Music of Pakistan

Music of Pakistan dates back to over 5000 years. Pakistan is the modern name of a country once was named as Sindu Supta and India (Land of Indus). This is where the great Indus civilization flourished which was rich in art, music and dance. The dancing girl and the musical pots found from Moen Jo Daro are some of the proofs of the early music of this land.

Pakistani music has evolved with many historic phases under which this land went thru. Invaders from all corners of the world brought their bits of spices to the music, culture and art of Pakistan. After the arrival of Islam and than the revolution of sufism music became ever more mature and developed a new identity of it self.

This section of our site looks at the music from the past to the present. It also has information about the Musical history, instruments and profiles of some of the most popular artist know to us today.

History of Pakistani Music.
Musical Instruments of Pakistan
Ustad Bare Ghulam Ali Khan
Ustan Fateh Ali Khan
Roshan Ara Begum
Ustad Salamat Ali Khan

Semi Classic Music of Pakistan
Light Music
Abida Parveen

Classical Music Singers of Pakistan

Ustan Amanat Ali Khan

Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi (1951- )

Mehnaz (1957 )

Nayyara Noor (1950- )

Noor Jehan (1928- )

Tina Sani

KAFI

The Sindhi kafi is an indigenous musical form of Sindh. The word kafi, is of Ararbic origin, used in the sense of "final" or "enough" in the expression “Allah Kafi”, which means, “God Almighty is Supreme”. Thus the kafi is a devotional form of music composed in a particular form derived from a mixture of classical, semi-classical, and light music forms (specifically, the kheyel, tappa, thumri, and geet). The mystic poetry of the Sufi saints is usually sung in this mode.

There is a Punjabi variant of kafi singing. Like Sindhi kafi, the mood and the theme of Punjabi Kafi may also be termed as secular and humanistic. In their Kafis Shah Hussain (16th century) and Bulhe Shah (18th century) have adopted a strategy to communicate their thoughts, serving the humanity in a powerful and effective way. The satirical tone of these Kafis, sometimes, depicts true picture of political situations and social conditions of their own days.

The Sindhi kafi is short, simple, and lucid in composition and tone. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a renowned Sufi saint and mystic poet of Sindh (d. 1752), contributed considerably to the development of the Sindhi kafi, writing many verses and composing tunes which he named “The Sur of Shah Latif”. His tunes are still popular.

The late Zahida Parveen was a master of kafi singing. Her daughter, Shahida Parveen, possesses her mother's command of the form and her devotional urge. Yet today's trends, and perhaps necessity, have led her away from kafis and towards the geet, the ghazal, semi-classical and folk forms. Abida Parveen is another renowned kafi singer of Sindh, but she too sings in many other genres.

 

QAWWALI

Qawwali as a musical form is closely linked with the Sufi tradition of Islam and the particular practices that Sufi scholars developed to achieve closeness to God. When Muslim Sufis came to India, the first thing which struck them was the important role which music played in the socio-religious life of the local inhabitants. They realized that music would help them to communicate with the people and attract their attention towards the tenets of Islam. Already well versed in Turkish, Persian and Arabic forms of music, they began studying local forms of folk music.

Al-Ghazali's famous book "Ihya Ul Ulum al-Din" ("Revivifying the sciences of faith"), written in the beginning of the 12th century AD, is one of the most important treatstises on Sufism. From this source and other contemporary writers, it is possible to reconstruct a description of a ceremony called Sama’a means listening to a musical concert in order to receive a spiritual message. By the end of the 11th century, the sama’a was an established devotional form in which verses were sung, sometimes by a soloist, sometimes by a chorus, including instrumental elements of varying importance.

The sama’a evolved into the qawwali during the time of Khawaja Moeenuddin Chishti. The faithful listened to the music while seated. In a state of inner contemplation, they allowed themselves to be gradually overcome by trance.

 

Qaul and Tarana

Hazrat Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), a famous Sufi saint and an expert in both Indian and Persian music at the court of Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi (1296-1316), is credited with introducing Persian and Arabic elements into South Asian music. Of particular importance are two musical forms, tarana and qaul, which are said to be the origin of the qawwali.

The word qawwali is derived from “qaul”, literally meaning speech, a form of musical composition set to a tune and suitable for a mystic gathering. The “tarana” is a composition devoid of words. Instead of words, only meaningless syllables are skillfully vocalized at fast tempo. The tarana was created by Amir Khusrau.

