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Category: Music

बरगद के पेड़ो पे शाखें पुरानी…

बरगद के पेड़ो पे शाखें पुरानी,
पत्ते नए थे, हाँ,
वोह दिन तो चलते हुए थे मगर,
फिर थम से गए थे, हाँ.

लाओ वोह बचपन दुबारा,
नदिया का बहता किनारा,
मक्के दी रोटी, गुड की सैवाय्याँ,
अम्मा का चूल्हा, पीपल की छया,
दे दो कसम से पूरी जवानी,
पूरी जवानी, हाँ.

पियूष मिश्रा.

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Music: a journey of the man to the unknown

When words leave off, music begins. ~ Heinrich Heine

Prem Joshua

Every time my consciousness gets the hold of my ears, one of the five senses of mine, I hear a rhythm that fills my heart and soul with a random rainbow of sounds and silences. The rhythm is never recited by my consciousness, rather whenever my consciousness wakes up and the senses start working in a synchronized way, every wave entering into circumference of my existence becomes a song and music to my heart to propel it with much more acceleration and sync. I feel the beauty even more beautifully when the world around me appears to be synced with my inner being with a whatsoever sound. I hereby reckon that if there is only one way by which the human connects itself to the nature and the god, it is the music. The waves of music seem to work as the most efficient neuron systems that which exist into the universe. Music, in every form, is the connecting link, be in the form of strings, wind, beats, voice, monotonous, multi-dimensioned, mixed, solo, or even the silence. Music is a source of life and the way to celebrate the life. As Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had once quoted about music that ‘without music life would be a mistake’, each element of the universe seems to understanding the importance of it and celebrating life without any mistake. I have never experienced any single moment so far when I didn’t dance and sing. And the music I hear using my ears just intensifies the passion of living with the most romantic and lively way.

Ever since the existence of the mankind has been historically registered, the music has been the life for the man. This is the prime medium of communication between the entities where the communication was supposed to be non-existent. Man used music to communicate with existent and non-existent entities both, man communicated the belief in the form of music. It, thus, can be said that if the man has ever be able to communicate with the God (if he ever existed), it was the music which functioned as the messenger, as the Baba Bulleh Shah dances to express his love with the god by singing ‘tere ishq ne nachaya’ or the Yaksha in Kaildasa’s Meghdootam sends the message to his beloved waiting for him at the other side of the country. And the supreme power seems to be appreciating this because the music has came out to us with better rhythms by the help of the several voices of the universe, like the thunderstorm, rivers, trees, wind blows, raindrops, mountains, waterfalls, seashores, and so on. Even the other living children of the world, like birds and animals, have entertained our senses with more beauty and diverse multifaceted sounds. The music has even been able to catch the voices and silence of the days, nights, and space. Thomas Carlyle says – “All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrap pages and hulls!” And this beauty lies everywhere, one only needs to listen and synchronize with all the beings. What other blessings a man could have received from the supreme? Indeed, music is what feelings sound like.

There’s music in the sighing of a reed;
There’s music in the gushing of a rill;
There’s music in all things, if men had ears:
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.

~ Lord Byron

Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan

I recognized it pretty late that the most joyous moments of my life were spent with the companion of music when I intended to connect to the music and sound in an utterly lone silence. Whenever I felt that I am tired and frustrated from the chaos formed within the outside world, I didn’t go to meditation or recreation. I didn’t even feel any need of someone to get hold of this. Nor ignore, surpass, suppress or medicate it. I, however, felt a strong urge to feel it, by letting it get the hold of itself, just like watching oneself carefully and attentively. Watching me has always been a very beautiful experience and in those moments, I could really connect with everything that existed within me and that exists with me. So many strange and unknown things happened. The dullness and restlessness both merged into each other, the invisible elements seemed to be working in a synchronized way, the inside me appeared with the most peaceful, joyous, and romantic mood, and I could listen to only one thing that which was a music and a song which I could never recognize. That sound was something unknown, inexperienced, and unrecognized till the time I listened to that, and it happened every time I heard it. The process of reaching there was always the same but the music always seemed new and fresh to me. It was never the same, never. Outside that world, things appeared monotonous to me most of the times. Sometimes even I appeared the same, nothing new. But the soundtrack of my life was always playing a different track inside me. Or maybe, it has always been the same, but I have been unable to recognize this because the spectrum of the sound was changing the wavelength all the time or perhaps it was so magical that I forgot to examine its attributes. I got lost with it and it got lost with me. Just like an intense orgasm. And after that experience, I was not the same and the moments were so different that I always felt a new system inside me and a new world outside me. The outside world started tickling my senses in more rhythmic way such that everything sounded like music, a much organized and synchronized sound. Everything was music, a pretty and soothing one. I danced on the sound of fans, cycles, parrots, taps, horns, cool winds, leaves, rain, and whistles. I felt elated until I didn’t get tired with the world again. Then, again the same process and music was a cure all the time.

