Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghan perceptions of birdsong

afghan dove

The importance of birds and bird song in Afghan culture is embedded in Afghanistan’s two official languages—Dari and Pashto—in which the nightingale, a central poetic symbol, occurs in texts sung by urban and rural singers.

The songs of particular birds are associated with calls to prayer, and mullahs confirm that birdsong is regarded within Sufism as a form of religious singing; birds are welcomed at Sufi shrines, where feeding them is considered an act of piety.

Sometimes caged birds are brought to musical performances in Herāt, and when they are stirred to sing by hearing music their sounds are heard as an integral and treasured part of the performance.

This according to “Afghan perceptions of birdsong” by John Baily (The world of music XXXIX/2 [1997] pp. 51–59).

Above, an Afghan dove with a friend; below, feeding the doves in Mazār-i-Sharīf.

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Afghanistan at peace

Music in the Afghan north, 1967–1972 presents materials from Mark Slobin’s research in Afghanistan before successive waves of war and Islamist rule began to decimate its traditional culture.

The site involves three layers of organization, with increasing access to the study’s technical materials: an introduction to the ideas and topics with capsule summaries; links to excerpts from the book-length study; and the complete book Music in the culture of northern Afghanistan (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976).

Still photography, moving picture clips, and sound clips accompany the written text. Above, a rubāb maker in Mazār-i-Sharīf; below, drums for sale in Istālif, a village renowned for its glazed pottery.

Related post: Robert Garfias: Ethnomusicology

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Filed under Asia, Ethnomusicology