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International Uyghur Music Study Publications: Book introduction

The Making of a Musical Canon in Chinese Central Asia:

The Uyghur Twelve Muqam

Author: Dr Rachel Harris (Department of Music, SOAS, University of London, UK)


Throughout the course of the 20th century, as newly formed nations have sought ways to assert and formalise their national identity, they have typically acquired a range of identifiable national assets. Thus we find in this period new musical canons springing up across the world. These canons, however, cannot be dismissed as arbitrary collections of works imposed on the public by the authorities. They acquire deep resonance and meaning, both as national symbols and as musical repertoires imbued with aesthetic value. This book traces the formation of one such musical canon: the Twelve Muqam (on ikki muqam), a set of musical suites which has come to mean a great deal to one little-known Chinese Central Asian nation.

The Uyghurs The Uyghurs might be introduced as one of China’s less well-known though more numerous minority nationalities (compared to, say, the Tibetans or the Mongols), or alternately as the only one of the major Central Asian nationalities (alongside the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen) who do not possess their own independent nation state. Culturally we might best regard the Uyghurs as a Central Asian people, although their homeland now lies within the borders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in the large desert and mountain region in China’s far northwest, currently known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

There are also sizeable populations of Uyghurs living in the neighbouring Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Uyghurs follow Sunni Islam, and popular practice is strongly influenced by Sufi traditions especially shrine (mazar) pilgrimage. Their language belongs to the Turkic language family, as do the other Central Asian languages with the exception of Tajik, and is very closely related to Uzbek. Their music also displays much continuity with the folk and classical traditions of Uzbekistan and northern Tajikistan, where musicians use the same longnecked lutes and frame drums, and gather their music into large-scale suites, or cycles, called maqām. The term comes from the Arabic maqām but in contemporary Central Asia the concept of maqām, or muqam in the Uyghur pronunciation, is regarded less as a modal basis for improvisation and more as a fixed suite consisting of sung poetry and stories, dance tunes and instrumental sections. Probably the best known of these Central Asian maqām traditions are the six large-scale suites commonly known as the Tajik-Uzbek Shash Maqām. Rivalling this tradition in terms of size and complexity are the Twelve Muqam (on ikki muqam), the prestigious set of musical suites which have come to be emblematic of the Uyghur nation.

As in the better-known situation in Tibet, the relationship between Uyghur minority nationality and the Chinese state during the nearly 60 years of rule by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been marked by tension and sometimes violence. Throughout this period, the Twelve Muqam have been deployed as political emblems and tools by the state and by Uyghur nationalists. The Chinese state has invested large sums of money in a succession of projects to preserve and develop the Twelve Muqam, and it uses these projects to showcase the positive aspects of its minority policies on the national and international stage. These policies, and specifically the canonisation of the Twelve Muqam, inevitably meet with a mixed reception amongst Uyghurs, but, positive or negative, their assessments agree on the directly political nature of the canonisation project. To illustrate with two anecdotes: in 2006 I met one loyal old Uyghur cultural cadre based in a small town in southern Xinjiang, who was in ecstasies over the latest release of a full set of VCD (video compact disc) recordings of the Twelve Muqam. ‘Timur Dawamat [the then regional chairman of Xinjiang] did a great job with those VCDs,’ he told me, ‘better than liberating our region twice over!’ (Mulla Tokhti, interview, Qaratal, July 2006). During this same period a joke was circulating on the internet sites maintained by Uyghur exiles (which are blocked by China): A Uyghur meets a Chechen. ‘We have Twelve Muqam’, says the Uyghur proudly. ‘Twelve Muqam?’ retorts the Chechen, ‘huh, you’d be better off with twelve kalashnikovs!’

