Gobustan rhythms

by Herman Rechberger

Gobustan Ritmleri

Ballet after motives from stone carvings and poems by Cingiz Alioglu

Empty sheet

Herman Rechberger

Gobustan rhythms

Music Finland


The Background

Ancient carvings made by primitive people on the cave walls, rocks and boulders can be observed worldwide. Their history covers the upper Paleolithic Age up to the Middle Ages. The rock carvings of Gobustan, in Southern Azerbaijan are the most significant among them.

Situated between the south-eastern slope of Greater Caucasian Range and the Caspian Sea lies the plain broken with ravines, called Gobustan (the territory of Gobu). In the mountains of Gobustan there are relics relating to the period from Mesolithic Age up to the Middle Ages. Among them ancient rock carvings are of a particular prominence. The prehistoric art monuments reflect culture, economy, world outlook, customs and traditions of ancient Azerbaijan people.

Men in the drawings are shown wearing the hunter's outfit with a bow and arrows. The men are tall with slim bodies girdled with belts, with developed muscles. Women in the drawings emphasize busts and thighs. A woman is depicted as the symbol of good and prosperity, as the continuer of human race. The rock carvings of Gobustan also show animals, which inhabited this place during the last 10 millennia, i.e. djeirans, wild buffalos, goats, deer, wild pigs, horses, lions etc. The oldest are the drawings representing real animals. They are shown as the hunter's quarry, totems of ancient tribes and other life sources. One can see Azerbaijan people's round dance Yally, the collective labour process, hunting scenes with various kinds of weapons, harvest time, animal fights. It can be assumed that the collective dances of many peoples of the world which are still being performed now have been originated from the round dance Yally of the prehistoric hunters. It could also be true that Yally was danced to the accompaniment of the oldest musical instrument gaval dashem, the stone tambourine. Further this instrument was used in several rituals of the Gobustani people. This stone tambourine is the evidence of a high level of ancient musical culture around Caspian Sea.

The Ballet

is inspired by these rock carvings and the tremendously rhythmic and powerful poems by the Azerbaijanian poet Cingis Alioglu (he translated also among others the Gilgamesh epos and the Finnish Kalevala into his native language Azeri). In this ballet there are sections where these poems are recited (possibly by the poet himself) as a pre-recorded CD. The instruments are following and accenting the rhythms of the poem (the poems should not be translated for the performance because they use a lot of onomatopoetic words which would be almost impossible to transfer to another language. The poems are used rather as elements according to their musical qualities than as a product of literature. However, literary translation can be given in the programme notes). Only solo dance should be performed during these recitations.

The Instrumentation

includes a modernized version of the traditional Mugham ensemble. The flute represents the traditional nay flute, the saxophone the traditional balaban, the electric guirat the traditional tar and the cello the spike fiddle kamancha. The percussion section's handplayed nagara drums (written as tomtoms) can be replaced by different-sized tomtoms. The string orchestra is as follows: I violins (divided into 2), II violins (divided into 2), violas (divided into 2), violoncellos (divided into 2) and double bass.

© Herman Rechberger, 2002


fl, ssax, elguit, elbas, 2trb, 4 perc, voc solo, vlc solo, str


Works for Orchestra or Large Ensemble


The landscape - The gaval dash - Rezitativ - Chasing the deer - Mugham: The seven beauties - Dance of the warriors - Dance of the 3 maidens - Rezitativ - Stone-Arba - The twin rocks: Rezitativ - The buffalo hunt - The pomgranate: Rezitativ - The harvest - From the cold: Rezitativ - Ritual (optional insert: Dance of the virgin) - The curly road - Yalli - Gobustan - Eternal landscape - Finale

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106 pages

39.60 € 36.00 € excl. vat