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Light Music of Pakistan



Chronologically speaking, the geet, also known as the naghma (song and lyric), is the youngest of the musical genres except for pop music. Muslim poets and lyricists contributed substantially toward its development and maturation. The purpose of the geet is to increase the impact of a given situation in a film and to accentuate the emotional effect of melodrama. Film music is flooded with geets, which are now an inseparable part of filmmaking in the subcontinent.

A geet is a short poem of three or four stanzas. It is created primarily to reflect different moods as required by different dramatic situations. A geet can be witty, sarcastic, sardonic, or melancholic ,the range is endless. The effectiveness of a geet increases when it is set to tune by a sensitive musician. As a musical genre, the geet falls into three easily discernible categories: raga-based, folk-based, or pop-based. Occasionally, a geet mixes these styles. Creative composers who developed geet composition into a fine art include Master Ghulam Haider, Khurshid Anwar, and Feroze Nizami.

The popularity of a geet depends largely upon its skillful rendition by a vocalist. During the past fifty years or so, many great vocalists have lent their voices to geets composed for film, radio, or television. Prominent among them have been  Noor Jehan, Zubeda Khanum, Mala, Masud Rana, Mahnaz, Nayyara Noor, and Nahid Akhtar in Pakistan. New electronic musical instruments are adding new tonal coloration to the geet, which keeps changing in response to musical innovations.



As a literary form, the Urdu ghazal, a continuation of the Persian ghazal in a new setting, has enjoyed great popularity over the past two hundred years. Its musical evolution, however, is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

Tracing the history of the melodic evolution of the ghazal is an uphill task when so few recorded examples of its earlier varieties are available. However, with the advent of the gramophone, the ghazal began to emerge as a distinct and vibrant musical genre, and there is recorded evidence to vouch for its traditional purity. Judging from early recordings, it can be safely assumed that the ghazalwas influenced by the dhurpad, kheyal, and thumri styles during the embryonic stage of its development.

During the Mughal period and the British Raj, ghazal singing was considered only an adjunct to light music. It had limited appeal and it did not occupy a high place in the musical hierarchy. At that time, its scope was restricted within the confines of a metrical system expressly tailored for poetical expression and not suitable for musical elaboration. In pre-independence days, a large number of talented and innovative vocalists made conscious efforts to reshape the contours of ghazal singing in such a way as to allow sufficient room to accommodate some characteristics of the thumri and tappa forms with ease. During this period, ghazal singing became the pride of many celebrated classical vocalists. The leading lights among the exponents of this modified version of the ghazal were Gohar Jan, Shamshad Bai of Agra, and Pyare Sahib.

The new style deeply appealed to listeners, and many other vocalists created a name for themselves by adopting it, including Barkat Ali Khan, Muhammad Hussain Nagina, Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, and Bhai Chhela. In the early 1940s Saigol, Malika Pukhraj, Kamla Jharia and several other vocalists developed song-accented ghazals which became extremely popular Among the pioneering composers of the song-accented ghazal, Anil Biswas can easily be singled out. His first experiment with this style in film "Pehli Nazar" became an instant hit. The song, based on the rudiments of Raag Darbari, became the true representative of a newly emerging style of ghazal singing.

With the gradual shift to heavily orchestrated and western-oriented composition in film music, and the induction of modern electronic instruments into movie orchestras, ghazal singing began to absorb the new influences of opulent orchestration.

Today, the ghazal remains one of the most popular forms of music. It has benefitted tremendously both from past traditions and from the rich contributions made by contemporary exponents such as Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Farida Khanum, and Iqbal Bano.



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