Existing studies of the Uyghur Twelve Muqam

In addition to the official transcriptions and recordings of the Twelve Muqam, there is a wealth of published studies in the Uyghur and Chinese languages, which I will draw on throughout this book. The most useful Chinese-language sources are the numerous books and articles by the musicologist Zhou Ji, former head of the Xinjiang Arts Research Unit, whose writings are based on many years of fieldwork and the experience of transcribing the whole repertoire as developed by the professional groups in the 1980s (Zhongguo 1996; Zhou 1995, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2006a, 2006b). There are some useful collections published in both Chinese and Uyghur (On ikki muqam 1992). Uyghur writers working within the Xinjiang region have tended to focus more on historical and textual aspects (see, for example, Teklimakaniy 2005), engaging in the internal polemics surrounding the repertoire (Imin 1980; Ötkür 1992). Uyghurs based in the Central Asian states have provided analysis and transcriptions of the shorter ‘Ili variant’ of the Twelve Muqam (Khashimov 1992) and have been more able to reflect on the political processes of their canonisation (Ärshidinov 2002).

Several Western-language studies are also available. Colin Mackerras provides one of the earliest English language introductions to the Twelve Muqam and other Uyghur performing arts (1985). The article is not written from a musicologist’s perspective but it provides an interesting reflection of the discourse of the period: the assumptions and attitudes which are widely shared in Uyghur and Chinese language The Making of a Musical Canon in Chinese Central Asia publications within China. Thus we read that the Twelve Muqam have ‘extremely ancient’ roots in the 4th-century music of the Buddhist kingdom of Kösän and that they are no less than the source of other maqām traditions across the Islamic world, and we puzzle over the strange dichotomy of the Uyghurs’ love of song and dance in spite of the proscriptions of their supposedly ‘anti-music’ Islamic faith.

During & Trebinjac (1991) provide the first Western-language attempt at detailed musical analysis of the Twelve Muqam, focussing on structure, rhythms and mode. Their analysis is based on an early set of Chinese transcriptions (Shinjang 1960), and recordings made in Uzbekistan in the 1970s and 1980s (Ministerstvo Kulturi SSR, no date). Their booklet provides a useful starting point for this discussion, but it is problematic in that it produces a reductive analysis of the Twelve Muqam based on primary sources which have since been criticised and quietly discarded. Musicologists in Uzbekistan and Xinjiang concur that the 1960s transcriptions often bear little discernible relation to the recordings on which they were meant to be based, still less to contemporary professional practice. Since the time of During and Trebinjac’s analysis they have been replaced by the plethora of new recordings and transcriptions which have appeared since the early 1990s. Trebinjac’s more recent and wide-ranging book (2000) provides further consideration of the formal aspects of Uyghur Muqam traditions and more contextual detail as part of a broad survey of Uyghur music, within her wider argument concerning the politics of appropriating minority musical traditions for Chinese modern composition.

Nathan Light’s PhD dissertation (1998) is an in-depth study of the Twelve Muqam texts, the ‘classical’ ghazal of the Chagatay poets and the many ‘folk’ beyit or couplets. As far as I am aware, the first scholar to discuss the Twelve Muqam in terms of ‘canonisation’, Light draws on interviews, historical sources and textual analysis to provide an illuminating account of the work of revising and fixing the Twelve Muqam over the past fifty years under the People’s Republic of China. I am delighted that the long-awaited revised version of Light’s PhD is soon to appear in print with Lit Verlag/Transaction Publishers. In a brief online publication, James Millward has contributed some interesting perspectives on the political implications of the project. Wong Chuen-Fung’s PhD thesis (2006a) takes a fresh look at issues surrounding the revising of the Twelve Muqam; these are usefully summarised in his article (Wong 2006b).

