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Nusrat in Pak Paper

Nusrat in Pak Paper

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Published by: AvnishIT on Jan 28, 2012
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Nusrat in Janghttp://jang.com.pk/thenews/8/24/03musicSix years of imitatingIt should never be forgotten that even as Nusrat Fateh Ali experimented he did nottamper with the melodic line of singing. It remained as pure as with any traditionalsinger By Sarwat AliGiven the popularity and impact of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the international musicscene, it was expected that some solid analyses would emerge on his musicalcontribution. But the few that have appeared in the six years since his death do notqualify to be of any critical merit.Of all the forms, qawwali has been subjected to much experimentation and the rise of Nusrat Fateh Ali, as a representative of the emerging trend of World Music, placed it inthe eye of a controversial storm. To many traditionalists this was both distasteful andirreverent as they hankered back to the more traditional style.In the last couple of decades, music has undergone such a tremendous change thatolder and most prestigious forms seem to be in the process of extinction, while a fewproving to be more resilient have adapted to these changes. Qawwali, as it is known, isa creative product of the South Asian environment. Both the musical structure in termsof raags and the rhythmic patterns as well as the text are very indigenous and a creativeresponse to the situation as it existed for many centuries in South Asia. The qawwalswere musicians with a lineage and sound musical knowledge along with their understanding of the kalaam. Like all professional musicians, they underwent rigoroustraining in raagdari and laikari and developed strong voices to sing mostly in the upper register.Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's family belonged to Basti Sheikh in Jallandhar. His father FatehAli Khan and uncle Mubarak Ali Khan were well known qawwals of their times. Another uncle Salamat Ali Khan was an outstanding harmonium player.Besides the traditional repertoire of Arabic and Persian kalaam, they incorporated thekalaam of the Punjabi Soofi poets. In the Punjab, they sang to receptive audiences far more than the kalaam in dialects like Brij Bhaasha, Poorbi and Khari, more popular inthe Delhi, Ajmer and Lucknow region.Nusrat was born in 1947 or 1948 in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad), settled in mohallaLassori Shah where the family had migrated from Jallandhar at partition. He got histraining from his father and uncle. As a child, he accompanied them on their numerousperformances. His father Fateh Ali Khan was well versed in raagdari, he strengthenedthe melodic element in his qawwali while Mubarak Ali was a laikaar. The combinationworked well to make them the foremost group in the subcontinent.
Fateh Ali Khan died in the late 1960s at a relatively young age and the responsibility of the group fell on the shoulders of Mubarak Ali Khan. He kept it intact till his death in themid-1970s. Nusrat made his first impression at the urs of Baba Fareed in Pakpattan asa young man and later on at the annual music conference under the auspices of RadioPakistan on March 23, 1965. But he was recognised as a formidable force in 1976, onthe occasion to commemorate the 700th death anniversary of Amir Khusro.As he became famous in Pakistan, Nusrat Fateh was invited to Avignon in France attheir annual music conference. Ghulam Fareed Sabri had already made space for qawwali in the festival. Nusrat Fateh Ali capitalised on that initial acceptance, and madeit as one of the most popular forms of music over the years not only in France but allover the world.When he teamed up with Peter Gabriel, his fame extended beyond those onlyinterested in music and his contribution in Womad (World of Music Art and Dance)made him the leading player in the phenomena called World Music. The fusion of melodic content of traditional cultures with contemporary rhythmic patterns usuallyplayed on electronic computerised instruments became the representative music of theage.As with the ghazal, the Pakistani establishment felt comfortable with the promotion of qawwali. In 1980s, it was considered to be the representative music which had a stampall its own to make it distinct from any major form of classical music. Its contentsclassified as religious mysticism sat easily with everyone.The musical forms of our system are very insular and retain their purity. It is not easy topenetrate and subject them to change. The change if any is slow and depends ongradual assimilation. All classical forms in any system of music do not lend themselveseasily to change. They are resistant to tampering and tinkering, the change is alwaysslow and imperceptible. Only hindsight provides the true measure of that change.The change is much easily brought about in the forms of music which are not that wellwrought, stylised or particular in retaining their individuality. It is more crucial to respondto the changing environment and climate of music than in retaining the purity of a form.In our music the folk forms were much easier to influence than the higher classicalforms.The form which responded to changes in the environment was and is film music. Thereasons are easier to understand because it was a new form that had emerged with thetechnological breakthrough of recording sound live which later was used as playback.Since the form was new there was no resistance from an already existing formalstructure, the territory was wide-open to experimentation. The initial experimentationsconducted in the laboratory of film music were the introduction of the orchestra and alarge number of instruments new to the tenor of our music. The taste changed in other areas of music as did the sensibility, and was easily reflected in the changing trends of film music too.

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