Origins and History of Pakistani Music

I recently gave a keynote at an event organized by Pakistani-American Cultural Center in Silicon Valley, CA, USA.
The subject was Pakistani culture and music.

Here are some of the salient points of the presentation:

Importance of Music and Culture:

-Music Helps Define Each Nation’s Culture and Identity

-Culture Helps Project Soft Power and Softer Image of a Nation


-Soft Power is Often More Effective Than Hard Power...It's easier to resist a military invasion and much harder to resist a cultural invasion.

-Neglect of Music and Entertainment Leaves Undesirable Vacuum Often Filled By Unwelcome Alien Influences

- Origins of Indo-Persian Culture and Music:

-Sufi Saint Hazrat Amir Khusro 1253-1325.

- If Music Were Un-Islamic, then Khusro, a Devout and Pious Muslim Follower of Nizamuddin Aulia, Would Not Be a Musician.

Post-1947 Evolution

-Defining Artists and Songs of Each Decade

-North Indians and Pakistanis Share a Common Heritage of Indo-Persian Culture.

-Our Indo-Persian is heavily influenced by Persian-speaking Muslims From Central Asia

13th Century Sufi Saint Hazrat Amir Khusro’s Name Stands Out For His Key Contributions:

- Khusro Introduced Khayal and Tarana

- Khusro Invented Split Version of Tabla ( from Arabic word tabl, meaning drum) and Modern Sitar (from Persian Seh Tar, meaning three strings.)

- Harmonium Was Invented Later By the French in 18th Century

- Khusro Considered Father of Qawwali

- First Pakistani Film Teri Yad Released in 1948.

- Noor Jehan’s First Film Dupatta, Released in 1952, Became a Hit in India and Pakistan.

- Pakistani Film Industry Thrived As Many New Movie Theaters Opened With Growing Number of Viewers.

- Radio Pakistan Promoted Many Artists and Musicians…Noor Jahan and Mehdi Hasan Among Them

- Birth of Pakistan TV (PTV) in 1964

- New Music & Entertainment Shows on PTV Promoting Ghazal and Geet Singers.

- Film Armaan, Released in 1966, Gave Birth to Pakistani Pop Music Genre

- Popular Armaan Team of Suhail Rana, Mala and Ahmad Rushdi Inspired New Generation of Music Lovers.

- Sohail Rana’s “Kalyon Ki Mala” Children’s TV Show Spawned Young Artists Like Nazia and Zoheb.

- Growth of TV and Birth of the VCR Hurt Movie Theaters Business in 1970s.

- 1980s Started With Sohail Rana’s Student Nazia Hasan’s Disco Diwane

- Gen Zia ul Haq Ordered Headscarves on PTV in 1980s

- Music and Entertainment Suppressed on PTV

- Vital Signs Band Formed, Allowed to Sing Dil Dil Pakistan as Patriotic Music.

- Vital Signs’ Pop Music Spurred Middle Class Youth Culture in Pakistan

- Over 100 TV Channels Catering to Different Tastes During Musharraf Years 2001-2008

- Channels Devoted to News, Religion, Music, Fashion, Sports, Cooking, Etc

- Growth in Music & Entertainment Shows Spawning New Talent

- Gao Celebrity Ban Jao (Pakistani version of American Idol)

-Nachle (Dance Competition)

-Coke Studio (Regional and Sufi Music)

Here is a 3-part video of my presentation at PACC:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxJ9YPMRCrg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy-9hEn1MUg



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fRg8eOSxIs


Views: 3500

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 19, 2013 at 8:45am

Pakistan Idol show launched by GeoTV.

One of the most popular talent shows in the world has come to Pakistan. The Geo Entertainment Network officially launched ‘Pakistan Idol’ on Wednesday.

The globally celebrated singing talent show has attracted 460 million viewers worldwide since it was launched in 2003.

Speaking to reporters at the launching ceremony, Imran Aslam, the president of the Geo TV Network, said Pakistan had a history of producing talented musicians across genres. The Geo Network’s endeavour to bring forth talented musicians is a step towards keeping that cherished tradition alive.

“The Idol will be a platform for people who sing in private, in the bathroom or in small family gatherings. We will bring them together and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their hidden talent,” he said. “From among them, the people will choose one voice that will reign in our hearts.”

The auditions for Pakistan Idol will start in Islamabad from Thursday (today) and the judges (who have not been named yet) will travel to various other cities to spot talent, including Quetta and Peshawar.

