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Chitrali music, a unique cultural heritage

By Muhammad Amin Baloch

Music is defined as a science or art of ordering sound or tones in succession, in combination and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity. Since ancient days music has been an important part of human history. It has provided relief, entertainment and satisfaction to man temperament.

Music has also played a significant role in the cultural bondage and identification of societies since ancient times. In old days singers and poets occupied high places in the kings` courts and the society. They were symbols of entertainment, relief and providers of enthusiasm and spirit in times of battles. Music also provides solace to soul beside entertainment if said within moral values.

Chitral is located in the extreme remote of KP. It is linked with Tajikistan through the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan on the North. Nooristan and Badakhshan provinces of Afghanistan are situated on its West and Dir on the South. Gilgit-Baltistan is located on the East of the district. The total area of the district is approximately 5500 sq.mile or 243818 acres. It is surrounded by the high mountains of the Hindu Kush.

The word Chitral has been derived from Chattor which mean “a vast cultivable land.” It was also called Qashqar in old days. The word Qashqar has been taken from Kash and Qar implying attractive and peaceful place. Chitral was also a peaceful place even in old times.

Culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, arts etc.of a particular society, people, group or place. The people of Chitral are hospitable, simple and found of entertainment. Chitral is a rich and fertile land for different cultural values and music is one of them. Chitrali people are very found of music and it is part and parcel of their daily life. Chtrali music is an embodiment of love, praise and complaint of the nature and also reminding of the past happenings.

Some of the singers have said songs of theosophical manner conveying the message of God`s greatness and man`s trust of God help. Chitrali people love music and every important day will be incomplete without it. Chitral has produced prolific singers and poets who compiled and said songs of high stature. Besides vocal singing flute and drums are also components of Chitrali music. Chitrali music is immune from any vulgarity and reflects the elements of modesty and shyness.

The land of Chitral has produced versatile singers and some of the immortal names are Muhammad Siyar (known Masiyar Lal in Chitral), Amir Gul Amir and presently Mansoor Ali Shabab. The Yaar-e-Man Hamin of Masiyar makes one think as if he is sitting in the company of the late singer and one feels in trance. Likewise Ashrozhan, another type of Chitrali music, is a kind of unique nature which is an embodiment of affection, praising all the bearings of the sweet heart and her coldness towards the lover. Amir Gul Amir has given a new spirit to the Chitrali music. He has incorporated highly stylish and prolific words of Persian and Urdu into the Chitrali music. Due to his services to the Chitrali music and poetry he has earned the grandeur title of Bulbul-e-Chitral (Nightingale of Chitral).

Amir Gul was at a time a poet, a composer and a singer. Some of his great songs indicate that he wanted a union with the beloved and he was completely lost in her love. He also complained of God for his failure in love. He has written and recited many evergreen songs which still today are very popular amongst the Chitrali music fans.

Mansoor Ali Shabab has put a new energy and spirit into the chitral music. In other words he reached the Chitral music to its zenith, both in ghazal and songs. He has become popular by singning old songs in their original tone (especially of Amir Gul) and giving new style and rhythm to the new generation ghazals. Before him ghazal was alien to Chitral music. He has also introduced Chitrali music in foreign countries.Most of the Chitrali songs are in praise of sweet heart`s eyes, face, hair, strolling and cheek. The beauty of a beloved is compared with the rose, sound of nightingale, cuckoo and starling. Her beauty and bearings are also compared with the nymphs and fairies and even exceeding them.

Music is considered to be a food for the soul. Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, a reputed Muslim mystic, used to start his great Mathnavi with the sound of the flute. In the present days of modernity and globalization music has been spoiled by immorality and vulgarity in many societies, but still now Chitrali music is the reflection of pure love, modesty and praise of the nature. The need is strengthening and preservation of our unique cultural heritage in its pure form, which is a symbol of pluralism and unity in diversity.

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