Playing with the wind


KARACHI:

The musical relics inherited from a region say a lot about the religion, language and social status of its inhabitants. But in addition to being inherited or adopted, music is fundamental in an individual’s relationship with his environment. It’s not something human beings can make their own and it happens naturally, according to Danyal Ahmed.

Musician, anthropologist, curator, producer and co-founder of Karachi Community Radio, Ahmed does not come from a family of “ustads”, but after having studied the life of migrants in Germany through the prism of sound, he is involved in “sound practices, music history, sound reproduction and musical exchanges through migration.

Lost in honor

“Many will listen to music here unintentionally, but if a child wants to be a musician, they will be told it is not an ‘honorable’ profession,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune. “Pakistani parents can also tell their children that it is not a lucrative career, and rightly so, but just observing how the word ‘Mirasi’ has been twisted tells you where the honor of a musician lies.

Recalling how ‘Mirasi’, taken from the Arabic term ‘Mīrās’ (heritage), should make traditional classical singers and musicians the heirs of something glorious, Ahmed adds, “but as this is not considered to be the case here, there is nothing special about remembering my parents’ discouragement when I was young, ”admits the flautist.

Many will listen to music here unintentionally, but if a child wants to become a musician, he will be told that it is not an “honorable” profession. Pakistani parents can also tell their children that it is not a lucrative career, and rightly so, but just observing how the word “Mirasi” has been twisted tells you where the honor of a musician lies.

In his recent Instagram post, Ahmed shared a photo of himself performing in a Ramazan transmission with the caption: “Growing up with a lot of conflict and confusion about music and Islam, it was a real pleasure and privilege to play my bansuri on a Ramzan transmission on national television last night. Belly empty, mouth withered, but one more step in making music a natural part of our daily life.

A strong believer in “the more you learn, the more you become aware of how little you know”, Ahmed, who played with alghoz player Akbar Khamiso Khan at Lahooti Melo ’20, adds that no matter how much you avoid it, music also becomes part of your religious recitations. “You remember God through the Qawwalis, the religious sermons in Punjab have a melodic touch, even the Koranic Tilawat is so melodic whether we agree with that notion or not. “

Along with a flute performance of Qasīdat al-Burda Sharif that he shared online, Ahmed recounts how fascinating it is that the poetry and associated melody of an ode to the Prophet (pbuh), written in South Africa. North in the thirteenth century, traveled for 800 years. and 8,000 kilometers to become instantly recognizable to Muslims across Pakistan today.

Sharing a story of the emergence of Qasīdat al-Burda Sharif, Ahmed laments that although we know the poetry and the poet, very little is known about his melodic interpretation.

Kanhaiyya Connection

“I’ve been learning the transverse flute for a while now, but it’s not my first instrument. I started by convincing my family to buy me a guitar. I had a bansuri lying around, but I never really picked it up, ”admits Ahmed, who can’t imagine putting it down now.

Recalling how the instrument “cast a spell” on him, Ahmed described the many charms that attracted him. It was in the 20th century, after Pandit Pannalal Ghosh pioneered the Indian classical flute, that it became a part of Indian classical music. So in a way it’s also a modern instrument. Another thing that I find very interesting about bansuri is the number of languages ​​you can speak with. You can play it in a Sindhi style, in a Punjabi style; you can play songs of any genre with it. It is such a versatile instrument that also retains its unique character, ”assures the teacher and the student.

Another video of Ahmed on his Instagram shows him jamming on the beach with murli nawaz Natha Khan. “I came to the beach to swim, but found myself trying to stay afloat on the vast ocean of Sindhi music. The wave movements and pulsating rhythms that Natha Khan plays on the murli are called lehras, from the word lehr (wave). The flavors of these rhythmic movements are characteristic elements of Sindhi and Rajasthan music, ”he explains.

Ahmed also points out that if a flute does not require tuning, a bansuri nawaz must be tuned to play it. And of course, its portability adds to the many reasons Ahmed wins everywhere.

The “classic” enigma

I don’t even like to call the music I play “classical”. We adopted the term from the West and because of that what we play today is dubbed a thing of the past. Shastriya Sangeet is ideal for me because the latter is an amalgamation of sangat and geet.

But while the artist spends his days learning classical music and is seen performing at a wedding to Tando Jan Muhammad on his social media, he does not yet consider himself a performer of southern classical music. Asian.

“I don’t even like to call the music I play ‘classic’,” he says. “We adopted the term western and because of that what we play today is dubbed a thing of the past,” adds the musician. The innovation seen in what today is considered the classical music of Southeast Asia proves that if a raag remains intact, the evolution of the arrangement and incorporation of various Western instruments can change the sound. and the experience of listening to it.

So Ahmed would prefer to stick to the Hindi term Shastriya Sangeet. “Given our postcolonial differences with India, I understand why many would refrain from adopting it. Some also end up calling him Khayal, because Khayal is what came after Dhrupad. However, Shastriya Sangeet is ideal for me because the latter is an amalgamation of sangat and geet. Even the term Guitar is derived from geet and tar, but many will gladly ignore this fact, ”shares Ahmed.

The flautist, who began his own musical journey with a guitar, is now a pupil of famous flute master and pride of performance recipient Ustad Salamat Hussain. He is also a lecturer at Habib University. While the growth of overseas music programs has made learning music theory less tedious, the traditional private education system continues to produce commendable talent in Pakistan to this day and Ahmed is one example.

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