Music was the fellow traveler which traveled along with me, all the way, all the time. This is the case for not only my inner being, but also for my outer joy that which bridges the breezes from the both sides. Music, whatever it is, knows no boundaries. Music is beautiful, be it from any genre, language (or even absence of it), generator, raga, or cord. Whatever mood you carry with yourself, there is a song to intensify it. There is always a song which you can murmur or mumble in any kind of feeling and mood, be it sadness, happiness, silence, tired, celebration, freedom, speak out, speak in or even foot-trapping. I am a listener of the music from most of genres. I listen to each type of genres, generations, voices, instruments, and vocal cords. I love music without any voice and also music with the voices in the languages not understandable to me. Listening to various types of music is basically a journey to me, during which I got a chance to explore them individually. So, every time I listened to a new artist or genre, it was a new experience for me. I enjoyed most of them. It is not that I got hold of one particular genre or artist but yes, some of them got hold of me and kept pleasing my ears. The best experiences are mostly related with the moments I connected directly with them, with full of my emotions and inner self. It was when the chaos formed by my emotions and feelings needed to be synced. It was also when my inner joy and music received a companionship from a rhythm created by the other generators of joy from outside world. Some of the most beautiful experiences came to me also when I attended live concerts of some of the artists I mostly like and those moments were the time of innumerous orgasms. There are too many instances, when there existed only two things – the music and me. Nothing else! Everything else was unknown or non-existent to me. In those moments, I could become conscious to the music only. And when I was elated with the highest ecstasy, I wasn’t aware of anything, neither music nor me. It was one and I can’t really describe that how exactly those moments were. I am very helpless to define that experience, just like that I can’t tell you that how was I feeling like when I wrote any of my poems. I am afraid that I would ever be able to recite my poems in the most exact way. The situation is similar with the moments when I entered into the world of music. Those were the moments of the highest ecstasies.

This is the beauty of music. This is the power of music. And this is how it becomes when you enter into the unknown. Music takes you at the gate of the heaven and the land of the supreme. Music makes you feel that the most beautiful things reside within your self. It is the carrier for all your feelings and emotions that traverse through your senses. And I am glad that this carrier chooses to come to me and help me walk inside and outside me. It makes me dance, sing, run, feel, and understand. It makes me a poet and a warrior both. It makes me evaporate into myself. It makes me ejaculate most of me. It helps me find out that how something feels like. It is a dawn on me with which I can understand the unknown, real, and most importantly, the known. I don’t know that whether the god exists or not, but if there is a god and if there is a way by which the god and his people communicate, it certainly is the music. And it is not just a coincidence that the Siddhartha started traveling on the path of becoming Buddha after he got to know that how the music comes from the strings of Sitar. When you merge with the music, whether it sounds or it is a silence, you feel like that you can’t even be skeptic. You don’t just know that about what you need to be skeptic, logical, or analytical. Music says that whatever the man can manage to invent or explore, the music will always be there to be explored completely. Music will always be left fully unexplored by the mankind. As the world is full of entropy, the world is also full of music. Either we can go through it or we can only recite the part of it that is known to us. The greatest beauty of the music is that its unknown horizons don’t create boundaries for a man which could make a man feel like being in prison. All concepts can only confute themselves; they can never co-exist with the music. Music makes one fly, fly to anywhere, fly beyond all limitations. The poetry and sound and the music always flow with complete freedom, within our mind and heart and soul. This is a sky which sets us free. This is a prison which gives us hope. This is how it should be.

And just like Nietzsche, in music my passions enjoy themselves.

Image Credits: Prem Joshua: & Shafqat Ali Khan - Google Images

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Biography of Pakistani Music

In the earlier days, it was hard to divide Indian and Pakistani music. It was the time of Noorjahan and KL Sahgel. After several years of Independence, we got a clear distinction between Indy and Paki music. The hindi filmi music was household tune for pakistanis and pakistani ghazals have gained the same kind of popularity in India, In fact, the souls of pakistani music were ghazals and qawwalis, or in single word, the Sufis. If we look back and get the history of pakistani music, we strangely find that every genre of pakistani music was influenced by Sufis. More precisely, sufi-influenced music has been referred as less-standardized music and the original sufi is rather more popular in the world. The gateway of pakistani music to the world is the great sufi music.

The most popular form of sufi was qawwali. It is the most dynamic music of Pakistan and very popular in the subcontinent. The qawwali was invented by Amir Khusro in the 13th century and it was said to be a way to express the love and worship with the god. Qawwali has 3 components- rhythum, vocals, and pitch of the melody. Besides lead vocals, the qawwali crew is formed by dholak, hamonium, and back-up vocalists & chorus.

