Where has all the mu­sic gone?

Slogan - - EDITOR’S DESK -

Mu­sic was a ma­jor ac­tiv­ity in the 2000s in Pak­istan. This was the time when many mu­sic groups emerged and car­ried the coun­try’s voice around the world. And then ev­ery­thing be­came si­lent and the Pak­istani mu­sic in­dus­try be­came all but ex­tinct. It was not that some­thing dras­tic had hit the in­dus­try. There was no leg­is­la­tion that dis­cour­aged mu­sic and the over­all en­vi­ron­ment did not place any re­stric­tions on the mak­ing or pre­sen­ta­tion of mu­sic. But it just hap­pened that the singers and mu­si­cians lost in­ter­est in mu­sic, the mu­sic con­certs stopped, the ad­ver­tis­ers and spon­sors did not seem to have any gump­tion left for back­ing mu­sic while TV out­lets wrapped up those of their mu­sic chan­nels that were ex­clu­sively de­voted to mu­sic.

This hap­pened at the end of the decade of the 2000s. Prior to this, Pak­istani mu­sic groups were pro­duc­ing much bet­ter mu­sic than their coun­ter­parts in In­dia. While there was no deny­ing the fact that the In­dian mu­sic in­dus­try was much big­ger and had a much greater out­put ow­ing to its pa­tron­age by the coun­try’s film in­dus­try, it were the Pak­istani singers and mu­sic­mak­ers who ruled the roost and there were no con­tem­po­rary singers or mu­sic groups from In­dia or any other coun­try in South Asia who could com­pete with the tal­ent or out­put of the Pak­istani in­dus­try. This was also the time when the Pak­istani film in­dus­try was down in the dumps and the mu­sic in­dus­try had only its own steam to draw any guid­ance or in­spi­ra­tion from. It rose to the top de­spite all odds and led the mu­sic genre in a very big and pro­duc­tive man­ner. At this time, many new singers were born or the ex­ist­ing ones be­came more pol­ished. In the ab­sence of any film in­dus­try to write home about, they be­came popular through the TV and ra­dio chan­nels and via live con­certs and shows.

Mu­sic was a ma­jor plat­form for pro­mo­tion of lead­ing ad­ver­tis­ing brands that iden­ti­fied with the youth and car­ried their mes­sage tar­geted at the young mar­ket in a very ef­fec­tive man­ner. The ex­am­ple of Pepsi is a case in point. It is in­ter­est­ing then that the mag­netism of mu­sic sud­denly lost its magic though this was one medium that had a con­struc­tive ef­fect on the devel­op­ment of our young peo­ple. It was prob­a­bly an­other mat­ter that the mak­ing of mu­sic neg­a­tively im­pacted the sen­si­bil­i­ties of cer­tain el­e­ments in the coun­try and they dis­cour­aged it to the ex­tent of killing the hunger for mu­sic al­to­gether and adding fur­ther list­less­ness to an al­ready hum­drum and bor­ing en­vi­ron­ment. That the loss in in­ter­est was point­less was proven in sub­se­quent years when Coke stepped for­ward and brought some of the good mu­sic and mu­si­cians back.

It is true that Pak­istani so­ci­ety has un­der­gone a de­bil­i­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence over the past decade or so and the cre­ative pro­cliv­i­ties of the masses have been beaten down and numbed into near noth­ing­ness. There seems to be no spark left in them to­wards sharp­en­ing their cre­ative tal­ents and ex­celling in those ar­eas which they felt were closer to their na­tive ethos. Pak­istani singers have done very well out­side the coun­try, such as in In­dia and the UAE and have won great lau­rels. Within the coun­try too, when­ever at­tempts have been made to cre­ate plat­forms for singers through TV chan­nels or oth­er­wise, the re­sponse has been quite en­thu­si­as­tic and con­sid­er­able good tal­ent has come forth. It is no se­cret that many Pak­istani singers have gone over to In­dia and have been hugely pa­tron­ized for their tal­ent in the highly com­pet­i­tive In­dian mu­sic in­dus­try which is driven by film mu­sic for the large part. Th­ese singers go to In­dia be­cause they fail to gar­ner ad­e­quate pa­tron­age at home while the In­di­ans are all out to re­ward them.

The fact is that had many of th­ese highly tal­ented peo­ple not sought pa­tron­age in the In­dian en­vi­ron­ment, they would be no-bod­ies in Pak­istan and would have led un­known ex­is­tences. There is no ques­tion that Pak­istan can ever ri­val In­dia in terms of mar­ket size be­cause there is no com­par­i­son as such. Sim­i­larly, the Pak­istani film in­dus­try may be mov­ing to­wards some kind of re­vival but it can never chal­lenge the mighty In­dian film in­dus­try that con­tin­ues to churn out hits merely on the ba­sis of its hugely bur­geon­ing mu­sic in­dus­try. How­ever, just as Pak­istani films have more or less re-in­vented them­selves stay­ing within their lim­i­ta­tions and not try­ing to em­u­late the In­dian song-and–dance rou­tines, Pak­istani mu­sic must also move into a stage of rein­ven­tion. It must re­vive it­self by at least en­deav­our­ing to achieve those pa­ram­e­ters it had reached in the past and give an iden­tity to the coun­try.

Javed An­sari

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