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View Full Version : Coke Studio, the greatest intro to north indian/pakistani music you'll ever see


shivam
06-03-2012, 02:41 PM
www.cokestudio.com.pk (http://www.cokestudio.com.pk/)

Imagine for a moment that you are in a desert--sun baked mountains in the distance, dry dusty trails ahead of you, and nothing but the occasional vulture circling above in the clear blue sky. You arrive in a tiny village out in the middle of nowhere, squat clay buildings rising around you, livestock wandering about, and hardened faces of wary natives peering at you from behind pale blue curtains. The only place of note is the mosque at the edge of town, and in the tiny plaza outside, under the shadow of the minaret, you hear this Moomal Rano by Fakir Juman Shah (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkOQutaHaZc).

Five guys, singing a folk song, completely in harmony and time with each other, and just rocking the fuck out. So what do you do? You grab them, take them to a studio in Karachi, and give them to the greatest rock producer in pakistan to make a fantastic modern fusion version.

This, at the heart, is what coke studio is. Take the greatest folk, classical, and pop singers of Pakistan and India, and give them a fantastic backing band and producer, and make their music accessible and beautiful for the masses, and then put it on fucking youtube for the world to realise what they have missed.

And son, i have a world to show you.

First, Let's talk about that vid i linked above. Moomal Rano, a folk song in the sindhi language by the great Shah Abdul Lateef, is an ancient classic. Check out how the song starts slow, and slowly picks up steam, like a train. It's the classical sufi ecstatic form of folk music, and Coke Studio doesn't mess with it too much. That said, check out the bass player in the house band. He's having a fucking great time just laying a fatty bassline behind these guys. And look at these guys. for them, it doesn't matter if it's 2012 or 1012. pure class.

Now let's go in the entirely opposite direction-- Paisay Da Nasha by Bohemia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQXpskfqZho&feature=relmfu), a punjabi language hip hop song. (Incidentally, if you hit the cc button in youtube, you can get the translations). This track is a good, chill, rap track that wouldn't be out of place in a lot of eastern european hip hop styles. Its a little too laid back for america, but it's still pretty great.

Consider the following tracks-Tum Kaho by SYMT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4iI6ccj6mw&list=LLDDHY1x_qPbvT1B6CuIdPQw&feature=mh_lolz) ,Chori Chori by Meesha Shafi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ4k4035JdA&feature=BFa&list=LLDDHY1x_qPbvT1B6CuIdPQw) and Aisha by Amanat Ali Khan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iJJYdY-9U-w). These are more on the pop side of the spectrum, but all are fantastic. The first track could easily find play on a rock station, with its acoustic, light rock, john meyer feel, while the second is a dark, sultry, delicious track, with smokey vocals.

The third track, Aisha, actually *was* a pop song, from France, sung by an algerian. It's been translated into a ton of languages, and is gorgeous in all of them.

Now take the singer from the second track, and put her with one of the great punjabi sufi singers of our day, and you get Alif Allah by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjaH2iuoYWE&feature=relmfu). Now this, this is what makes coke studio amazing. This song blew the show up, was a number one hit in like a dozen countries, and still gives me chills. It fucking rocks. it also starts with a beautiful line of religious poetry that starts many sufi tracks-

الف اللہ چمبے دی بوٹی
alif allah chambe di booti
the letter alif of God's name is a jasmine flower

تے میرے مرشد من وچ لائی ہُو
te mere murshid mann wich laai - hu
and my Guide has planted it in my heart – He!

نفی اثبات دا پانی دے کے
nafi asbaat da paani de ke
watering with the negation and affirmation (no God, but God)

ہر رگے ہر جائی ہُو
har rage har jaai – hu
(watering) each vein and each pore – He!

جگ جگ جیوے میرا مرشد سوہنا
jug jug jeeve mera murshid sohna
may my beautiful Guide live forever

ہتھ جس ایہہ بوٹی لائی ہُو
hath jis eih booti laai - hu
whose hand planted this flower

I love it.

An aside about Sufism- The sufi order of islamic mystics is known for poetry and music, seeking god through ecstasy and dance and joy. The famous poet Rumi was a sufi, and he wrote about the eternal longing for god, as a lover gone away. This is a common motif in the sufi poetry-God is the lover who has taken your possessions and won't return them, leaving you longing for that touch of divinity again, drunk with sorrow and overflowing with pure love. Actually, fuck it. We're not gonna go aside, we're gonna go full bore into Sufi music, because coke studio has amazing samples that i want to share. Be prepared though, because whatever else Sufism is, brief and to the point it is not.

Let's start with the amazing Abida Parveen, a famed Qawwali singer, and one of the few female sufi singers out there. Nigah-e Darwaishaan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bl5eZb4eudc) is a gorgeous song about religion--the first lines are that God is not in the mosques or temples, not in the holy books, or the words of prophets, but purely in the heart.

Wait a second. Sufis are *muslims*. It's death to preach against islam, isn't it? or to imply that god is anywhere but the mosques? Yeah, Sufis care not for your cries of heresy. God is where God is, and not where you force him to be. It's a beautiful philosophy that gave rise to the bhakti sect of hinduism, which also emphasizes approach to the divine through music and poetry and feeling.

