UW Ethnomusicology Archives performance recordings: Ustad Mohammad Omar/Rabab, 1974-12-09  PDF

Overview of the Collection

University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
UW Ethnomusicology Archives performance recordings: Ustad Mohammad Omar/Rabab
1 items  :  2001-22.1 EC - 1 vct (VHS); 2001-22.2 EC - 1 vct (Betacam SP); 2001-22.1 WD - 1 DVD; Duration: 00:20:06
Collection Number
Video copy of performance by Ustad Mohammad Omar, recorded and filmed on December 9, 1974, by the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives.
University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
University of Washington
Ethnomusicology Archives
Box 353450
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-0974
Access Restrictions

Access is restricted.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ustad Mohammad Omar was(b Kabul, 1905; d Kabul, 1980) a Afghan rubāb player and composer . His father, Mohammad Ibrahīm, was a professional player of the rubāb (short-necked lute) and the tabla. Mohammad Omar received a basic training in the rubāb, but initially set out to be a singer, training in ghazal and rāga singing with Aghā Mohammad, the son-in-law of Ustād Qasem. Owing to illness (probably tuberculosis) he decided to give up singing and specialize in playing the rubāb, the double-chested plucked lute which is the national instrument. He became the principal rubāb player at Radio Afghanistan and the leader of various ensembles, and he also composed many instrumental sections (naghma) for popular songs and light instrumental pieces for small radio ensembles. In 1949 he was given the title of Ustād. He was recognized as a gifted teacher, and over the years was involved in a number of music education schemes. In 1974 he spent three months at the University of Washington, Seattle, as artist in residence.

He excelled at the rubāb but nevertheless sometimes used to complain from the point of view of a vocalist about its narrow ambitus (effectively one and a half octaves) and limitations for microtonal inflections and ornamentation. He made certain technical innovations, favouring a very large instrument, and modifying the bridge to raise the shortest sympathetic string so it could be used as a high drone. One of the best known and highly esteemed of Afghan musicians, his rubāb was the distinctive voice of Afghanistan as received by the radio audience.

- Grove Music Online, Abdul-Wahab Madadi and John Baily

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Video copy of original 16mm film footage produced in the UW Ethnomusicology Archives; for audio originals see collection AU1/74-16.

Contents: Rag Bayag (odo sanpuran) (10:00); Char Baite Pashtu (Keliwali) (4:43); Folk song with introductory improvisation in classical style (Qad bala sarwe rawan Laila) (5:23)

Film master transferred to VHS (2001-22.1 EC) and Betacam SP (2001-22.2 EC) by Alpha Video 9/2001; VHS copy digitized and DVD copy produced 5/2009 (2001-22.1 WD)

Mohammad Omar footage also included on W1 2007-19.3 (DVCAM)

Documentation: Film log

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Description Dates
2001022-0001: Studio Recording: Mohammad Omar
1 optical media : DVD - unpublished; Tracks: 3

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Rabāb
  • Video recordings in ethnomusicology
  • Geographical Names :
  • Afghanistan--Asia--Central Asia
  • Asia
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Video recordings
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Omar, Mohammad (performer)