Drumming to the Heartbeat of Afghan Music with Tabla Virtuoso Salar Nader - P2/2 (In Dari)    
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Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Dari and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

“NATURAL MAGNETISM!” - Los Angeles Times


“MAGIC!” - San Jose Mercury News


The pulsating sound of drums, the world’s oldest musical instrument, is like the rhythmic beating of our hearts. And in the pure hearts of the Afghan people, music forever resonates.

Elegant viewers, welcome to today’s Enlightening Entertainment as we journey on melodious notes to the culturally-rich land of Afghanistan, where the drumming of the tabla reveals the epic history and vibrant heritage of this ancient people.

Our 2-part program features tabla virtuoso Salar Nader, who translates beats and rhythms into a heartfelt experience through his drumming. He is one of the most sought-after percussionists of his generation, having performed throughout the world and with some of the most esteemed classical musicians such as popular Afghan ghazal singer Ahmad Wali, and master Pakistani vocalist Ghulam Ali Khan to name a few.

Hailed by the media as a “singular sensation”, Salar Nadar composed music and performs on the tabla drums for the theatrical adaptation of renowned Afghan author Khaled Hussaini’s #1 best-selling novel, “The Kite Runner.”

The tabla drum is indeed a unique musical instrument. During Supreme Master Television’s interview, Salar graciously demonstrated the special characteristics of the tabla and the mnemonic syllables of North Indian percussion playing.

Tabla, north Indian percussion instrument that’s used in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, right hand drum for me is the which plays melodies as well as different notes.

So you have this tuned to one pitch. So in our case, it’s tuned to a C sharp. Then you have a range of tonal of possibilities.

And then you have different syllables, the language of the tabla.

So these are the different vocabulary that’s used in tabla. So I’m not just playing, I’m actually singing and playing either vocally or in my mind, so it’s all one.

A visit to Kabul sparked this talented musician’s greater understanding of his ancestral roots.

The region of South Asia and Central Asia and the Silk Road has always been a region of trade and exchange; be it language, culture, food, and music. So the music that is performed in Northern India has heavily influenced Afghanistan’s ghazal and classical music.

In the early 1800s, there are masters that came into Afghanistan and were actually brought in as court musicians, and who are eventually paid by the government to teach and have institutions in Afghanistan. So there’s an area called Spoken in Afghan words as well as Spoken in Afghan words which still this day, those musicians, their descendants, their grandsons are still, living, practicing this music, teaching.

And just back in July, I met some of these musicians when I went back to Kabul. So it’s really amazing to see how there’s people who actually have curated the tradition and are making sure that we hold onto this, because this is actually something that’s very original and that’s been actually passed down to me and therefore, it’s our duty to actually do that for the oncoming generation. So we keep our culture and arts alive.

For hundreds of years, an ancient part of Kabul called Kharabat Street was synonymous with Afghan music, where most of the musicians lived, learned and breathed their craft. Musical notes wafted through the air, coming from all the homes that lined the legendary lane.

Well, Afghanistan actually has, I want to say from what I’ve noticed, at least 25 to 30 different styles and subjects in their musical tradition. Of folk, there’s all kinds of folk that lend themselves to that particular province.

Logard which has logari style of music. Kabuli which is different, completely, and then you also have the pop singers, who actually sing styles of music that’s heavily influenced by let’s say American and Western, and you’ll have more electronic music that’s being used and keyboards and whatnot.

Music definitely has a power to uplift and soothe our souls. This is especially evident through the uplifting melodies and songs of the Afghan people.

Each song has a story to tell and the different poets and the poetries that they’ve composed have carried along with it thousands of years of the tradition of the culture of the Afghan people. So it’s something that’s very dear to them and has a very spiritual and mystic effect.

Afghan music is a very happy and festive music. The mood that it evokes is very joyous and peaceful, and obviously right now the world could use a lot of peace and harmony and music is one way, in any country or region, music is the words that are spoken from the heart and which are very peaceful and have that healing power and if you open up your heart to it and absorb it, it has one of the greatest feelings the world. So Afghan music has that kind of power and those ingredients which can affect their mind and soul in a very positive way.

Salar explains how the time-honored traditions of Afghan musicians serve them more than just in the training of their art but also in life.

In our tradition, we’re supposed to practice at least 6 to 8 hours in a day. So if you can imagine 24 hour clock, you would hopefully sleep for eight hours and then practice your tabla for 8 hours, and the next 8, you have to integrate your 3, 4 meals a day and Facebook and emails and website and this and that. One has to dedicate and sacrifice, make sacrifices in their life to be able to pursue this art.