Actually, we'll stop here. Next, The Real Qawwali masters, and...Michael Jackson?

Dizzy
06-03-2012, 03:55 PM
Good thread and the enthusiasm is well... super evident. I like what I'm hearing and hey, I'm getting a history lesson to boot. Basically Crossing the Bridge (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84JGUwn_7bw) 2, starring Shivam.

Epithet
06-03-2012, 09:34 PM
This looks like great stuff.

shivam
06-05-2012, 12:41 AM
So, last time we ended with Abida Parveen, the famed sufi singer. She is known for her qawaali style, but the song i linked was a persian poetry form known as the ghazal. Today, I'm gonna show you the difference between the two styles, using some of my favorite coke studio tracks. Plus a detour into some fantastic modern music. Let's get started!

First, let's explain ghazals. They're effectively story songs, and told in persian, urdu, or hindi. Here's a ghazal called Ni Oothaan Waale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55-ExedKAr0) (with subtitles). It's a retelling of a famous folk tale of forbidden love. Listen to the languid way he tells the story, and the sorrow in his voice.

Now compare that to this version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCP8uv9v0yI&feature=relmfu). It's the same story, but in an entirely different style. More upbeat, more funky, and in the sindhi language instead of the urdu of the first track. Sindhi is a more colloquial language, and this version is a folk song style instead of the more formal ghazal. also, check it out, the singer is a Siddhi, a member of an african tribe that emigrated to indopak centuries ago.


So Qawaali. This is a sufi art style that is huge in pakistan and india, comprised of a singer or two sitting up front, backed up by a troupe of other singers, some playing harmonium (a kind of accordian/piano thing), some making beats on tablas or dhols, and the rest providing vocal harmony. The most famous Qawwal is the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and he's worth looking up on youtube and spending a day listening to. Shit, here's a freebie. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGG4mVlAjGs&feature=related)

So here's the thing about true qawaali- the songs are incredibly long, but the lyrics are not. Quite often, the singer will take a couplet, or a quatrain, and sing the ever loving fuck out of it, running up and down the scale, stretching and distorting the words, and pouring a ton of different emotions into it. Remember, this is a sufi art, so words have multiple meanings, and the songs are multi layered. so let me give you a few examples.

First, Mori Bangri (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NymD_xFRQQ8). This song, and those that follow, all follow the same structure. Initially there is a wordless vocalisation called an alap, during which the singer basically establishes the raag, or scale the song is sung in, and the taal, or timing and rhythm of the track. Normally this is a capella, and gives the accompanying muscians an idea of what the song is and where it is going to go. Did i mention that these tracks are improvised every time? Yeah. So basically, the musicians figure out where the bounds of the song are, and then wait. The singer then starts with a sentence or two laying out the theme of the song, and the beat kicks in.

From there, the party gets going. This song, for instance, is about a lover who has taken the singer's bracelet, and is flaunting it, but is flaunting it while hanging out with her new man, as the singer watches and weeps and begs and pleads for her to come back.

It starts slow, and then just goes apeshit.

An aside-- there are two types of worldless vocalisation- the first sounds just like rin ta na na na, which is the sound of the drums. the other is like sa re ga ma pa, which is pretty much the hindi equivalent of singing do re mi.

So during the track, he'll sing a line or two, and then pause and solo for a minute, and come back to the initial track, in exact time, be it 8, 16, or 32 beats later, right where he left off. And their timing is meticulous. You'll also notice that there is a motif common to hindustani music of threes--if you hear two repetitions of a lyric or beat or whatever, you know you'll hear a third, and that one will end the particular subsection the singer is in. It's like a closing parenthesis to the meandering, and just like math, they'll always go back to where they started the diversion.

Here's another one by these guys--Kangna (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXmIpbBOSvI), and shit, a third-- Khabaram Raseeda (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYFwzGZcidk), which is a track i've been playing pretty much nonstop since i got it on saturday. If you asked me which of the three was my fave, i'd probably say Mori Bangri, but i love them all equally.

(all of these tracks are available for free as mp3s on the coke studio homepage, btw)

The third track is pretty amazing. Its about the arrival of mohammad, leading the men to god, but it means any teacher, really.

So lets step away from this style for a moment to go into what we call 'hard classical', which is a related indian vocal style. This has only one singer as opposed to a troupe, but a lot more vocal gymnastics. Mundari (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IMHuCKp9TA&feature=BFa&list=LLDDHY1x_qPbvT1B6CuIdPQw) is one of my favorite coke studio tracks because it is both incredibly rooted in the form and tradition of hindustani music, but also a fucking sick chillout track suitable for the deep heart of the night.

and I'll end there for now. Next, more pop.

shivam
06-05-2012, 01:08 AM
Ok, I couldn't resist, so one more song before I go for the night.

Aik Alif (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra5nTlty6CM), a beautiful song where the contemporary rock group Noori plays back up to the great Sufi Minstrel Saieen Zahoor. Check out his awesome traditional sufi clothes--this guy is pure legit. He came up singing at Dargahs (sacred shrines and mausoleums of famous sufi saints) and mosques, and didn't record his first album till 2007. He plays the ektara, a one stringed lute, and it's fun to watch him perform.