Asif Raza Mir, the managing director of Geo Entertainment, said the network was aware that there were security problems in Quetta and Peshawar, but the two cities were equally important.

“So we will provide our contestants, judges and crewmembers with security,” he added.

The eligibility age for the participants is between 15 and 30 years old.

The reason for this, Asif explained, was to encourage youngsters in the first-ever Pakistani Idol.

“We have a number of plans for the future. We will hopefully come up with Child Idol and another show for people aged between 30 and 60 years.”

About the possible inducements in store, Asif said the canvas for a Pakistani singer was not restricted to within the borders as many had craved a niche for themselves in the Indian entertainment industry.

“When the show was first launched in the UK, the prizes that were offered were not the same as they are today; things happened gradually. But we will certainly provide the winner with the opportunity to sing for the Pakistani film industry which is growing with each passing day.”

The sponsors also spoke on the occasion. ‘Idols’, co-owned by Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment, is one of the most successful entertainment formats in the world.

It was first aired in the UK as Pop Idol in 2001 and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon with local variations in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America airing 199 series across 46 territories and attracting upwards of a staggering 6.5 billion votes worldwide.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-202867-Are-you-ready-to-bec...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2014 at 5:12pm

Here's a story about Karachi's vibrant indie music scene:

The disconnect is emblematic of a new cultural era for the world’s seventh largest city, characterized by variety. Outsiders are noticing, from Rolling Stone to Pakistan's neighbors in India. A writer for the Delhi-based magazine Caravan recently dove into the city’s secret clubs and concluded that a “shift” aided by the internet is producing an unprecedented range of sounds, "reflecting [Karachi's] frenzied character.”

Even the band names seem designed to stir things up, with an almost overwrought indie sensibility: Mole, //orangenoise, Dynoman, Basheer & the Pied Pipers, Alien Panda Jury, and DALT WISNEY are a few of the current hottest indie acts. Because Pakistani hits historically come from the classical world or the movies -- meaning Bollywood, or the Lahore analog, Lollywood -- these independent artists are forming collectives that act as labels, helping bands put out albums and promoting each other.

As in any good music scene, there are turf wars. In an interview last fall with Vice Magazine's electronic music spinoff THUMP, the rising Islamabad-based producer Talal Qureshi distanced himself from “that word ‘trippy.’” According to Qureshi, his peers in Karachi are limiting themselves by sticking to “music which is good to dance and be on drugs to.”

The comments rippled through the Pakistani music scene. In a counter interview with THUMP, FXS hit back at Qureshi, using their respective cities as ammunition. “Karachi,” said one member, “is a living city.” Meanwhile, “after 8pm Islamabad shuts down. All the house lights are switched off. It’s a town full of retired army uncles.”

There is one meeting point for every young Pakistani hopeful: the internet. Scour YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, and you’ll soon be an expert in subcontinental indie.

But domestically, traditional venues still count. The Caravan article names a trigger for the "shift," when the band Mole performed on the popular Pakistani concert series, Coke Studio, in 2011. Sponsored by Coca Cola, the televised series tends to launch the careers of mainstream acts, as it did for the Pakistani pop star Atif Aslam.

The Mole appearance jumpstarted what the cautious are calling an “overly experimental approach” at Coke Studio HQ. (Notably, one of Mole’s members is the son of a Coke Studio founder.)

Hearing "drone beeps" of electronica mixed in with otherwise standard fare, a journalist at The Friday Times, an independent weekly in Pakistan, praised the new era at Coke Studio, marked by "the humility of the old learning from the new."

It’s not all revolution. Drinking alcohol is still illegal in Pakistan, a rule that ghettoizes the music scene into underground house parties.

But limitations bring their own opportunities. In the THUMP interview, DALT WISNEY compared Karachi to "a prison." As a kid, he wasn't allowed to roam due to threats of violence and kidnappings. It was on his daily circuit, from home to school to a pirated music store and then back home, that he found a CD of music-making software. "That's how I started making music," he told THUMP. "So I think I mean prison in a positive sense, maybe like being stuck in a library. You make the most of it."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/pakistan-indie-music-karac...

http://www.caravanmagazine.in/

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 25, 2015 at 10:29pm

Via @nprmusic: A #Pakistan Pop Star Zeb Bangash Draws On #Pashto, #Darri #Music Tradition http://n.pr/1R5ScG7 https://vimeo.com/51609075 

Paimona, Zeb & Haniya, Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 2 from Rohail Hyatt on Vimeo.

