Famed Baloch banjo artist, Ustad Noor Bakhsh, and his fellow artist, Dushanbe, are drawing their European tour to a close. Their journey, which commenced in June, has seen them perform in numerous European countries, including Germany. The musicians are scheduled to return home following their next two programs.
The banjo, an instrument central to Baloch culture, features three tiers of note buttons on a wooden board, under which lie thin iron strings. By skillfully pressing these buttons and strumming the semi-circular hollow on the left side, musicians produce a range of tonal expressions. The instrument is typically used in Balochi songs and, to a lesser extent, Sindhi songs.
Their latest performance in Berlin, Germany’s capital, saw Ustad Noor Bakhsh and his team mesmerize hundreds of spectators with their talent. “The respect and admiration we’ve received from European audiences is deeply humbling,” Ustad Noor Bakhsh told The Balochistan Post.
Interestingly, the Balochi banjo, initially introduced in Balochistan as a Japanese toy, has emerged from being largely overlooked to becoming a significant musical instrument within the region. It is also gradually gaining international recognition.
Ustad Noor Bakhsh, a resident of the Shadi Kaur area in Balochistan, began his banjo journey at the tender age of 12. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with renowned singers from across Balochistan. “I translate the beauty of my homeland and the verses of Baloch poets into music with the strings of my banjo,” he explained.
It was a viral video clip on social media that initially caught the attention of Daniyal Ahmed who then sought out the artist in his village. According to the program manager, after hearing the viral video and discovering this extraordinary talented musician, Ahmed arranged to record Ustad Noor Bakhsh’s first album with a minimalist setup of just two microphones during sunset for a mesmerizing effect.
At present, Ustad Noor Bakhsh’s digital album ”Jengol” is drawing considerable attention and acclaim from the international press. Plans for a physical release of the album are in progress.