Shaukat Paniyal plays a flute at a private music studio in Peshawar. — Dawn
Shaukat Paniyal plays a flute at a private music studio in Peshawar. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Shaukat Paniyal, a young artist from Dera Ismail Khan, enjoys a unique art of playing six musical instruments with great skill.

He can play six wind instruments including flute, saxophone, clarinet, Naulophone, Soprano and Surna. He launched his music career 16 years ago.

Born to a pipe player family, he grew up with a natural filial for playing pipe instruments. When still a teenager, he used to play with his father’s flute and occasionally tried to play it but one day his father decided to remove his son’s curiosity and began transferring his art to him.

“It was a wonderful day in my life when my father took me to his room and taught me how I should first respect the art and then know its intricacies. After a few preliminary lessons on art and its ethics, my father, a noted artist of Shehnai, began teaching me how to play flute and apprised me of its various tunes. Within two weeks, I was a perfect flute player,” Shaukat Paniyal recalled.

Shaukat Paniyal claims to have invented new musical tool Naulophone

He said that instrumental music needed a unique skill and strong lungs to master it.

He is not only a skilled instrumentalist but also keeps on experimenting with new musical tools. Two years ago, he invented a new Pashto wind musical instrument which he called ‘Naulophone’. It is made of cane having finger-holes.

He said that in early 60s, Zarnosh Ustad invented a wind musical instrument from wheat staff or straws named ‘Druza’. He said that Naulophone had different sound features as Druza had five tunes while Naulophone had seven tunes.

“I am the only artist in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who has mastery over playing different musical instruments including six wind instruments. I can also play string instruments like sitar, rabab and harmonium but playing wind instruments is my forte,” said Shaukat Paniyal.

He said that traditional musical instruments were the soul and strength of their orchestra and they should never lose them at any lost. “Wind, string and skin instruments give a distinct flavour to our eastern music,” he added.

Shaukat Paniyal said that Pashto orchestra was losing traditional musical instruments owing to philistinism and craze for electronic music. Originally, over 60 musical instruments were part of live Pashto orchestra but hardly a few instruments survived that caused a serious setback to live Pashto performance. He claimed that no album could be complete unless one or two wind instruments were included in the orchestra.

Master Ali Haider, a senior music composer, told this scribe that Pashto folk music had a bright future and change in any field was inevitable but not at the cost of losing a culture .

He said that learning to play traditional musical instruments was not everybody’s cup of tea.

He said that traditional Pashto orchestra was not losing ground to modern electronic or computer music.

Master Haider said that instrumentalist like Shaukat Paniyal needed resources and official patronage to safeguard old instruments and folk music. “The addition of Naulophone to Pashto orchestra is a great achievement and Shaukat will surely transfer his skill to others. He should not let it die as Druza died with the demise of its inventor and only player Zarnosh Ustad,” he added.

Shaukat Paniyal has performed in Dubai, Qatar and Kabul. “If we want to save our indigenous culture, we must safeguard our musical instruments because music is closely linked to folk poetry and both music and poetry are reflective of the past of a nation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2017