Precisely, the pakistani music can be divided into 2 eras- core music and fusion music. Sufi music, ghazals, and qawwalis can be grouped in the first generation, however the modern pakistani music is formed by modern sufis, pop, rock, and others. This era has begun in 80’s with the emergence of Nazia Hasan, however, the popularity got the pace in the early 90’s. Undoubtedly, the early era of pakistani music has generated more talented artists and they have maintained the same popularity in this 21st century. Some of the gems of the pakistani music were Noorjahan (malika-e-taranum), Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan(Classics-Patiala Gharana) Mehdi Hassan(Ghazal), Ghulam Ali (Ghazal), Abida Parveen (Sufi), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan(qawwali & sufi), and Sabri Brothers(qawwali).

The Pakistani pop music started its period in the early 80’s when Nazia Hasan emerged in the subcontinent. She revolutionized the image of pakistani music and during the time, she had gained the same level of popularity in India as in pakistan. remember “Aap Jaisa Koi”.

The current generation of pakistani pop music had started its operation in the late 80’s. There were two main catalysts – IM and VS. IM(Indus Music), a private television channel, tried to explode the new era of pakistani music and they did it. VS(Vital Signs), first pop band of Pakistan. Their debut album in 1989 is still a milestone and it was really a sign of the beginning of the new generation with dreamy, longing, brooding and rich music with floating melody. It should be noted that it was the same time when Indipop music has started taking pace in the neighbourhood. Vital Signs took the pakistani pop music to the global music for the first time. Their “Yeh Shaam” captured well the feeling of euphoria, hope and liberation felt by the youth culture of the time at the violent demise of Zia’s myopic and repressive eleven-year-dictatorship and the arrival of democracy in the shape of the liberal Benazir Bhutto government. In later years, several other artists appeared on the stage, but noone could take over the popularity of the VS. In the mean time, the legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was transforming his style and synchronizing his music with the current trends. His global image helped him and he became very popular in the sub-continent. He entered in the bollywood music and it created an interest and curiosity in the next-gen pakistani music.

The trails of Vital Signs was followed by two artists who carried the spirit for next 5 years. One of them was “Ali Haider“, king of harmless melodious filmi-pop. They started making landmarks with “Chahat”, followed by “Sandesha”; but the history was made by “Purani Jeans“. This song, which is still being whistled by the college students of the subcontinent, captured the lifestyle of a common middle-class college students. Thereafter, he released several albums, another popular one was “Chand Sa Mukhra”, however, it was “Purani Jeans” that let Ali Haider popular for the years. Another most popular artist from the period was “Sajjad Ali” who neither seems to be aging nor sounding cynical. He released a large number of albums one after another and surprisingly, all were hits in pakistan. His ability to use the sound of a sliding bass to communicate the emotionally sticky content and nature of the song was the USP of his songs, ever since his first album in 93 “Babya“. According to the pandits, “ham kinarey par kharey hain” is said to be his best song (though it was released in 2002). The theme of this song fascinated the youth a lot and it was about a restless, sad spirit of a young man telling his tragic but simply tale to a group of young picnic makers who first take it as pure entertainment but end up feeling thoroughly disturbed.

The third most important event was the appearance of Junoon with their sufi rock. The entered in the mainstream with “Inqilaab”, but it was “Azaadi” (1997) which created the history. It became the most profound and indulgent expression of the band’s Sufi-Rock phase. With “Sayyoni“, inspired by the traditional Sufi music of Turky’s whirling dervishes and as well as the music centred in the Beralvi psyche of Pakistan’s Mizar culture, the band brilliantly fused it with raw but understated guitar twangs and with the tabla taking the place of the drums. It was a typically bold experiment that Junoon had become famous for and it worked wonderfully.

Then came the “Strings” who took the credits for the third important step of this generation. Although they have debuted in 1992, they finally made it in 2000 with their ever-best song “sar kiye hai pahar“. It was their second album “Duur” and each song from this album was generating a magic. The composition was charismatic and the melody was brilliantly understated, elusive and subtle. Since their comeback, they never looked back and achieved a new height every time they appeared, be it Indo-pak song, Spiderman II soundtrack, or recent bollywood flick Zinda. They are simply magical and they are also legend and contemporary at the same time.

