Strings Attached

Music like other forms of art is the conscious and creative expression of human skills. Music exploits the vocal and instrumental sounds to appeal the aesthetic sense of humans. Both smaller cultures and larger civilizations around the world in the course of their evolution have had one or the other form of musical expression representing them. With a strong affinity for human emotion, music is supposed to create an aura of pleasure that for many is serene and blissful. Many Sufi orders recommend music as a means in the gnosis of the Creator. The term Sama holds much significance in the Sufi traditions of Asia as well as Turkey.

The valley also has its own tradition of music. Even though considered Haraam, in the orthodox Islamic Sharia, musical gatherings have been an important part of socio-cultural group life of the people here. Kashmiri Chakri involving vocal and instrumental sounds is cherished by many locals and such Mehfils are organized on various occasions like marriage ceremonies.

Every piece of music is created out in a certain context, it is actually the contextual attributes that attributes meaning and pleasure to it. Be it the festivities of harvest, celebration of nature, the love or longing for beloved, separation from ones loved one, marriage union of two humans, the gnosis of the Creator or appreciation of any other form of human feeling, music emerges out of a certain perspective.

The young breed of rappers who have emerged in the last five or six years in Kashmir are mostly expressive of oppression. These young boys have created their pieces in the context of death and destruction the valley has witnessed in the last more than two decades, especially the killing of hundreds of youth in 2008 and 2010. Ladishah and Bandi Piathir were Kashmir’s two important historical art forms involving vocals and instruments besides performing arts, provided vent to the feelings of the local populace, tyrannized by the Sikh and Dogra regimes.

The September 7 concert of Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by India-born world renowned Zubin Mehta is snowballing into a controversy, with the separatists and civil society suggesting the Michael Steiner, the German Ambassador to India not to hold it in Kashmir or to shift it some other place.

Given our own well developed musical traditions, is it fair to oppose the concert that is nothing but music? Are we being hypocritical in raising our voices against the concert? The answer should be ‘no’.

Firstly the context for the concert is missing. In what perspective should the locals affiliate with the concert. Kashmir is no place where concerts of this magnitude can be organized for even the local elite don’t hold any relation with the form of music to be created in the concert.

Secondly all forms of art are about human emancipation and not machinations and political motivations.  Music, it is said, is the celebration of human pleasure and elevates human soul; any form of music that has an overt agenda, becomes corrupt.

Thirdly why is it being thrust upon the people over here? What makes someone who hasn’t any remote connection with people of the valley, to offer such bonhomie? The place never heard a word of comfort from the organizers in its troubled times.

At the end of the day, music is all about emotions and emotions need to be respected.


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