I love the banjo in this track, because it adds such a lovely sound that ties in perfectly with the aural profile of indic music. I hope you guys enjoy these tracks =)

Mara
06-05-2012, 03:03 PM
Can't wait to get home and check this out!

Sprite
06-05-2012, 04:23 PM
Aik Alif (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra5nTlty6CM)
Okay, that's pretty amazing. Thanks a ton for linking this stuff.

Mara
06-05-2012, 04:29 PM
Also, Shivam? START A RELIGION AND/OR MUSIC BLOG. You were born to do this.

shivam
06-05-2012, 04:49 PM
Okay, that's pretty amazing. Thanks a ton for linking this stuff.

Lyrics- Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya

 (You read to become all knowledgable)

Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na (But you never read yourself)

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti (You run to enter your mosques and temples)

Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na (But you never entered your own heart)

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal (Everyday you fight Satan)

Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na (But you never fight your own Ego)

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay (Bulleh Shah [the author of the song] you try grabbing that which is in the sky)

Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na (But you never get hold of what sits inside yourself)

Bas kareen o yaar (Stop it all my friend)

Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar (stop seeking all this knowledge my friend)

Ik Alif teray darkaar (Only an Alif is what you need)
Bas kareen o yaar (stop it all my friend)
Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar… (Stop seeking all this knowledge my friend)

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan (God is Greatness, God is All)

Nee main jaanaa Jogi de naal (I shall follow the Jogi {ascetic/Sufi})

Jo naa jaane, Haqq ki taaqat (those who deny the strength of Truth)

Rab naa devey us ko Himmat (God does not give them courage)

Hum Mann ke darya mein doobey (We have drowned in the river of Self)

Kaisi nayya? Kya manjhdhaar… (the boat and the flowing waters do not matter)

Bas kareen o yaar (stop it all my friend) Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar (stop seeking all this knowledge my friend)

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan (God is Greatness, God is All)

--the Alif represented here is the first letter of the arabic alphabet, and is a metonym used to reference Allah, or god in general. This song is actually syncretic in its nature, like many sufi hymns, and it preaches to the hindus and muslims alike. The singer is following the jogi, or hindu ascetic, on the path to absolution of ego and absorption of divinity, which is a super hindu theology, except that the divinity here is Allah. It's interesting to note as an aside that a lot of sufi shrines in pakistan and india are built on the sites of old Shiva temples, and a ton of blending between the faiths occured, leading to songs like this and the abida parveen track i linked in the first post.

shivam
06-06-2012, 06:48 PM
Short Teaser update and transitory note from Qawaali to pop (don't worry, we'll make it back to the classical stuff soon--i haven't even gotten to the great women on coke studio).

Check this song out. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0yRQ_oEvIo) This is the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and troupe in 1983, doing the full classic style rendition of the song Mera Eh Charkha No Lakha Kurray (This spindle/spinning wheel of mine is priceless). For those of you lacking patience for a whole 36 minute long extravaganza of insane vocals, the pertinant bit starts at 6:11 and goes to about 12 minutes.

Now check this out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8qU0VcbhBY) The genius of coke studio, in my opinion, is this kind of thing. Take a hard rock band (Qayaas) and a fantastic pop singer (Atif Aslam, whom a large chunk of the pop write up is going to feature), and give them a genuine classic to work with. You get something totally magical- an approachable, addictive song that keeps the beauty of the original in a respectful way.

Also, pay attention to the music at the 4 minute mark here. You'll find that Nusrat isn't the only classic they're honoring here ;)

shivam
06-08-2012, 02:10 PM
Here's a 15 minute documentary about the House Band and how they take the eastern songs and remix/remake them in the coke studio western style. Very interesting, and mostly subtitled if you hit the cc button.

The House Band (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nzsfg3nTnY)

Sir Sly Ry
06-12-2012, 08:15 AM
Paisay Da Nasha (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQXpskfqZho&feature=relmfu)
Holy shit this music is smooth as hell. Very cool. Plus, the rhythm is performed by actual musicians and not a computer. A+

shivam
06-13-2012, 11:06 PM
Holy shit this music is smooth as hell. Very cool. Plus, the rhythm is performed by actual musicians and not a computer. A+

fun fact- the rapper was born in pakistan, but raised in SF, where he basically lived on the streets as a punjabi thug before becoming a rapper.

shivam
06-15-2012, 07:06 PM
So some of you might be wondering how I got into this in the first place. I'm not Pakistani, nor do i have Pakistani TV or media, so I had no access there. Moreover, i don't really troll youtube looking for music like this. My brother, however, is a huge fan of indian classical, and a huge huge fan of abida parveen, mentioned above. So he was hunting for her perfomances and ran across coke studio. He asked me to download the tracks for him, and i found a torrent and did so.

Now, i tend to do this for him a lot, and since our tastes aren't too far apart, i keep his tracks and add them to my collection and forget about em. My ipod is random filled every night, so sometimes things just show up and surprise me.

that's what happened with this track (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7GFdkZqv9c). It had a nice intro and i was just driving with my wife and not thinking too hard, when suddenly BAM.

