Repatriating music

February 15, 2002

An Afghanistan Music Unit has been launched at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Its director, John Baily, has studied the music of Afghanistan for nearly 30 years.

The unit aims to monitor the rebuilding of music culture in Afghanistan. Dr Baily believes that freedom of musical expression in Afghanistan will be an indicator of the assertion of other human rights. In the past, popular music had an important role bringing together different ethnic groups in a common form of expression, and in the emergence of a pan-Afghan identity.

Dr Baily has more than 200 hours of recordings made in the 1970s of music from Herat in western Afghanistan. The unit plans to edit a series of 20 to 30 CDs and cassettes to allow the music to be repatriated to Herat.

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