Music of Pakistan!

The Music of Pakistan (Urduپاکستان کی موسیقی‎) includes diverse elements ranging from music from various parts of South Asia as well as Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and modern-day Western popular music influences. With these multiple influences, a distinctive Pakistani sound has emerged.

Traditional music

Classical music of Pakistan is based on the traditional music of South Asia which was patronized by various empires that ruled the region and gave birth to several genres of classic music including the Klasik and Hindustani classical music. The classical music of Pakistan has two main principles, ‘sur’ (musical note) and ‘lai’ (rhythm). The systematic organization of musical notes into a scale is known as a raag. The arrangement of rhythm (lai) in a cycle is known as taal. Improvisation plays a major role during a performance.

There are many families from gharanas of classical music who inherited the music from their forefathers and are still performing. Some famous gharanas are: Qwaal Bacha gharana (Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan belong to this gharana), and Patiala Gharana (Shafaqat Amanat Ali Khan belongs to this gharana).Ustad Ghulam Farid Nizami a prominent sitar player and a Sufi singer belongs to the Senia Gharana. Number of other gharanas are present in Pakistan which serve classical music. Some classical musicians like Ustad Badar uz Zaman do not belong to any famous gharana but has served classical music enormously. The legendary sitar player Mohammad Sharif Khan Poonchhwaley belongs to Poonch gharana of sitar. Ustad Rais Khan is another prominent sitar player of Pakistan.

Shaukat HussainTari Khan and Tafo Khan have been exponents of classical tabla playing from Pakistan. Talib Hussain was one of the last remaining pakhawaj players of Pakistan and was a recognized practitioner of the Punjab gharana style of drum-type instruments.


Main article: Ghazal

In poetry, the ghazal is a poetic form consisting of couplets which share a rhyme and a refrain. Each line must share the same meter. Etymologically, the word literally refers to “the mortal cry of a gazelle“. The animal is called Ghizaal, from which the English word gazelles stems, or Kastori haran (where haran refers to deer) in Urdu. Ghazals are traditionally expressions of love, separation and loneliness, for which the gazelle is an appropriate image. A ghazal can thus be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation of the lover and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The structural requirements of the ghazal are more stringent than those of most poetic forms traditionally written in English. In its style and content it is a genre which has proved studied variety of expression around its central theme of love and separation between lovers.[citation needed] The ghazals can be written by male poets for women as well as by female poets for men, as an expression of one’s feelings about mutual love and whatever comes in that package- accompanying joys, frustrations, disappointments, fulfillment and satisfactions. The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century under the influence of the new Islamic Sultanate courts and Sufi mystics. Exotic to the region, as is indicated by the very sounds of the name itself when properly pronounced as ġazal. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of Urdu poetry, today, it has influenced the poetry of many languages. Most Ghazal singers are trained in classical music and sing in either Khyal or Thumri.


Main article: Qawwali

The Mughal EmperorMuhammad Shah was one of the most important patrons of Qawwali and is widely credited for its cultural advancement.

Qawwali (Urdu: قوٌالی‎) is the devotional music of the Chishti Sufis. Qawwali is a vibrant musical tradition that goes back more than 700 years in South Asia . Although most Qawwali singers are found in Pakistan and they performed mainly at Sufi shrines throughout South Asia, it has also gained mainstream popularity. Qawwali music received international exposure through the work of the Sabri Brothers in 1975, late Bakhshi SalamatAziz Mian and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, largely due to several releases on the ‘Real World‘ label, followed by live appearances at WOMAD festivals. Listeners, and often artists themselves are transported to a state of wajad, a trance-like state where they feel ‘one with God’, generally considered to be the height of spiritual ecstasy in Sufism. Qawwali was essentially created by Amir Khusrau in the late 13th century in the Mughul Empire. During the first major migration in the 11th century, the musical tradition of Sama migrated to South Asia from TurkeyRumi and his Mevlana order of Sufism have been the propagators of Sama in Central Asia. Amir Khusrau of the Chisti order of Sufis is credited with fusing the TurkishPersianArabic, and South Asian musical traditions, to create Qawwali as well as the classical music tradition. The word “Sama” is used (or is the preferred name) in Central Asia and Turkey, for forms very similar to Qawwali while in Pakistan, the formal name used for a session of Qawwali is “Mehfil-e-Sama“. Instruments used in qawwali include:

Faiz Ali Faiz, a qawwali artist live in concert

A group of qawwali musicians, called Humnawa in Urdu, typically consists of eight or nine men. Women are usually excluded from traditional Muslim music as ‘ respectable women’ are traditionally prohibited from singing in mixed-gender public gatherings. Traditionally over the centuries, this has been the practice per the general interpretation of Islamic Law by the religious scholars. Although women are encouraged to hold their own ‘Women Only’ gatherings for reciting religious ‘Naats‘ and holding live dance and music parties with musical instruments on ‘Just- Before- Weddings-Mehndi’ celebrations. This again, has to be a ‘Women Only’ event per the long practiced tradition where Islam generally discourages mixed-gender gatherings among unmarried women and unmarried men. Although in the 20th century, the so-called modern era, actual practice among Islamic societies, has been that one will see a lot of female musicians and female singers holding public concerts for both men and women.

