Guest Concert: Chalpasah

Event Date: 9 October 2018
Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HD


The Royal Asiatic Society presents:


Japan’s only Afghan band
with an introduction by Professor John Baily

Chalpasah is a Japanese band specialized in Afghan music, established in 2007 by Chisato Yagi and Keiichi Sato. Since then, they have held more than 300 concerts in Japan including a performance at Tokyo’s Afghan Embassy attended by then Afghani president Hamid Karzai. They have also collaborated with Afghan folk musician Ustad Gul Zaman.

Chisato Yagi is a singer and self-taught tonbak player (also known as darbuka or derbeki) and has performed with several other ethnic music groups in Japan. As a percussionist, she was invited to 25th Medina Festival in Tunisia.

Keiichi Sato is a composer and Afghan rubab player. He is skilled in many European and Middle Eastern stringed instruments such as the lute, ud and buzuki. He is a member of the ‘Tokyo Shakespeare Company’ and frequently collaborates with other musicians.

The performance will be introduced by John Baily, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Goldsmiths and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit

Introduction by Professor John Baily (Goldsmith’s):

Concert First Half:

1. Da zmong zeba watan
This is our beautiful homeland

This is a famous song originally composed and performed by Ustad Awalmir (1931- 1982) who was a composer, musician, singer and poet. It is often considered an unofficial national anthem of Afghanistan.

2. Shakoko jan
Beloved Shakoko

One of the most popular traditional Afghan songs. “Shakoko” is a traditional girl’s name in Afghanistan.

The song starts with this sentence,
“I will sacrifice myself to my Shakoko, oh Shakoko…”

3. Az zoaf ba har ja ke rasidem watan shod
Because of our weakness

The lyrics are taken from the work of Taleb Amoli, (994-1036), a 17th century Persian poet:

Because of our weakness, everywhere we settled became our homeland
with our tears, desert turned to fields and with thread made of my sincerity I made a shirt
your cruelty turned this shirt into a kaftan (burial shroud)

4.Biyaa ke berem ba mazar
Come on let’s go to Mazar-e Sharif

This is a famous Afghan traditional song,popular not only in Afghanistan, but also in Iran, Tajikistan and Turkey.

Come on, let’s go to Mazar-e Sharif, Mullar Mahmad jan
Red tulips are blooming like red carpets, my beloved…

5. Begzar ta begiriyam
Let me cry

This song was composed by Ahmad Zahir (1946-1979), a very popular singer in Afghanistan.
The lyrics are taken from the work of the famous Persian poet Sa’di of Shiraz (1208- 1291) author of the Gulistan (Rose Garden).

Let me cry, like the clouds in spring since even rocks cry on the day of separation …

6. Gol-e seibam yar
My darling, Apple Blossom

Where were you last night?
– with my lover – oh how nice dear…

My kind dear, you look like flower leaves God make my heart full of your love
the day when I put my body in a grave worms will take your love from my heart…


Concert Second Half:


1. Az del-e man rafta
You’ve gone away from my heart

You’ve gone away from my heart so in the name of God,
I will never admire you.
you hurt my heart so in the name of God, I will never admire you…

2. Watan Janat neshan de
My country is like heaven

Patriotic song by Ustad Awalmir.

My country is like heaven and we love it better than ourselves
so we plant a lot of flowers
we are small birds and our country is a flower garden
we will protect them with all our strength we plant a lot of flowers in the free Afghanistan..

3. Sarzamin-e man
My country

The song refers to the tragic history of Afghanistan and is performed by the famous musician and singer Dawood Sarkhosh (1971-)

Without our homeland, wandering from one home to another
without you always wailing with sorrow

my country, I am tired of your cruelty
my country, without music and poetry, my country, full of pain but not healing

My country, who brings you this sorrow? My country, who treated you kindly?

4. Sheikh ahmad-e jan~Ai leili laleh-e sar
An instrumental tune composed for the rubab based on the performance of Ustad Rahim Khushnawaz (1943-), the great Herati rubab player.

The rubab is a short-necked lute made from the trunk of a mulberry tree; the body is covered by goat skin.
It has three melody strings, two or three drone strings and many sympathetic strings.

This is the national instrument of Afghanistan, and called “the lion of instruments” in Afghanistan.

5. Beshnaw az nai
Listen to the nay

The lyrics are taken from the “Masnavi” by Jalal al-Din al- Rumi (1207-1273). The Sufi poet who was born in Balkh and died in Konya.

Listen to the story of the reed, how it is complaining
it is telling about separations

ever since I was severed from the reed field,
men and women have lamented

anyone who has remained far from his roots
seeks a return to the time of his union

6. Jaama narenji
Orange Dress

A Herati traditional folk song.

Orange dress, orange cheek, for the sake of orange, darling
I have to run away to Morghab

your hair is like the strings of the rubab you’re in such a bad mood, so what do you want?

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