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Fusion of sufism and western style : Three star of kashmir

Far from the madding crowd, three youngsters have embarked on an arduous journey to fuse Kashmiri Sufiyana music with western styles and popularise it on a global platform across the continents.

Irfan Ali, Bilal Ahmad and Mahmeet Syed teamed up to form the IBM (acronym of their first names) last year to redefine and internationalise rich Kashmiri music. From the United States to Australia to New Zealand to the UAE, IBM has held dozens of shows across countries promoting Kashmiri music in western fusion style.

The three-member band is all set to start another touring round from October when they will be performing in the United Kingdom followed by Malaysia in January and the US in April next year. What makes the band distinct from others is that it is in process of creating the first ever Kashmir symphony orchestra akin to the Zubin Mehta-led Bavarian State Orchestra.

“We pick up the rich Sufiyana kalam of our Sufi poets.What we do is to fuse Chakri (Kashmir folklore) with western instruments to make up a different genre. It is an effort to attract youth and the next generation towards our music. When they start liking it then we will be able to promote it in a better way”, said Mahmeet, a 29-year-old singer who holds three masters degrees, one of them in journalism.

Daughter of a medico-turned-politician, Mahmeet has topped the charts since she made her music debut in 2004 with her first Kashmiri audio-video album ‘Chulhama Roshay Roshay’. The album was a runaway hit which sold 50,000 VCDs and 75,000 audio cassettes during the first year.

In fact Mahmeet had almost quit music after the untimely death of her mother. After living in oblivion for years, the singer resumed her musical career in a new avatar a few years ago in order to overcome her loss.

“We are always experimenting with new things. We are always in the process of creating some new compositions so that we can stand out in the market. We are also taking online music classes from Los Angeles in Symphony. We plan to create our own symphony orchestra by training youngsters in Kashmir”, she said

For Irfan and Bilal, the success has been hard-earned given the fact that they spent six years in Mumbai doing music but to no avail. The vocalists who double up as instrumentalists redefined their music after formal training in Punjab.

“Our music is different. We use cultural instruments alongside western instruments to promote our music. I remember the furore it created when we used western instruments in one of the songs. We were accused of damaging the music of Kashmir. We then explained that unless we modify our music the younger generation will not listen to it”, said Irfan.

Irfan and Bilal are credited with introducing western instruments including the guitar, keyboards, drum, violin, banjo, mandolin into Kashmiri music. “Earlier Kashmiri music was being played on traditional instruments like sarangi, rabab harmonium and others. We introduced new instruments. We also introduced an Egyptian instrument called the Oud”, he said

Come autumn and IBM takes off for London for another round of musical promotions. “We are fully booked”, said Irfan with a mystic smile.

Courtesy by : dnaindia

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