Anthology of World Music: The Music of Afghanistan

 

Anthology of World Music: The Music of Afghanistan; (p) International Institute for Traditional Music (Berlin). Originally issued as the UNESCO collection. Original Fifty Albums of Anthology of Traditional Music of the World, published by Barenreiter Verlag/Musicaphon. © 2003 Rounder Records Corp.; One Camp Street, Cambridge, MA, 02140. (http://www.rounder.com/) email: (info@rounder.com) Rounder-82161-5121-2. Commentary by Professor Alain Danielou (1902-1994). Edited for the International Music Council by the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation (Founder, and first Director, Professor Alain Danielou). Succeeding Prof. Danielou was Professor Ivan Vandor.

The dust-jacket of this c.d. notes the many influential elements of the countries surrounding Afghanistan upon its music, including ancient forms of Greek, Iranian, Turkish, Indian, Russian, Roma folk music, and even stylings resembling those of the European Middle Ages! It’s no wonder, considering that Afghanistan is situated almost at the juncture of where these civilizations meet.

Some of the instruments used in these recordings include: versions of a Lute, known to them as: Tumbur (plucked); Dambura (two-string); Dotar (three-string); Bowed Instruments: Ritchak (popular in the North); Sarinda (popular in the South); Drums: Dhol (two-sided); Zer-Berhali (one-sided); Doirah (tambourine); Sornai (oboe; found in tombs of Sumer; “Sahnai,” in India); Tula (flute); Cheng (called a “Jew’s Harp” and said to be known all over the Orient).

In totality, this is a very nice sampling of Afghan (Afghani) music.

  1. Song of Kataran (Turkestan) (4:49): Oldish, chanty, based on a few notes which makes it mildly hypnotic. Makes me think of what might be the sound of northern India, except on a lower voice range, mixed so because it headed west.
  2. Song of Badarshan (3:06): Sounds like a regal, Renaissance processional march, conducted in the outer courtyards of perhaps a Persian or Turkish ruler.
  3. Melody for Flute from Turkestan (2:40): Really interesting, small flute adds to its trill-like characteristics.
  4. Festive Music from Chardi (in the region of Kabul) (3:53): Somehow, what seems to be like a major tune-up session for the horn section in the orchestral pit emerges to several thematic tunes. This mish-mash works.
  5. Chant from Azarejot (Central Afghanistan) (5:40): Rolling music sounds great and is suddenly punctuated by discordant vocals. Startling, at first, it immediately settles in and blends together in a very nice, almost African-style sound.
  6. National Afghan Dance (Shah Mast) (1:55): Sounds like they’re playing giant rubber bands in the National Afghan Dance.
  7. Chant from Farkhar (4:48): This one sounds more typically Arabic to me, though it’s sung in “Persian” and is said to be in the Greek genre familiar in Persian, Arabic, and Greek music.
  8. Village Dance Melody (of the region of Kabul) (1:59): Soft with drums predominant and balailaika-reminiscent banjo-like strumming.
  9. Pushtu Quatrain (Charbait) (4:15): Familiar Greek-like style found in Arab refrain.
  10. Ancient Chant of Kabul (3:21): This sounds like a man calling plaintively upon the woman he seeks to court. I wonder what it really says?
  11. Ancient Chant of Khodaman (2:37): Very emotional singing — Why don’t we have such intense feelings like this anymore? Have we become too desensitized?
  12. Tumbur (Lute) Solo (3:45): Instrumental song only; played with Tumbur and Zer-Berhali acting in consonance with each other, extremely tightly.
  13. Ghazni Chant (2:09): I think I’ve heard this tune with some other different background — I’m thinking one of the popular Israeli singers, like Eyal Golan, Moshik Afia, Moshe Peretz or Dudu Aharon.
  14. Chorus from the Panshir (3:12): Repetitive talk-singing and clapping; I don’t hear the doirah (tambourine) that’s supposedly supposed to be playing in this song.
  15. Solo of Sarinda (2:55): This is nice. It’s another Instrumental with bow instruments supposedly in the Roma mode, but I don’t really hear it.
  16. The Dotar (Small Lute) of Herat (3:14): Instrumental; twangy and plucky, almost like an Australian didgeridoo.

 

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