Pashto Musical Instruments
A Rabab is the
most prominant amongst all the musical instruments used in Pashto music. It can
be heard in almost all melodies and songs, wether as a sole stringed instrument,
or as an accompaniment. It's construction is "drum like" because the mane of a
Rabab is skin covered like a drum with the exception of the permanent tension on
the skin, where as on a drum the tension is adjustable. It's sound can be heard
from quite far away. A Rabab is popularly played, also in Kashmiri and Baluchi
A Chatralay Sitar is a vey simple and very old musical
instrument with the most magical sound, directly influenceing the solar plexus.
It is not loud and can barely be heard in a mix of musical instruments, but heard
being played and accopmanied by Mangay, it is pure tranquility. Even though it is
played over a vast region, including Afghanistan, parts of Iran and in two provinces
of Pakistan, namely N.W.F.P. and Baluchistan, it carries the name "Chatralay
Sitar", meaning the sitar from Chitral (a small but beautiful, and one of the
north western-most areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Here I must say,
that the most carefully manufactured and best sounding "Chatralay Sitars" do
come from Chitral.
is an organ type instrument. It is very popularly played in Pashto music, and is
usually used by singers as an enhancement to vocal rehearsals. It's keys are
played with one hand while the other hand is used to pump air into the
instrument. It is played very commonly in all the countries of the Indian
sub-continent and Afghanistan.
Shpelai (Bamboo Flute)A
Shpelai is a common bamboo flute used almost all over the world. It has a very
special place in Pashto music and is loved by almost everyone, especially when
faintly heard from far away in the quiet of a moon-lit summer night. It is
frequently played by sheep herders, just like it has been played by sheep
herders through thousands of years.
A Banjo is a very
unusual musical instrument. (It is totally unlike the American banjo). This
stringed instrument is pick-strummed and is keyed like a Baja (Harmonium). A
very pleasant sounding instrument which is quite popular amongst Pashto music
listeners, but unfortunately not too many people play this instrument
professionaly, hence is not as common as some of the other musical instruments
used in Pashto music. It is played throughout Pakistan but not too much, despite
of it's pleasant sound.
A Sarinda is an
un-common stringed and bowed instrument. It has a very high pitched but
enchanting sound and is commonly used in Pashto music. It is played while
sitting on the ground just like most south asian intruments. It is generally
played joyously but can be played otherwise.
is without any doubt unusual, not just because the only person (Zarnosh) that
plays it, has also invented it. But the whole instrument is two six inch wheat
stems not even attached to one another. Both the stems are flatened on one end,
(like a reed) and a constant flow of air is blown through the flatened ends. One
of the stems has just three frets and the other has none. It is played by
maintaining a pocket of air in the mouth which is blown into the stems and
simultaneously intaking air through the nasal passage to maintain a constant
sound. It sounds like an Indian snake charmer's wind instrument (Been).
Duprai/Dukrai is the Indian Tabla. A pair of percussion
instrument played by highly skilled players when played classical. It is very
commonly used throught the world. It is played a little bit differently in
Pashto music, since most of Pashto music has a Greek/Macedonian type beat. Tabla
players around the Pashto music listening areas are commonly observed pasting
dough onto the center of the larger of the drum pair to improve the sound.
A Mangay is a
recepticle used for the storage of water, and has been used as such for
thousands of years. It has a wide belly with about a four inch opening at the
neck. It is used as a musical instrument only when completely dry. It is played
with the flat palm of one hand, trapping and releasing air in the Mangay,
producing a booming sound, and with the other hand, softly striking its outside
either with a finger-ring, a coin or a pebble. To produce a greater boom, a
sheet of inner auto-tyre tube rubber is tightly tied onto the neck of the Mangay
and is beaten with the hand like a drum. To further enhance the sound, it is
accompanied by a "Chillum" (the base of a hubble-bubble or a waterpipe) into
which water is poured, proportionate to sound desired, and is beaten with a soft
shoe sole producing a sharper and higher pitched boom. Played together with a
Chatralay Sitar is trancedental.
A dol is a two
sided percussion instrument, which comes in many sizes, It is sometimes played
by striking it with bare hands and sometimes with wooden sticks. It is widely
used all over the Indian sub-continent. In Pashto speaking areas, it is commonly
used by the Khattak tribe, to a distinct beat, of which the Khattak dance is
performed. It can be, and is used as a stand-alone instrument which accompanies
wedding songs sung generally by women in the many thousands of villages and
towns of south Asia.
Besides the Musical
instruments mentioned above, there are many others, like Cheng, Dutara, Gungru,
Naghara, Santoor, Surna, Tambal, etc. that are used in Pashto Music, inluding
most european and eastern ones.