Music, art and creative writing are all directly linked with the soul. They take us to the inner self instead of the outer world where conflict, aggression and unhappiness reside. The soul is that inner seat where a person’s calm or their restless aggressiveness lie. Through music this inner state can be expressed rather manifestly because the auditory faculty is difficult to ignore. Music can soothe the aggression in the self as well as in the other. I see this calming process of music through the image of a crumpled cloth, symbolizing a disturbed mind, being ironed out by the power and energy of music. This power of music can save our world; of course, it can save homes that allow it to cool and set at peace the aggression that is inbuilt in some minds. In the contemporary world, we are becoming more and more aggressive and we demand instant results because we do not allow our souls to be subjected to the healing power of music. Or if we do, that healing power is largely missing from the music that is available to us. Our films and most of our music thrust aggression upon us, our nationalism can do that too, and of course, the desire to be at the top of the world by hook or by crook does it most of the time.
One form of music, the ghazal, in Pakistan and India, has retained this very positive function of giving peace to disturbed minds. Not every singer of ghazals succeeds in this but some of the best in Pakistan and India have been doing it for some centuries. Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum and, now, Tina Sani have done a great deal to keep millions of homes in a state of tranquility. The ghazal has magical words put into amazingly simple notations of music. The slow and gentle rhythms employed in this musical form correspond somewhat to what the gentle rhythms in a waltzing composition could do to the West. But ghazals are far ahead in soothing minds because in them the words are as significant as the music and there is a magical blending of the sound with the sense.
A great example of the power of music to lead to an angelic transformation of minds is Tina Sani’s concert when she sang the ghazals of Parveen Shakir. This performance can be reached here:
These ghazals corroborate Percy Shelley’s claim that “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” These have the power to chasten and subdue even the most despotic and aggressive minds. Her music has the power to change the world by compelling it toward a more peaceful direction. Whatever the politics of Pakistan may have at its base, Pakistan’s music is one of the greatest gifts to humanity. It is needed to sustain a disturbed lot of people, waiting for someone to come and lead them to where sanity and peace abide.
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