Afghan Music (Harmonium)

Posted on 03. Dec, 2013 by in culture

Short Information regarding Harmonium     (معلومات کوتاه درباره هارمونیم)

When the British came to India in the 18th century, they brought their harmoniums also. Although the foot pedal was still retained, the hand pumped version was introduced. When the harmonium came across to North Indian musicians, they immediately favored this instrument for few reasons. When the hand pumped version came out, it did not require foot pedals. For an Indian musician, it was discipline and practice to sit on the floor. Thus, this format of a floor organ worked well. Secondly, the harmonium was able to go with the flow of the voice pretty well. One hand was required to pump air; it was not a problem, because Indian music does not have chords. Since Indian music is primarily melodic, only hand was needed to pump and one hand was needed to play the melody.

Now countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are using this instrument, the harmonium has been used in almost all genres of music.


PARTS OF THE HARMONIUM (پارتهای هارمونیم)

 BELLOWS– (پکه) the bellows is a series of metal tongues which allow the air flow. The bellows must be pumped by hand allow air to flow into the harmonium to produce sounds. The left and right ends of the bellows usually has a metal bar or latch. These latches are on both sides to assist right and left handed players at their comfort. More about left and right handed positions in the next chapter.

KEYBOARD- (کیبورد) this is the most important and unique feature of a harmonium. The keyboard allows one to play melodies. Each key, when played, produces a unique sound. The structure and format of the keyboard resembles a piano. The function and theory will be discussed in great detail in the second unit.

MAIN STOPS- (بندهاې بزرګ) Main stops are the bigger knobs on the harmonium. The purpose of the main stops is to direct air flow. Selecting a certain number of stops in a certain order can affect how the sound comes out.  If no stops are pulled out, then no sounds will be produced, regardless of the amount of air being pumped into the harmonium. There are a few things that your harmonium might not have. Stops are one of them. If you do not have stops, don’t panic. You will still get sound, but the whole harmonium will be having a uniform sound.

DRONE STOPS (بندهاې کوچک) (not shown) – The function of these stops are to produce a constant sound of a single note. Again, not all harmoniums will have this feature.

پکه – Bellows- also means Fan

بزرګ – big

کوچک – small

بندهاې – stops

پارتهای – Parts

موسیقې – music

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Afghan Nekah and wedding

Posted on 25. Nov, 2013 by in culture

Afghan society is very family oriented. Many social events and traditional ceremonies are celebrated with immediate and extended family members, neighbors, and friends. Being a traditional society, Afghanistan has many ceremonies with roots in tradition and religion. Two important occasions that bring friends and relatives together are births and weddings (عروسى). (Dari Alphabet for عروسى ع ر و س ى)

In the countryside, the birth of a baby boy may be celebrated with gunfire if the boy is born to well-off parents. Relatives, friends, and neighbors visit and a major celebration takes place on the sixth evening after the birth, and people bring gifts for the newborn.

Afghans marriages take place through matchmaking by parents and/or older relatives.

Engagement is a smaller ceremony called shireeni khori, (شيريني خوري) eating sweets. (Dari Alphabet for شيريني خوري خ و ر ى – ش ى ر ن ى  )

Preparations for the wedding are elaborate and take place days in advance. On the eve of the wedding, the religious ceremony called nekah (نکاح) (Dari Alphabet for نکاح ن ک ا ه )

takes place first. This is when the bride must audibly agree to her marriage to the groom in order for the marriage to be legal. Nekah is attended by close family members of the bride and the groom. Both parties mutually agree and enter into this contract; both bride and groom have the liberty to define various terms and conditions of their liking and make them a part of this contract.

Mahr (مهر) (Dari Alphabet for مهر م ه ر)

The marriage-gift (Mahr) is a divine injunction. The giving of mahr to the bride by the groom is an essential part of the contract.

Sermon (خطبه نکاح) (Dari Alphabet for خطبه نکاح خ ط ب ه  ن ک ا ه )

The assembly of nikah is addressed with a marriage sermon (khutba-tun-nikah) by the Muslim official. In marriage societies, normally, a state appointed Muslim judge called Qazi (قاضى) (Dari Alphabet for قاضى ق ا ض ى) the nikah ceremony and keeps the record of the marriage contract. However any trust worthy practicing Muslim can conduct the nikah ceremony, as Islam does not advocate priesthood. The documents of marriage contract/certificate are filed with the mosque (masjid) and local government for record.

After the sermon all members praise each other and elaborate feast, music, and dancing follow.


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What is that Mountain Proverb in Dari?

Posted on 22. Jul, 2013 by in culture, language


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Today’s post is a response to one of our readers who have asked us to teach him the Dari proverb that says, “There is a road to the top of even the highest mountain”.  No wonder Afghans use mountains in their proverbs. When you go to Afghanistan there are very few places that you will not see mountains. They are everywhere! Anyways, let’s get to the bottom of the proverb about the mountain. The proverb in Dari is کوه هر قدر بلند باشد باز هم سر خود راه دارد.                [ koh har dadar boland bashad baaz ham sar e khod rah darad].

This proverb is used to motivate people to not give up and keep trying. Sometimes it is also used to describe that regardless of how powerful someone is there is still someone else more powerful than him or her. It can be used in many different contexts, however as the learners of Dari as a second language I encourage you to go for the first option and use it to motivate people, because that is the most appropriate and common use. Also other usages require a deeper understanding of the context and culture.

The following is the vocabulary used in the proverb:

کوه          koh                         mountain

بلند        boland                    high

باز هم     baaz-ham              still

راه         rah                         way/path/road

دارد       darad                    He/she/it has

And finally, here is the literal translation of the proverb: “however much a mountain higher is, still on it

a way it has.” We usually include the literal translation of the resentences in order to help you see how the structures of the sentences in Dari work. For example, in the literal translation above, we can see that the verb “has” is at the very end of the sentence which shows us that the verb in Dari comes at the very end of a sentence.

Please leave your comments and questions in the comment area and we will be happy to respond.