Here's a phrase you don't hear a lot in the US: "Pakistani pop music." In fact, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a thriving music industry — and singer Zebunissa Bangash, or Zeb for short, is one of its stars.

There has been violence and threat to Pakistani culture since the country was founded 68 years ago, both for political and religious reasons. Zeb was never subjected to that scrutiny: She studied art history at college in the US before returning home to form a band with her cousin, Haniya. Their accessible pop songs found a devoted following.

"I'm sure there are artists out there who are fighting to do music," she says. "They certainly need recognition for that and they need support for that. But I'm not that artist."

Pakistan has produced generations of musicians like Zeb, who defy easy assumptions about art and Islam — whether they're performing Bollywood soundtracks or spiritual Sufi anthems.

"Artists are supposed to be dark, and they're supposed to be cool, and they're supposed to stay up all night," she says laughing. "A lot of times, I'm taunted by my colleagues and my peers. They're like, 'Oh, there you are, Miss Disney Princess. What's happening in your head?'"

More often than not, music and songs are what's happening in her head. But music isn't just for professionals in Pakistan: From lullabies to family gatherings to religion, music is a part of everyday life.

"I used to think that that's what all families have," Zeb explains. "I think even the way you recite the Qur'an itself, there is music embedded in it. You don't call it singing, but it does have music embedded in it."

Several years ago, Zeb appeared on one of the country's most popular TV shows (Coke Studio) and sang a song in Dari and Pashto, regional languages most Pakistanis didn't understand, accompanied by a traditional stringed instrument known as the rabab. The unorthodox performance was a huge success.

https://vimeo.com/51609075

"The song that people have given me the most love for is [that] song," Zeb says. "That's when I started thinking about the beauty that is hidden, or that seems to be erased."

Zeb began studying the history of South Asian music after that. She says Muslim artists have often seen their work as a form of worship, in which creating beauty is about communion with the divine. She's begun working with a classical teacher, Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, to explore the music of the past and the culture that produced it.

"What kind of a world is it where this was not only appreciated but encouraged, and had lots of patrons?" she asks. "I'm interested in really exploring that and learning more about it."

It's a tradition a lot of the country's urban pop stars are losing.

"For some people, especially for the urban youth and for those who feel like globalized citizens, we feel completely disconnected from it," Zeb says. "But the more traditional societies, and especially in places like rural Pakistan, those traditions are still linked to something beautiful and something that was intricate and subtle."

And Zeb is not alone. She's part of a new generation of Muslim musicians that is looking to the past to try to create a more inclusive future. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 7, 2017 at 8:50pm

Patari Tabeer--A Platform For New Music Talent In Pakistan

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sonyarehman/2017/02/05/a-platform-for-n...

Pakistan’s largest music streaming site, Patari, recently launched Patari Tabeer, a project that has stirred up the local music scene thanks to its unique line-up of artists from Islamabad to Sindh, and beyond.

With its sixth and final song soon-to-be released, the project brings unexposed talent from humble backgrounds to centre stage: a tea-seller, a cleaner, a 12-year-old peon and more, pairing up each artist with a well-known music producer.

Far from the mainstream pop ditties and Bollywood-inspired numbers, the tracks part of the Tabeer series offer the listener earthy, unpretentious vocals paired with a contemporary sound: funk, downtempo and chill-hop lounge.

Speaking about the project, Ahmer Naqvi, the COO of Patari, revealed that Tabeer was inspired by a man called Nazar Gill, a sweeper who made a living working in an apartment building in Islamabad where Naqvi lived.

Approaching Naqvi one day by knocking on his door and asking him if he could give Gill’s song a listen, Tabeer was ultimately created to give unknown talents like Gill a chance at music and a chance at a lifelong dream.

“We thought of taking his ambition and talent and pairing him with a contemporary producer in order to let his voice be heard at a grander stage,” Naqvi states about Gill, “He composed a song about finding the Divine inside every heart, and on Christmas Day, we went to [his village near Faisalabad] and filmed [him and his family] hearing the finished product for the first time.”

The experience, Naqvi mentions, left him moved.

Talking about his song, ‘Jugni,’ which features as the fourth track on Tabeer’s playlist, Gill states in the project’s video; “What I am trying to say in [the] song is that when we love, we should love from the heart. Love shouldn’t be about empty words, it should be true,” adding that he hopes the “whole world” gets a chance to hear his song.