However, there is evidence that the qawwali form predates Hazrat Amir Khusrau. The great Sufi masters of the Chishtiya andSuhrawardia orders of South Asia were admirers of the qawwali, and the saint Hazrat Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki is said to have died in 1236 while in a musical trance induced by a qawwali.

Significance of Qawwali

The strength and power of qawwali as a form is its capacity to convey a mystic religious message. The best qawwals (qawwali performers) excel at the skill of capturing and holding the attention of a heterogenous audience.

Today's qawwals are carrying on a popular tradition with a very wide appeal to our most basic and yet abstract emotions. The qawwal knows the precise effect of his performance on the listener. Every qawwal knows that the magic of his performance resides as much in the verse as in its rendering. The words are largely responsible for creating a state of transport. The continuous repetition of certain words is therefore imperative if the words are to produce the effect. Its combination of the personal with the universal makes the qawwali unique in its appeal.

QAWALS OR QAWALI SINGERS

Nusrat Fateh Ali

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (originally named Pervez), an internationally renowned qawwali singer, has introduced a unique style which beautifully amalgamates Eastern and Western music. Born on 13 October 1948 in Faisalabad, he comes from a modest but well-known musical family.He belongs to “Qawal Bachoon ka Gharana”.

Nusrat completed his Matriculation in 1964 from Pakistan Model High School, Faisalabad. He received his early training in singing from his father, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan made a radical change in the style of qawwali singing in order to win back the attention of the younger generation and to promote this fading art. He was also interested in building trans-cultural affiliations with Western artists in order to make it easier to understand each other's traditions.

He was inspired when his voice was recorded to highlight a scene depicting Christ's crucifixion from "The Last Temptation of Christ," a film directed by Peter Gabriel. Nusrat sang Raag Darbari in a Western mode. Later, he recorded a series of qawwalis set to Western music in collaboration with Peter Gabriel.

Young listeners everywhere were captivated, and his renderings became so popular in the West that he was offered a professorship in Oriental music at an American university. He won the President's Pride of Performance Award in 1987 and is the first Pakistan artist to win the French Grand Prix and French Cultural Award for his musical achievements.

Nusrat Fateh Ali is satisfied with the standard of qawwali in Pakistan and is happy that this form has taken an unexpectedly popular turn. He has visited dozens of countries and is keen on touring Central Asia with the aim of renewing Pakistan's cultural links with this area.

 

Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri

Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri and his brothers Haji Maqbool Ahmed Sabri, Kamal Ahmad Sabri, and Mahmud Ghaznavi belong to an old family of musicians. They were trained in qawwali singing by their father, Inayat Khan.

Ghulam Fareed Sabri, the leader of this group, was born in Kalyana, District Roahtak in 1930. He started singing at the age of 10. His younger brother is a good composer and tabla player. This group has won popular acclaim, and in 1978 they were awarded the President's Pride of Performance medal. They have toured widely, enthralling foreign audiences and earning praises in the Western press. UNESCO has recorded a selection of their qawwalis. Ghulam Fareed Sabri was also introduced to the film industry by the late Zafar Khurshid, the producer of “Ishq-i-Habib”.

To aid the cause of the Bosnian Muslim, the Sabri qawwals recorded a cassette and donated the proceeds of its sale to the Bosnians.Ghulam Fareed Sabri died of a heart attack.a few year ago.

 

POPULAR MUSIC

In the 1980s, Western-style pop music entered the Pakistani music scene with its characteristic fast pace, steady beat, and electronic instruments, continuing an evolutionary change over time from classical, to semi-classical, to popular forms. Pop's swift rise to predominance can be attributed to the wide appeal of an ever-increasing range of electronic musical instruments and modern orchestration to the average listener. The change began several decades ago, when pop-oriented film music utilizing Western instruments opened the floodgates of change.

Contemporary pop music in Pakistan is a combination of Eastern improvisation, African rhythms, and Western polyphonic musical expression, including interchanging scales. It has more rhythmic than melodic appeal, especially for younger listeners, who fall under the sway of its almost amorous quality. The best known among young Pakistani singers who pioneered pop are Nazia Hassan and Zohaib Hassan, who learned, composed, and recorded their songs abroad.