The present book is indebted to these earlier studies. It draws on these and other published sources in European languages, Uyghur and Chinese, interviews with musicians and musicologists, and field, archive and commercial recordings, towards an understanding of the Twelve Muqam as repertoire, juxtaposed with an understanding of the Twelve Muqam as discourse, or what might be termed the field of Uyghur muqamology. In the next part of this introduction I consider the nature of musical canons and the processes of their formation with reference to studies of the Western classical canon, 20th-century China and musical canons across the Islamic world. Chapter One provides an overview of Uyghur music, genres, instruments and contexts. Chapter Two presents a historical survey of the process of canonisation of the Twelve Muqam, bringing together personal accounts gathered during fieldwork and published material from Xinjiang and the Central Asian states. Chapter Three brings the focus to the personal level, with a biographical account of one actor in the canonisation process. This chapter is a revised version of the chapter ‘Abdulla Mäjnun: Muqam expert’, which appears in Lives in Chinese Music (Rees 2008). Chapter Four discusses the debates which are carried on within Uyghur professional musical circles regarding the canonisation process, and uses comparative analysis of published recordings of the Twelve Muqam to consider the nature of the repertoire, questions of modal character and variation between different versions. Chapter Five situates the Twelve Muqam repertoire within the context of maqām traditions across Asia, and more directly within the sphere of Central Asian musical traditions, considering musical structures and performance contexts. This chapter is a revised version of a previously published chapter which appears in the book Situating the Uyghurs between Central Asia and China (Bellér-Hann, Cesàro, Harris & Smith- Finley 2007). Chapter Six considers the canonisation process within the broader context of music-making across the region. Drawing on comparative analysis of professional and locally maintained traditions of Twelve Muqam, it discusses the impact of government-supported efforts at canonisation, and the impact of the independent recording industry. This chapter also considers new developments following the 2005 inclusion of the Uyghur Muqam within UNESCO’s third proclamation of masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage.

The book includes an appendix which contains brief notes on the accompanying CD, which was recorded by Abdulla Mäjnun during a brief residency in SOAS in 2003, supported by the AHRC Centre for Music and Dance Performance. As this residency took place before the structure of this book was fully conceived, the CD is not a straightforward illustration of the transcriptions provided in the book but rather a musical portrait of one individual musician and player in the canonisation process. As such it provides an audio complement to Chapter Three. Some of the tracks on the CD also serve as material for comparative analysis in Chapters Four and Six.

Musical canons

Across the world, and across historical periods, processes of canon formation are linked to political power, and especially to the rise of new forms of political power. In a historical survey of the Western classical tradition, William Weber offers a definition of musical canons as: ‘the presentation of old works organized as repertories and defined as sources of authority with regard to musical taste’ (Weber 2001: 339). Weber argues that the musical canon may take on moral, spiritual and civic force. He links the formation of the Western classical canon in the 18th century to the rise of the public as a political force independent of the monarchy, a period in which cultural life in general, and music in particular, played a central role in establishing new definitions of community (Weber 2001: 352). This focus on identity, and in particular national identity, has been central to studies of processes of canonisation in other parts of the world, where definitions of community involved particular and well-theorised processes. The formation of musical canons outside Europe, primarily during the course of the 20th century, has been widely linked to the rise of the nation state. Just as we are accustomed to thinking about nations and their histories in terms of Eric Hobsbawm’s model of invented tradition (Hobsbawm & Ranger 1983), so too it is common to approach their musical canons as repertoires whose purported completeness and deep historical roots are revealed on inspection to be contemporary constructions, or at least the fruit of new ways of imagining the past.

Philip Bohlman has argued that most canons are products of ‘bricolage’. He discusses the formation of canons as processes involving multiple agents who make multiple choices, selecting and revising according to certain (often contested) criteria, including or excluding particular melodies and texts. Through such processes the past is appropriated in the present and preserved for the future: ‘Models of the past are important, and where real models are not present, surrogates and imaginary models will do just fine’ (Bohlman 1992: 203–4). This understanding now informs contemporary approaches even to the Western canon. Weber cautions that ‘the ideological burden of the classical music tradition – its effort to enforce its authority – makes one think that there was a single, identifiable list, but upon inspection we find a great variety of practices at any one time in different contexts’ (Weber 2001: 347). More recent studies in ethnomusicology, informed by post-colonial theory, have sought to develop new ways of thinking about such tensions between tradition and modernity, impelling a closer focus on the actions of individual musicians, researchers and audiences as they negotiate between different modes of identity (local, ethnic, national, cosmopolitan or diasporic), and a focus on the social and performative spaces in which these actors move (Turino 2000; Rice 2003).

