John Baily is an ethnomusicologist at Goldsmiths College, University of London, who specialises in the music of Afghanistan. He carried out fieldwork in Herat and Kabul between 1973 and 1977 along with his wife Veronica Doubleday. Since then he has maintained contact with Afghan communities in and outside Afghanistan. In response to the devastation of Afghan culture over the past 25 years,he set up the Afghanistan Music Unit at Goldsmiths College and is involved in international efforts to regenerate Afghan music in Kabul.
In Herat during the 1970s, part of his work was to research the transformation of the Herati long-necked lute called the dutar from a 2-stringed instrument of rural amateurs into the much more complex 14-stringed dutar now typical of professional urban musicians. To gain insight into the topic he learnt to play the various types of dutar, working with several individuals ranging from humble amateurs to urban virtuosi. His main teacher was the highly regarded player Gada Mohammed, who has twice given concerts in Europe.
John and Veronica have given regular concerts at various venues and festivals in Europe and in the United States. They have worked with a number of other musicians. They have also toured with the California-based Herati dutar player Aziz Herawi, and played on one of his albums.They first met Abdul Wahab Madadi in the 1970s, but their musical collaboration with him dates from his residence in Germany.