Pop music in Pakistan is undergoing a healthy expansion. Young bands enjoy wide exposure and must compete with talented new entrants to the field. Outstanding bands which have distinguished themselves in the pop genre include Vital Signs, Janoon, Strings, Akash and Awaz. A few of these have gained international exposure and recognition when their songs were aired on satellite television.

POP MUSIC SINGERS

Ahmad Rushdie

Ahmed Rushdie, born in 1934, earned a name for himself in school as an expressive and talented Qari (one who recites the Holy Quran). His close friends knew he liked to sing, and with their encouragement, he appeared for an audition at Radio Pakistan in 1955. The legendary Z. A. Bokhari greeted the 21-year-old singer and made a conscious effort to make him feel at home during the audition. When Rushdie attempted a very famous (and difficult) song by Talat Mahmood, Bokhari suggested he try a simple song of Muhammad Rafi. Bokhari, floored by Rushdie's performance, hired him to conduct a children's programme. In less then a year, Rushdie's rendition of "Bandar Road Se Keemari," a Mehdi Zaheer song, became a nationwide hit.

1956 saw Rushdie launched in the film industry with songs in "Kaarnama." Then came "Tere Shehr Mein." From then on, there was no turning back. While Rafi and Kishore ruled the Indian film music scene, Ahmad Rushdie swept Pakistani audiences off their feet with such songs as "Jab Pyar Mein Do Dil Milte Hain" and "Akelay Na Jaana." In 1961 Rushdie, persuaded by composer Shabab Keranvi, moved to Lahore, where he made a sudden impact in "Saperan." He won a Nigar Award for his song, "Chand Sa Mukhra." Rushdie broke the hold of such talented senior singers as Masud Rana and Muneer Hussain to make a name for himself. His voice, sounding so much like Rafi's, became instantly recognizable all over the country. The Pakistani film industry's top heroes took pride in having Rushdie as their playback singer, as his voice suited all of them.

In 1968, Rushdie made critics sit up with a perfect disco song, "Ko Ko Korinna," composed by Sohail Rana for the blockbuster film "Armaan." His ability to depict the true mood of the situation, whether comic, tragic, or romantic, became Rushdie's forte. Poet Suroor Bara Bankwi chose Rushdie as the playback singer for actor Nadeem's "Chakori." With music directed by Robin Ghosh, the film went on to break all previous box-office records.

"Kabhi To Tum Ko Yaad Aayengee" became the talk of the town, and Rushdie was flooded with offers from directors in Dhaka. His songs for such East Pakistan super hits as "Chote Sahab" and "Tum Mere Ho" were leagues ahead of those sung by any other singer of his time. Rushdie and singer Mala formed a hit pair, and they were an ideal choice for such leading silver screen pairs of as Ali-Zeba, Waheed-Rani, and Nadeem-Deba.

A favorite with all music directors, Ahmad Rushdie relished singing for Nisar Bazmi, Robin Ghosh, Feroze Nizami, and Sohail Rana. In the late 1970s Rushdie made a thumping comeback after he had been written off. "Dil Ko Jalana, Hum Ne Chor Diya"was a runaway hit. In the 1980s all emerging singers considered Rushdie their inspiration.

Rushdie also appeared in four films. Later, with producer Javed Fazil, he launched his own film, "Amaanat," but he did not live long enough to complete the venture. He died on April 11, 1983

 

Alamgir

Alamgir was born in 1954 in East Pakistan. He left home at the age of 16, in search of destiny. He brought with him his guitar an extra shirt and a small tape recorder. He did not know anyone in Karachi and desperately was in search of a job. After few days he found work at Tariq Hotel, where he used to play Guitar and sing popular song to the clients in the evening. His remuneration was a free meal at the hotel. Someone from the audience in the hotel liked his Guitar playing and told him about the programme at the T.V. station called `Ferozan' where Khushbakht Aliya was conducting a show for the youth. He gave his audition, Khushbakht liked his Guitar playing but she had already selected someone else. It just so happened that Sohail Rana, the music director was in the next studio and asked someone to call Alamgir to his car outside the T.V. station. He said, he liked his (Alamgir's) playing and asked if he would like to perform for children. This is how he entered in the formal world of Music.