Musicologists working on the Western classical tradition, perhaps predictably, have been more interested in the repertoire itself, seeking to understand why and how certain musical sounds come to embody the moral, spiritual and civic force that Weber describes. Dismissing the fundamental claim that canons exhibit transcendental and objective values, Mark Everist asks: how are canons determined, why, and on what authority? Everist also probes the role of the audience and their reception of the canon, asking how the relationship between reception, canon and value works (Everist 2001: 389–93). Such questions have inherent cross-cultural interest, and we might fruitfully ask if there are any specific musical traits which are prerequisite for canons across different cultural contexts. If we can identify such traits – for example modes of reception, performance venues, the tendency towards large ensembles or fixed compositions – then to what extent do they draw on the Western classical canon, or rather on perceptions of this canon, as a model?

China, modernity and national minorities

Katherine Bergeron argues that ‘discipline’ is fundamental to canons, linking the ideology and practice of the Western classical tradition, such as playing in tune or practising scales, directly to broader notions of modelling behaviour and social control (Bergeron 1992: 3). The ideology of discipline is immediately apparent in the debates surrounding music in early 20th-century China, and it is here that we may find the seeds of the canonisation of the Uyghur Twelve Muqam being sown. During this period, equally under pressure from Western and Japanese military incursions, and inspired by Western and Japanese cultural models, China’s so-called ‘May 4th’ reformers and modernisers were calling for reform of virtually all aspects of Chinese culture and society. Music did not escape their attention, and numerous articles were published in China’s music journals introducing Western harmony and instrumentation, making comparisons between Western and Chinese music, and discussing China’s ‘national character’ as revealed in her traditional music. An excerpt from an article by the 1930s reformer Ying Shangneng gives an idea of the tone:

In days gone by China had her own great music. But judging from what we find of it nowadays, nothing remains to remind us of its past glory. … Her musical instruments … are quite crude and simple … no standard pitch can be found among them. No two flutes made by the same hand can be made to play in unison harmoniously. The scale steps are also found to vary … No wonder, therefore, in the annals of Chinese music, there is no Beethoven or Schubert. Andrew Jones argues that what these May 4th reformers demanded was the disciplining of Chinese musical life along Western or ‘scientific’ lines: ‘At the very moment that Chinese music became an object of study, classification, and rationalization along Western lines, it also came to signify Chineseness’ (Jones 2001: 40). This ideology, tinged red, carried over into the establishment of the People’s Republic (1949–), and culminated in the formation of China’s most famous revolutionary musical canon, the ‘model operas’ (yangbanxi) of the Cultural Revolution, while the search for a Chinese Beethoven produced such oddities as the ‘revolutionary composer’ or blind street musician A Bing (see Stock 1996). China’s minority nationalities were equally subject to this ideological approach. Under the systematising pressure of the Chinese state, in the 1950s each of China’s newly designated 55 minority nationalities developed one representative art form, singled out for state support and development. As Helen Rees argues:

The show-casing of these designated music and dance forms has played an important role in China’s formulation as a multi-cultural state. Yet (as Andrew Jones argues above) just as these forms were harnessed to perform difference on China’s national stage, they began to achieve sameness through being subjected to similar processes of reform. Subject to processes of ‘improving and ordering’ (jiagong, guifan), dance styles were transformed into group choreographies, songs were transcribed and fixed, scales and musical instruments standardised, and a nation-wide system of professional performers was put in place, trained in arts academies, and organised into state-sponsored performing troupes. Clearly not all of these designated minority musical forms with their faux-naïf folkloric appeal can lay claim to the weightiness which we tend to associate with canons, yet the processes of their creation bear many of the hallmarks of canon formation. It is important to see the Uyghur Twelve Muqam as one among these 55 designated minority cultural assets. However, the Uyghurs, as I have noted, are also culturally Central Asian Muslims and musically very much part of the Islamic world. By looking westwards beyond China’s borders to nation states across Asia and North Africa we can find closer parallels with the formation of their canon.ic

