Ishmael and Hamidullah Charikari

Temple of 'Ahmed Shauh'_ King of Afghanistan

I picked this CD up in a second-hand shop in Copenhagen.  I am not able to find much if anything about these Afghan singers, who appear to sing both in Pashto and Dari.

Charikar, from which they or their ancestors come, is a major town in the northern province of Parwan, also know as the gate to the Panshir Valley.  That valley, of course, is famous as the hideout of Ahmad Shah Massoud the Lion of the Panshir. A legendary leader of his people he struggled against the Soviets and later, his own countrymen in the form of the Taliban before being assassinated by ‘journalists’ just two days before the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

This is unadulterated Afghan folk music. There is nothing slick about it. It the raw sound of the rubab, dotaar and dafal and the keening voices of traditional folk singers.

Lovely and elemental.

Enjoy.

Sabza Narinji

Track Listing:

01 Chicha Kaku

02 Pari paikar

03 Farkhar

04 Khair Nabini (I hope no blessings come your way)

05 Sabza Narinji (Green Orange)

06 Dil Man Az Rai (My Heart is broken)

07 Tu Kuja Mirawi (Where are you going?)

08 Shomali (Northerner)

09 Jaan Mun Bala Bibin (Dear, look up at me)

10 Humdam Jani (Companion, dear)

Charikar

The Master: Ustad Muhammad Omar

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Ustad  Muhammad Omar

The region known in ancient times as Khorasan bequeathed a rich and diverse cultural heritage to human civilisation. Like all long-lived cultures, Khorasan’s geography expanded and constricted like a huge lung breathing art, beauty and elevated thought, spread across much of what today we call Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. So huge was its presence and vast its territory that Babur, the first Mughal, proclaimed, “The people of Hindustan call every country beyond their own Khorasan”.

Among the roll call of illustrious Khorasanis is an “A List” of poets, mystics, theologians and scientists: Rumi, Rudaki, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Omar Khayyam, al Biruni, Abu Hanifa and al Ghazali being just the more renowned. The contributions of these great souls to the understanding of astronomy, physics, literature, medicine, Islamic philosophy and mathematics, in many cases, formed the “standard texts” until relatively recent times.

Sometime around the 7th century CE, Persian texts including the writings of Sufis began to mention a musical instrument they called rubab. Its inventor and exact place of birth is not recorded, but given its undeniably Khorasani origin, I like to imagine the rubab was played for the first time in northern Afghanistan around Balkh. Others claim it was invented in Ghazni. Whatever the truth, the rubab is now the beloved national instrument of Afghanistan.

Although the name derives from Arabic and in that language means, “played with a bow”, the rubab is in fact, plucked by its player. And like its cousins the oud and lute, the sound of the rubab is for my money, one of the most thrilling in all of music.

Today we share a stunning performance by the great Ustad Mohammad Omar recorded live in the United States. This master of the rubab is largely responsible for introducing the sound of the rubab to American audiences which he did from his position at the University of Washington.

In Afghanistan his list of students is long and illustrious. Quite simply what we have here in the Afghan equivalent of Segovia.

Be moved and be happy. Be thankful that such music exists.

 

ustad-mohammad-omar_-virtuoso-from-afghanistan

Track Listing:

01 Shakal and naghma in the melodic mode of emen (yeman)

02 Shakal and naghma in the melodic mode of bopali (bhupali)

03 Tabla solo in the rhythmic cycle of jhaptal (10-beat cycle)

04 Shakal and naghma based on the melodic mode of pelo (pilu)

05 Keliwali in the melodic mode of kastori

 

GET IT HERE

Pink Kalashnikov: Musical Delights from the Hindu Kush

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I met a burly mountain of a man at the beginning of this year in a disaster zone. He was from Afghanistan, trained in the Soviet Union, now doing humanitarian work. He brought his can-do approach to building houses that had been swept away by typhoons. He worked well with people; when he found out I had been to his country he immediately gave me his friendship.

Part of the deal was a USB stick full of jumbled mp3s, most with only the briefest bits of information attached. Many were only numbered, ‘16’ or Track 7, with no artist noted. Others revealed the type of music ‘rubabi’ or ‘ghazal’ but still few artist names.

Throughout the year I have dipped regularly into this rich pool of uncertainty only to be amazed. The variety of music from Afghanistan revealed in those few Gigabytes is vast: reworked Bollywood hits, ghazals, folk noodlings, covers of Elvis and some stunning classical gayaki.

It is a few of these treasures that I share tonight. After 14 months in Kuala Lumpur, and after missing out on Christmas and New Year at home last year, I am heading back to the land down under for the holidays. I will not be back on line on Harmonium for some weeks (probably) which is not a bad thing. It gives you time to thoroughly make friends with these wonderful musicians, singers, players and artists, from beyond and amidst the high mountains called the Hindu Kush.

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Track Listing:

01 Raga

02 Rabab 064

03 Jazzy Bollywood song

04 Gul-e-badaam

05 80

06 Mast Jawani

07 Namidanam

08 Elahi man namay danam

09 Da Zemonz Zeba

10 Ai deil

11 Track 1

12 Baz im shab hawasi roi

13 Sheerena Yaara (Rabab)

14 30

15 Track 6

16 Hosain jaan

PK