Later he was invited by Zia Moheyuddin who was hosting his famous show to sing a Spanish song. Alamgir agreed. He sang "Kwan Tara Mera" which was an instant hit. The song which was the turning point of his career was "Dekha-na-tha" followed by "Albela Rahi" and so on. Alamgir today feels elated to see all those hallowed portals of the music world that was reserved for a few `Gharanas'. He believes that to create music one must be a devotee of the goddess of `Sur', which demands total allegiance.

He has no other hobby as music for him is his life, his soul and the reason for his existence. Elvis Presley is his idol and also admire Hemant Kumar, Cliff Richard and Mehdi Hassan. Alamgir has also computerized his music. Songs like "Gori Panghat Pai" and "Main Ne Tumharee Gagar Se" have back ground all created by the computer.

Alamgir's voice gives his song that haunting and lifting rhythm that long after the notes die out, vibrates in memory. He is presently residing in Karachi with his wife and two children.

 

Nazia Hassan & Zohaib Hassan

Trendsetting pop music duo Nazia and Zohaib Hassan, sister and brother, earned wide acclaim in a very short span of time. They have tried to introduce new elements and new ideas in the pop music while keeping in touch with latest techniques. Both singers have a good educational background and started pursuing music as a hobby, not a career. Their mother, Muneeze Baseer, is active in various women's organizations and cultural activities, and their father, Baseer Hassan, is a successful businessman.

Strange as it seems, the duo's first collection of hits, "Disco Deewaney," was rejected at first as being too commercially risky by the same company which eventually marketed it. The duo's family recorded, financed and marketed the first four of their nine cassettes. In 1984, the recording companies realized their mistake and nearly fell over one another to sign a contract with these young vocalists from Karachi.

So immense and spontaneous was the popularity of their songs among young music buffs in the subcontinent that the annual 1984 issue of a popular Indian magazine included Nazia Hassan among "the 50 people who have changed our lives." Her hit song "Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Main Aaye" converted millions of teenagers in the subcontinent into literal "disco dewaney" (disco-mad).

Both in their mid-twenties, Nazia and Zohaib have vocationally satisfying careers. Nazia works for the United Nations Security Council and has completed a report on the Occupied Territories, including Palestine, Kashmir and Afghanistan. Trained in corporate law, Nazia switched to international law and is very keen on studying human rights and international decision making. Meanwhile, Zohaib is constantly experimenting with computers, blending and mixing new and traditional music. Coming from a family of hard taskmasters for whom quality takes precedence over quantity, both Nazia and Zohaib practice music regularly and record during their summer vacations.

Nazia and Zohaib are trying to motivate the younger generation to stay away from drugs. They have spent more than three years gathering data on the extent of drug abuse in Pakistan, and two years ago they launched BAN (Battle Against Narcotics), a privately funded non- governmental organization. Their latest venture, "Camera Camera," is music with a cause (fighting drug abuse), and they are working on two documentaries on drug abuse for Pakistan Television. Success and fame have not affected Nazia and Zohaib in a negative way. For them, serious activities come first, and they look toward the future with cheerful optimism.

 

FOLK MUSIC

The folk music of Pakistan represents the real culture of the people: their love and hates, their joys and sorrows, their colourful ceremonies and festivities, and above all their spiritual entity. It includes all the songs and dances spontaneously originating among the people of different regions.

Like folk songs all over the world, these songs are predominantly strophic in pattern (the same music is repeated for each stanza). This pattern is most suitable for simple lyrical pieces with a regular meter and uniform verses. Similarly, the epic love poems of Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, Sohni Mahinwal and Umer Marvi are each sung in a specific mode (sur), and each has its own distinct style of presentation.

Contemporary folk artists like Alam Lohar, Sain Akhtar, Reshman, Munir Sarhadi, Khamisoo Khan, Faiz Mohammad Baloch and Misri Khan Jamali have performed all over the world. The National Institute of Folk Heritage (LOK VIRSA) works to preserve and promote folklore and folk music.

FOLK SONGS

Loba (NWFP)

Loba is a popular and important form of Pushto folk song. The word loba means "a game." Its simple poetry and enchanting composition are the primary characteristics of the loba. It is usually sung by females, but the lobas which are sung as a male-female duet are considered to be the best.

The poetry of the loba approaches free verse. A complete loba ranges from three to six bunds, each consisting of two verses or lines. Each bund, and sometimes each line, has a different character and meter. The first two lines are called the mukhra or soor(face). These lay the foundation and are repeated as a refrain.