“[Gill] was our starting point, but every singer's discovery was different,” Naqvi says, talking about how he and his team went about in selecting artists for the project. “There wasn't any one process, just the same goal - to unearth a hidden gem from the places no one bothers to look at.”

But what comes after the last song is released, what’s next for Tabeer’s artists?


“There has been a lot of interest by the media, but generally in Pakistan, this is hype-driven and fades fast,” Naqvi states, “Our aim is to help each artist record at least one more song, and start getting them performances and gigs so that they can earn. We don't expect them to become superstars, and certainly not overnight, because that doesn't quite happen in our current state. So what we are looking to do is to create something more sustainable for them.”

With plans to launch similar initiatives which continue to highlight raw talent in Pakistan, Naqvi mentions that this isn’t the end of the Tabeer series.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 8, 2017 at 8:27am

Home-grown #streaming app helps #Pakistan's musicians find voice. #music #talent http://reut.rs/2k1ibmZ via @Reuters

For years, violence kept most of Pakistan's aspiring young musicians from following their dreams, whether the threat of Taliban militant attacks or gang wars in the crowded southern port city of Karachi.

Now, as law enforcement crackdowns slowly improve the security situation across the nation, some musicians are getting help from two-year old Pakistani start-up Patari, a music streaming and production company.

Both the startup and the musicians' efforts are helping to carve out a new creative space for young people in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where those below 30 make up 60 percent of a population of almost 200 million.

Karachi rap ensemble Lyari Underground was once afraid of putting its music on Facebook, deterred by episodes of bloody gang war in the precinct of the same name that many Pakistanis consider the most dangerous in their largest city.

But the same violence has inspired many of the group's songs, taking cues from the music of U.S. rapper Tupac Shakur, said its founder, who uses the name AnXiously.

"In a ghetto, rap exists naturally," he added. "If there is no rap, then it is not a ghetto. Rap is a product of this reality and these surroundings."

Band members said when they first heard the music of Tupac, although half a world away, it reminded them of their own experiences living with violence and poverty.

Lyari remains one of Karachi's poorest areas and financial limitations often force its young people to forego creative pursuits.

FROM STREAMING TO PRODUCING

Launched in February 2015, Patari now boasts a library of 40,000 Pakistani songs and podcasts, and subscribers exceed half a million, said Chief Executive Khalid Bajwa.

Nearly 30 million of Pakistan's people use the internet, mainly on mobile telephones, says digital rights organization Bytes for All.

Bajwa declined to discuss revenue, apart from saying the company was "self-sustaining", mostly by producing events for established firms such as drinks company Pepsi, consumer goods giant Unilever and Pakistani clothing brand Khaadi.

The company's latest initiative, Tabeer, or 'Dream Come True', pairs established artists with unknown musicians to produce six songs and music videos, completed on a budget of $15,000, and features on its app.

Patari exploited the fact that Pakistan's tiny pop music scene comprised a couple of "corporate branded shows" featuring the same artists every year, but excluded amateur musicians.

"We saw an inefficiency in the market, where you have all this talent, all this interest, but there is nothing bridging the two," said Chief Operating Officer Ahmer Naqvi.

The first two videos, featuring Abid Brohi, a rapper from remote Sibbi in southwestern Balochistan province, and 13-year-old tea vendor Jahangir Saleem, have drawn more than a million views, matching Coke Studio, Pakistan's premier music programme.

Another video features Nazar Gill, from the capital, Islamabad, who was one of the cleaning staff at an apartment building where Naqvi once lived.

One day, Gill knocked on Naqvi's door and asked to sing a song he had written.

"I sang my song for him and he liked it," recalled Gill, a member of the country's tiny Christian minority that prides itself on its musical tradition.

"He said, 'Nazar, I will not let your voice go to waste.'"

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 8, 2018 at 2:30pm
Classical #Hindustani #Music Gharanas are almost all #Muslim. Here's a list:  http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-music/hindustani-gharanas.html  #India 
There is a rich tradition of Gharanas in classical Hindustani music. The music Gharanas are also called styles. These schools or Gharanas have their basis in the traditional mode of musical training and education. Every Gharana has its own distinct features. The main area of difference between Gharanas is the manner in which the notes are sung. The concept of a Guru- Shishya leads to the development of Gharanas. The Gharanas emerge from the creative style of a genius, who gives existing structures a totally new approach, form and interpretation. The new approach, form and interpretation apply to include the tone of the voice, the pitch, the inflexions and the intonations, and the specific application of the various nuances. Let's have a quick look at popular Gharanas of Hindustani classical music. 

