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Foot-tapping merger of musical genres

September 07, 2013
Zoe Viccaji (seated) and Iram Naseer singing at Napa. - Photo by White Star
Zoe Viccaji (seated) and Iram Naseer singing at Napa. - Photo by White Star

KARACHI, Sept 6: ‘If music be the food of love, play on,’ says a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays. What music lovers got to hear on Friday evening at the National Academy of Performing Arts in-house theatre in a concert titled ‘Music Merger’ may not be ‘food of love’ but it definitely had its heartwarming moments.

For some reason Napa these days shies away from using the word ‘fusion,’ justifiably so, because every time a folk or classical singer joins a pop artist, it is referred to as fusion music. The problem is: what else to call it? ‘Music merger’ sounds a bit pedestrian; however, it worked pretty well on Friday.

The event kicked off with a tribute to the late Tufail Niazi. Napa’s head of music department Nafees Ahmed introduced the show to the audience that half an hour into the programme had filled up the hall, saying it would be a merger between genres. He was joined on stage by Emmu (keyboard) and Shalam (lead guitar) of pop band Fuzon along with Ali (bass guitar), Aziz (drums), Arsalan (lead guitar) and Waqas (tabla). It was a pleasant surprise to hear Nafees Ahmed croon ‘Main Naeen Jana’ and ‘Sawan Beeto Jaey’ (recently made famous by Shafqat Amanat Ali). The variations (harkatein) that he melded with the original compositions were quite an auditory treat.

Napa students’ presentation of raga ragesheri was a decent effort, supported well by keyboard, sitar, guitar, drums and tabla solos. The students who took part in the performance were Nadir Abbas, Ahsan Shabbir, Sidra, Iqra and Nigel. This was followed by Iram Nafees’ song ‘Layan Wey Tere Naal’ with Iqra and Sidra as backup vocals. The band was quite impressive in that particular piece, occasionally overshadowing the vocalists. Next up was Nadir Abbas who sang an original track ‘Soch Ki Nadya’ composed by Nafees Ahmed.

The show received a fresh impetus when pop singer Zoe Viccaji was asked to perform. She presented two songs, one with Iram Nafees and the other with Ahsan Shabbir. Both were very well received. The former was a kind of tribute to the late Nisar Bazmi as Iram Nafees tried to match his famous composition ‘Dil Dharkey Main Tum Se’ with Viccaji’s separate set of lyrics. For the first half of the song, Iram’s microphone didn’t allow her voice to reach as far as it should have, but the problem was fixed half way through the performance. The latter had a somewhat reggae, foot-tapping beat to it and the switching between the English and Urdu languages was done seamlessly.

But the concert hit its high note with the arrival of the incomparable folk singer Akhtar Chanal. The down-to-earth artist was greeted with a generous round of applause and he reciprocated the gesture equally amiably. He dedicated his song to Defence Day (Sept 6) and then sang his heart out, like he always does. It was a typical Akhtar Chanal act, full of energy and beautiful to listen to. He was accompanied on stage by Napa students and a dancer. The audience thoroughly enjoyed his act. Chanal should be invited more often to mainstream shows as it will only benefit students and lovers of music.

Next up was the ‘nok-jhonk’ between tabla (Waqas) and drums (Jason Anthony), followed by a couple of more presentations.