Modern music

Pakistani music in the 21st century revitalized itself and has many segments as follows:

Pop music

Ahmed Rushdi, the father of pop, also known as the first regular pop singer of south AsiaMain article: Pakistani pop music

Pop music really started in the South Asian region with the famous playback singer Ahmed Rushdi‘s song ‘Ko Ko Korina’ in 1966. Composed by Sohail Rana, the song was a blend of 1960s bubblegum poprock and roll twist music and Pakistani film music. This genre would later be termed as filmi pop. Paired with Runa Laila, the singer is considered the pioneering father of pop music, mostly hip-hop and disco, in Pakistan.

Following Rushdi’s success, Christian bands specialising in jazz started performing at various night clubs and hotel lobbies in KarachiHyderabad and Lahore. They would usually sing either famous American jazz hits or cover Rushdi’s songs. Rushdi sang playback hits along with Laila until the Bangladesh Liberation War when East Pakistan was declared an independent state. Laila, being a Bengali, decided to leave for the newly independent Bangladesh.

Nazia Hassan, the sister of another pop singer Zohaib Hassan and the member of the pop group Nazia and Zoheb, in 1981, became the first playback singer to release a pop music album. Her first album was “Disco Deewane” and second was “Aap Jaisa Koi“. Both the albums broke sales records in Pakistan and India and even topped the charts in the West Indies, Latin America and Russia. Hassan won several awards for her songs, including the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the later and received the Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Pride of Performance for her contributions in the music field.

Modern pop singers such as Ali ZafarHadiqa Kiani, and Atif Aslam have made international waves as well, winning numerous awards and performing in some of the world’s most prestigious arenas. In 2013 Atif Aslam became the first Pakistani pop singer to perform at The O2 Arena London twice and has sung several songs for Hollywood and Bollywood. Aslam is also the youngest recipient of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honours, for his work in the music industry.[4][5][6] He was also named in 2012 among top performers of Dubai alongside PitbullEnrique IglesiasIl DivoGotyeEvanescence and Swedish House Mafia.

Rock music

Main articles: Pakistani rock and Sufi rock

Shallum Asher Xavier from Pakistani rock band, Fuzon, performing live at a concert

The rise of rock music in Pakistan began in the 1980s when cassettes first came into Pakistan bringing in a wave of Western rock music, particularly groups such as Pink Floyd. Since then, the nation’s music industry has witnessed groups such as JunoonVital SignsJal, and Noori. The nation has also since then seen the rise of talented and internationally renowned musicians such as Faraz Anwar.

Hip hop music

Main article: Pakistani hip hop

Pakistani hip hop is a blend of traditional Pakistani musical elements with modern hip hop music.

Filmi music

Main articles: Cinema of Pakistan and Filmi pop

Pakistan’s film industry known as “Lollywood” is based in Lahore and Karachi.

Notable artists


  • Ahmed Rushdi– film playback singer
  • Abida ParveenQueen of Sufi music[7]
  • Abdullah Qureshi (singer) – singer, songwriter, and composer
  • Atif Aslam-“Referred as the best singer in Pakistan”
  • Farhan Saeed-“Referred as on of best singer-songwriter,composer,actor and director of pakistan”
  • Bayaan – Alternative Rock Band
  • Goher Mumtaz– Formed the band ‘Jal’ with Atif Aslam
  • Rahat Fateh Ali Khan– Popular playback singer
  • Ali Zafar – Popular singer and performer
  • Amanat Ali Khan– performer of semi-classical ghazals
  • Amjad Bobby-film Music Composer
  • Asad Amanat Ali Khan
  • Barkat Ali KhanComposer and performer of semi-classical ghazals
  • Badnaam (band) – Sufi grunge rock band
  • Farida Khanum– performer of semi-classical ghazals
  • Farhad Humayun – singer and composer
  • Ghulam AliComposer and performer
  • Habib Wali Mohammad– performer
  • Iqbal Bano– performer
  • Khawaja Khurshid Anwar-film music Composer
  • M Ashraf– film music Composer
  • Malika Pukhraj– composer and performer
  • Master Abdullah– film music Composer
  • Mohammad Aizaz Sohail – Classical Singer
  • Mehdi Hassan– composer and performer
  • Munni Begum– composer and performer
  • Naheed Akhtar– film playback singer
  • Nayyara Noor– film and non-film playback singer
  • Natasha Khan[8][9] – Coke Studio Singer
  • Noor Jehan– film and non-film playback singer
  • Nazia Hassan– film and non-film playback singer
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan– Composer and performer

  • (‘
    Breaking News
    • ٹکٹ کلکٹر نے تھپکی دی کہ آپ کا اسٹیشن آرہا ہے پلیزاتر جائیں،عرفان خان کا خط ایک بار پھر ان کے مداحوں کو رلا گیا                ٹکٹ کلکٹر نے تھپکی دی کہ آپ کا اسٹیشن آرہا ہے پلیزاتر جائیں،عرفان خان کا خط ایک بار پھر ان کے مداحوں کو رلا گیا


Breaking News
  • ٹکٹ کلکٹر نے تھپکی دی کہ آپ کا اسٹیشن آرہا ہے پلیزاتر جائیں،عرفان خان کا خط ایک بار پھر ان کے مداحوں کو رلا گیا                ٹکٹ کلکٹر نے تھپکی دی کہ آپ کا اسٹیشن آرہا ہے پلیزاتر جائیں،عرفان خان کا خط ایک بار پھر ان کے مداحوں کو رلا گیا

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