Recommendations for ROAM Action Research Project

A coherent plan for the sustainable revival of music and music education is essential. In particular, priority needs to be given to the development of a national music education strategy. Given the great poverty of Afghanistan and the lack of infrastructure, such an ambitious plan can succeed only with the support of international community working through the co-operation of the Afghan government and local musicians.

1. The establishment of a centre for the revival and promotion of music in Afghanistan

  • To supervise and co-ordinate the rebuilding of Afghan music via a representative committee of domestic and international stakeholders. Duties to include professional, financial, administrative and media support to the project.
  • To be located in Kabul with an office at Monash University in Melbourne.
  • To monitor the existing range of activities to ensure the development of a sustainable national plan.
  • To oversee the other initiatives identified below.

 2. The establishment of a vocational secondary school of music

  • To encourage boys and girls in Afghan music traditions and to produce graduates for further tertiary and professional training in musical theory and practice.
  • To develop new musical educational curricula reflecting the wide range of Afghan and foreign traditions of music (especially Afghan and Western classical).
  • To encourage international exchange programs involving school students and teachers with like-minded groups, for example in Australia (where various youth orchestras would be interested in such an exchange).

Note – The latest development about this project and the establishment of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music can be seen at the following website:

3. The promotion of tertiary musical education

  • To encourage graduates from the professional secondary school of music to continue studies at the Music Department of Kabul University.
  • To develop proper musical infrastructure at the university.
  • To encourage the revival of tertiary musical education through international exchange programs for teachers and students.
  • To encourage research into the science of music, musicology/ethnomusicology and the making of musical instruments via international links, including the Monash University partners in this project.

4. Revival of Afghan musical forms and compositional structures

By their inclusion in the musical education curricula at secondary and tertiary levels and by encouraging musicians to perform and create new compositions and tunes in those Afghan music genres that are now threatened with extinction.

5. Revival of the theoretical basis of Afghan classical music

  • By documentation of oral traditions and radio programs about classical music.
  • By publishing contemporary musical treatises and the documentation of oral traditions with scholarly commentary and critical analysis. These will be used for teaching and learning.

6. Rebuilding the traditions of Afghan folk music

  • By transcribing Afghan folk songs in Western staff notation.
  • By using this notation as a part of educational curriculum as material for solfa training in singing and in ear training.
  • By encouraging urban musicians to rework and make the Afghan folk songs part of their repertoire.
  • By establishing appropriate training in the making of musical instruments and their repair in secondary and tertiary music education.
  • By initiating and sponsoring the opening of workshops, and providing financial and technical support to musical instrument makers.

 7. The development of an archive for Afghan music

  • Establish an archive at Kabul University to act as a repository for musical records, copies of academic work on Afghan music, copies of Dari/Persian musical treatises, etc. Dr Ahmad Sarmast is willing to contribute from his private library and recording archive to make this possible.
  • To provide an archive for scholars, teachers, students, musicians and the media to use as a reference library

8. Rebuilding the Kharābāt

  • Rebuilding the musicians’ quarter Kharābāt in Kabul would preserve a district of great historical cultural importance.
  • The area should not become a museum but a place of active learning, mentoring and performance.
  • A unique institution of this kind could act as a focus for cultural tourism to Afghanistan.

 9. The formulation of a policy for music broadcasting

The democratic spirit of Afghanistan tolerates a wide variety of foreign and domestic music, but at the moment the latter is severely disadvantaged. Incentives need to be designed not merely to rebuild traditions inside Afghanistan but also to make those traditions appealing to the media and the international public by:

  • Encouraging small Afghan ensembles to play on community occasions and during official engagements.
  • A media program to highlight the individual achievements of artists and artisans.
  • Government sponsorship for Afghan musicians to travel abroad and establish an international platform for their domestic popularity.
  • The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of Afghanistan, with the agreement of the General Director of Afghanistan National Radio and Television, should provide private commercial radio and television stations with selected copies of the archived tapes of Afghan musicians.
  • A youth policy for encouraging young people to perform Afghan music individually or in bands – perhaps by organising a national competition along the lines of ‘Afghan Stars’.