Quraishi – Pure & True Rubab

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Quraishi – “Badakshi”
Pure & True Rubab

While global music continues to grow out of every country, Afghanistan’s current instrumental music scene has been a bit quiet after years of war and Taliban repression. Quraishi is a traditional Afghani artist making traditional Afghani music for today. He plays the rubab, an ancient instrument belonging to the short-necked lute family. Quraishi’s father made his first rubab which is traditionally made from a single piece of mulberry wood with a skin face and bone or ivory inlay that may contain lapis lazuli or mother of pearl. The instrument has three melody strings and as many as twenty sympathetic strings which are tuned to the modes or ragas. It’s no wonder that this beautiful instrument with its rich voice and long history is the national instrument of Afghanistan.

While growing up in Kabul, Quraishi taught himself how to play the rubab and educated himself in the folk music of many ethnic groups, including the Pashtu, Uzbek, and Tajik. He studied Hindustani music theory, which serves as the foundation for Afghanistan’s art music. Quraishi does a fine job tying together classical Afgan court music with his own contemporary compositions. As this music is steeped in history, one can easily hear traces of India, China and the Far East on his Pure & True Rubab album, out on Evergreene Music. Underneath the surface of the music are the minor scales of the Middle East, the passion of Celtic music, the soulfulness of American blues and the improvisational style of jazz. These are the sounds of a timeless tradition meeting the modern age.

Joining Quraishi on Pure & True Rubab is master percussionist Chatram Sahni, who featured often on 1970s Afghan radio. Sahni plays all the traditional rhythms on the dhol, a tunable double-headed Afghani drum. These two talented musicians lock into some incredible musical exchanges. Quraishi will often start a tune out playing the rubab on his own and when Sahni comes in with the dhol, they get into a tight, hypnotic groove. Listen to “Badakshi” above to hear these two master performers in action. You can sample the album at soundcloud. Pure & True Rubab is a remarkable record that honors the traditions of Afghani musical history while taking a step towards the future.

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