Courtesy: Daily Times
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: At a time when fear and insecurity have put an end to most cultural activities, one art form, speaking the universal language of notes and harmonies, is still very much alive and kicking. One of the places still keeping musical traditions alive while promoting more contemporary forms, is The Guitar School. The brainchild of seasoned guitarist Hamza Jafri, the school, located in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), has already had 55 students since it opened its door in June this year.
Ravail Sattar, one of the teachers at the school, believes in the undying power of music. “It is like a flowing stream that is unstoppable. You cannot hold it back forever, it will break through,” he says. He insists that neither extremists’ threats nor criticism from the government could deter artists from their calling. Many artists have recently been criticised for including anti-US rhetoric in their lyrics.
“Initially, we were scared, thinking that we’d chosen the wrong time to launch the school, because today, being a musician automatically means that you are somehow trying to swim against the current. But seeing the overwhelming response we’ve had so far, the interest people are taking in learning music, its simply amazing,” said Ravail, who has a degree in music from the International College of Music in Malaysia.
Jafri, who is also the principal of the school, said the school had been a success from the very beginning, getting pupils as young as seven years old, young people from colleges and universities and even a few passionate professionals. His eyes sparkle as he proudly declares that people come from as far as the Walled City to learn music at his school. This is especially impressive, considering that’s the other end of town.
“Music is part of our culture and people have been practicing it for centuries in this part of the globe,” Jafri said. Our mystics have played musical instruments and sang at shrines and squares and other public places. That tradition has not only survived but also reached new heights. The fusion of the eastern tabla with the western guitar has created a new form of music unlike any other. “No musician cares how others interpret his work. He is an artist and he just pours out all his hopes and desires into the lyrics and the music,” Jafri says .
Today’s musicians are breaking the monotony of the stereotypical romantic songs in Pakistan. They are bold and vivacious, experimenting with an array of genres and producing the best of vocals and music. He said their work not only represents the best form of art but also depicts awareness and national concern among the youth. There are bands like Laal and Azal whose revolutionary songs have struck a genuine chord with the youth.
The academy is keen to promote this new wave of East-West fusion and offers special classes in East European, Balkan and Gypsy music, being taught by the famous East European musician and performer Gina Rubik. Other special classes include Music Theory and Ear Training and are being taught by foreign-qualified musicians Isa Najam and Raavail Sattar. The guitar teachers include Hamza Jafri, Abid Khan and Zeeshan Mansoor. Classes for beginners, novices and advanced learner are taught according to the calibre and desires of students.
Hamza is a veteran musician who has been rocking the airwaves since the early days of Coven in the 1990s. He has also played jazz and is currently working on a new album for Coven. Abid Khan is also a founding member of Coven and Zeeshan, who is from Islamabad, was a prominent musician during the 90s