Tribute to a Musical Giant: Khamisu Khan and Son

Posted on April 16, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, People
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Adil Najam

For the last one-and-half hour I have sat here totally transfixed. Utterly spellbound. I am as mesmerized by this magical sound today as I was the very first time I heard the legandry Alghoza (Alghozo, Beeno) maestro Khamiso Khan.

The sound grows on you slowly. And then, at some point, it takes hold of you. Your heads begins to swing. Your feet tap. The rhythm of the music resonates with your blood flow and you can no longer control that trance-like rhythmic quiver. For me that magical moment comes somewhere around minute 2:00 on this video and by minute 2:30 I – much like the then quite young Allan Fakir in this video – am no longer in control. It is the music that is in control of me. And I am so happy that it is.

I, of course, do not have the talents of Allan Faqir and do not break into the elegant dance that he does. But I too get that get that tingling feeling all over my body. I sit back and let the music overwhelm me. If someone were to see me they would probably laugh at me swinging unelegantly on my chair in front of my computer. But I care not. I am in bliss.

That is the effect this sound has always had on me. Years ago I used to have a cassette of Pakistani instrumental folk music (from the Institute of Folk Heritage) and I had it playing all the time in my car. One time I got so lost in the sound of Khamisu Khan’s Alghoza that I nearly had a serious accident!

I distinctly remember the first time I heard the Alghoza and by Khamiso Khan at that. It was a cultural stage show of some sort in Rawalpindi and I must have been around 9 or 10 years old. At that point it was probably not the sound as much as the persona and presence of this immensely regal, even majestic, man with his trimmed beard and elegant costume who was playing not one but two “flutes” and seemingly not needing to breathe while doing so! By the time I got to college I began to understand the daunting dimensions of the craft and skill of this master musician. It was no longer the persona but the art of the Alghozanawaz that was mesmerizing me. It still does.

I wish I had gotten to meet this great man. I never did. I learn only from this video that he was born in 1923 and died in 1983. But I did know of his stature within and outside Pakistan. More than that I always knew that in some magical way his sound was my own. He was from a generation of venerated performers in Pakistan that was really before my time but still forms part of the bedrock of my Pakistaniat: the showmanship of Faiz Baloch, the craft of Munir Sarhadi, the soulfulness of Pathanay Khan, the galmour of Waheed Murad, the hipness of Ahmed Rushdi, to name just a few.

What I had not known until today, however, was that the mastery of Khamisu Khan has been transferred to his son, Akber Khameeso Khan. Indeed, this video from Akber Khameeso Khan is equally powerful and the mastery is evident right from the start of the piece. (This, of course, has the obvious resonance to my earlier post about Reshma and her son). Listen to this folks. Sit back. And let the music take hold of you.

29 responses to “Tribute to a Musical Giant: Khamisu Khan and Son”

  1. Salim says:

    Does anyone know where I can get dvd or vhs of Khamiso and Misri and Mithaa Khan. They did a UK tour 10 years back where UK television did a fantastic presentaion on one of their channels. A must see.Many thanks.

  2. Also please listen to the rendition of Mahiya by Abdul Karim Gopang (apparently a student of Ustad Khamisu Khan) on Lahore Chitrkar’s website— its truly wonderful and he apparently works as a gardener in Hyderabad University (!)
    A friend of mine travelling around Baluchistan now commented that he saw many Alghoza/Pava players 2 weeks ago at Shrine Festival… living culture… living beauty.
    We are all repsonsible for the breath of culture! for Alghoza music in these times…

  3. friend says:


  4. dear sir i m akbar khamisu khan alghoza player and i perform dubai delhi khatmandu jeneva amesterdame paris chingdu chaina osaka ——————- italy coming soon i vist me ap ko aik interview dena chahta hoon ————— i m son of alghoza player khamisu khan thainks and bye akbar khamisu alghoza player

  5. Khamisu Khan and Mishri Khan Jamali are the great ascended Ustads of Alghoza or Pava… we can only hope that Akbar Khamisu Khan will continue in and to innovate in that wonderous tradition of the Double Flutes of the Indus Valley.

    I have spent the last years both studying and creating new musics for the Double Flutes that tell the story of these times that we live in— please enjoy some of these new creations at and on search under “steevkindwald”. Thanks

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