The Revival of Afghan Music (ROAM) Action Research Project

The revival of Afghan music and music education in Afghanistan should be viewed as one of the most important measures that can be taken to rebuild this traumatised nation. The healing powers of music are too well known to rehearse here. In addition, the rejuvenation of music contributes directly to the building of a viable democracy. Democracy needs more than bricks, concrete, irrigation systems and parliaments – democracy needs to be sustained by a viable civil society. Civil society includes the musicians, artisans and musical traditions of Afghanistan – together they provide a living thread between the cultural achievements of the past and the future of the nation.

The Revival of Afghan Music (ROAM) project is a cooperative effort of the Monash Asia Institute, the Monash School of Music – Conservatorium, the Monash Science Centre, and the Friends of ROAM. The idea for the ROAM project was initiated and developed by Dr Ahmad Sarmast, Honorary Research Fellow of the Monash Asia Institute and the Monash School of Music – Conservatorium.

The ROAM project has been discussed with appropriate Afghan authorities, cultural and educational institutions, national and international NGOs and local Afghan musicians from 22 November to the 16 December of 2005. This resulted in completion of a report called Music in Afghanistan Today, and nine specific Recommendations to assist the revival and promotion of music in Afghanistan. We are pleased to announce that in all of our consultations the ROAM project has met with enthusiastic support in Afghanistan and Australia.

Why ROAM ?

ROAM is important to the revival and promotion of music and music education in Afghanistan for the following reasons:

  • Unique : no other project of this type exists;
  • Supported : The ROAM has the support of Afghan Governmental institutions, national and international NGOs, and many Afghan musicians;
  • Focussed : It suggests concrete steps to be taken towards rebuilding musical life in Afghanistan;
  • Guided : ROAM is designed and will be implemented by a native musician and musicologist, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, who has a deep knowledge of both Afghan and Western music traditions, and an intimate knowledge of the difficulties that musicians face in that country.

What ROAM is trying to achieve?

  • to rebuild and improve the shattered music and lives of musicians in Afghanistan in a manner that is sustainable in the long run;
  • to revive Afghan traditional musical forms and instruments;
  • to develop a national music education policy;
  • to encourage the younger generation in Afghanistan to rediscover and be proud of traditional Afghan music

In recognition of the ambitious scope of ROAM, we have commenced with a Pilot Project to implement one of the nine Recommendations of the Music in Afghanistan Today report. This Pilot Project focuses on the musical education of Afghanistan’s orphans. Once this is achieved, ROAM will broaden its focus and implement the other recommendations, as funding becomes available.