This, for those who haven't clicked, is a mash up of a punjabi qawali song with michael jackson's billie jean. And it's fucking fantastic. as soon as it ended, i looped it. and then i went back and listened to the two seasons of coke studio i had downloaded. and then season 3 and 4, and now season 5.

So let me introduce you to Atif Aslam, the beautiful guy who sings this track. He's a huge pop star in pakistan, and has sung in india as well with bollywoood. And he's a big favorite on coke studio.

Here's the other track he did, from season two of the show. Jal Pari (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf6MsltI7lQ).
This is a modern song from his own album, and really reflects what non-filmi pop music in india and pakistan is like. You can hear the classical influences, and the poetry is still in that rhythmic flow, but it's a very secular love song.

And here's Humain Kya Hua (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PG61P56l98), another standard fun pop song.

Now earlier I mentioned the coke studio transformative effect. Jal Pari was pretty straight forward, but Atif Aslam has aspirations of being a more rock style popstar. So take this track, Rabba Sacheya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfcN-H-WXvE). Guitar driven, interesting lyrics, but feels a little forced in places. The coke studio team was starting to get worried that they were pigeonholing aslam into folk songs and stuff, so they asked him if there were any tracks of his that his fans loved, that were more western sounding that they could fuck with, and this is what he gave them.

So Coke Studio turned around and turned it into this-- Rabba Sacheya (Coke Studio Mix) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8_jTmPX0gM).

I have listened to this track about 40 times since i downloaded it two weeks ago. It is, in my opinion, exponentially better than the original in every way.

Finally, I'll leave you with this track, not by Atif Aslam.
Bilal Khan, a kid who was an accountant before becoming a pop star, had an unreleased song he didn't know what to do with. Coke Studio took it, and turned it into a song that is, if nothing else, honky-tonk funky. The lyrics are cheesy, but the bassline is so so sick, and worth turning up for. Till next time!

Larho Mujhey (Fight with Me) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUqRXjCM8Gg)

shivam
06-21-2012, 07:20 PM
It occurs to me as i'm putting this self indulgent passion project together that you really need a _lot_ of cultural context to understand a lot of these songs. Like, the singer will toss one random line in the song like "There are many Sassis buried in the sands", which is an incredibly meaningful line to a person who knows the tragic love story of Sassi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sassui_Punnhun)(first link in the second post above for the song version), but completely random to a person who doesn't, the heart of the song is lost.

I bring this up because I wanted to link to Rung (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdz0xrXY9I4), which is a perfect example of how a hindu or sufi prayer song is structured in north india. And i don't mean in the high falutin' style of the qawalis above or other High Classical songs. This is much more like a popular folk style. Like, when groups of hindus or muslims get together in the villages, and someone's got a harmonium or something, they'll sing a song in this raag (music scale, form) to whomever they're praying to.

I wanted to point out specifically the middle portion where the singer starts repeating the various names of her sufi teachers, and the back up girls repeat it. That's a pure hindu style there--the leader calls out the names lord, the audience repeats the response. I personally find it hard to listen to this type of song without clapping my hands and reciting the names along with the singers, even if it isn't my religion or my god, simply because this kind of prayer is so hard coded into me. And these types of songs can go on _forever_, with everyone getting lost in a kind of trance. It's pretty wonderful.

Moving from that, here's a purely secular folk song from deeeeep rural punjab, sung by guys who look like they've lived hard farmer lives. Ishq Aap Bhe Awalla (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j52tXsEbcQM). I fucking love this track. "Love itself is strange, and its doings are even stranger. Those who it pursues are left worthless." So awesome.

They normally sing it twice as fast, but coke studio slowed it down to give a more interesting languid feel to what would normally be a track for dancing to. The language is the language of the fields and farms, and the imagery is pure village.

--
Two more things for this post- Here is a Rajasthani track in the language of Marwari called Senraan Ra Baairya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h7p4-15ZNU). It moves me to tears when i hear it. It's gorgeous and soft and melodic, and sounds like mist gently wafting in on the winds in the early morning to land on your flowers right as you are walking by with your clay pot to fetch water for the day, on a day that looks like it won't be too hot or too cold, but just lovely enough for you to want to stop at the well for a moment and appreciate that beautiful bird that just alighted on the edge of the well, cocking its head at you before fluttering away.

Seriously, it's that goddamned beautiful.

Aj Latha Naeeo by Javed Bashir (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZCkA4HpRn4)Here's a track which shows off the ridiculousness of indian classical vocals. He does what his voice what your average DJ needs two records and some impressive mixing equipment to do.

Finally for today, remember how in the first post I spoke about Alif Allah Chambey Di Booti? And how I mentioned above that a common prayer style is the repetition of a name or phrase in various ways and tones?

Well, here is the fusion of those two principles- Alif Allah (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpsSkUvlwiE), sung by classical musician Ali Zafar and rocker Saaein Tufail. it's a really smooth, chill track that goes back and forth between the two singers like a volleyball. I listen to this when I meditate.

--
Of the 350 something tracks coke studio has produced, sometimes i hear one that doesn't register the first time, but when it shows up on random, it rocks my world so hard that i have to hear everything else the artist has done. Next time, I'll introduce you to my newest obsession, the Pashto singers Zeb and Haniya.

