The Structure and Social Context of
Dajahilak of the Kalasha

Musical Performance of the Uchao Summer Festival


The Kalasha are isolated minority that inhabit the Hindu Kush Range in Pakistan. They have an acephalous society with their own language and culture. Festivals and ceremonies dominate the social life of the Kalasha and mostly always music plays an important role.

Dajahilak, consisting of song, dance, and the playing of two types of drums wach and dau, is the representative traditional music performed on these religious occasions. It is not performed by specialist musicians. but rather the entire society join in the performance.

The melody of dajahilak consists of two notes, a semi-tone apart. This is the only fixed characteristic of the melody as the singers sing at whatever pitch and in whatever style they please. and also, whenever they wish within this framework.

Thus, listening to its performance. various melodies are audible. and these give peculiar acoustics creating a sort of heterophony. Furthermore, a set structure, song, dance and drums are not intentionally performed together but each of them are enjoyed on their own. While this gives dajahilak a quality which could be described as separateness, this separateness has an order in itself which gives the performance a synthesis whole.

These traits of dajahilak can be correlated with social structure of the Kalasha. Namely it is a society where there are no leaders controlling the community life and where one's liberty is respected more than anything else.

ONGAKUGAKU XXXII(2) p.97 : Journal of the Musicological Society of Japan