Pakistani music is as diverse as its multiethnic population, ranging from the popular Sufi-inspired qawwali to good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. It incorporates influences from South Asian music, Central Asian music, Persian music, Turkish music, Arabic music, and contemporary Western popular music. Due to these diverse influences, a distinct Pakistani sound has emerged. From the beginning of Pakistan, music has been a means of amusement. In contrast to Pakistan’s current reputation as a strict Islamist nation, life was somewhat different back then. In the current tech-driven, competitive young climate, Pakistani original cultural content coupled with government-backed promotion, performance platforms, prizes, and incentives would have a profound and lasting cultural impact.

Background and Context

The arts and culture have been like a plant or sapling for the past 75 years, requiring replenishment like trees. It is highly frail, yet it bears fruit for hundreds and millennia once it establishes itself. We are fortunate that poets like Iqbal took the time to pen their thoughts, which have illuminated millions of souls. To promote good change, educate and entertain, Pakistan must have a well-defined cultural strategy highlighting its unique and rich past, human diversity, and a clear vision for the future. In today’s tech-driven and competitive youth world, Pakistani original cultural content coupled with government-backed protection, promotion, performance platforms, prizes, and incentives would have a profound and enduring cultural impact.

Poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Habib Jalib, and Parveen Shakir influenced generations of Pakistanis. The cultural vacuum in Pakistan, which has the second youngest population in the world, is filled by western and Indian media. Corruption, plagiarism, and scandal have tarnished television’s few significant music possibilities.

Corporate Music Platforms come into play.

Between the first Pakistani win at the Grammys, the first Pakistani film to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival, a Pakistani song topping Google’s most-searched list, local actors appearing in international series, and the highest-grossing film in Pakistani cinema history, 2022 has been a banner year for Pakistani art.

South Asia and its diaspora have long enjoyed the cultural exports of Pakistani music and television dramas. Nonetheless, several renowned artists and performers have left legacies that transcend the subcontinent, firmly establishing the country on the global stage. Corporate music platforms like Coke Studio help bring attention to local musicians. So, they played a big part in the paradigm shift by getting people to listen differently. But the corporate model has also been criticized for monopolizing the Pakistani music business by making it impossible for independent record labels to start up. Coke Studio has combined all music styles into this “Live on Abbey Road version.” Coke Studio has brought artists from all over the country into one studio and made it work. They have mixed qawwali with bhangra and ghazals with rock. Now available on YouTube, the show creates studio-recorded collaborations with known and new artists in the country, blending hip-hop, rock, and pop with various musical influences, including classical, folk, Sufi, qawwali, ghazal, and bhangra. Extremely popular in South Asia, where fans eagerly anticipate its release. Season 14 was launched in January of this year, and its success was not unexpected.

Pakistan reached another high point in April, following the phenomenal success of “Pasoori.” In Los Angeles, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab became the first Pakistani to win the Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance for her tune “Mohabbat,” a version of the renowned ghazal by Pakistani singer Mehdi Hassan and poet Hafeez Hoshiyarpuri.

Shifting Paradigms of Production

Consumption and production of new musical waves co-occur. The days of producing music on tape are long gone! How music resonates with listeners is also evolving, with social media contributing to expanding the fan base. Visuals enable music’s full potential to be realized. Never-before-seen fusion of sound and pictures is made possible by technological development, allowing for the creation of a visual identity that is genuinely distinctive. Visual language in music has always been in some form, as cassette covers and album art existed before the production of music videos. These elements facilitate a parasocial link between the audience and the performer transcending the music. Unfortunately, the second youngest population in the world, Pakistan, has a cultural vacuum that is being filled by western and Indian media. This imbalance must be remedied, and arts and culture must be strengthened during the next decade.

Future of Pakistani Music

Music’s technical progress has no limits, from vinyl to viral hits, CDs to streaming, and mixtapes to playlists. Create artistic venues and platforms in academic institutions across the nation to improve the music culture. Provide cultural platforms for the development of new artists’ competitiveness. As a matter of policy, promote Pakistani cultural content above foreign content in electronic, print, and social media. Implement a nationwide talent hunt to discover future poets, composers, instrumentalists, and singers of many genres. Implement a prominent, yearly award event in Pakistan to promote achievement, respect, and cultural interest. Pakistani popular culture, which has long been popular in Pakistan, South Asia, and its diaspora, has had a fantastic year. It can take satisfaction in having transcended languages, boundaries, and cultures to make a global imprint.


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