---
If you're listening, or following along, please let me know. I'd love to know if this is just for me or not.

Aleanil
06-22-2012, 06:58 AM
If you're listening, or following along, please let me know. I'd love to know if this is just for me or not.

I love every one of these posts you do. You're able to explain the context for a lot of this stuff that would be completely lost on me otherwise, which would be a pity; this is *fantastic* music. It's great being intro'ed to new stuff like this by someone who knows and understands it.

Violentvixen
06-22-2012, 08:19 AM
If you're listening, or following along, please let me know. I'd love to know if this is just for me or not.

I am! I also sent the thread along to a friend who is interested in Indian music, she's trying to learn more about Pakistani music so this was really exciting to her!

shivam
06-22-2012, 05:01 PM
cool =)

Yeah, before i started into coke studio, i knew only what every indian knows about pakistan- we were once the same country, but now they're all muslims who hate us. Since listening to these tracks, i've learned so much more about their culture, languages, and actual religious and cultural practices, and it makes me deeply sad that the partition ever happened.

Anyway, here's a bonus track--Rachel Viccaji, one of the back up singers, doing a cover of Tracy Chapman's Give Me One Reason (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjc-FKuvqHs). Bet you didnt know that the two back up girls are sisters named Rachel and Zoe, and both speak english as their first language, huh. You probably wouldn't have guessed, either, since their accents are pretty great.

Singing back up for coke studio must be a bitch, since you have to sing in pretty much every north indian language good enough to not be noticed.

shivam
06-24-2012, 11:23 PM
So I spent the bulk of last episode talking about Rung, as sung by Hadiqa Kiani.

Well, yesterday, the new ep of coke studio came out, with my favorite qawals from like 4 posts ago, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad, singing the same song in a completely different style! What luck, says I, that two eps of coke studio back to back would have the same song in two entirely different styles, for the purposes of teaching!

So here is Rung as a qawali (www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BOPPS0GhW0). I'll post more about the things you should listen for later, but for now, check the two out, and see how one song can be completely flipped inside out based on how you sing it.

--
Last post, I also spoke about that wonderful group of farmers who sang the lovely folk song. And in post 1, I introduced you guys to Bohemia, the punjabi rapper. Well, here it is, the apotheosis of the mission of coke studio-- A rapper and a group of folk singers fuse a song together. Kandyaari Dhol Geet - Chakwali Group and Bohemia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgBW3vWDxxc) I wish the production team had brought the folkies back at the very end to tie it together, but it's still a pretty rad song.

shivam
06-27-2012, 04:53 PM
Man, you know the worst part of this? Every time I want to make a post, I get distracted by like 40 other songs I want to share with you guys, and ultimately it all gets logjammed out of existence =/

In any case, I feel like i gave the two versions of Rung short shrift above, and they're both interesting enough to warrant another glance.

First, Rung by Hadiqa Kiani (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdz0xrXY9I4). First thing to understand is that in Indian/Pakistani religious writing, the understanding is that these are meant to be memorized, recited, and sung, and not just read straight. And as some of these texts can be incredibly long and complex, a number of tricks and techniques are employed to separate stanzas and act as memory cues, emphasis markers, and punctuation alike. These segments take the style of couplets or short phrases and are often sung in a different style than the rest of the body of the text.

So the first 1:24 of this track is the couplet that starts the thesis of the piece. Once the guitar kicks in, do you notice that the song's tone and timing change? that's the chopai/body of the song. It's in the same raag as the first portion, but entirely different feel.

And then around 4 min, she goes into the the trance recitation of the Holy Names of the saints. I found this personally fascinating. What she's doing here, or rather, what Hazrat Amir Khusro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Khusrow), the great poet of the 11th century and father of the Qawali and Ghazal forms of singing in india, is doing here is reciting in reverse the names of the famed Sufi saints of of the Chisti order from present as of 1250 or so, back to the foundation of the order in India, with Moinnuddin Chisti, the famed saint also known as Gharib Nawaz, the benefactor of the poor. Moinnuddin introduced islam and sufism to india, and was fundamental in changing islam's image from destruction and looting into peace and love and oneness with god through song. I visited his tomb (his Dargah) in Rajasthan when i went to india 3 years back, and it was a profoundly holy experience for me. It was my first time at a mosque, and there were hindus, muslims, and sikhs all worshipping at the tomb of the saint, asking for blessings and intercessions and the like, and all manner of music and dance in the courtyard. And yet, there are muslims today who want to tear the place down and turn it into a parking lot because it is 'un-islamic'. These saudi-sponsered wahhabis are out to destroy any kind of saint veneration and holy music, and it's a damn shame. Some terrorists actually tried to bomb the place a few years ago.

Argh. It makes me so mad.

Anyway, back to the track--the recitation of names is my favorite part of the song, because of how it carries you away. And following immediately is my favorite line--Main jab dekhoon, tab sang hai ri, ma. Wherever I look, mother, He is with me. His color is on everything.

So the next segment is another of those couplets i mentioned above.

khusro rain suhaag ki
Khusrau, the wedding night...

