An outstanding rubab player in Kabul in the 1970s was Ghulam Jailani, one of the five musician sons of Ustad Nabi Gol. He had adopted a rather more Hindustani-like approach to the rubab, with greater use of the unfretted range, more dynamic variety, less repetition of the fixed composition, and more elaborate improvisations in comparison with other players, often using fast down-up stroke patterns. Unlike most other players he made little use of parandkari techniques, though he does frequently strum across all the sympathetic strings. He was sometimes criticised for playing the rubab too much like the Indian sarod, even though he did not use much in the way of sarod-like glissandi.
I met him in his family home in the Kharabat on 6 June 1976, when I had the opportunity to record him playing two long pieces, accompanied by tabla. At the time he told me he was influenced by the playing of sarod players such as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, whom he had heard on the radio, record or cassette. The first piece he played for me was in Rag Gorahkalyan, accompanied by his brother Wali Nabizada on tabla. For this rag he used an alternative tuning, with the lower melody string tuned down from C# to B and the middle string tuned down from F# to E.
After an extended shakl the astai section starts 4'45'' in from the beginning of the piece and is in Ektal, a 12 matras cycle. At 6'59'' Jailani exclaims somewhat boastfully 'Up till now nobody has played an astai in Ektal.' In this astai there are long improvised rhythmic sections, but with no clearly defined naghma. The naghma-ye drut (fast naghma) begins at 10'44'' and is in Tintal. At 19'10'' he moves into the doubly fast naghma-ye drut drut. Only at this stage does he start using the sim-e barchak, in a way that hints at playing jhala on the sarod.
The second piece Jailani described as a thumri in Rag Pilu and is remarkable for its modulations from one rag to another. His brother Latif takes over on tabla. In the shakl he modulates to Rag Kafi and then back to Pilu. The astai starts at 3'40'' and is in Chanchar Tal, a rare metric cycle of 14 matras (Dha Dhin ¬– – Dha Dha Tin, Ta Tin – – Dha Dha Dhin). In this astai section Jailani modulates through a series of rags in ragmala style before returning to Pilu. After the recording Jailani identified these as Pardepki, Madhubanti, Bilawal, Bairami and Sultankauns, but Pardepki and Sultankauns are not to be found in the usual sangits (rag dictionaries). Further analysis is required. Here Jailani is showing off his knowledge of little-known rags and his skill in stringing them together. This kind of serial modulation is not common in Afghanistan. At 7'39'' he interpolates a short section in fast rhythm, then reverts back at 8'22'' to the slow Chanchar Tal. At 13'54'' the naghma-ye drut begins, and is in Tintal.
Jailani's innovative approach probably influenced the virtuoso styles of a younger generation of rubab players from the Kharabat, such as Homayun Sakhi and Khial Mohammed Saqizada.