Suronz: Balochi Traditional Music

Quetta, Pakistan Music 09 Apr 2023

Balochi traditional music is a form of folk music that is indigenous to the Balochistan region, which is spread across parts of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Music is an essential part of Balochi culture, and its rich history is reflected in the diverse styles, rhythms, and melodies that have evolved over time.

The suroz is a bowed string instrument with a long neck, similar to a fiddle or sarangi, and played vertically. It is considered the national instrument of the Balochs. – “Notwithstanding the emergence of a strong nationalistic feeling among the Baloch population both in Iran and Pakistan, the existence of pahlawan (professional singers of verse narratives), and the love for suroz (a bowed instrument played as an accompaniment to narrative songs and considered to be the national instrument of the Baloch) among the educated classes, there seems to be no future for the oral tradition in Balochistan.

Attired in a traditional Balochi costume and holding a decorated Suroz (a local musical instrument) in his left hand with fingers on its strings, Suchu Khan is out to conquer the world with his music. “Race, color, language, they are no barriers for me. At my concerts abroad hundreds of youth dance to my tunes in jam-packed auditoriums. It is all very heartening,” he says. Suchu Khan is a recipient of the prestigious Tamgha-i-Imtiaz conferred on him by the president of Pakistan. His is a familiar name among folk music lovers not only in Balochistan but throughout Pakistan. Those who hear him play the Suroz do not let him go away before playing popular folk tunes for them. Suchu Khan was born in 1962 at Sui, Dera Bugti, and hails from a family famous for Suroznawaz whose male members hold the ancestral tradition of playing it for centuries. It was his uncles Zehru and Tungau who discovered the talent in Suchu at a very young age and encouraged him to learn how to play the instrument.

Suchu was also fascinated by the melody of the instrument and accompanied his uncles to performances — be it tribal gatherings, stage or radio stations. He is grateful to them for what he is today. “They were great teachers,” he says proudly. “One needs a lot of dedication and hard work to learn the Suroz. Besides that, one needs a good teacher. The Suroz is played with the help of fingertips which is not at all simple.” Encouragement from his audiences over the years has meant a lot to Suchu Khan. “Once just after my performance, Ata Shad (Baloch/Urdu poet) came on stage and kissed my fingertips. It was a great moment for me. Since then I have received many awards and appreciation but I have never been able to forget his gesture.

Even today I often visualize the scene after every performance. It helps me work harder at my performances,” he says. He admits that surviving on music is tough and the journey has been a long and turbulent one. “There are many talented artists in Balochistan who are not as fortunate. They hardly get noticed. One finds exceptionally talented musicians and singers among the Balochi nomads.”
Need Help?

Johnson Tamlyn

Production Manager

Johnson is available 9:00-17:00 GMT Mon‑Fri, or by email 24/7