جاگی پی کے سنگ
jaagi pi ke sang
...I spent awake with my beloved

تن مورا من پریتم کا
tan mora man preetam ka
My body and my beloved’s soul

دونوں ایک ہی رنگ
donon aik hi rung
The colour of both became one
ورو
ay maaṭi ke deewaro
O lamps of clay!

جو سنئو موری بات
jo suniyo mori baat
If you listen to what I say

آج خواجہ گھر رنگ ہے
aaj khaaja ghar rung hai
Today, there is ‘colour’ at my Khwaja’s home

تم جگیو ساری رات
tum jagyo sari raat
So stay awake, gleaming, throughout the night!
See that Sung/Rung rhyme? That's how you can tell it was a separator. Similarly the Baat/raat rhyme.

This leads into the final segment, which in traditional hindustani classical style, speeds up to let people know that we're hitting the end stretch. Lots of repetition, clapping, and dancing, if you were in the audience. It's uplifting and full of joy.

Now, let's compare it to the other version, by Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BOPPS0GhW0).

First thing to notice is that these guys are singing the song in a different raag, and a decidedly lower key compared to Kiani's jubilant version. Moreover, they frame the song in a very different religious context. In Kiani's, the song is a celebration of the sufi love of god as transmitted from teacher to student. The Ayaz/Muhammad take frames it as a celebration of the Prophet Mohammad as put on by his son in law, Imam Ali, which is a more shiite interpretation.

One of these posts, i'm gonna sit and give you a history of the differences between sunni, shia, and sufi, as it's relevant to the music at hand, but today isn't that day. Ok, maybe i'll give you the ten second version-- Shia look at Ali as not just M's son in law, but as the guy who took islam and absorbed the teachings fully into himself, in a transcendent mystical way. Sufis look at that as a guide on how to attain union with divinity here and now, and Shia look at it as a reason why Ali is to be revered as beloved of god. Sufis belief in the divine repetition of names, Shia don't. A lot of ghazals and qawals will sing about Maula Ali all over the place as the shining light of how to become one with god. It's very controversial, and worth delving into more later.

So around 5:30 in the A/M version, you see another stylistic device of indian poetry and singing-- say the first part of a sentence, as a kind of rhetorical question or statement, let it hang in the air while the audience ponders it, and then repeat that segment a second time with the full sentence answering the first half.

Now when A/M get to the repetition of names, they just stick to Nizamuddin, which is a strange departure, as the original is more like Kiani's with the full list.

Incidentally, the usage of 'peer/pir' is also hyper controversial. It literally means 'old person', but can also mean guide, guru, spiritual teacher, or something like that. It is the person who, in sufism, leads you to god through their teachings. Orthodox islam holds that the only guide is Mohammad, (see that passage in the first post about alif allah chambey di booti), but Sufism and Shia hold more loose interpretations--anyone who comes from the lineage of teachers can transmit the teaching as a pir, once they themselves have absorbed the teachings. It's a lot like the hindu tradition.

Now, at 11:28, they drop into a minor, kind of strange key which is far more traditional and old fashioned for this kind of music. It's hard to describe, properly, but it's such an interesting tonal change. Songs in this raag tend to be more about the despair of distance from the lord, or of poignancy, or of deep religiosity.

In any case, I hope you guys enjoyed this jaunt into detail. Next time, the Zeb and Haniya post I promised last week!

shivam
06-30-2012, 01:30 PM
Interstitial Track Time!
What if Yoko Kanno, composer of macross plus and cowboy bebop, decided to rearrange a pakistani rock song in the style of old school noir jazz?

you'd get something that sounds like Deewana (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ8URPEm210).

shivam
07-04-2012, 12:31 PM
Before I get into Zeb and Haniya, here is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan doing his version of Rung, the song i mentioned last time. I love hearing different takes on the same track! Aaj Rung Hai (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhc5D5fk3U)

---
One thing about Pakistan and Islam is that women aren't really at the forefront, or allowed to be. Yes, up thread i have given examples of women who are pretty hardcore, popular classical music singers, but i meant more pop style. To find a pair of young american-educated female pop singers on a show like coke studio is pretty great.

So Zeb and Haniya. These two aren't just pakistani, they're pashtuns from the northwestern province. You might know pashtuns better as afghans, and the northwestern provice as the place that the current chunk of our war in afghanistan and pakistan is taking place.

These two girls (cousins) were raised singing songs in persian and dari, and eventually decided to come to the states for college- Zeb went to Mt. Holyoke and Haniya went to Smith, both famous female-centric liberal arts schools in massachusetts. Now, that's pretty far afield for women whose lives are otherwise strictly controlled by afghan customs! They took the opportunity to learn formal music (Haniya wanted to be a blues guitarist), and formed a band, covering mainly folk hits from their childhood in a more fresh, modern style.

They ended up recording a track at a friend's studio, and putting it online. When they went back home to Pakistan, they were astonished to find the track on the radio, completely unbeknownst to them. And then Coke Studio happened, and now they're on their way to being successful, independent female musicians in a culture where that never happens.

Plus, their music is fucking great, and gentle and uplifting and fun. And they sing in languages ranging from urdu to dari to persian and turkic. What's not to love?
--
Let's start with the first track that attracted my attention- Paimona- Zeb and Haniya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wIRNkE0uXY). This song is a lovely song written by the court bard of the king of afghanistan in the 1800s, and is simply beautiful. It was an early season of coke studio, so there are no subs, but I'll provide the lyrics for you here.