Gwalior Gharana - This is the oldest among all the Khayal Gayaki (vocal) styles. The distinctive feature of this style of singing has been noted as its lucidity and simplicity. 
Founders - Ustad Hassu Khan, Ustad Haddu Khan, Ustad Nathu Khan
Exponents - Bal Krishna BaIchal Karanjikar, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Veena Sahasrabuddhe and Malini Rajurkar 

Agra Gharana-The Agra Gharana places great importance on developing forcefulness and deepness in the voice so that the notes are powerful and resonant. 
Founders- Haji Sujan Khan, Ustad Ghagghe Khuda Baksh
Exponents-The important singers of this Gharana are Faiyyaz Khan, Latafat Hussein Khan and Dinkar Kakini. 

Kirana Gharana - It derives its name from the birthplace of Abdul Kharim Khan of Kirana near Kurukshetra. In the Kirana style of singing, the swara is used to create an emotional mood by means of elongation and use of Kana-s. 
Founders - Abdul Karim Khan and Abdul Wahid Khan
Exponents - Hirabhai Barodekar, Begum Akhtar, Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai Hangal and Prabha Atre. 

Jaipur - Atrauli Gharana- The most distinctive feature of the Jaipur Gharana can be best described as its complex and melodic form which arises out of the involutedly and undulating phrases that comprise the piece. 
Founders - Ustad Alladiya Khan 
Exponents - Alladiya Khan, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kesarbhai Kerkar, Kishori Amonkar, Shruti Sadolikar, Padma Talwalkar and Ashwini Bhide Deshpande. 


Rampur Sahaswan Gharana- The Rampur Sahaswan Gharana there is a stress on the clarity of swara in this style and the development and elaboration of the raga is done through a stepwise progression. 
Founders - Ustad Inayat Khan
Exponents - Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, Ustad Rashid Khan, Sulochana and Brihaspati. 

Patiala Gharana - Patiala Gharana is regarded as an offshoot of the Delhi Gharana. The Patiala Gharana is characterized by the use of greater rhythm play and by Layakari with the abundant use of Bols, particularly Bol-tans. 
Founders - Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Baksh
Exponents - The major singers of the Patiala Gharana are Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ajoy Chakravarti, Raza Ali Khan, Beghum Akhtar, Nirmala Deni, Naina Devi, Parveen Sultana and others. 

Delhi Gharana - The Delhi Ghaana was represented by Tanras Khan and Shabbu Khan. The highlights of Delhi Gharana are pleasing vistaar and exquisite compositions. 
Founders - Ustad Mamman Khan
Exponents - Some of the notable exponents of Delhi Gharana are Chand Khan, Nasir Ahmed Khan, Usman Khan, Iqbal Ahmed Khan and Krishna Bisht. 

Bhendi Bazaar Gharana - The most distinctive feature of the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana is the presentation of Khayal, which is open voice, using Akar. There is a stress on breath-control and singing of long passages in one breath is highly regarded in this Gharana
Founders - Ustad Chajju Khan
Exponents - The important singers of this Gharana are Ustad Aman Ali Khan, Shashikala Koratkar and Anjanibai Malpekar. 

Benaras Gharana - The Benaras Gharana evolved as a result of great lilting style of khayal singing known by Thumri singers of Benaras and Gaya. 
Founders - Pt Gopal Mishra
Exponents - The chief exponents of the Benaras Gharana are Rajan Mishra, Sajan Mishra, Girija Devi and others. 

Mewati Gharana - The Mewati Gharana gives importance to developing the mood of the raga through the notes forming it and its style is Bhava Pradhan. It also gives equal importance to the meaning of the text. 
Founders - The founder of Mewati Gharana was Ghagge Nazir Khan. 
Exponents - The exponents of the Mewati Gharana are Pandit Jasraj, Moti Ram, Mani Ram, Sanjeev Abhyankar and others.
Comment by Riaz Haq on January 8, 2018 at 2:35pm

Talking about culture, North Indian and Pakistani culture is often referred to as Indo Persian culture 

Do you know that sitar and tabla, the key musical instruments of Indian music, are attributed to Muslims, specifically Amir Khusro? Tabla is from tabl, the Arabic word for drum. Sitar is Persian meaning three strings. Harmonium came from France 
Biryani. the most popular Indian dish, was brought to India by Persian speaking Muslims. Its origin is “brinj e biryan” or fried rice in Farsi.
Naan is the Persian word for bread.
Tandoor is from Arabic and Persian tanoor 

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