The pessimistic theme of the loba centres around the pangs of separation, the vicissitudes of traditional love, and the mishaps of human life. Some lobas express the common man's hatred for capitalist society and feudal lords.

 

Mahiya (PUNJAB)

The mahiya is a popular love song of Pakistan. It derives from the word mahin, meaning cattle. Figuratively, it means the lover, deriving from the popular romance of Sohni and Mahinwal in which the hero, Mahinwal, was a cowherd. The content of themahiya generally refers to this folk tale.

 

Nimakai (NWFP)

Nimakai is the simplest form of Pushto folk music. The nimakai is a love song. It is a developed form of the landai or tappa, the difference being that the nimakai is always sung in a solo female voice , whereas the other two forms are sung by a female chorus for group dancing. Nimakai is sung on festive occasions, while picking cotton, or when village girls get together during the full moon or at the village well.

Each stanza of the nimakai consists of three verses following a consistent pattern. After the second verse, the first line or verse recurs as a refrain.

 

Shahbaz Qallander/Dhamal (SINDH)

The dhamal song, or Shahbaz Qallander, is devotional folk song of Sindh which has attained nationwide popularity. It relates to the ecstatic dance rites of the faqirs and malangs (devotees) of the renowned saint, Shahbaz Qallander of Sehwan Sharif (a town of Sindh).

The theme of the song is devotion and praise for the murshad (spiritual guide). It is sung and danced by the followers of Shahbaz Qallander as a tribute and homage. Rhythmical accompaniment for the song is provided by the dholak, dohal or Sindhi naqqaras, while the iktara and dumboora (one- and three-stringed plucked lutes) provide the drone and melodic accompaniment respectively. The rhythm is 2/4 (presto), with a regular strong accent on the first beat of every bar.

FOLK SINGERS

Allam Lohar

Allam Lohar was born in the small village of Aach Goach outside Gujrat, Punjab, into a family of blacksmiths. He was gifted with a melodious voice and began singing as a child. Strongly attracted to music, he took little interest in his studies and dropped out of school to pursue a singing career, much to the dismay of his father, until Malik Shah, his spiritual guide, intervened on his behalf. Once he achieved the freedom to sing, Alam Lohar developed a new style of singing the Punjabi warm, an epic or folk tale. He is famous for his rendition of Waris Shah's Heer, which he has memorized in 36 styles and forms. He recorded his first album at the age of 13 and has outsold all other singers in Pakistan, with 5,000 albums to his credit.

Allam Lohar organized a full-fledged theatre with a complete orchestra. His troupe toured all of Punjab for religious and seasonal festivals. He also travelled several times to the United Kingdom at his own expense to perform for Pakistanis living overseas, who were delighted by his colourful clothes and thrilling voice, traditional chimta in hand.

 

Allan Fakir

Allan Fakir was born in 1932 in the ancient village of Aamari in Dadu district, Sindh. His mother died soon after his birth. He spent his childhood in Manjhand, a town outside Hyderabad. He belongs to the Mangarhar caste. Literally, this means "beggar," but in Sindh, the Mangarhars are believed to bring happiness and welcomed on festive occasions for their gift of melody. According to the traditions of this caste, Allan Fakir's father used to beat the drum and sing traditional songs at weddings.

When he was only a teenager, Allan Fakir developed a habit of singing melancholy songs which his father did not like. Deprived of a mother's love, he went off in search of someone who could replace that love. He arrived at the tomb of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in Bhit Shah and started living there. Hearing the traditional Latifi raga sung every night touched his heart. Encouraged by Faqir Zawar Qurban Ali Lanjwani and Moolchand Maharaj, he began singing Bhitai's poetry at the shrine and ultimately spent twenty years there until meeting Mumtaz Mirza, who introduced him to Radio Pakistan in Hyderabad and helped him to learn the correct pronunciation of Bhitai's poetry. Eventually, he became a performing legend.

In appreciation of his services to folk culture, he was given a job and a small house at the Institute of Sindhology. He was originally appointed as an officer to help promote Sindhi culture, but due to his illiteracy, he was eventually demoted to the post of peon.

Allan Fakir received the President's Pride of Pperformance award in 1980, the Shahbaz Award in 1987, the Shah Latif Award in 1992 and Kandhkot Award in 1993.