Bring me a chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk...

Bring me a chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk...

I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes....

I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes....

Bring, bring so I may lose myself by getting drunk...

Bring me the chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk...

Your eyes resemble eyes of deers from Khutan,

Your face resembles the roses in the garden

Take out the petals of this flower one by one and the fragrance it emits

Will come with odour of a countryside tulip

Bring me a chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk

Bring me a chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk

I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes

I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes

Bring, bring so I may lose myself by getting drunk...

Bring me the chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk
If I receive the news of your arrival I will cover the path of your steps with flowers I will spread flowers, spread roses I will sacrifice myself at the dust of your feet Bring me a chalice Bring me the chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes I am in love with my beloved friend's intoxicating eyes Bring, bring Bring, bring Bring me the chalice so I may lose myself by getting drunk

Man, i love this song.
--
The next track, Bibi Sanam Janem (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuY-2sHJYhg) is another classic afghan folk song, but they funk it up with a slick bossa nova groove, and make a great track for a summer afternoon. With subtitles.

--
Slowing it down a few steps, Chal Diyay (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY_LzIAG4gc), one of their original tracks. It's a soft, beautiful tone. I just love Zeb's voice here, and Javed Bashir is a great counterpoint with his improvised alap.

From the same session is the more upbeat rock song Rona Chor Diya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKVQc3zSyYM). It feels like another sunny day song, and Bashir just goes crazy. It sounds like the kind of track you might hear on the greens of a college during one of those random late spring picnic day festival type things.

no subs on either of these, but they stand pretty great without them.

--
Oh yeah, the song that launched them in the first place-- Chup (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XAO-IqPcn4). IF you were to look at music in bollywood from the 60s and 70s, it sounds exacrly like this. bouncy and lively and a fun blues rock vibe.
--

Finally, Nazaar Eyle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvLv2-A0mnc), a turkish folksong. This song, a totally bad ass cover of this awesome dude (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EyQ_LxQxUg&feature=related), really drove home that there's no discreet separation between cultures, just a long continuum. I love that coke studio isn't afraid to go way far afield with this stuff. This track is a leftover song about the mongol khan who ruled the ilkhanate after the fall of the mongol empire. it's pretty great racial memory, and shows the power of how songs can immortalize moments in history well after folks forget what happened and who was involved. I totally love these kinds of songs, passed down from mother to daughter for hundreds of generations.

Anyway, that's what I have for you today. Hopefully you guys have enjoyed this excursion into music way outside of your normal realm, and if you didn't dig it (which is totally fine), i hope you learned a little along the way. This kind of music isn't for everyone, and is really hard to listen to without knowing what you're listening to, and I totally get that. Thanks for reading.

SDMX
07-05-2012, 12:58 PM
Just checking in to say that this thread is fuckin awesome and I've listened to each one now, despite the fact that I haven't said anything. I offer a quote from a previous conversation.

I dunno, it can be hard to respond to something so foreign to your culture in way that isn't OH MAN SO GOOD. Or alternatively man this is really neat but I wouldn't listen to it normally because it's just a little outside my ability to mesh but I don't want to sound racist for saying so

Good shit for reals.

Mara
07-15-2012, 10:06 PM
Last post, I also spoke about that wonderful group of farmers who sang the lovely folk song. And in post 1, I introduced you guys to Bohemia, the punjabi rapper. Well, here it is, the apotheosis of the mission of coke studio-- A rapper and a group of folk singers fuse a song together. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgBW3vWDxxc) I wish the production team had brought the folkies back at the very end to tie it together, but it's still a pretty rad song.
I looped this--again--on the drive back to my house from my parents' place this evening. (That's a 3-hour drive.)

This thread is so awesome, Shivam. :)

Meditative_Zebra
07-16-2012, 12:49 AM
I just discovered this thread. It's pretty neat!

Meditative_Zebra
07-16-2012, 01:15 AM
Ok, I couldn't resist, so one more song before I go for the night.

Aik Alif (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra5nTlty6CM), a beautiful song where the contemporary rock group Noori plays back up to the great Sufi Minstrel Saieen Zahoor. Check out his awesome traditional sufi clothes--this guy is pure legit. He came up singing at Dargahs (sacred shrines and mausoleums of famous sufi saints) and mosques, and didn't record his first album till 2007. He plays the ektara, a one stringed lute, and it's fun to watch him perform.

I love the banjo in this track, because it adds such a lovely sound that ties in perfectly with the aural profile of indic music. I hope you guys enjoy these tracks =)

Ok, this is one is absolutely fantastic. Awesome stuff.

shivam
07-16-2012, 01:36 AM
not gonna lie, that track is definitely in my top two or three for all of coke studio. i could loop it forever.

and it's been a minute since my last post, so here's a freebie =)

Seher, by Farhan Rais Khan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HphWB4NkFcY)

For a change, this track is pure instrumental, featuring a sitar. It starts out strictly classical, and then gets all fusiony and fun near the middle. Just enjoy it =)

Traumadore
07-16-2012, 08:47 AM
I'm also popping in and listening to these songs, just wanted to let you know. Thank you!

