Musical Notes

The golden voice of Kashmir’s indie musicians echoes with politics and folklore

Kashmiri musicians are creating renditions of Kashmiri folk tales and poems blended with Western percussion instruments.

“The more you absorb music, the more you express,” said Mohammad Muneem, lead vocalist and songwriter of the Pune-based band Alif. Muneem’s songs defy genre. From blues to soft rock, each song is a unique blend of Kashmiri and Western genres, merging together to create an unusual range, one which even fans of traditional Kashmiri music are surprised by. “We have a large bandwidth – call it our strength or disadvantage,” he said. “We are a little loud, rough. We are out there. We are extrovert but the lyrics are introverted.”

Muneem’s compositions evolved over time, with his understanding and awareness of his surroundings. From covering songs by Guns N’ Roses, System Of A Down and Pink Floyd, the 34-year-old finally decided to make Kashmiri music.

An engineering graduate with a degree in business administration, Muneem quit his job to take up a permanent career in music. In 2008, he joined other artists to form the band Highway 61, before rechristening it Alif. Muneem’s fusion of Kashmiri and contemporary instruments have been featured on Coke Studio, Kappa TV and several festivals across the country.

Naturally, the music of the Srinagar native is influenced by the events around him and reflect the spectrum of life in Kashmir. He witnessed violence as a child, and then again in 2003, when a hate crime left him with stitches on his wrist and on the back of his head. The thought that humans were ready to kill one another drove Muneem to listen to music with deeper messages.

“I started listening to U2 to absorb what Bono wants to say in Where the Streets Have No Name,” Muneem said. “I liked listening to Pink Floyd’s words on society, time, money, and politics. Being a Kashmiri, political awareness comes with birth. I started reading about Kashmir, understanding the nuances and how people have been so resilient. Every song that I’ve written, every poem has come at the right time.”

Play

Muneem sings about Kashmiri folklore, political churnings and the trail of destruction the two decade-long conflict has left on the state. One of his songs, Ikebana, named after the Japanese art of flower arrangement, is dedicated to those whose loved ones were forcibly made to “disappear”.

During his live performances, Muneem is known to abruptly halt his song midway to ask the audience if the song felt incomplete. That, he will say, is to give people a sense of the sudden emptiness the half-widows and mothers of the missing children and men feel in Kashmir. Some of Muneem’s compositions are rearranged folk songs. After initial criticism and taunts online, Alif’s listener base has grown. One such folk song, Cheerith, composed by Bashir Dada, is about heartbreak. Muneem, however, turned it into a song of celebration.

“I celebrated heartbreak,” he said. “Some despised it, made fun of it, but in the process started liking it.”

Play

While both traditional and popular Kashmiri music can be heard in the Valley, Bollywood music is still the loudest and the most easily available. To get around this, Kashmiri artists have begun to use the internet and social media to draw larger audiences.

In the past decade alone, Kashmiri musicians have created renditions of Kashmiri folk tales and poems blended with Western percussion instruments. Parvaaz, a Bengaluru-based band with a lead vocalist from the Valley, has produced songs that struck a chord with audiences all over the country. The band’s first extended play, Behosh, featured a song in Kashmiri. Lead vocalist Khalid Ahamed said the intention to sing in Kashmiri was a happy coincidence which occurred when guitarist Kashif Iqbal, a fellow Kashmiri, played a folk tune on his guitar.

“It stuck with us, we did three songs in Kashmiri,” said Ahamed. “It was never intentional that we wanted to do Kashmiri. It just came to us naturally.”

Play

Ahamed’s fascination with music began in his childhood, when he listened to his father play songs on a tape recorder. In 2010, Ahamed got together with Iqbal in Bengaluru to set up Parvaaz. Both musicians are self-taught. Since then the band has performed at major festivals across India and are becoming an important part of the nation’s live music scene. Parvaaz has also produced two albums.

Like Alif, their music doesn’t stick to a single pace or genre. The band produces progressive music in a mix of folk, blues, and rock.

The band’s rendition of Kashmiri poet Mahjoor’s Gul Gulshan Gulfam, a poem which describes love, longing, and hope, blends the verses with progressive rock. Another song, Roz Roz, came about when the band experimented with the guitar, playing it the way the traditional stringed instrument rabaab is played. The melody, Ahamed said, came before the lyrics sometimes.

Play

The fact that a majority of Parvaaz’s audience are non-Kashmiri speaks of the acceptance of Kashmiri music and art. Both Alif and Parvaaz depend on live gigs more than album sales. Producing original music, they said, is a slow but steady process.

While Alif recently released its new album Sufayed, Parvaaz is recording music for an upcoming movie, Vodka Diaries.

Play

There are several other Kashmiri musicians captivating audiences with their music. Mumbai-based music director and singer Jaan Nissar Lone’s song Jugni is a rendition of the poetry of Mahjoor. Mehmeet Syed, one of the few female singers from the Valley, has won many awards and gigs at home and abroad. Touring abroad with two other Valley-based musicians, Irfan and Bilal, the trio have played renditions of lullabies and traditional songs to foreign and diaspora audiences.

Play
Play
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.