And as a student of Ustad Zakir Hussain’s, I can say that I’ve tried to do the best that I can do, as far as myself is concerned. And what I do is practice as much as I can, daily, and that’s really a spiritual thing in itself. You’re alone in one room with your instrument and you’re practicing these compositions that are hundreds and hundreds of years old, just like the poetries. And it’s a very spiritual thing in itself.

When you’re within a tradition where you’re taught to respect your instrument the way you do, that also channels onto human respect. And just the respect and the discipline itself helps you in all other aspects in life.

Afghan novelist Khaled Hussaini’s debut book, “The Kite Runner” was an international best seller. The story touches upon all the greatest themes in life – friendship, loyalty, redemption and love. A movie as well as theatrical adaptation has been inspired by the movie. Salar collaborated to bring the play to life with authentic sounds of Afghanistan.

With Khaled Hussaini, we’ve actually known each other since, I want to say, 1994, maybe before that, and it’s very funny how we actually met because we weren’t introduced at that time, I was only 12, and actually he was getting engaged to a family relative of my mother’s.

At the time, this was before “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and all that, and I actually would plead and beg to whoever’s higher to play tabla that night and if I can just play for like one or two songs or three songs or something like that, so of course they would give me a chance to play,

and years later, at Khaled’s book signing, I approached him to talk about “The Kite Runner” and he mentioned to me that he knew exactly who I was, and that I performed at his engagement, and I didn’t remember immediately then, but then I went back and shuffled through like old pictures, and I found a few pictures of that night, and I said like, “Wow, it’s amazing how everything kind of comes back full circle.”

What experiences of the play have you enjoyed the most, or what surprised you the most?

Even though we perform 45 nights in a row except Mondays, it’s very nice to see the reaction of people who are actually non-Afghan, who are really, really being drawn in and becoming really close and aware of the Afghan cause and the Afghan people and the fact that Afghans are a human race like anybody else in the world, and they’re just as loving and just as hospitable as any other culture. So it’s very nice to see that the play has created that kind of vibration amongst people.

Having worked with esteemed musicians of all nationalities, Salar’s adds a unique sound to his extensive repertoire by harmoniously melding the musical qualities of other cultures. Another endeavor to which Salar devotes his time is the ensemble he founded, Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan (SARA), which comprises of himself on tabla, along with Homayun Sakhi playing rubab, dorya player Abbos Kosimov and vocalist Humayun Khan.

The group consists of four musical members, and then we also have different dance elements. Afghan national dance, which is called attan and that’s performed by female dancers. So it’s a very important thing for me to be able to bring out with female performers so the world can see what kind of beautiful performances we have in Afghanistan that consist of female dancers, and or vocalists or instrumentalists.

One really important date that I have to announce is April 24 of 2011 is going to be our premiere conference in San Francisco, and I really, really have to urge the communities who are in California to come out and experience this music, because it’s very different from what they’ve heard before, and

like I mentioned earlier, it’s very happy and it can help move your body, and it can help you forget about anything else you may be thinking about that day and come for those two or three hours and let this musical group kind of caravan you through, Afghanistan for those couple hours, because it will be an experience that’ll give you a few minutes to experience the sounds of Afghanistan.

What message would you like to convey to aspiring Afghanistan musicians and what advice would you give them?

There are many, many talented Afghans in the world and if they have the opportunity to go and be groomed by a master musician like I have, it’s only going to help them, become a better human being and musician, and that’s part of the package. So I just recommend for them to have the proper training guidance and if this is their dream, to pursue it the right way.

We conclude today’s show with heartfelt words from Salar Nader about the importance of preserving the heritage of the world’s people.

I’d like to thank Supreme Master Television for working with my schedule and being able to balance things out, the last six months have been quite hectic and on the road from Kabul to Europe and now Bahrain and now back to the Bay Area, and I’m really, really happy that you’ve been able to preserve the culture and arts through what you do and through the fact that you presented for people to see.

And that’s what actually in fact keeps our traditions and our music, our art, culture alive and presented to the masses and people out there. So once again, I’d like to thank Supreme Master Television for having me and inviting me. And thank you very much.

Our warmest appreciation to you, Salar, for your magical tabla performances that bring joy to all hearts and listeners. May Allah bless you evermore with continued success in your uplifting endeavors.

For more about tabla virtuoso Salar Nader and his performances, please visit:

Thank you for joining us today. Words of Wisdom is up next after Noteworthy News. Let us unite in harmony through the universal language and music.
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