New single out now: Nasim Khushnawaz

Sahargah (sunrise) is the first single from Afghan rubab master Nasim Khushnawaz – a beautiful rendition of a traditional folk piece from Herat.

As a master of the Afghan rubab, Nasim Kushnawaz hails from one of the most important musical lineages in Afghanistan. The son of Herati rubab maestro Ustad Rahim Khuhsnawaz, Nasim resides in exile in Iran, wherein he continues a four-generation tradition of performing exemplary Afghan, Khorasani and Herati playing techniques. Listeners will easily notice his keen ear for tempo and feeling as he sets up unexpected twists and turns throughout his music, making each segment more emotive and unpredictable than the last.

Songs From The Pearl of Khorasan contains eight tracks – five traditional Herati and three classical Afghani pieces. These songs truly gift listeners with an atmospheric feeling drawn deeply from Nasim’s history and hometown. Song such as Ya Mawla remain popular in the public eye, crossing borders through covers performed by musicians across Afghanistan, Iran and the West. Nasim’s interpretation of the piece rings calmly with his essence – the precision and pace of each note standing testament to his instrumental mastery.

The first single from the record is Sahargah (sunrise), which takes influence from a traditional folk piece from Herat. The powerful rhythm emanates the traditions of the Persian empire, using a time signature conventional to classical Herati music. Delicate plucks, unexpected key changes and the ever-elusive tempo drive the music into a complex composition, layered in a way that allows its elements to cut each other apart. Between the deep drums and the intricate picking, a sense of wistfulness and yearning echoes out. Lovers of Khorosani music will notice the melodic use of the quartertone, never found in Afghan music but adopted from Hindustani influences dating back to the first quarter of the last century. The result mixes Rag Bhairavi and Shur modes, endemic to Iranian music.

Nasim’s prestige sits further than his music. His father, Ustad Rahim, was pivotal in the West’s first exposure to the Rubab as ethnomusicologist John Baily recorded and shared his record Rubab of Herat in the 1970s. Nasim himself sits as the subject of a documentary – Nasim, The Territory of Memory. His journey is truly unique – after surviving a car accident that left him in a coma for weeks, Nasim suffered from an amnesia that forced him to relearn both his family and the rubab once more. Songs From The Pearl of Khorasan is a reflection not just of Nasim’s talents, but of his enduring commitment to both the traditions of Afghan music and his family heritage.