This book presents the vocal art music of Kabul as performed by Ustad Amir Mohammad. At the heart of Kabul's vocal art music is the ghazal, a highly flexible song form using Persian (or Pashto) texts derived from a variety of sources. Much of this poetry is in the Sufi tradition, with frequent metaphoric allusions to love, wine and intoxication. In musical terms, the Kabuli ghazal style is related to ghazal singing in India and Pakistan, but the setting of the texts to music is distinctly Afghan, with interpolated couplets sung in free rhythm, fast instrumental sections and dramatic rhythmic cadences. As befits a Sufi music, it has a regularly repeated cyclical structure with trance-inducing properties. Central to the book is the audio CD, containing six ghazals, one mosammat and one Afghan-style tarAcna, all recorded by John Baily between 1974 and 1976 in the city of Herat, in western Afghanistan. At that time Ustad Amir Mohammad was Herat's most sought-after singer in the Kabuli style, playing mainly at wedding parties of wealthy Heratis. In these valuable recordings he is accompanied by two outstanding local musicians, Rahim Khushnawaz on rubAcb, and Gada Mohammad on dutAcr.
John Baily is Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. In the 1970s he spent more than two years conducting ethnomusicological research in Herat Province, focusing mainly on the urban music of that region. Since 1985 he has carried out extensive research on music in the Afghan Diaspora, as well as in Afghanistan itself.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; The art music of Kabul; Amir Mohammad in Herat: making the recordings; The texts of the eight songs; Setting the texts to music; Reappraising the Kabuli ghazal; Bibliography; Index.