 

Hidayatullah

Hidayatullah was born in 1940 in Peshawar. His father's name is Saadullah Khan Khattak. As a student at Edwardes College, Peshawar, he was well known among teachers and students alike as a brilliant student and an excellent debater. Pursuing an interest in music, he requested Ustad Andaleeb, the father of the famous musician G. M. Durrani, to be his teacher. He commenced his life as a singer at Syed Abdul Sattar Baja's gatherings for singing devotional songs. People were so impressed that he began receiving invitations from all over Pakistan.

Hidayatullah has performed for radio and television and produced several commercial recordings. He has also served as music director for a Pushto film. His repertoire includes ghazals and other light classical selections in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindko and Pushto, and he is a skilled player of the harmonium, banjo, flute and tabla. He is known and admired not only in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan, where the royal family invited him to perform at a festival.

 

Khameesu Khan

Khameesu Khan was born in 1917 in a village of Sindh. His father was a farmer, and Khameesu Khan spent his childhood working on the farm. His uncle, Mohammad Ismail, was very fond of playing the alghoza or beena, as it is called in Sindh. Listening his uncle play, Khameesu Khan wanted to learn to play too, but he was not allowed to touch his uncle's beena. Secretly, he began practicing when ever he could find an opportunity. Soon he was an expert. One day, he was caught red-handed by his uncle, who instead of being furious was delighted to hear the music which flowed from Khameesu Khan's beena. Guided by another uncle, Syed Ahmad Shah, he became one of Pakistan’s finest alghoza players.

Khameesu Khan has a large number of fans who are entranced by his music. They invite him to play regularly. Khameesu Khan is Pakistan's unparalleled and universally acknowledged master of the alghoza.

 

Pathanay Khan

Pathanay Khan (Ghulam Muhammad) was born in 1920 in village Basti Tambu Wali, situated in the heart of the Thal Desert, several miles from Kot Addu (Punjab). When he was only a few years old, his father brought his third wife home, so his mother decided to leave his father. She took her son along and went to Kot Addu to stay with her father.

When the boy fell seriously ill, his mother took him to a Syed's house, a place which was respected by all. The Syed's wife looked after him and his mother to change his name because it seemed too heavy for him. Her daughter commented that he looked like Pathana (in that region, a name symbolising love and valour), and so from that day onwards he was known as Pathanay Khan. His mother credited the new name with saving the child's life.

Pathanay Khan was very attached to his mother. She took good care of him, tried to educate him, and gave him the love and protection he needed. However, he inherited many of the attributes of his father, Khameesa Khan. He liked wandering, contemplation, and singing. His nature lured him away from school after Class 7th. He began singing, mostly the kafis of Khawaja Ghulam Farid, the famed saint of Bahawalpur. His first teacher was Baba Mir Khan, who taught him everything he knew. Pathanay Khan was poor, and singing alone did not earn him survival, so he started collecting dry logs for his mother, who used to prepare bread for the villagers. This enabled the family to earn a poor living.

He remembers his childhood days with tears in his eyes. His love for God, music, and Khawaja Farid gave him strength to bear the burden. Pathanay Khan adopted singing as a profession in earnest after his mother's death. His singing has the capacity to bewitch his listeners, and he can sing for hours on. He is a winner of the President's Pride of Performance Award. Pathanay Khan is married, with seven daughters, four sons, and an adopted son, Yaseen.

 

Reshman

Reshman was born to a Pakkhiwas(gypsy) family in Rajasthan one year after Independence. They traded in horses, cows and goats. She belonged to a tribe which had converted to Islam. Her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after Independence.

Gifted with a melodious voice, Reshman did not receive any formal education. She spent much of her childhood singing at the mazars (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh. When she was hardly twelve years old, she was spotted by a music director, Salim Gilani, who arranged for her to make a recording for radio. She became an instant hit, and since that day, Reshman has been one of the most popular folk singers of Pakistan, appearing on television in the 1960s, recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry, and performing at home and abroad. Whereever she goes, she mesmerizes the audience with her husky voice.

Reshman lives very simply in Lahore. She is proud of her gypsy heritage and married a man from the same tribe. Her four sons and three daughters also married within the tribe. She still loves going to the mazars, where several of her pirs (holy men) reside. She has been visiting Pir Mushtaq Hussain, Pir Shafqat Hussain in Okara for the last twenty-five years. She also visits the mazar of Shahbaz Qallander.

