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Fargana Qasimova

vocalist, daf player

Alim Qasimov and his daughter Fargana exemplify the explosive artistic energy that results when a powerful musical model ignites the spark of young talent. “To be a musician, there has to be a fire burning in you,” explained the elder Qasimov. “It’s either there or it isn’t. I’m convinced that if young people have this spark—call it inspiration, call it spiritual fire – they can perform any kind of music. It could be pop, folk, or classical, but whatever it is, they’ll stand out.” Fargana Qasimova’s talent gravitated naturally toward the music she heard from her father: Azerbaijani classical music, known as mugham, and the repertoire of popular bardic songs sung by ashıqs—singer-songwriters who might be considered modern-day troubadours. Mugham may be performed in a purely instrumental form, but the performance medium most favored among Azerbaijanis is the voice. Vocalists typically perform the lead role in a trio that also includes tar and kamancha as well as a frame drum (daf) played by the vocalist. This trio style of performance provided the starting point for Alim Qasimov’s innovative treatment of mugham.