Meyxana: Lyrics On the Fly
Since we talked briefly about one of the traditional music stylings of Azerbaijan here, I thought I’d also bring up a second popular form of singing in Azerbaijan: Meyxana (May-khana). This is again an area where I don’t have a whole lot of interest, but the style is interesting and it carries a lot of traditional cultural value here in Azerbaijan.
From my understanding, meyxana is an impromptu rhythmic verse consisting of rhyming triplets. Here in Azerbaijan, you can turn on any of the local TV stations and you’re likely to come across a program where five guys are sitting in overstuffed chairs, passing around a mic as they improvise the lines. If you’re a PCV living with a host family, you might get treated to an evening of meyxana when your host father’s friends come over (this was the case for our PCV, Mason, when he was in Lerik). The songs are made up as you go and can be about anything; improvising disparaging, satirical, playful verses about your fellow meyxana singers is definitely encouraged. Think of yourself as the court jester composing triplet rhymes on the fly.
It used to be that whenever people performed publicly, the police would interrupt and dismiss the crowd. Children or teenagers risked getting whacked by their teachers for saying them and, in turn, that made parents forbid their children from letting them involved, too-not because they considered meykhana shameful. Instead of being proud that their children were so talented, parents cowered, fearing that such intelligence would get them into trouble. But who could prevent two or three young boys sitting under a fig tree in a corner of a country garden reciting them?
I can’t get the video player to embed here, so you’ll just have to trust me and click here to check out a neat news story about meyxana.