Processes of canonisation across the Islamic world

In her recent book, Ruth Davis describes the case of the Tunisian Ma’luf, a tradition whose canonisation ran along a similar timeline to the Uyghur Twelve Muqam, and in which it is possible to trace many correspondences with the Uyghur case (Davis 2004). The Ma’luf, a set of large-scale suites formerly patronised by the elite but widely performed in Sufi lodges, coffee houses and weddings, was first transcribed in the 1930s, impelled in part by the enthusiasm of the Frenchman Baron d’Erlanger to preserve and purify traditional Tunisian music. The establishment of the Rashidiyya Institute in 1934 marked the beginning of the canonisation of the Ma’luf. Supported by the French colonial government and modelled on the French conservatory, the Institute sought to replace the traditional small Ma’luf ensemble with a larger orchestra. It quickly became apparent that the musicians drafted into the orchestra were performing differing interpretations of the repertoire, and the move from small to large ensemble, remarks Davis, was marked musically by a move from heterophony to cacophony (Davis 2004: 51). Perceiving the need for notation to produce a unified performance, the Institute produced a composite version of the Ma’luf, drawing together the versions held by several different musicians. Davis argues that this was developed purely as a practical measure in pursuit of the creation of a large ensemble performance; the ideology of a sole correct version only took hold later (Davis 2004: 109).

Following independence in 1956 the tradition was promoted nationally, and successive layers of transcriptions and recordings were produced over the subsequent decades. Through this period Davis notes two competing ideologies at play. The first argues that the Ma’luf represents a unified national heritage, and notation should be deployed to define and restore the authentic tradition. In this reading, oral tradition results in superficial deviation from the norm over the course of centuries. The second more liberal argument holds that the multiple, regional orally transmitted traditions are legitimate; each generation defines its own interpretation, hence the need for regular revision of notations to keep the tradition alive (Davis 2004: 67).

We find a similar set of circumstances in 1960s Iran, under the rule of the Shah, when the government attempted to establish the definitive Radif, the repertoire which forms the basis for improvisation in Persian art music. Although they do not frame their discussions specifically in terms of canonisation, several major Englishlanguage studies deal with these issues in relation to the Radif. Bruno Nettl describes the Radif in paired concepts: it is both repertoire and theory on which performance is based; a contemporary version of a centuries-old way of making music throughout the Middle East and a coherent system developed recently by a small group of individuals. One may speak of the Radif, he argues, or hold that there are as many Radifs as there are master musicians, and each of these may have several variants (1987: 3).

The origins of the Radif are generally thought to lie in the 18th century, but little is known about musical practice in that period. Its canonisation owes much to one individual: Mirza Abdullah (d. 1917), who collected and classified the repertoire handed down by his father. This Radif of Mirza Abdullah is considered the basis of the contemporary mainstream tradition. It was not until the early 1960s that the Radif became subject to state intervention. Ella Zonis describes how a panel of the country’s leading musicians was chosen to prepare the official Radif. She opines:

Anyone who is familiar with Iran, or with any culture where values of individuality are prized over and above collective thinking and where artistic independence is the chief merit of artistic performance, would recognize that the chances of this group’s ever reaching agreement were remarkably slim. (Zonis 1973: 63)

This panel was indeed soon disbanded and replaced by another panel comprised of leading musicologists who, it was hoped, would be more scientific and objective. In fact there was even less agreement between them, and finally the task was given to one individual, the prominent musicologist Musa Ma‘rufi, whose completed transcription of the Radif was lavishly published by government in 1963. Zonis considers this version to be ‘solely the work of the transcriber’, and although it has acquired a degree of authority in subsequent decades, as in the Tunisian case, rival versions of the Radif are still fiercely contested by Iranian musicians today (Nooshin 1996).

