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      October 23, 2013


Chitrali Music Undergoes Change: young boys ruling the roost

Social roles for men and women are very clearly defined in Chitrali culture. Although there is no leisure class in Chitral but Music is purely for the male chunk of the society. This is a reason almost every young or old man has a good music sense and dancing skills. In past and at times today as well people associated with music as a profession are usually looked down upon and often termed as Ďdomí. Word dom is used in a derogatory manner. It has some pejorative connotation used for people playing musical instruments mainly. The irony is that singers and musicians are looked down upon whereas dancers were glorified.
One has to be playing a role in the society therefore all of us do not choose what we want in life especially during these adverse economical times, people opt for professions with promising future. So art and music become secondary options. We need to look at our future and think what we will inherit in the next century. In case of Chitral, music has played tremendous role in carrying history as well as preserving language and culture. Folk singers used to sing songs narrating historical accounts and these oral lores used to transmit orally from one place to other. Chitrali history has basically made its ways through oral tradition across generations without a writing system and technology. And itís not wrong to say that the importance of those artists is no lesser than a library.

Initially Chitrali music had indigenous instruments like sitar, daf, damama etc, however, later on young musician introduced piano and guitar. Fusion power can become extremely beneficial for cultural promotion but only if done smartly. This concept of fusion is somewhat new, some literate music students have done it beautifully fostering creativity and leading it to new development. Itís neither surpassing originality nor combining it in a way that shows dominance of any of the cultures. Besides that some new songs with Khowar lyrics amid Pashto music and to put Chitrali music out of its misery the ridiculous videos are just icing on the cake. Itís fine if they are doing it for a bit of banter but they should just once consider if they are in the right genre of music here, at all? New unrealistic young boys are trying to rule the roost with a distorted version of Chitrali music and promoting it on social media. I am pleased that Youtube is banned and reach of such videos to wider audiences is prevented. On contrary many houses are teaching their kids music or atleast introducing them to some form of it. Moreover Chitrali youth from decent families are engaged in receiving formal education of music from well-known art institutions.

Itís the time we recognize our musical heritage and patronize those who kept it alive. Chitral is, after all, the land that has unfortunately not produced many legends but few people are legends in their own lifetimes and one of them is Afzal Miki . With his juvenile expressions and classic style of playing sitar, he leaves the audience enchanting and spell-bound. Glory to the people who contributed immense creativity and inspiration to Chitrali music to keep up with the old tradition of our region.

Anjuman-e-taraki Chitral with its intellectuals and cultural veterans should take the lead in supporting helping and promoting musicians as an important part of Chitrali culture. Itís a high time that standards should be set in Chitrali music and new aspirant urban musicians who are not exposed to Chitrali culture soundly, should seek guidance from elderly people and work towards preserving their classical heritage and bring new dimensions in Chitrali music. Through some research they will surely be able to put something together that doesnít sound too disastrous. Last but not the least advice to young musicians, be original and take inspiration from more real sources.

Benazir Mir Samad
on email.


mail @ chitraltimes@gmail.com

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