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Mary Louise Clifford

Afghan music and dance

Clifford, Mary Louise: "Afghan music and dance", Tradition and Art 060, p. 23, Athens, I.O.F.A., November – December 2001. From her book: The land and people of Afghanistan. New York, Lippincott, 1962.

Afghan music and dance

Afghan music, which is monadic and modal, seems somewhat easier to listen to than most oriental music. Afghan orchestras usually contain several native stringed instruments, the saranda, robab, del-roba, tambur, and santur. The tablas, a small drum, is the principal percussion instrument, and the Indian harmonium (a sort of treble accordian) is often used. The tribes use more primitive instruments: the end-blown flute, a two-stringed dambura, and the heavy keg-shaped dohol drum.

Public dancing on holidays and festival days is a truly exciting sight. The men dance in groups of from twenty to a hundred or more, revolving around a stake or a fire in ever-widening circles. They keep the center of the circle on their left in order to swing swords or guns with their right hand. The national attan dance begins slowly with a series of sedate figures, which gradually increase in tempo and emphasis until the final movements seem a wild frenzy. The dances are accompanied and paced by village minstrels playing the drum and reed flute, while both dancers and musicians chant the songs in chorus, punctuated by clapping, shouting, and stamping.

Clifford, Mary Louise

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