The French musicologist Jean During has drawn direct parallels between the Iranian Radif and the Bukharan Shash Maqām (During 1993). These six prestigious ‘classical’ suites of Bukhara, the best-known Central Asian maqām tradition, are probably the closest model of canonisation to the Uyghur Twelve Muqam. In the Central Asian context the processes of canonisation brought to bear on this tradition are usually thought of as products of Soviet cultural and nationalities policies. A few existing studies of these repertoires, however, give us a sense of the historical depth 10 The Making of a Musical Canon in Chinese Central Asia of the processes of canonisation in this region. During reads the creation of the Shash Maqām as a political symbol, but one which predates Sovietisation and 20th-century nationalism, and which relates instead to the power of the city-state, in this case the 19th-century Emirate of Bukhara:

Le shash maqām boukhārien également est un monument incontournable, ‘mise en ordre’ par des musiciens qui en dirigeaient et obéissaient à l’émir, édifié à l’image d’un ordre central autocratique puissant. (During 1993: 35)

During’s use of the term ‘monument’ to describe the Shash Maqām is interesting, and impinges directly on questions relating to the preservation of ‘oral and intangible heritage’ now promoted through UNESCO. I will return to these questions in Chapter Six. It was this already monumental repertoire that the Soviet musicologist, Yunus Rajabi transcribed and revised in the late 1920s, selecting what he considered to be the ‘most authentic’ of numerous renditions, even synthesising his own versions from parts of different versions. Rajabi’s Shash Maqām transcriptions formed the basis of teaching in the Uzbek conservatory in subsequent decades. They have been preserved into the post-Soviet era and enshrined as an Uzbek national tradition, in a style which the American ethnomusicologist Theodore Levin has critiqued as ‘frozen music’ (Levin 1996: 47–51).

Continuing this theme of pre-20th-century canon formation, I turn now to Walter Feldman’s discussion of 17th-century Ottoman court music (Feldman 1996). Feldman argues that the development of cyclical concert forms in the Ottoman court during the 17th century distinguished this repertoire from the Iranian tradition which the Ottoman regarded as its forebear. By the mid 18th century all Ottoman classical genres were arranged cyclically, with separate courtly and Sufi cycles (fasil and ayin). Each cycle contained composed and non-composed sections. Rhythmic formulae (usul) played an important role in the composed elements of the cycles, and these became increasingly long and complex (Feldman 1996: 177–92). The development of this repertoire seems to bear many of the hallmarks of 20th-century canonisation. Feldman does not devote much space to a consideration of the social and political context which nurtured these musical changes, but he does comment briefly that the wealth of the state was a factor (Feldman 1996: 503). Reminiscent of Levin’s critique of the ‘frozen’ Shash Maqām, Feldman comments that by the early modern era this ongoing process of tempo retardation and melodic elaboration meant that many measured genres had acquired slow and ponderous rhythmic structures such that this became the hallmark of the Ottoman repertoire (termed vukur ‘dignity’ or aghir bashlik ‘seriousness’; Feldman 1996: 499).

Feldman’s work also allows us to see how canons which are closely tied to the old order may suffer under the new. The rise of Turkish nationalism and the establishment of the Turkish state in the early 20th century led to the sidelining and direct criticism of the musical canon of the fallen and discredited Ottoman Empire. The influential Turkish nationalist writer Ziya Gökalp argued in his 1923 book that the ‘Eastern’ (in other words, foreign) music of the Ottoman had remained confined to the elite while the Turkish lower classes got on with creating an authentically national popular music free from outside polluting influence. Between 1935 and 1945 the Ottoman classical repertoire almost disappeared from radio and public performance, and teaching opportunities were severely limited (Feldman 1990: 98–100).