 

Shaukat Ali

Shaukat Ali was born in Malikwal, Punjab into a family of musicians. He received his musical training from his elder brother, Enayat Ali. He sang for the first time onstage when he was a student at Government College, Lahore.

He began his career as a professional singer by participating in radio programmes. Gradually, he became popular among the people of Punjab. He is well-known for his high-pitched renditions of folk and national songs. He is also a poet who has written the lyrics to a number of his songs. Both urban and rural dwellers alike appreciate his tappas and his dastans of Mirza Sahiban, Saif-ul-Maluk and Heer Ranjha for their emotional depth. He also sings ghazals (a light classical form) with equal ease.

When television was introduced, Shaukat Ali quickly became popular. He has travelled widely as a cultural ambassador of Pakistan and received numerous awards.

 

Shazia Khushk

Shazia Khushk was born in Jamshoro, Sindh, in September 1970. Her forefathers had migrated there from the Neelam Valley. Her childhood love of music led her to study with classical master Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, under whose tutelage she blossomed into an accomplished singer in eleven regional languages (Sindhi, Urdu, Saraiki, Balochi, Brahui, Punjabi, Pushto, Gujrati, Pahari, Kashmiri and Hindko).

Once, during vacation, she visited her remote home village with her father, a teacher at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro. There she became acquainted with the nomads of Thar and learned more about their lifestyle. She embraced their philosophy and their love of music, and she adopted their traditional dress after they gave her a suit as a token of love. Her musical output so far includes five albums. She sings the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. She has also recorded a film song.

A knowledgeable music lover, Shazia Khushk maintains a home music library which contains hundreds of audio cassettes and books by her favourite Sufi poets. She is studying for a bachelor's degree and busy researching Sindhi folk songs and their origins, on which she plans to write a book.

 

Tufail Naizi

Tufail Niazi was born to a family of music lovers. He received his early training in classic singing from his father, who played thedhurpadi mardang (a form of drum). He made his first public appearance as a singer when he was only eight years old. Before Independence, he used to sing at the famous Harbalb Mela (festival) near Jullander, where the top Indian singers used to perform.

After Independence, he migrated to Multan, where he began selling milk and curd until 1949, when a police inspector recognized him and arranged for him to sing at a concert. He soon became well known in the cultural circles of Multan, where he established a theatre and became a popular actor, singing on occasion for Radio Pakistan and performing on television when it was introduced.

Tufail Naizi, skilled in the art of classical music, excelled in aarr (singing between the beats) and adhob (amalgamating the notes of two or three ragas). He worked tirelessly to help set up the National Institute of Folk Heritage, travelling all over Pakistan to gather folk treasures. A winner of the President's Pride of Performance award, he died on September 21, 1990.

MUSIC COMPOSERS

Khawaja Khurshid Anwar (1912-1984)

A man of startling versatility (poet, revolutionary, producer, director, playwright, and musician), Khurshid Anwar is acknowledged to have been one of the best composers of the subcontinent who undoubtedly created much of the best film music in Pakistan.

Born in Mianwali on 21 March 1912, Khurshid Anwar completed his schooling at the Central Model School, Lahore. He participated in revolutionary activities in late twenties and joined Bhagat Singh's Naujawan Bharat Sabha. Soon, he was arrested and was kept in jail for few days. He was pardoned by the British authorities on the request of his family. When Khurshid Anwar showed an interest in music during childhood, a family elder advised him to study the tabla in order to understand the complex rhythmic patterns of subcontinental classical music. Besides his musical talent, Khurshid Anwar was a poet of considerable merit. During his school and college days, he used to write poetry which attracted attention. In 1935 he earned his master's degree in philosophy from the University of Punjab, Lahore.

Although Khurshid Anwar's first movie, "Kurmai" (Punjabi, 1941), was not much of a success, a few of its songs became quite popular. His second film, "Ishara" (Urdu), fared better. In this movie he introduced the Haryana variety of Punjabi folk music. In terms of quantity, Khurshid Anwar trailed behind some of his contemporaries, but qualitatively, few could match his talent. During forty years of association with the film industry, he wrote the score for only 28 movies, nine from Bombay (six before Independence) and 19 from Lahore (one before Independence). Half of these enjoyed tremendous box office success, (including"Ishara," "Parwana," "Singhar," "Intezar," "Heer Ranjha," and "Koel") and four others were moderately successful.

