Traditional / folk music of AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan can be said as one of the most characteristic of folk music in the world. When you look at the instruments, musicians, genres and type of the folk music, it looks like that you are looking deep in the history. Afghanistan has been under civil war and also fundamentalism of Taliban for a long period. Although this has been destructive for the culture and people in many ways, but from the other side, this prevented globalization to go into Afghanistan, so the traditional and folk music and their instruments continue to exists in the root of culture and people life without so much influence of globalization. But the problem is also there are not so many recording of folk music exists. Kabul and Herat are two of the cities and areas which have great tradition of folk music in Afghanistan. The folk music from Herat is simply called Herati, Herat is located in western part of Afghanistan. During 15th century, it was a cultural center for Islamic territory. Herat has many folk songs which many people knows and sing them in different situation like wedding. You can listen to some of Herati folk songs in the list below.
The folk dance of Afghanistan is called Attan which is considered as national dance. It comes from Pashtun area in eastern part of Afghanistan. It is also very common in Pakistan. The dance is done by a group of dancers from 50 people with colorful clothes. The music accompanied them with a kind of drum, Dhol. Dhol has different type and size. This folk dance is done in different styles in different part of Afghanistan. The traditional dance of Attan is done in many different type of ceremonies, from wedding to war. Even during the Taliban period which all kind of musics and even this dance was prohibited, it had been seen which some Taliban members do this dance before going to the war, as many of Taliban members was part of Pashtu people.
The music, musicians and music lovers did not suffer just during the Taliban period. During Rabbani period (1992-1996), music was under tight control and musicans need to apply for license. Also they could not make their music freely and it was just religious music or songs in praise of Mujahidin was permitted. The same suffering was existed for music of Afghanistan during the ruling of communism.
Classical traditional music of Afghanistan which is called Klasik is under influence of North Indian classical music. Many of Ustads (masters) of this music were educated and learn music in north India or at least they were student of somebody who was educated in India. This music is very similar to ragas, naghmehs and ghazals in Indian music. But one of the big difference of Afghan music with Indian raga is, it has more focus on rhythm and playing of tabla. Also in Afghan ghazals, Persian lyrics are used. In Afghan Klasik, some instruments is used which are not used in India. Dutar, sorna, sitar, dilruba, tambur, ghichak, and rubab.
Some of the famous Klasik music singers are Mohammad Hussain Sarahang, Ustad Rahim Bakhsh and Ustad Amir Mohammad. Some of important Rubab player are Ustad Mohammad Omar, Mohammad Rahim Khushnawaz and Homayun Sakhi.
Many years of war caused many of these musicians migrate from Afghanistan and live in Iran, Pakistan, United state or other countries.
Tambur (tanbur) and dutar are also two other instruments which are used in Afghanistan folk music but they are different with Kurdish tanbur or dutars which are used in Iran or other countries in central Asia. On the list below you can listen to some tracks of these instruments.
If you have some information about the folk and traditional music in Afghanistan please send us through contact us page or put a comment on each song page. Even a single phrase will help us. Or if you know some folk songs from Afghanistan which does not exist in the list below, please let us know.
Traditional / folk songs for AFGHANISTAN
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