Friday, November 1, 2013

Pakistani Bands Changing Traditional Music Scene

Roadway in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

By: Morgan Sigrist
Produced & edited by: Tim Tripp

  Peshawar, a city richly rooted in Pashtun tribal influences, is quickly developing a modern underground music scene. With bands like Khumariyaan, Peshawar’s music scene is transforming with Western influences of the guitar, with a fusion of folk poetry seen from music tradition to the region.
  “Our philosophy is that art for fundamentalism is like water for fire. We believe in being prolific performers and getting this message across. In the underground circuit of Peshawar, no one has performed more than Khumariyaan and no one can for a long time to come,” said Fahran Bogra Khumariyaan manager and rubab player.
   Traditionally, music in South East Asia is rooted in lyrical poetry and instruments such as the rubab, but with Western European influences such as the guitar, the sounds have begun to change. The rubab is “lute-like instrument” similar in construction to a guitar, but with a deep bass which helps to give it a hearty deep strum. 
  Underground bands have been emerging, often groups of university students, performing at local venues building fans across the country and often into neighboring countries.
 “Young singers are blooming in universities,” said music enthusiast Gull Aj. Aj grew up in Peshawar, Pakistan, and watched as music has transformed from the traditional poetic music, into Western infused performances, and is now a Fullbright student at Ohio University. “I like the theme and the poetry,” said Aj, who also enjoys the sounds of Persian music.
Introduction of Stringed Instruments
  One of the interesting developments in Pakistani music has been the introduction of the guitar, thus changing the sound of the traditional music scene. Bands like Khumariyaan work to infuse past and present music traditions to create their own unique sound.
 “The premise for forming the band was to preserve the rubab, our very own stringed instrument, when the guitar started making its way into the youth. We wanted to show that the two can coexist beautifully and metaphorically,” said Bogra. 
A rubab. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

  The current generation of musicians in Pakistan has a heavy contention between the sounds of the rubab and the guitar. To musicians like Bogra, the rubab is an important part of his musical history, and the sounds of his culture.
  Khumariyaan, which means “the intoxicants,” fosters a sound of past and present influences with performances that delight people throughout Pakistan. The band is comprised of four musicians: Fahran Bogra rubab player, Shiraz Khan percussionist, Aamer Shafiq vocalist and guitarist, and Sparlay Rawail guitarist and percussionist, were students from two universities in Peshawar and came together for their love of music.
  Each musician brings their own story to the band, and adapts sounds from their travels throughout Pakistan, thus creating a truly unique sound.
 One of the features that separate Khumariyaan from other groups is their pure use of instruments with little to no lyrics. Instead, the group focuses on creating an instrumental experience for their listeners to get out of their seats to move to the sounds of contemporary instrument fusion.
  The band prides their band on creating an experience for their listeners. “… We bring hyper percussive folk music from the ruins of Pakistan, in an age where there is a song for selling juice boxes to match boxes to shampoos, the folk artists and particularly instrument players, who in fact are the real composers, are suffering, and we believe, it is important for the evolution of folk music to blend it with a contemporary style of guitars and percussion. Folk music is always traditionally listened to live, and we work intensely on perfecting our live act, this is our way of thinking and this is what sets us apart,” said Bogra.

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