Sounds of decades

Confession – I am not your usual-typical Afghan when it comes to music, and am very much so proud of that fact.


I get very picky when it comes to music. I don’t usually push myself to try new stuff, and I can listen to that same song you saw me listening two weeks ago, for weeks at a time. 

Here’s the reason – not everything is worth listening to, not everything is a work of art. Music perhaps remains in the realm of what defines a human being’s cultural heritage or just the heritage itself. 


Most often, we find ourselves in the extraordinary position of taking the lead to judge others’ labour of love. It’s painful yet very sublime and delicious. I find it very delicious (criticism-wise) to personally judge a work of art, give it a round of criticism in my mind and make someone rather happy or seriously unhappy. But that doesn’t really matter. 

You know what matters? The truth in the content and form of the art itself. I know that’s a very condensed sentence, so I am going to break it down for you.

Art is what we don’t draw a line, not speaking morally here, but in terms of creativity or the free will if you please, we don’t limit it. It’s up to a human being’s mind to decide on the work to see what he pleases, to hear what he pleases, albeit it has taken a different turn these days, but that’d up to another debate about freedom of speech and such. 

When we don’t draw a line, a work of art takes a personal judgement from the artist himself, at least this what I think, and again, it’s very true. If I am an artist, or a musician, I don’t expect everyone to like what I create, to like my personal judgement. I don’t expect that at all. It’s an expectation best left all on its own.

It goes the same about the music too, the content and the form in which the music is laid upon, is also part of that personal judgement. 


Here comes my real point – we all evolve with our taste in music, and taking a different lead of criticizing that same piece of music that yours truly once despised. Turns out, he is leaning on to finding such long lost gems. 

Afghanistan, it’s people, it’s land, it’s history, it’s march of constant struggle and bloodshed, it’s never ending politcal instability, and so on and so forth on the list of so many things which makes Afghanistan a buzzing sound on many people’s ears, there’s this other very unique part, it’s cultural heritage, that makes you take a heavy breathing and wonder. 

Humans of this land are the most hardened people, even when you listen to the “cries of the lover for her destiny” you will know it’s different than that “fairytale” of the lovers in Medevial Europe or somewhere else. 


Coming to point, Afghanistan’s music is very rich, speaking in terms of how dense the diversity and creativity is. Somehow even the simplicity of a half-a-minute piece of Rubab leaves one to give a constant standing ovation. 

Yet you will find, how much the people of this land have been silenced over the centuries of hardships to bear. Out of all that, you will find a rich music landscape here. Something that I will cherish about Afghanistan forever. 

I have taken it upon myself, to discover that music landscape, those lost “cries of the lover for her destiny”, that contemporary Herati lullaby that I had heard once somewhere, maybe on an Afghan movie, to discover an original recording of Bulbulak Sangshikan…

Over the past few weeks, I have been wondering a perplexing question, why the current situation of the Afghan music landscape is in such a bad state? Why do we bother ourselves with these stupid-nonsensical-idiotic-crap music that roams the culture-street of Afghanistan. 

The answer to that question would be a sad one. [sigh of pain…]

Nevertheless, it isn’t too late yet, we have recording of some great original Afghan music in archives here and all over the world, where even ‘others’ enjoy and lust for such music. 

The chances of returning back to that great age, where music was great, is dim. However, we can try to produce music which is not static-crap. Music that ‘they’ made at that time, will live on for the next hundreds of years. 

Listening to some of these music from decades ago, certainly is best described with the word serenata.  


Here are links to rediscover some of those great songs;

Music of Afghanistan, Smithsonian, recorded in Kabul Radio 1961.

An album of tradational Afghan music, that Dr. Bill Podlich bought in Afghanistan during 1970’s while working with UN. 

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