Music in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to various genres of music such as classical, sufi, ghazal, qawwali, pop, rock and hip hop. Unfortunately, many inhabitants condemn the idea of music. Yet, despite this, there have still been several notable personalities who have expressed their passion and contributed to developing the Pakistani music industry. Noble people like Hassan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan played a great role in putting Pakistan on the map in terms of classical music. Moreover, we cannot ignore the global recognition earned by Junoon and Vital Signs as well as singers like Atif Aslam, Amanat Ali Khan and Ali Zafar. Pakistan has a very rich cultural history of music such as in the case of “qawwal bachhe dehli gharana” which goes as far back as 750 years. However, musicians rarely get any form of recognition or encouragement from the government to promote their talent. According to my knowledge, Pakistan does not have have a school of music. Therefore, I feel it is not only important but necessary to preserve music for the next generation by introducing classical music into the curriculum of schools, both public and private.

Like most of the youth in Pakistan, I had little interest in Pakistani music, and instead showed more interest in the music produced by Hollywood and Bollywood. While interning at SOC Films Company, I was assigned to find musical footage from Lahore, during which I discovered amazing work that Pakistani musicians created by fusing classical music with hip hop, using traditional instruments. Being exposed to the biographies of many well-known musicians who were the predecessors of our modern artists was a fascinating learning experience for me. However, it was tragic to learn that many talents were dismissed due to reasons such as lack of presidential support, absence of good institutions or companies, and so on.

Yet there still appeared to be some hope. In the early 2000s, with the explosion of the media in Pakistan, young artists were given the opportunity to showcase their work. Television channels emerged and fresh, new faces came to the limelight. Coke Studio launched a new style of music by merging classical and western vocal styles, combining qawwali with bhangra and fusing ghazal with rock. This fusion of all elements from different cultures, with traditional and modern techniques being amalgamated, produced a unique, new sound.

I think we should preserve our rich and diverse culture of music by opening more government-run institutions, so that our youth can become familiar with musical traditions. It is through this that awareness can grow among the new generation. We have several musicians linked with the rich history of Pakistan so we ought to exploit this treasure which we have not done until now. It is particularly important to do so in a country which hosts such precious talents and people, and it is very necessary for the government to take the initiative to uplift these musicians who have so graciously uplifted Pakistan.

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About Nazneen

I am Nazneen from Hunza, Pakistan studying in Bangladesh at Asian University for Women. As it is a liberal arts university, we are exposed to real life issues and events through internships in various fields. Last year, I got a chance to take a course on Women and Western Families in History at Stanford University in California. This year, I got an internship opportunity at SOC Films, which is a production company in Pakistan, spearheaded by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. I'm finding the internship really interesting as we are given various kind of activities in different sectors. I got opportunity to observe the process of selecting subjects for documentaries and we are allowed to accompany the production team to various places where they shoot for documentaries. Usually, our task is to take photographs of the process behind the screen and logging the shoots. Besides that, the first and continuing project we got was to make a blog inspired by a six part documentary series where the aim of the project was to share our experiences as well as to show SOC Films' contribution in demonstrating the individual's ability to make a difference in their communities.

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