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Pakistani Music, a Rollercoaster Ride

Oscar Wilde wasn’t messing around when he said that ‘Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays.’ Words of wisdom came so easily to Oscar, not so the case with me. Things Oscar could describe in two lines take multiple paragraphs for us. But that was the genius of the man.

Pakistan has been lucky in a way to be conferred with so many ‘big’ names of music. Who can forget the melodious Noor Jehan who mesmerized generations with her music? They say at the end its not the days of your life, but the life (read music) in those days which matters. She most certainly lives on even today; she was the pride of a paradoxical chauvinist nation. That alone tells you the achievements of a woman blessed with a voice that touched souls. Any Pakistani born after the 1965 war remembers the hurriedly written patriotic song broadcasted on national radio, ‘aye putar hatan tay naiin wikday’ (these sons are not an ordinary entity sold in the market) and many others. In her glory days, and there were many, she was the icon of the Pakistani music industry, her very name meant success.

Then there was that man the world couldn’t get enough of. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was probably the biggest and certainly the brightest Pakistani Music celebrity. He was a man respected and adored by even those who didn’t understand his language. He was indeed the very reason the Pakistani music industry has survived today and he certainly was the only reason Pakistani music reached international markets, he was sort of an enigmatic character, his figure demanded to be noticed and that’s exactly what he did for all the years he lived and even after his death his name seems to live on.

Then came the pop era, and didn’t miss out on much. From Junaid Jamshed (who is a very strict practicing Muslim now) to Ali Azmat (the rock star). The journey of Pakistani music has been long and the outcomes have been enormous. Pakistani Music has evolved over the years, people understand their music now. You can no longer bluff them with long hair and be the self-professed rock idol; you have to show them you deserve to be celebrated.

Music is something in which we all seek our own little space, it’s something we associate with, and it’s something we play to celebrate out sorrows and joys. Pakistan with all the restraints of the society has done well to be served by the few who were good enough, and for others; mediocrity is something which has no place in Pakistani music. We’ve had it big whenever we’ve managed to let go of the social manacles and bigger and better is the only place where we are going, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

Contributed by: Zeeshan Raza
Contributor organisation:

Pakistani music

When we say music, most of the people think at the great musicians from the eastern world. But what about the western music, I say? What about the Indian Music or the Pakistani music? I have noticed that only few people know some general information on Pakistani music. Well, this article is meant to change all that.

A genius man once said “Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays”. The Pakistan people, I must say have been very fortunate to have so many big names of music. If you know something about it, I bet you know about Noor Jehan who charmed generations with her beautiful music. This woman had an extraordinary voice that could touch even the most evils souls. It was simply a gift from God. “These sons are not an ordinary entity sold in the market” is the translation of “aye putar hatan tay naiin wikday” the patriotic song broadcasted on every radio station after the 1965 war. Back then, in her glorious days, she was considered to be the icon of the Pakistani music.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was another voice people couldn’t get enough. This is also one of the most popular Pakistani Music celebrities. He sand so beautiful than even those that didn’t understand Pakistani at all listened to it. Some even consider him the main reason the Pakistani music survived. One sure fact is that, he is the reason Pakistani music made it to the open. He was the first to reach the international market and made Pakistani music popular in the world. Even now, years after his dead the Pakistani people talk about his music and his mysterious character.

After him, other Pakistani music idols came. The pop era followed, and celebrities like Junaid Jamshed and Ali Azmat (a rock star) had a great success. With them Pakistani music evolved a lot, and once with them so the Pakistani people. They now can understand the eastern music culture and borrow some from it. Nowadays, Pakistani music is even available on the internet; more and more websites based on this appear each day.

Now, we can categorize the Pakistani music into six types:

Classical - it is a disappearing form, but still influences many of the present artists

Semi classical/Ghazal - this is a form of music in which a poem is sung

Folk – there are four provinces in Pakistan, each with its own characteristics

Qawwali/devotional – this dynamic genre became internationally popular by artists like Sabri Brothers, Aziz Mian and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Film music - Tarranum Madame Noor Jehan is the most popular film music artist. She sang songs of all genres for the Pakistani television. Pop music – the privatization of Pakistani television made this genre so popular. Nowadays many television broadcast pop music. More, a Pakistani popular single, Najane Kyun recently featured on the Urdu Soundtrack for Spiderman 2.

Music journalism has grown in popularity in Pakistan over the years. This trend was unknown in the Pakistani music twenty years ago. But all that changed once with the reviews written by Farrukh Moriani ( the Pakistani first music critic) which appeared in the Karachi's tabloid, The Star. At the end of the 80’s and with the coming of the Liberal government of Benazir Bhutto in 1988, the once repressed and frowned upon Pakistani pop music, evolved from the underground and started gaining mainstream popularity.

Back then another Pakistani music and fashion critic grew in popularity. Fifi Haroon was among the first Pakistan’s music critic to undertake full features on the growing local music scene. But this was not so serious. All things changed in 1990, when Pakistani music journalism became serious. Responsible for that was Nadeem F. Paracha.

Contributed by: Zeeshan Raza
Contributor organisation:


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