Mara
07-19-2012, 04:56 PM
I have been listening to the songs in this thread, especially while going through my photos from my road trip for posting. I am an especial fan of "Rung" (the Hadiqa Kiani version) and "Nazaar Eyle."

Alixsar
07-19-2012, 06:18 PM
Jesus Christ, Shivam in full on passionate mode is like an out of control freight train. There's just no stopping it.

Anyway, this stuff is pretty neat. I like some of it better than others but whatever. Apparently Coke does this for other countries too? The website mentions a Middle East Coke Studio and an Indian one. That's pretty cool that they're doing that. I used to have a CD that was like this but for Chinese music, but I lost it. ...that's about all I have to say about that.

shivam
07-19-2012, 06:43 PM
Jesus Christ, Shivam in full on passionate mode is like an out of control freight train. There's just no stopping it.

Anyway, this stuff is pretty neat. I like some of it better than others but whatever. Apparently Coke does this for other countries too? The website mentions a Middle East Coke Studio and an Indian one. That's pretty cool that they're doing that. I used to have a CD that was like this but for Chinese music, but I lost it. ...that's about all I have to say about that.

heh. The way i figure it, if i confine all of this into one thread, folks who aren't interested can be protected from my endless barrage =) And yeah, not all of these tracks are going to appeal to everyone. I'm just trying to grab the interesting tracks, and the ones i have a story to share about. I've covered maybe a tenth of all the tracks in the show.

The middle eastern coke studio is pretty cool, but very different. Each ep takes one middle eastern artist, and one random european artist, and plays a few songs by each separately, and then a few of them doing a duet. Kinda hit and miss, but some of them are really good.

The less said about coke studio india, the better, frankly. But in their defense, they've only had one season, so hopefully it will be a bit stronger in season 2. CS:india used a lot of pop singers doing bollywood and pop tracks, and less folk singers, which is the real interesting part of the project in pakistan. Maybe i'll make a post with some of the better India ones.

My next post for pak, however, is going to cover the rock side of coke studio. It's pretty fun! Thanks for listening, folks, even if it's not your cup of tea.

Paul le Fou
07-25-2012, 08:29 AM
I just started going through this thread, and am making my way slowly video by video. I'm only on like the third post, but just wanted to say thanks a lot! This stuff is great.

Also, judging from the logo it really is Coke. Like, Coke the cola company... and their studio. I don't know why I didn't expect that, but there we go.

Sprite
07-25-2012, 08:32 AM
Yeah I haven't been posting because I don't know what else to say besides "Neat!" but I've definitely been enjoying it.

shivam
07-25-2012, 09:46 AM
I just started going through this thread, and am making my way slowly video by video. I'm only on like the third post, but just wanted to say thanks a lot! This stuff is great.

Also, judging from the logo it really is Coke. Like, Coke the cola company... and their studio. I don't know why I didn't expect that, but there we go.

Glad to hear it! And yes, it is the actual company sponsoring this, the way the companies used to sponsor programs in the 50s. No commercials, just free content. Free on tv, the radio, YouTube, and even mp3s on the website.

Incidentally, if anyone wants a particular track on mp3, let me know and I'll send the link.

shivam
08-03-2012, 12:52 PM
So season 2 of coke studio india started while i wasn't looking, and it's pretty amazing. This weekend i'm going to show you my favorites from the lot.

here's a sample-- Nadia, by Nitin Sawhney (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jJJHfL1yQA&feature=player_embedded#!).

The first segment of the song is the Kasturi Tilakam, a beautiful sanskrit prayer in honor of Lord Krishna that is traditionally sung in weddings. The second part is Sawhney's own composition about two lovers separated by a raging river.

It's pretty sick =)

shivam
08-03-2012, 05:02 PM
OK, I can't resist. Here's a track about a dude cheating on his woman. He's singing in hindi, and she's singing in english. It sounds like a 60s era bond theme. Really interesting and out of left field.

Mauje Naina by Clinton Cerejo feat Bianca Gomes, Shadab & Altamash (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX__XVV7Z_Y)

Issun
08-07-2012, 01:00 PM
I've always loved music from the Middle East, as well as India and Pakistan et. al, but I've never been quite sure where to start. I used to have Junoon's greatest hits, but otherwise my collections been sorely lacking in this kind of stuff.

So thanks, shivam!

Mara
08-07-2012, 11:27 PM
I feel like I'm stepping on Shivam's toes by posting music in here, but his brother linked this on my facebook wall and I must share, as it is a fantastic song:

Madari, by Clinton Cerejo feat. Vishal Dadlani & Sonu Kakkar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-9s4nTLSdA&list=PLFAD520EF664AC73B&index=9&feature=plpp_video)

shivam
09-28-2013, 01:57 PM
Hey folks, missed me? Well, I was waiting for Coke Studio Pakistan to pick up again, but it seems to be on hiatus for season 6. No worries, though, because Coke Studio India just started season 3, and it's pretty much the best thing.

Before I get too deep into it, here's a teaser of what's going to come =)

qsnwftjlW5o

Get ready!