to provide entertainment, various peoples ceremonial and ritual actions. In the trade corporations a traditional system of "master-student" learning was established and it played an important role in the quality development of musical art and ensuring succession of traditions. Master teachers over the course of several years, taught their students a definite type of musical activities: traditions of vocal and instrumental execution. Representatives of the musical art were brought up in these corporations from childhood.
The army was also an important sphere of displaying and developing the Tajik musical art. As is already well known in the first decades of the 7th century BC a regular army and people irregulars were established by the ancestors of the Tajik people. Independent military musicians were included in the army consisting of different arms of the service. Plutarch witnesses wide use of copper-like drums in military. In particular he says that while defeating the Rome troops, headed by the Dras on May 9,53 the Parthians frightened the Romans by the thunder of their battle drums: the Parfians didn't blow horns and pipes but made noise by battering on hollow instruments covered with leather and with copper rattles hanging on.