In the winter of 1975, Nazir Jairazbhoy made a three-week fieldtrip to Pakistan that extended from the Hindu Kush mountains to the southern tip of Sindh. The California-based former music professor of folk and classical music, clicked photographs and recorded sounds of the various forms of folk music being created by tribes in the mountainous region.
Two years after Jairazbhoy passed away, his wife, Amy Caitlin- singer and ethnomusicologist, screened a documentary, ‘Sounds and Stills’ at the 14th Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on Monday.
“It was fascinating to hear the sound of galloping horses created using native percussion instruments such as the ‘bandu’ and ‘wach’ in a village called Kalash, and see women decorated with red beads, dancing to the tunes of vocal drones,” said Caitlin.
“Though the photographs for the documentary were shot almost four decades ago, most musicians have stayed true to their art. For instance, Sain Mushtaq living in the Baluchistan district of Pakistan continues to enchant with his vocal drone,” she added.
Caitlin said during the trip, her husband made notes of his travel. “He wrote that the people from the Kalash tribe had light green eyes, which proved their close link to the Greeks. Also, some tribal men converted their families to Islam.”
Caitlin believes that folk music should be used as a means to strengthen diplomatic ties. “The folk tunes are the purest form of music from a region, uninfluenced by the rest of the world,” she said. Caitlin’s efforts to screen the documentary in 2008 were spiked by the November 26 terror attacks in the city.