Read the book that inspired the creation of this blog: Afghan Hearts & Minds

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rich Musical Heritage to Outright Music Ban: What Happened?

Watching the documentary Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking, was akin to my experience of reading Afghan Hearts & Minds by Shafie Ayar: it conjured a pride within me for a country I would otherwise have little association with. I saw the people as they were: impoverished, struggling to claim what dignity and morality they could obtain in such tirelessly immoral circumstances.

As a musician, watching Afghan Star was incredibly eye-opening. In America, we have limited bans on music and dance - to the extent that you could do almost anything. But in Afghanistan, for decades, music and dance had been publicly banned. There were citizens that had underground ways of practicing and playing the music or dance that they loved. But by far, it was inhibited on such a large scale that the country lost much of rich musical heritage.

Afghanistan could name only one man and claim their heritage as rich: Amir Khusro. He was an outstanding poet, musician, philosopher, and composer. He created many musical instruments that we use today all across the world, such as the sitar and tabla. He also fashioned new genres in music, like qawwali, tarana, and khayal - which are all integral to eastern classical music today.

So why, when Afghanistan has had a shining genius of music and art, did they forsake their heritage? Unfortunately, many people translate the Koran in many different ways - each faction using it to advance  their own interests. The history of musical accomplishment came tumbling down because of false religious pretexts.

But now, with the rising of liberal media in Afghanistan, I hope that soon will change.
Amir Khusro - The Artistic Genius of Afghanistan

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