Indian/Pakistani Folk Music

I’ve always really enjoyed traditional Indian and Pakistani music especially the Tabla and have been lucky enough to hear the real thing live in India on a few occasions I am though fairly ignorant and want to start a small collection.

I can and will use Google and Youtube myself but if there are any fellow lovers with recommendations they will be really appreciated I’ve already found Zakir Husain and his father and Ustad Tari Khan the Pakistani maestro is incredible.

I’ve a feeling that properly recorded Tabla will sound very good through my set up.


A couple of albums which I enjoy are:

Jan Garbarek (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone), Anouar Brahem (Oud) and Ustad Shaukat Hussain (Tabla).


Ragas and Sagas

Jan Garbarek (Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone), Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (Voice), Ustad Shaukat Hussain (Tabla), Ustad Nazim Ali Khan (Sarangi), Deepika Thathaal (Voice) and Manu Katché (Drums).


I do rather enjoy Indian Hindi folk and pop, but alas have no grasp of Hindi… but it was very much the sound scape when I toured around Rajasthan … music was everywhere and alive with the people.
I find Munni Ketkiwali really embraces the traditional Hindi folk song sound you seem to hear everywhere with Indian instruments and their chromatic keys and rhythms. I suspect this more India than Pakistan.

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Nustat -Fateh-Ali-Khan & Michael Brook – Night Song



Do explore Trilok Gurtu (available of Spotify and Tidal) and Bickram Ghosh for their percussion
Do consider south indian classical percussion via Artists like Selvaganesh

I was very impressed by how my new Naim system responded to Indian classical/Folk. Listening much more these days!


Many Indian folk/classical singers came from pakistan and vice versa. They are welcomed and much enjoyed across these manmade borders. The music is one and the same (as are the people)

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Amjad Ali Khan:

Not traditional Indian/Pakistani folk music, but there are also a few “east meets west” crossover artists i really like, including:

Al Gromer Khan (German born sitar player):

Bruce Kaphan (pedal steel guitar player), his 2001 album “Slider” is really great:

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My wife’s parents are from a part of India that was ceded to the country we now call Pakistan after partition in 1947. So she and they very much regard themselves as Indian and by default Pakistani.

Music is a rich part of the family heritage and I have been fortunate to imbibe much of this culture. Singers (from pop to folk to Quwali and other forms) form a big part of my families musical enjoyment, and all are usually accompanied by Indian percussion and stringed instruments. It’s been a wonderful and expansive musical enlightenment for me down the years.

Some favourites, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Noor Jehan, Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, all cover or specialise in the above bases in varying ways.

Tabla is very much a part of the Indian Classical (Hindustani) canon, mostly as an integral part of the ensemble usually led by a sitarist and or sarod and tamboura.

Nothing sounds quite like tablas, sarods and sitars live in concert, but for me it’s the drone of the tamboura that is quintessential to this particularly distinctive music.

And Hi-Fi wise, I agree the sound is often captured superbly in a recording. A lot of the Pakistan and India EMI label recordings from the 1950s which we play sound stunning. The tablas and the drones of the tamboura interplay so well with the sitars, and sometimes the voices.


This is purely a music thread and my title was not in anyway meant to start a debate on borders, partition or anything like that.

I said Pakistani music because there is music from there that has a definite flavor to call it North Indian is just confusing.

Unknown travelling musicians at Pushkar Camel Fair Rajasthan I went myself in 2005 and for a music lover it’s just incredible. The large circular structure at the start is actually a wall of death I watched two motorcyclists and a Fiat Uno ride around it whilst weaving in and out of one another still remains one of the craziest things I’ve seen.

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It’s the clay pot that intrigues me. I believe it’s called a Ghatam (spelling?). The guys can get some amazing sounds & rhythms from them.


The second player whose with the Nazimi Brothers gets some weird sounds using a small metal hammer to change the pitch.

Sure, I have only travelled around parts of northern India, but never been to Pakistan, so obviously couldn’t comment on prevalent folk music one hears there …

Yes, I know, so my apologies if what I’ve written infers I was instigating a border debate.

Musically, at least in my extended family, there’s reference to and a love of regional music but not “Pakistani” or “Indian” music, as such.

That’s maybe because my wife’s parents have tragic knowledge of the events of partition and prefer to see the culture as many hued and disparate but not inextricably, and potentially nationalistically, linked to the name of one country or another.

Thank you for summing up more concisely what I was more or less trying to say.

The french label Ocora has a lot of recordings of indian classical (but also folk) and pakistani music worth checking out.

And if you are really adventurous there was also a french label specialised in south and north indian classical music called Makar. Unfortunatly it is hard to come by but you may be able to find some records on Discogs.

Okay so I’ll say that the music from that area that to my ears has some distinct regional differences the music of North Western India and confuse everyone who’ll think I mean Himachal Pradesh.

And for those members who identify themselves as distinctly Pakistani do I run the risk of offending them by calling Tari Khan Indian and whilst we are at it we could try calling Waqar Younis an Indian cricketer see how that goes down.

We must also not confuse South Asian Folk with 'Indian 'Classical (which is very austere like classical everywhere).
The best folk I ever heard was listening live to Baul musicians in Bangladesh! Very hard to get recordings…
There’s no risk of a border debate :slight_smile: That was my point. In India as well as in Pakistan music is happily without country or religion. Many great Pakistani musicians trained in Indian (Hindu and Muslim) Gharanas or ‘houses’ and the other way around.


Exactly that. Thank you.