And then comes the greatest ever awareness of global listeners in the pakistani music, in the 21st century. The trails generated by “Nazia Hassan, Vital Signs, Ali Haider, Sajjad Ali, Junoon, and Strings” are followed by “Ali Zafar, Fuzon, Jal, Atif Aslam, Fakhir, and now, Call”. This was the new start and the biggest phenomenon in the Pop scene in the new millennium seems to be “Ali Zafar“, with fan following so huge that he happens to be the only Pakistani artist whose images appear on Google Web search showing a large number of link backs from websites all over the world. This time, it was bhangra-pop adopted by Zafar’s bestselling debut song “Channo“. The mass-appealing flow of the tunes made it an instant hit. It was the time to re-vitalize the pakistani contemporary music and the spirit led “Fuzon” to create a blend of rock, pop, ghazals, sufis, and eastern classical music in “Ankhon ke sagar“, eventually one of the finest and richest pop melody. In obvious ways, their neighbors inspired this idea of fusion music. They were quite late in accepting it coz the fusion music had taken its maturity in India, but it was Fuzon who finally made it. Then a song came and thrilled the youth of the subcontinent. This time, it was Jal with “Aadat” having sufi-rock baselines and beautiful lyrics, a trail that was generated by Junoon in mid-90’s. The theme of the song can’t be admired, but as far as the music is concerned, Jal has beautifully constructed a story came from pessimism, fate, and failures. The history depicts that whenever the darker side glamorized, it became a hit. Jal cud have become the next “Junoon”, but sadly the band split and Gohar Mumtaz and Atif Aslam took their own ways. After splitting, Atif Aslam released his solo, Jalpari. Followed by the magic of Jal, Jalpari became a mega hit, with the beautiful songs Woh Lamhe and Dil Haarey. The release of Jalpari brought several controversies about stealing songs created by group efforts. Gohar kept crying, but Atif’s beautiful voice made the voices of Gohar blurred. Atif’s greatest times arrived when he made appearance in Bollywood with Mahesh Bhatt’s flicks Jaher and Kalyug. Sadly, it was Gohar who had written and jointly-composed the songs “Woh Lamhey” and “Aadat”. Whatever, Atif has left Gohar behind and the listeners are now waiting for his next release “Hangami Halat“, worked with 2 new mates.

There are few other gems of Pakistani Pop Music who are worth mentioned here. Among them are — Ahmed Jehanzeb who was contemporary to VS, Najam Shiraz, Alamgir (from the earlier time of Nazia and the talent who got ripped by Pakistani autocrat Zia-ul-haq), Hadiqa Kiyani (heir of Nazia), Collage(another sufi-rock), and Abrar (magical bhangra-pop). And how can we forget pakistani-altaf-raja, mr. pessimist, and the inspiration of T-series in India– Ataullah Khan for his hundreds of songs like”Achha sila diya tune”. There is one more artist who has some base in Pakistan, but he can’t be referred as Pakistani artist. He’s called Adnan Sami (former husband of Jeba Bakhtiyar) who has traversed a long journey of Pakistan-Canada-India. Well, significantly having a different western complexion, he never followed the souls and styles of pakistani music. There are few newcomers who can bring momentum in future. They are Call and Fakhir, talented and willing to bark loud the real effect is yet to be experienced.

It is quite difficult to admit the failure of Pakistani Pop despite of the massive talent of the artists in Pakistan. There could be several reasons. In the earlier times, it was the orthodox and hardcore-Islamic government. It was the time of Alamgir and Abrar. Nowadays, though this is not a problem anymore, the artists themselves have emerged as the reasons for their failures. It can be the the nature and the belief of the society in Pakistan, the economical conditions and social confusions in the country, or others. If we look back and try to find the causes, then we find that there were some more strange facts. The most important is the confidence they should have carried with their minds and works. Other reasons are fear, lack of passion, consistency, and vision. They lacked confidences within themselves and with their associates as well. Sometimes, it seems that they lack courage to take experiments and make another step forward. It has also been conceived that they couldn’t sustain the quality of work and most often, they found it hard believe their success. If they can remove the roadblocks, they’ll definitely be able to bring miracle(as it seems now), because they’ve got the doubts. Few are working on it (take the example of Strings..that’s why I call them the leaders of the next-gen pakistani pop) and others(like Jal) should immediately follow the trail.

My 10 picks

Sar kiye hai pahar :: Strings
Sayyoni :: Junoon
Purani Jeans :: Ali Haider
Mast Kalandar :: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Disco Diwane :: Nazia Hasan
Ik din aayega :: Jal
Aankhon ke sagar :: Fuzon
Channo :: Ali Zafar
Ham Kinaray Par Kharay Hain :: Sajjad Ali
Aadat :: Atif Aslam

My Ideal Band

lead singer – Lucky Ali
vocals & alaap – A R Rahman
vocal harmonies – Kem Trivedi
electric guitar – Bilal Maqsood
bass guitar – Rahul Ram
acoustic guitar – Mohit Chauhan
percussions – Shivamani
drums – Ziaur Rahman Turjo(Miles)
keyboard – James Asher
moroccan drums – Mike McCleary
sitar – Kartick Kumar
lyrics – Syed Aslam

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