When we talk about music suddenly one of our favorite songs or favorite tune will start echoing in our ears. The reason behind it is that music is food for the soul and mind. Music comes in many different types and styles ranging from traditional to pop which makes music suitable for every occasion- such as partying, wedding and even some time funeral; music is part of everything. The value of music on a man’s life has been generally recognized by the Great Pashtun poet and Philosopher Ghani Khan, He wrote:

Music is the sound that veils the visible and reveals the hidden

Takes black muck and builds with it a minaret

Music plays a great role in our life, it affects and reflects people’s emotions. Music is expressive and reveals emotions. Human often expresses their emotions through music. For a lover, music is the reflection of his/her imaginary world.  They will listen to a song about deep love and commitment. Like Ghani Khan says

I sit alone and fancy creating a beloved for myself

Sometimes I paint her eyes black and sometimes I kiss her lips

A religious person listens to music which reflects the religious values, praises the kindness of God and admires the morality of a religious figure. For lonely people music is a tool which gives them relaxation, feeds their spirit and take their loneliness away. Others just play music in social gatherings and can enjoy it for no apparent reason. New studies have shown that listening to music increases the coherence between different areas of the brain.

Physicist, Brian D. Josephson, compares “the balance-imbalance conditions in bio-systems to the tension and release patterns found in music suggests that music models the maintenance of balance for the human organism”. If one looks at the above cases one might call music a therapy which humans need sometimes. Call it good or bad but music has a high possibility of causing nostalgia. It works as a reminder of sad and joyful moments. People often listen to music to picture the bitter, happy or sad moments of their lives.

However, music is not related only to individuals, it also has historical or geographical significance for cultures. For thousands of years, music has been one of the most essential cultural expressions. It is also an integral part of all cultures in the world. Music mirrors the past and contributes to the future of a society, and reflects the type of culture at present. Like any other culture, music has been an integral part of Afghan culture too. Due to its central location, Afghanistan was an important contributor to the reciprocal development of music in Central Asia, Persia, and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric (Vedic-Avestan) times. The subsequent historical, cultural and religious developments, such as Greek, pre-Islamic Buddhist, Islamic, Ghaznavid, Timurid, and Hindustani, further demonstrates the intercultural development of music in the region

Afghans are known as music lovers and the country has produced some very good and talented singers. Pre-war singers regardless of gender would gather and sing on important occasions and other social gatherings. Through music, they familiarized the beauty of their country, tradition, culture, and customs to others. For instance, if we talk about the ‘Dhol the double-headed barrel drum, the most essential instrument in Afghan culture, people will imagine the circle of men and women in traditional clothes.  In Afghan society, celebrations and even wars used to start with the beat of the drum. In past Pashtun would gather around the fire and celebrate their joys by a dance called  Attan which has its roots in Vedic-Avestan  Attar meaning Fire, and Attan had to do with fighters dancing around the fire after winning the war, and it represented happiness”.

Anyways, I like and respect every language but since I have grown up listening to Pashtu/Afghan music so I enjoy it more than any other music.  Listening to music in your mother tongue sounds incredibly beautiful not because that is your own language “as old as mankind,  as sweet as sugaras deep as an ocean, as lovable as beloved,”  but just because the reason that you understand each word and emotion so you enjoy it more. When we listen to music in other languages we might enjoy it but there will be a bunch of words that we do not understand which may sound- to us – like nails on a chalkboard while for those who understand, it’s a sublime expression of the time.

Every music and culture possesses its own rules and concepts which enables the musicians to perform music accordingly. For instance this great poem by a Pashtun poet Akbar Syal’s is sung by Ustad Khayal Mohammed and in this poem Akbar Syal talks about the historical places of his homeland, the loyalty to his beloved which is one of the codes of Pakhtunwali and he admires her charm which illustrates a loving character of Afghan/Pakhutn man.

I have translated the song which is my most favorite. I  listen to this song at least once a day. I have never done the translation for any song before so  pardon if I have not done it correctly:

چی د ی یاد وم ځوانی وه چی د هیر کړم اوس زړیږم

When you remembered me, it kept me as young as my golden youth,

But when you start forgetting me, I am melting and getting old accordingly 

مست اټک وم بهیدمه دروند خیبر شوم رانړیږم

Earlier I was the ecstasy of flowing River Attock but when you ignored me

I am falling down like mighty/Great Khbyer

دا د لمر د تندي اور دی د مالګینو شونډو زور دی

It’s like the unending thirst of the sun and power of your fascinating lips

تنده نشوه یو بلا شوه ډوب په بحر نه اوبیږم

My thirst is not quenched even by the oceans I am diving into

په پیرزو د یارانی می شهادت را خراب نکړي

I know the worth of my love, so my friends don’t spoil my

Martyrdom in love and let me drown 

د ګډی یارانو واورئ لاس مو نه نیسم ډوبیږم

                        Therefore, I’m not holding your hands you have extended for my help

دغه تور او سره ګلونه د وخت لمر ته نه ټینګیږي       

All the followers, whether red or black, are vanishing in the sun of time

که د سترګو دې کړم لرې نو د شونډو هم هیریږم

You have kept me out of your sight your lips will forget me too

I have lost you forever

د سحر د رڼا پرخه، مازیګر د غرور کرښه

Like the dew drops in the dawn or in the dusk

ستا د حسن خیاله بس دی پردی سیال یمه تیریږم

I am a stranger Sail, losing my being in the thoughts of your beauty

Note: Attock is a place which connects Panjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and where Kabul River meets Abaseen. Khyber Pass is a place which connects Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is one of the oldest known strategic passes in the world. Throughout the history, it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and Indian Subcontinent.


2 thoughts on “Music

  1. Loved this, Huma Janay! GREAT topic and piece. As a huge lover of music, every single word in this piece resonated. And I love that you shared verses from Ghani Khan’s poems too. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Manana Gullai ❤
      I think we have great poets and intellectuals who should always be the center of our attention. Before I added verse from non afghan poet but then I thought we have Ghani Khan why not him.


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