These ideological attacks in Turkey have direct echoes in Soviet Uzbekistan where, during more extreme periods of Sovietisation, the Shash Maqām were attacked as ossified examples of foreign music, imbued with bourgeois-feudal ideology (Levin 1984). Yet the tradition survived these attacks, and gained new state support as a symbol of the Uzbek nation following the fall of the Soviet Union. In Tajikistan, however, the Shash Maqām were too closely associated with one region (the northern power-holders) to survive the ensuing power struggle between regional factions. When the other (southern) regional faction took power in the late 1990s, the Shash Maqām were duly sidelined.

More recent developments around the Ottoman repertoire demonstrate that canons may have staying power beyond the direct patronage of the state. In recent years the Ottoman classical repertoire has enjoyed a revival, quite independent of state support, which suggests the strength of the aesthetic and other values which canons imbue. It is interesting that the style of this revival, tending to small ensembles and a greater use of heterophony, is in direct contrast to the weightiness and dignity described by Feldman. Similar developments in the 1990s have been described by Davis in Tunisia (2004: 105), and noted (and indeed actively promoted) by Levin and During in post-independence Uzbekistan.

The historical studies of Feldman and During remind us that processes of canonisation are not solely the product of 20th-century nationalism, nor necessarily a reaction to the West. Instead, we might read the impulse to canonisation, including that which took place in Europe in the 18th century, more broadly as part of the political process of centralisation and consolidation. We have seen that some canons survive the rise and fall of regimes, while others are too strongly linked to the old regime and are dropped or attacked by the new. Several musical themes, briefly mentioned, are recurring – size and complexity of form and ensemble, a tendency towards fixity and ponderousness – yet these are by no means present in all the traditions surveyed here; indeed, these canons run from open-ended collections of compositions to a repertoire (the Radif) a significant proportion of which is not performed as such but serves as the model for improvisation.

Although the phenomenon of canonisation stretches back beyond the 20th century, we can identify tendencies that are shared by canons produced during the 20th century which are less clear-cut in earlier models. The Radif, the Ma’luf and the Shash Maqām in the 20th century all share the common features that they are understood as national heritage, they exist in multiple variations, they are the product of oral tradition, and that the thrust of the canonisers’ work has been to unify and fix tradition. Another recurring theme in these accounts is the degree to which the canonising projects are contested from within. Most importantly, the 20th-century canons, unlike their court-based predecessors, are much more widely promoted through state institutions: they are performed by state-supported orchestras or troupes whose members are trained in state colleges and conservatories, and disseminated through live performance, TV and radio, publications and recordings. They thus have more direct impact on the practice of music beyond the state-supported sphere. All these themes will be further explored in my account of the canonisation of the Uyghur Twelve Muqam.

Notes: 1-For influential critiques of China’s system of minority nationalities (shaoshu minzu) see Gladney (1991: introduction) and Harrell (1995). The Uyghur population in Xinjiang was given in the 2000 census as 8,139,458. Since then the region’s population figures have not broken been down by ethnic group.

2-Chagatay is the literary Turkic language of medieval Central Asia.

3-James A. Millward, ‘Uyghur Art Music and the Ambiguities of Chinese Silk Roadism in Xinjiang’ (accessed 10 July 2007).

4-Copyright 2008 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Used with permission of the University of Illinois Press.

5-The landmark May 4th 1919 demonstration against an unequal treaty following the First World War gave its name to the subsequent reform movement in China.

6-Benjamin Z.N. Ing, ‘Music Chronicle’, T’ien Hsia Monthly 1 (January 1937), 54. Quoted in Jones (2001: 39).

7-See Rees (2000: 19–27) and Harris (2004: 1–15) for more detailed treatment of this subject.

8-‘The Bukharan shash maqām too is an inescapable monument, “put in order” by musicians under the direction and control of the emir, built in the image of a powerful centralised autocratic order.’

9-Feldman prefers the term ‘cyclical form’ over ‘suite’. The concept of cyclicity (tsikl’nost’) was developed by the Soviet musicologists Rajabi and Karamatov in relation to the Shash Maqām (Feldman 1996: fn 60).

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