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Ustad Noor Baksh (PAK)

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19:30 - 21:00
Concert hall
House of Music Hungary production

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Noor Bakhsh

Ustad Noor Baksh (PAK)

Story and music reinforce each other, when a recently, almost accidentally discovered, elderly Pakistani musician, a unique musical instrument and a complex musical repertoire meet. Ustad Noor Bakhsh lives in Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province, and is a master of a 20th century Balochi instrument, the benju (zither with a keyboard), which he has played since childhood. Noor Bakhsh is known as a legendary instrumental artist throughout the Makran region, but he has only received wider attention after his recent recordings – his debut album Jingul, 2022 – and videos. He was discovered by the world as a sensation with his debut album last year, and as a result he is embarking on his first European tour, including a performance at the House of Music - an unmissable opportunity to be part of a truly unique musical experience. Ustad Noor Bakhsh carries on the legacy of his teachers and inspirations, such as Bilawal Belgium and Misri Khan Jamali, but his own music draws influences from different traditions and musical forms that go far beyond Balochistan. His virtuosic playing is deeply rooted in Baloch musical forms and enriched by his knowledge of South Asian ragas, which he performs in his own experimental style.

The Story
A musician since childhood, Ustad Noor Bakhsh is a well-known local musician on the Makran coast, but even in Pakistan he had only recently caught the attention of a folk music researcher, Daniyal Ahmed, with a mobile phone recording, so much so that he got into a car in Karachi during the pandemic and set off without a clue to find the outstandingly talented musician. He got closer and closer to a solution, and finally found himself in a small village accessible only by a dirt road, and at a roadside tea shop, when asked the usual question about whether Ustad Noor Bakhsh was known, the attendant pointed across the road and said, "He's over there, trying to fix his motorbike, the chain fell off." Daniyal Ahmed spent days at Noor Bakhsh's, making audio and video recordings that quickly toured the world, and in September 2022 released his first full-length album, a major sensation on the global music scene last year, which is now being followed by a European tour that will also take him to the House of Music. Yeah, Noor Bakhsh himself doesn't know how old he is, his passport says he's well into his eighties, but he thinks the official paper is way off.

The Instrument
The benju is a 20th-century bladed Baloch instrument, best described as a keyboard citer, on which you press keys similar to a typewriter. The instrument's ancestor was a Japanese children's toy, the taishōkoto, and its cousins the African taarab and the Indian bulbul tarang, which were taken from and adapted by Baloch musicians and transformed into the sophisticated folk instrument of today. Noor Bakhsh plays an electric benju, which he amplifies with an old pickup and a small Phillips amplifier, bought in Karachi more than two decades ago, and as the prefix Ustad in front of his name shows, he is a master of the instrument.

The Music
Noor Bakhsh's repertoire brings together the music of many nations, and his virtuoso playing is a melting pot of music from many cultures. His songs feature Persian and Kurdish melodies, which were probably native to his land even before the modern borders of Iran and Pakistan were established and Balochistan was essentially divided. He also plays Arabic ghazals, Indian ragas and, of course, popular folk tunes in all the major languages spoken in Pakistan. His Sindhi repertoire is particularly innovative, reflecting the beautiful dialogue between the neighbouring musical cultures of Sindh and Balochistan. Not surprisingly, Noor Bakhsh also performs a number of Bollywood songs, which are very popular there. At the same time, he absorbed the sounds around him like a sponge, including the songs of all the birds in the hills and the birds that live near his village. In addition to his diverse repertoire, he has several original compositions, including one inspired by bird songs.

Music For listeners unfamiliar with Balinese music, Noor Bakhsh's electric benju voice and melodic embellishments might even evoke the guitar playing style of Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure, and the polyrhythmic beats sound with so much groove innovation and improvisation that they move the body in a way very similar to both West and East African music. Not surprising, given the well-documented migrations and seafaring, historic, intimate connections between Balochistan and Africa, across the greater Indian Ocean world. Ustad Noor Bakhsh's music also evokes this world through his music. He arrives and performs at the House of Music with a damboora (a blade-like, lute-like instrument) player.

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4 000 Ft
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