His tunes radiated subtle romanticism but were firmly based upon classical structures. His compositions were imbued with an indigenous vitality. His distinct style won him recognition from both professional musicians and the public. Several times during his eventful career he was acclaimed as the best composer of the year in Pakistan or India. Khurshid Anwar was perhaps the most gifted artist of our age. He has certainly proved to be the most durable.

 

Master Ghulam Haider (1906 - 1953)

Fifty years ago, a film song, "Tu Kaunsi Badli Mein Merey Chand Hai Aaja", held music fans of the subcontinent spellbound. It was sung by Noor Jehan for "Khandan" and music was composed by Master Ghulam Haider. Ghulam Haider was born in Hyderabad (Sindh) in 1906. Trained as a dentist, he left for Calcutta as a young man. There he spent six years studying music, though little is known about his training. He started his career as a composer for theatre companies and had broken into film by 1936. His first big hit was "Khazanchi" (1941), produced by studio owner Seth Dilsukh Pancholi. According to the story, Pancholi once visited the Master's clinic for a tooth problem. After treating him, the Master took out his harmonium and asked Pancholi to listen to his music. Pancholi was so pleased with what he heard that he offered Ghulam Haider a job.

Master Ghulam Haider had the privilege of introducing a number of renowed singers to the public: Shamshad Begum, Noor Jehan, Zeenat Begum, Umrao Zia, and Qamar Jalalabadi. Some even credit him with having introduced Lata Mangeshkar. "Majboor"was his last film in India. He migrated to Pakistan in 1950 and composed music for Nazeer Ajmeri's film "Parwana."

Master Ghulam Haider was acknowledged as a trend-setter who introduced the "dholak" to create a powerful rhythmic effect. He was skillful at intermingling Bengali tunes with classical ragas and a masterful composer of choral segments.

 

Mian Muhammad Munir Alam Sheharyar (1927- )

A veteran with over 45 years of experience in film, stage, radio, and television, Mian Sheharyar has outshone a number of his contemporaries despite the inherent handicap of not belonging to a family of professional musicians. Born in village Harbanspura (Lahore District) in 1927 into a family of agriculturists (Arain), Mian Sheharyar had a natural inclination for music, especially singing. As a teenager, he used to recite naats (verses written in honour of the Prophet) and sing folk songs, to the delight of his neighbours and classfellows. His ambition was to be a radio or playback singer.

Popular radio singer Sharif Ghaznavi began teaching him folk singing. He made his debut as a singer in the year 1948, when he took part in a music programme broadcast by, Radio Pakistan, Lahore. He went on to study under Feroze Nizami in 1951 and later under Master Niaz Hussain Shami and Khurshid Butt, a promising disciple of the late Ustad Sardar Khan Delhiwaley. Meanwhile, he earned a master's degree from Punjab University, Lahore. He continued his musical training in the evening while working during the daytime at the Punjab Board of Revenue.

Mian Sheharyar had a brave stiff competition from professional musicians, who jealously guard their musical heritage. He was disappointed with the attitude of one of his teachers, who he believed did not teach him with an open mind and heart. When composer Feroze Nizami went back on a promise to use Mian Sheharyar's voice in "Hamari Basti," he gave up his ambition to sing and turned to composing. His first Punjabi song was recorded in 1954 in the voice of Munawwar Sultana. It turned out to be an instant hit and helped him establish his credentials as a composer.

In 1956, poet Ashoor Kazmi asked him to compose tunes for a film, and his compositions for Urdu films "Begunnah" and"Mumtaz" reached the lips of millions. His reputation was further enhanced by the new medium of television. In May 1965, Melody Queen Noor Jehan recorded his patriotic song, "Aiy Watan Kay Sajeelay Jawaanon," which became a legend. During the 1965 war with India his patriotic song "Mein Hoon Mauseeqar Watan Ka," recorded in the voice of Mehdi Hassan, profoundly stirred the public.

Mian Sheharyar often experiments with different genres of classical and folk music. In his TV music programme, "Jal Tarang," he skillfully meshed the traditional rhythmic cycles into fascinating compositions. Among his latest releases are two cassettes entitled"Tazaa Hawa" and "Samandar," featuring the voices of Ghulam Ali, Tarannum Naaz, Fida Hussain, Amjad Parvez, and Hamid Ali Khan.

 

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