We finished one semester there, and then in the winter of 1990, the Institute closed because of the conflict that grew into Tajikistan’s civil war. We had to leave Dushanbe and return to Badakhshan. Half the city of Dushanbe left.” Eventually, Soheba and other ensemble members regrouped under the umbrella of the regional drama theater in Khoroq, where they played music for theatrical productions and gave concerts. Their music-making extended beyond the theater, and at many events they were joined by Jonboz Dushanbiev, a charismatic ghijak (spike fiddle) player a generation older than Soheba and her cohort, with a broad knowledge of Badakhshani music, poetry, and musical instrument-building. The Badakhshan Ensemble takes its name from the mountainous region - poetically known in Persian as Bam-i Dunya, the “Roof of the World” - that comprises the sparsely populated eastern half of Tajikistan and northeast Afghanistan.
There, nestled in a series of riverine valleys that descend from the Pamir Mountains to the Panj River, the boundary line between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, are scores of small settlements whose inhabitants have cultivated a vibrant tradition of devotional song, dance, and contemplative instrumental music. Badakhshani music and dance represent a distinct cultural practice within Central Asia that has been shaped by the combined forces of geography, history, language, and religion. The Badakhshan Ensemble’s repertory encompasses a variety of musical styles and genres, and each corresponds to one of the distinct social roles that the Ensemble fills in its own community. The most typical of these roles is to provide music for wedding festivities.
“We don’t perform folklore at weddings,” Soheba said matter-offactly. “If we did, no one would hire us. What people want to listen and dance to is pop music.” The pop music Soheba had in mind is a local variety that combines the unmistakable melodic intervals, piercing vocal timbres, and loping rhythms of Badakhshani songs with the accompaniment of synthesizer, bass guitar, and electrified Pamiri instruments. Such hybrid pop music exists in myriad local forms throughout the former USSR and is rooted in older styles of tradition-based popular song that developed during the Soviet era. Another of the Badakhshan Ensemble’s community roles is to perform devotional songs at a variety of ritualized events.
These include all-night gatherings following the death of a community member, weekly Thursday evening and Friday prayer meetings, and celebrations linked to Nawruz (traditional New Year) and Ramadan. Many if not most Badakhshanis are Shia Ismaili Muslims, and the Ismaili spiritual and devotional tradition has had a strong and abiding influence on Pamiri expressive culture. Ismaili communities have existed in the Pamir Mountains for close to a millennium. Soheba Davlatshoeva - vocals Olucha Mualibshoev - vocals Aqnazar Alovatov - vocals Mukhtor Muborakqadamov - setâr Shodi Mabatqulov - daf Jonboz Dushanbiev - ghijak Ghulomsho Safarov - Pamiri tanbur Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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