Artist Profile: Bulat Gafarov – Russian multi-instrumentalist’s collection spans over 300 instruments, and he plays them all


Based out of Moscow, Russia, multi-instrumentalist Bulat Gafarov boasts a collection of over three hundred musical instruments from around the world that incudes violin, flute, mouth harps, percussions, didgeridoo, kalimba, koto, drums, keyboards, brass and string instruments that he plays with varying degrees of mastery. On some thirty of these he plays his one-man band performances. Additionally, he uses his voice in a wide variety of challenging styles that including throat singing, oriental and Russian traditional styles and even beatboxing.

We asked him for details on the journey that led him to proficiency in such an astounding array of musical intermediaries.

MusicZeitgeist: Talk about the road that led to your ecclectic talents:

Bulat: I started playing music when I was six-years-old, and composing at twelve. At the College of Music I studied violin, piano, trumpet and and later composition at the Moscow Conservatory.

At sixteen, I began collecting and playing ethnic musical instruments: flutes, Jew’s harps, ethnic percussion (darbuka, djembe), didgeridoo, sitar, koto, kalimba and others. Now I find myself with over three hundred instruments in my collection.

In my compositions I mix World music, live electronica, jazz, Hip-Hop, folk music and beat-boxing. During the performances I play many instruments from around the world like a one-man band.

In 2001 I formed the Toke-Cha band. Now Toke-Cha is one of the most famous bands to come out of Russia in the style of World music, ethno-electronic and folk-jazz music.

I traveled a lot, recorded audio and studied folk music of other countries on what I call ethnographic expeditions. On my website I have created a unique electronic encyclopedia of these many musical instruments.

MZ: Undoubtedly your versatility leads to many collaborative efforts with other artists:

Bulat: I have played with such musicians as: Bobby McFerrin (Opera “Bobble”), Andrey Makarevich (“Time machine”), Mark Pekarsky, “Chaif”, Dmitry Malikov (show “Pianomania”), “Volga”, “Namgar”, “Hi-fi”, “Green Point” band, Garik Sukachyov (“Untouchable”), Bogdan Titomir, Herman Vinogradov, Jura Balashev, Jan Bederman, Sergey Filatov, with orchestra of Moscow and many others.

I have also worked with such directors as: Yevgeni Grishkovets, Garik Sukachyov, Vera Glagoleva, Nikita Dmitrievsky, Nikolay Basin, Olga Stolpovskaja, Natalia Anastaseva, among others.

Me and my band have played in USA, Canada, Europe, Russia and Asia, performed for presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kalmykia, Turkey, ambassadors of France, Jordan, Mongolia and others. I have composed music and or contributed to recordings for several known films, and live theater pieces as well.

Me and my Toke-Cha band have more than twenty diplomas and awards from the governments of different countries, various festivals and composer competitions. We have released five official albums under that name.


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