Performed by: Memet Tokhti and apprentices
Place: Kashgar city, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Recorded by: Rachel Harris and Aziz Isa
Date: August 2006
One of a series of pieces performed on the naghra (paired kettle drums) and sunay (shawm) to accompany the famous circling sama dance performed by large groups of local men on festival days outside Kashgar’s Heyitgah mosque. According to Memet Tokhti in 2006, naghra-sunay has been played for festivals on Heyitgah for over 100 years, and the men of his own family had maintained the tradition for four generations. He believed that the Kashgar sama tradition started with a Sufi mendicant called Teykhan Khojam from Namangan in the Ferghana valley who performed the sama dance outside the Heyitgah mosque after Friday prayers, and who was believed to have magical powers of healing. When permitted by the authorities, the dance is performed on the Rosi festival day after Ramadan, and the musicians play their ‘great pieces’ Shadiyana and Zor Naghmisi from the roof of the mosque throughout the day from morning until evening, stopping only for prayer times. During the Qurban festival of sacrifice they play for three days. The mosque invites them to perform and pays them for their work. The pieces take the form of suites, beginning with an unmetered ‘muqam’ introduction and moving through a series of metered pieces, mostly in short, regular dance rhythms, with a few pieces using spectacularly complex additive and limping rhythms.