The circulation of ‘New Music’ between Afghanistan and its transnational community

Baily, John S.. 2007. 'The circulation of ‘New Music’ between Afghanistan and its transnational community'. In: Conference on Music in the world of Islam. Assilah, Morocco 8-13 August 2007. [Conference or Workshop Item]

MUS_Baily_2007a.pdf - Presentation

Download (624kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

From the late 1940s the radio station in Kabul had become the centre for innovation and patronage in the creation of a new popular music suitable for radio broadcasting. In a country where there was no university department of music, no conservatories, no music as part of the school curriculum, no national sound archive, the radio station was the centre of musical activity and creativity. It employed a large number of musicians, singers, male and female, and composers. It ran various orchestras and small ensembles. The radio station provided new possibilities for musicians, mostly singers, to be recruited from amateur backgrounds.

The best example is Ahmad Zahir, sometimes described as "the Afghan Elvis", whose music is still incredibly popular and widely emulated today. Ahmad Zahir was much involved in creating and performing a modernised Afghan music, using western instruments, himself playing electric organ rather than harmonium. It is worth mentioning that Kabul's first international rock festival took place in 1975 (Dupree 1976). The radio station also promoted the careers of women singers, perhaps most notably Farida Mahwash, who in 1975 was given the honorific title of Ustad by the Afghan government.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



August 2007["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_shown" not defined]

Event Location:

Assilah, Morocco

Date range:

8-13 August 2007

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Sep 2011 08:15

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 15:54


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)